Thursday, January 06, 2005

Einstein's lost daughter

We will be hearing a lot about Albert Einstein this year. It is the 100th anniversary of his annus mirabilis, his "year of marvels." In 1905, as a relatively unknown physicist working in the Swiss patent office, Einstein published four papers in the prestigious journal Annalen der Physik, any one of which might have won him a Nobel prize. One paper prepared the ground for quantum theory, another provided definitive proof for the existence of molecules, a third established the theory of relativity.

At the time, Einstein was recently married to his first love, Mileva Maric, herself an accomplished physicist. In 1901, Mileva had given birth to their illegitimate child, a daughter named Lieserl. The newborn was given up for adoption. No records have been found, and Lieserl vanished from history.

It is interesting to think that a rather astonishing combination of genes is floating around somewhere out there in the gene pool. Someone could make a big splash (and a lot of money on a book) by tracking down Lieserl's fate.