Photo Credit: Ryan Somma
Albert Einstein on a bill of 5 Israeli Pounds.

A truly spectacular unpublished autograph manuscript produced by German physicist Albert Einstein (1879-1955) and exploring his celebrated Unified Field Theory, has been offered in an auction Tuesday on Live Auctioneers.

Einstein’s Unified Field Theory manuscript / Courtesy of Live Auctioneers

Abraham Pais (Subtle is the Lord: The Science and the Life of Albert Einstein) noted that in the 1940s, the ever-pioneering Einstein began to explore “the question of whether the most fundamental equations of physics might have a structure other than the familiar partial differential equations.”


In creating such asymmetric theories, Einstein would variously compose the metric tensor (and even space-time itself) from different mixtures of real and complex (“imaginary”) components, and then develop the mathematical properties of his prospective field equations. Only afterwards would Einstein check to see if the result had a consistent physical interpretation, and depending on that, Einstein might elect either to continue or to abandon his investigations along the laid-down lines.

Looking to extend his relativistic theory of gravity, Einstein specifies the tensor and field equations defining the spacetime curvature of a new Unified Field Theory in the 1940s. According to Live Auctioneers, “it is a prime leaf from Einstein’s sketchbook superbly exemplifying Einstein’s final idea of physics, and enriched with more than 10 formulae and equations!”

The single leaf of paper features 19 lines of text in German, approximately 189 words in addition to the math.

A full 11 lines are devoted to Einstein’s mathematical calculations. The manuscript testifies to a nearly seamless work process, but Einstein did make five editorial changes including several cross-outs and additions.

The page, in near-fine condition, is numbered 13 at the upper right. It is expected to bring in $25,000 to $30,000.


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