Newly revealed letter shows a fearful Einstein long before Nazis’ rise

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL)

 

Newly revealed letter shows a fearful Einstein long before Nazis’ rise

Following assassination of Jewish friend and German Foreign Minister Walther Rathenau, celebrated physicist warned of ‘dark times brewing’

This June, 1954, file photo shows renowned physicist Albert Einstein in Princeton, N.J. More than a decade before the Nazis seized power in Germany, Albert Einstein was on the run and already fearful for his country’s future, according to a newly revealed handwritten letter. (AP Photo, File)

This June, 1954, file photo shows renowned physicist Albert Einstein in Princeton, N.J. More than a decade before the Nazis seized power in Germany, Albert Einstein was on the run and already fearful for his country’s future, according to a newly revealed handwritten letter. (AP Photo, File)

JERUSALEM (AP) — More than a decade before the Nazis seized power in Germany, Albert Einstein was on the run and already fearful for his country’s future, according to a newly revealed handwritten letter.

His longtime friend and fellow Jew, German Foreign Minister Walther Rathenau, had just been assassinated by right-wing extremists and police had warned the noted physicist that his life could be in danger too.

So Einstein fled Berlin and went into hiding in northern Germany. It was during this hiatus that he penned a handwritten letter to his beloved younger sister, Maja, warning of the dangers of growing nationalism and anti-Semitism years before the Nazis ultimately rose to power, forcing Einstein to flee his native Germany for good.

“Out here, nobody knows where I am, and I’m believed to be missing,” he wrote in August 1922. “Here are brewing economically and politically dark times, so I’m happy to be able to get away from everything.”

The previously unknown letter, brought forward by an anonymous collector, is set to go on auction next week in Jerusalem with an opening asking price of $12,000.

As the most influential scientist of the 20th century, Einstein’s life and writings have been thoroughly researched. The Hebrew University in Jerusalem, of which Einstein was a founder, houses the world’s largest collection of Einstein material. Together with the California Institute of Technology it runs the Einstein Papers Project. Individual auctions of his personal letters have brought in substantial sums in recent years.

This undated photo released by the Kedem Auction House, shows a copy of a 1922 letter Albert Einstein wrote to his beloved younger sister, Maja. The previously unknown letter, brought forward by an anonymous collector, is set to go on auction next week in Jerusalem with an opening asking price of $12,000. In the handwritten letter, Einstein expressed fears of anti-Semitism long before Nazis’ rise. (Kedem Auction House via AP)

The 1922 letter shows he was concerned about Germany’s future a full year before the Nazis even attempted their first coup — the failed Munich Beer Hall Putsch to seize power in Bavaria.

“This letter reveals to us the thoughts that were running through Einstein’s mind and heart at a very preliminary stage of Nazi terror,” said Meron Eren, co-owner of the Kedem Auction House in Jerusalem, which obtained the letter and offered The Associated Press a glimpse before the public sale. “The relationship between Albert and Maja was very special and close, which adds another dimension to Einstein the man and greater authenticity to his writings.”

The letter, which bears no return address, is presumed to have been written while he was staying in the port city of Kiel before embarking on a lengthy speaking tour across Asia.

“I’m doing pretty well, despite all the anti-Semites among the German colleagues. I’m very reclusive here, without noise and without unpleasant feelings, and am earning my money mainly independent of the state, so that I’m really a free man,” he wrote. “You see, I am about to become some kind of itinerant preacher. That is, firstly, pleasant and, secondly, necessary.”

Addressing his sister’s concerns, Einstein writes: “Don’t worry about me, I myself don’t worry either, even if it’s not quite kosher, people are very upset. In Italy, it seems to be at least as bad.”

Later in 1922, Einstein was awarded the Nobel Prize in physics.

This undated file photo shows famed physicist Albert Einstein (AP Photo, File)

Ze’ev Rosenkrantz, the assistant director of the Einstein Papers Project at Caltech, said the letter wasn’t the first time Einstein warned about German anti-Semitism, but it captured his state of mind at this important junction after Rathenau’s killing and the “internal exile” he imposed on himself shortly after it.

“Einstein’s initial reaction was one of panic and a desire to leave Germany for good. Within a week, he had changed his mind,” he said. “The letter reveals a mindset rather typical of Einstein in which he claims to be impervious to external pressures. One reason may be to assuage his sister’s concerns. Another is that he didn’t like to admit that he was stressed about external factors.”

When the Nazis came to power and began enacting legislation against Jews, they also aimed to purge Jewish scientists. The Nazis dismissed Einstein’s groundbreaking work, including his Law of Relativity, as “Jewish Physics.”

Einstein renounced his German citizenship in 1933 after Hitler became chancellor. The physicist settled in the United States, where he would remain until his death in 1955.

Einstein declined an invitation to serve as the first president of the newly established state of Israel but left behind his literary estate and personal papers to the Hebrew University.

