Read Einstein's Encouraging Note to Marie Curie and Remember to Ignore the "Reptiles"
On Friday December 5, thousands of documents by Albert Einstein were made accessible online through The Einstein Papers Project. Edited by Diana Kormos-Buchwald, a professor of physics and the history of science at the California Institute of Technology, the extensive archive includes love letters, Einstein’s divorce file, his high school transcript, and one amazing letter to fellow scientist Marie Curie telling her to ignore her critics.
In 1911 (though she had won the Nobel Prize and was the first woman to be a professor of general physics at the Sorbonne), Curie’s bid for the French Academy of Sciences was rejected. One academy member, Emile Hilaire Amagat, put it simply: “Women cannot be part of the Institute of France.” The press had a field day over Curie’s battle to become part of the Academy, and the gossip continued when news came out that the widowed Curie was having an affair with physicist Paul Langevin. Though he’d been dead for five years, the headlines defended Curie’s husband: “THE WIDOW HAS TARNISHED the good name of her deceased husband!,” they screamed.
In his letter (publicized by astrobiologist David Grinspoon), Einstein wrote to remind Curie to ignore the “reptiles” and stick with “real people” rather than “rabble.” Read his note in full below, and the next time a friend is having a Marie Curie moment (by which we mean her brilliance is being overshadowed by the haters), channel Einstein and send these kinds of reassurances.
Featured photo via American Institute of Physics/Getty Images