Saturday, May 17, 2008

Einstein's (lack of) religion letter goes for $404,000

E-mails will never really match up to this (sigh!). Einstein's letter in which he talks clearly about religion (no abstract metaphors...) has been auctioned off for $404,000. Richard Dawkins tried to buy it, but didn't get it at the end (also hear Dawkins discuss this letter and Einstein's concept of God on BBC). Thats too bad...
A letter the physicist wrote in 1954 to the philosopher Eric Gutkind, in which he described the Bible as “pretty childish” and scoffed at the notion that the Jews could be a “chosen people,” sold for $404,000 at an auction in London. That was 25 times the presale estimate.

The Associated Press quoted Rupert Powell, the managing director of Bloomsbury Auctions, as describing the unidentified buyer as having “a passion for theoretical physics and all that that entails.” Among the unsuccessful bidders, according to The Guardian newspaper, was Oxford evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins, an outspoken atheist.

The price makes the Gutkind letter one of the best sellers among Einstein manuscripts. That $404,000 is only a little less than the $442,500 paid for the entire collection of 53 love letters between Einstein and his first wife, Mileva Maric, at an auction at Christie’s in New York in 1996. At that same auction a paper by Einstein and his best friend, Michele Besso, attempting a calculation that would later be a pivotal piece of his crowning achievement, the General Theory of Relativity, went for $398,500.
Read the full story here.