You might have heard of Albert Einstein. No, not the guy who does the voice for the dad in Finding Nemo. That’s Albert Brooks, although his birth name was Albert Einstein, too. I’m talking about the twentieth-century physicist who wrote about general and special forms of relativity. He wrote a lot of other things, too, and all of them, all 80,000 items, are going to be posted on a the web site alberteinstein.info.
The Einstein Archives Online is a joint project of the Albert Einstein Archives at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and the Einstein Papers Project at the California Institute of Technology. The revised site went online on Monday, March 19, 2012. For now, only a portion of Einstein’s collected papers are available through the site. But over the next few years, every official primary source document for the German-born physics genius will appear online.
Hopefully, efforts like these represent the future of primary source research. In the past, if you wanted to do actual research of lasting value, you had to travel to some far-off library, some of which barred access to all but the most serious of Ph.D. scholars. If you didn’t have the education qualifications or the financial resources needed to spend months in a distant library cavern, you could beg your local Inter-library Loan specialist for remote access to said materials, and deal with the scorn and ridicule coming back across the counter. As more items like the Einstein papers come online, even those with a casual interest in historical events will be able to perform real research on real materials. And while perhaps such research does not qualify as groundbreaking, it will provide a gateway to new discoveries that benefit scholars and the public alike.
[Image Credits: PBS]