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Little Green Men? Pulsars Presented a Mystery 50 Years Ago

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF SPACE.COM)

 

Little Green Men? Pulsars Presented a Mystery 50 Years Ago

Fifty years ago this month, a small group of astronomers made a revolutionary cosmic discovery — explaining a phenomenon that they initially thought might come from an intelligent alien civilization.

In November 1967, Jocelyn Bell (now Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell), a graduate student at Cambridge University in England, made what turned out to be the first detection of a pulsar — an incredibly dense ball of material formed when a massive star runs out of fuel and collapses in on itself. In the time since the discovery of pulsars, the objects have provided insight about the life cycle of stars and extreme states of matter, and provided evidence that supports Albert Einstein’s theory of gravity. There are currently efforts underway to use pulsars to detect gravitational waves, or ripples in the fabric of the universe, and another to use pulsars as part of a space-based navigation system.

Pulsars spin rapidly, while simultaneously radiating opposing beams of radio waves out into space. The setup is similar to a lighthouse that spins around one up-and-down axis and radiates two beams of light from a second axis. To ships on the water, the steady beams looks like a light pulsing on and off. The same is true for pulsars; if one of the beams happens to sweep across the Earth, it appears to astronomers as though the object is blinking or pulsing. [What Are Pulsars?]

Bell Burnell was studying objects using a radio telescope she helped build at the Mullard Radio Astronomy Observatory, outside Cambridge, under the supervision of her adviser, Antony Hewish, who designed the instrument. The telescope was intended to help study the radio cosmos using a technique called interplanetary scintillation. Hewish intended to use this method on objects called quasars, or incredibly bright centers of massive galaxies, illuminated by material swirling around monster black holes. Quasars vary in brightness, and Hewish thought the interplanetary scintillation technique was appropriate for identifying those changes.

“We were looking far beyond [what could be seen with] optical telescopes,” Hewish told the BBC of the radio astronomy he and his colleagues were doing then. “You felt very privileged actually. It was like opening a new window onto the universe, and you were the first people to have a look out through and see what was there.”

Most known neutron stars are observed as pulsars, emitting narrow, sweeping beams of radiation. They squeeze up to two solar masses into a city-size volume, crushing matter to the highest possible stable densities.

Most known neutron stars are observed as pulsars, emitting narrow, sweeping beams of radiation. They squeeze up to two solar masses into a city-size volume, crushing matter to the highest possible stable densities.

Credit: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

Bell Burnell was in charge of operating the telescope and analyzing the data, according to an article she wrote for Cosmic Search Magazine in the 1970s. Using this technique, Bell Burnell spotted an object that appeared to be flickering every 1.3 seconds; this pattern repeated for days on end. The object didn’t match the profile of a quasar. The signal conflicted with the generally chaotic nature of most cosmic phenomenon, the researchers would later explain. In addition, the light was of a very specific radio frequency, whereas most natural sources typically radiate across a wider range.

For those reasons, Bell Burnell, Hewish and some other members of the astronomy department had to acknowledge that they might have found an artificially created signal — something emitted by an intelligence species. Burnell even labeled the first pulsar LGM1, which stood for “little green men 1.”

Bell Burnell would later report that Hewitt called a meeting without her, in which he discussed with other members of the department how they should handle presenting their results to the world. While their fellow scientists might practice restraint and skepticism, it was likely that the possible detection of an intelligent alien civilization could create chaos among the public, the scientists said. The press would very likely blow the story out of proportion and descend on the Cambridge researchers. According to Hewitt, one person even suggested (perhaps only partly joking) that they burn their data and forget the whole thing.

Years later, Burnell wrote that she was rather annoyed at the appearance of the strange signal for another reason. As a graduate student, she was trying to get her thesis work done before her funding ran out, but work on the pulsar was taking away from her primary pursuit.

“Here I trying to get a Ph.D. out of a new technique, and some silly lot of little green men had to choose my aerial and my frequency to communicate with us,” she wrote in the article for Cosmic Search Magazine.

Pulsars are fast-spinning and highly magnetized stars. See how they work here.

Pulsars are fast-spinning and highly magnetized stars. See how they work here.

Credit: by Karl Tate, Infographics artist

But then, Bell Burnell resolved the problem. She went back through some of the data from the radio array and found what looked like a similar, regularly repeating signal, this one coming from an entirely different part of the galaxy. That second signal indicated that this was a family of objects, rather than a single civilization trying to make contact.

“It finally scotched the little green men hypothesis,” Bell Burnell said in the a BBC documentary filmed in 2010. “Because it’s highly unlikely there’s two lots of little green men, on opposite sides of the universe, both deciding to signal to a rather inconspicuous planet, Earth, at the same time, using a daft technique and a rather commonplace frequency.”

