The Challenge of Editing Einstein's Scientific Manuscripts
Einstein's research manuscripts provide important insights into his exceptional creativity. At the same time, they can present difficulties for a publication in the documentary edition of the Collected Papers of Albert Einstein (CPAE). The problems are illustrated by discussing how some important examples of Einstein's research manuscripts have been included in previous volumes of the CPAE series: his Scratch Notebook from the years 1910-1914, his so-called Zurich Notebook from 1912, documenting his early search for a generally covariant theory of gravitation, and the Einstein-Besso manuscript from 1913, containing calculations of Mercury's perihelion advance on the basis of the Einstein-Grossmann equations. Another category of research notes are "back-of-an-envelope" calculations. A major challenge for future volumes of the CPAE series are Einstein's Berlin and Princeton research manuscripts on a unified field theory. This batch of some 1700 undated manuscript pages presents a formidable challenge also for historians of science. Although the web provides new possibilities for the editorial task, such as the publication of facsimiles on the Einstein Archives Online website, it is argued that a satisfactory solution of the editorial problems posed by these manuscripts depends on scholarly efforts to reconstruct and understand the content of Einstein's manuscripts.
- Pub Date:
- December 2004
- History of Physics
- 19 pp., 4 figs