MILEVA MARIC EINSTEIN

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Born in Serbia in 1857, Mileva Maric Einstein was allowed to sit in on the physics lessons typically reserved for boys because her father got special permission from the Minister of Education (go dad!)

She entered the physics and mathematics section of the Polytechnic Institute in Zurich along with four other male classmates: Marcel Grossmann, Louis Kollros, Jakob Ehrat, and Albert Einstein. Mileva and Albert became inseparable and her methodical and dedicated work ethic seemed to positively influence Albert, who rarely attended class and preferred to study at home.

In August of 1899, Albert wrote to Mileva: “I find the work we do together very good, healing and also easier.” Then on October 2nd, in 1899, he wrote “I miss having you nearby to kindly keep me in check and prevent me from meandering.”

Mileva received higher grades than Albert at the Institute, however, due to low marks in the oral exam (notably lower than her male classmates), Mileva did not receive a degree. A year later, Mileva tried again to pass her oral examination - arguably the only test in which she could be subjected to discrimination based on her gender - but was failed again by the same professor.

Mileva was not considered an adequate partner in the eye of Alberts family, especially his mother who said “By the time you’re 30, she’ll already be an old hag!” Perhaps it was because she was not Jewish or German, she walked with a limp, and she was considered too intellectual for a woman at the time. 

But Albert was smitten. In September of 1900, Albert wrote to Mileva: “I look forward to resume our new common work. You must now continue with your research – how proud I will be to have a doctor for my spouse when I’ll only be an ordinary man.“ 

While she has never been officially credited with any part of Albert’s work, his letters and dedications indicate that Mileva held an extremely important role in his career. Albert’s first article was published under his name alone, however Mileva wrote to Helene Savić in 1900, saying “We will send a private copy to Boltzmann to see what he thinks and I hope he will answer us.” In letters Albert wrote to Mileva, he too refers to “our article.”

No one knows why Mileva was never credited on work she cleared contributed to, though the decision seemed to be made by the couple together. Her contribution is undeniable; Albert Einstein himself wrote to Mileva in 1901, saying “How happy and proud I will be when the two of us together will have brought our work on relative motion to a victorious conclusion.” Numerous accounts from friends and family members confirm the couples inextricable working relationship. When asked by Conrad Habicht why she kept her name off their patent for the highly sensitive voltmeter they designed together, she replied (in German) “Why? The two of us are but one stone,” meaning she and Albert were one entity.

Their marriage collapsed when Albert began having an affair with his cousin, Elsa Löwenthal, in 1912. Mileva agreed to a divorce on the condition that if Albert ever won a Nobel Prize, the money would go to her. When he did win, he claimed the money was for his sons alone and Mileva threatened to reveal her invaluable contributions to his now famous work. He responded in a letter saying “You made me laugh when you started threatening me with your recollections. Have you ever considered, even just for a second, that nobody would ever pay attention to your says if the man you talked about had not accomplished something important. When someone is completely insignificant, there is nothing else to say to this person but to remain modest and silent. This is what I advise you to do.”

Numerous friends and family members tried to publish Mileva’s accomplishments to garner her due credit for the work she contributed, but all were met with legal opposition from Albert’s Estate. Though it is unlikely that she will truly be credited with all that she deserves, there is no doubt that she was a brilliant physicist without whom Albert Einstein may never have achieved all that he did. Clearly, Mileva Einstien was a Boss Ass Bitch. 

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