The Shrouded Other Half
Well, never did she receive an adequate support neither from her immediate family, nor from outside… otherwise, Mileva Marić-Einstein (December 19, 1875-August 4, 1948) – the first wife of Albert Einstein, the Theoretical Physicist born in Germany – could well have modified the existing knowledge pertaining to Physics, as she was no less gifted than her illustrious husband!
In their recently published book ‘Einstein’s Wife: The Real Story of Mileva Einstein- Marić’, authors Allen Esterson and David C Cassidy have mentioned that as Einstein was extremely intelligent, he had realised the true potential of his wife even before their marriage! In October 1900, Einstein had written to his bride-to-be Mileva: “I’m so lucky to have found you, a creature who is my equal.”
Mileva & Albert Einstein, January 6, 1903
The publication actually tells the story of a brilliant, but frustrated scientist. The authors have claimed that the legendary scientist hardly played a role in development of Mileva’s talent in a proper manner, despite the fact that Mileva had shown an extraordinary depth of her knowledge of Physics and Mathematics. Still, Mileva – like many other lady scientists of her time – was a victim of the patriarchal society! The authors said that motherhood and marriage had not only derailed Mileva, but also frustrated her ambition to be recognised as a ‘Person of Science’! Ultimately, she failed to secure her unique place in scientific history, even after co-authoring her husband’s ‘Theory of Relativity’…
Mileva became highly depressed after her break-up with Einstein in 1919. Her childhood, too, did not go well. It is hence, her childhood and post-marriage phase had made her life miserable in a way, which she had failed to overcome! Professor Cassidy has thoroughly discussed Mileva’s childhood in the book, while science historian Ruth Lewin Sime has narrated Mileva’s struggle to establish herself as a scientist. Meanwhile, British Mathematician and Physicist Allen Esterson concentrated mainly on Mileva’s affair with Einstein, their marriage, divorce and days after their separation…
Esterson had written that Mileva was an extra-ordinary woman by any measure! She was one of the first women to study Physics at a European university, where she had met and fell in love with a young physicist whose revolutionary theories would shortly transform our understanding of the universe! Mileva’s marriage to Einstein and the birth of their three children (the first, Lieserl, was born before the two were married) derailed her career as a Physicist. Ensuing marital difficulties also threw Mileva into a severe depression for at least a year, after she and Albert separated in 1916 and divorced three years later. The subject of much speculation on the part of Einstein biographers, Mileva’s life has remained shrouded in mystery and half-truth!
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