“It had to be some new kind of star, not seen before,” she said. “And that then cleared the way for us publishing, going public.”

In 1974, the Nobel Prize in Physics was awarded to Hewish, along with radio astronomer Martin Ryle, “for their pioneering research in radio astrophysics: Ryle for his observations and inventions, in particular of the aperture-synthesis technique, and Hewish for his decisive role in the discovery of pulsars.” The omission of Bell Burnell’s name as a contributor to the pulsar discovery has stirred controversy among scientists and members of the public, though Bell Burnell has not publicly contested the Nobel committee’s decision.

Follow Calla Cofield @callacofield. Follow us @SpacedotcomFacebook and Google+. Original article on Space.com.

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Calla Cofield

Calla Cofield, Space.com Senior Writer

Calla Cofield joined the crew of Space.com in October, 2014. She enjoys writing about black holes, exploding stars, ripples in space-time, science in comic books, and all the mysteries of the cosmos. She has been underground at three of the largest particle accelerators in the world. She’d really like to know what the heck dark matter is. Prior to joining Space.com Calla worked as a freelance science writer. Her work has appeared in APS News, Symmetry magazine, Scientific American, Nature News, Physics World, and others. From 2010 to 2014 she was a producer for The Physics Central Podcast. Previously, Calla worked at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City (hands down the best office building ever) and SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory in California. Calla studied physics at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst and is originally from Sandy, Utah. Contact Calla via: E-Mail – Twitter

Yom Kippur Haftorah: Black Lives Matter

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CHANDRA PRESCOD’S WEBSITE)

 
The opening chapter of a handwritten Book of Esther. source: Wikipedia

Yom Kippur Haftorah: Black Lives Matter

You shall love people — including Black people — with all your heart

I shared this with my synagogue during Yom Kippur 5777 Shacharit services.

To grow up Black in America is to know that your humanity is always in question.

I have a lot of memories of this from my childhood, but one stands out in particular.

When I was 15, I was thrown out of a New Year’s Eve party because Black people — or as they repeatedly shouted at me, N-words — were not welcome.

Later, when I was an 18-year-old college sophomore, a white Jewish leader of Harvard Hillel yelled at me that I was an anti-Semite because I was at a peace rally organized by Arab students. She could not imagine that someone my color was an Ashkenazi Jew too.

Now at 34, every time my mother calls me, I think it’s to tell me one of my cousins is dead. Or in jail. A couple of weeks ago a phone call from a cousin was in fact about another one who was in jail, falsely accused by a white person who wanted to teach her a lesson.

In 2016, I assume that every conversation with one of my Black friends and family members may be our last one. My friends and family are located close to the places where Black people have been the victims of extrajudicial police murders. Whenever I hear the news, I wait — in complete terror — for a name. And I have given instructions to my husband about what to do if it’s me.

I find too often that white Jews hear stories like this and think, “That’s sad for them. I will act in solidarity when I can.” As we think about making the world whole, about Teshuvah and our commitment to Tikkun Olam and respecting and loving G-d, the G-d that we make together, I believe this approach should be questioned.

Why? Because Black people are People. What is happening is an affront to all of us, not just those of us who are Black. It is time to stop treating this like it is a grief that only Black people can feel and understand, as if Blacks are somehow a different species.

In fact, it is hard to be Black and Jewish in a community that does not see how alienating this approach can be. I have thought many times, in the last two months especially, about walking away from Judaism because I did not feel fully acknowledged as a fellow human.

I don’t believe this outcome is fated though. Albert Einstein — my theoretical physics hero — said that racism is a disease of white people, and he included himself in this grouping. He didn’t write this during the Days of Awe, but I think it is a good framing of what matters during this time.

As we end the days of awe, I want my fellow Jews who are not Black to consider that repentance means in part to take responsibility and repair what you can.

Part of this repair in my view is recognizing that Black Lives, Native Lives, Latinx lives are your people’s lives. Not just because there are Jews of all of those races but also because part of tikkun olam must be recreating the wholeness of humanity.

The message of Tikkun Olam is clear to me: Black Lives Matter can’t just be a movement you support. It has to be personal for you, like your family’s life depended on its success.

Think of the times you have imagined early Nazi Germany and the terror Jews felt walking down the street, Jews like my uncle’s family. We, your fellow Americans, your fellow human beings, are terrified, walking down the street. And we are, too often, terrorized in the name of whiteness, in the name of white safety.

It’s time to reject that and say: Black Lives Matter, like they are the lives of your family members.


Read more about Black Lives Matter Jewish mourning rituals.

Anti-Racism as a Sacred Jewish Value by Rabbi Brant Rosen

Jewish solidarity with Black Lives Matter by Rabbi Brant Rosen

“Let us not value property over people; let us not protect material objects while human lives hang in the balance.” — Dr. Yolanda Pierce, A Litany for Those Who Aren’t Ready for Healing

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