On residual rays – and guilt about an old girlfriend
Albert Einstein (1879-1955). Autograph letter signed ('Albert') to Michele Besso, Prague, 26 December 1911.
In German, five pages, 177 x 112mm, on two bifolia, including six diagrams; followed on the same sheet by a letter by Mileva Einstein, 3 pages.
Please note this lot is the property of a private consignor.
Published in Pierre Speziali (ed.) Albert Einstein. Michele Besso. Correspondance 1903-1955. Paris: Hermann, 1972. No. 7
This lot ships from Switzerland.
For international shipment (including the EU), buyers should take into account customs and duty clearance time when making purchases. As such procedures vary by country, and given the increased volume of deliveries at this time of year, Christie's recommends that purchases be completed as soon as possible. To ensure despatch of purchased lots before Christmas, full, cleared payment must be made by Monday, 11 December.
Please note this lot is the property of a private individual.
The condition of lots can vary widely and the nature of the lots sold means that they are unlikely to be in a perfect condition. Lots are sold in the condition they are in at the time of sale.
In our opinion there are no significant condition issues.
Additional Charge Details
Additional charges, including buyer’s premium, value added, sales or compensating use or equivalent tax, any and all shipping expenses, including costs, packing and handling, any loss/damage liability fees, customs duty, import tax, any local clearance fees applicable for your country, and all other applicable charges will apply.
In addition to the hammer price, the buyer agrees to pay to us the buyer’s premium together with any applicable VAT, sales, compensating use or equivalent tax in the place of sale. Please refer to our Conditions of Sale for further details on buyer's premium.
VAT: All lots shall be sold as part of the Margin Scheme unless stated with the Dagger symbol (†) or the words “Dagger Lot”, the Omega symbol (Ω) or the words “Omega Lot”, the Star symbol (*) or the words “Starred Lot” or with the Theta symbol (θ) or the words "Zero-rated Lot." Please refer to our Conditions of Sale for further information on VAT symbols.
You are responsible for any VAT (including any Import VAT) payable as a result of the sale of the lot. VAT charges and refunds depend on the particular circumstances of the buyer. In all circumstances EU and UK law takes precedence. For the purposes of this online-only auction, the VAT amount in the buyer’s premium for EU private buyers cannot be refunded. For buyers outside the EU, VAT may be refunded if certain conditions are met including showing proof of a ‘controlled’ export outside the EU within 30 days of shipment (for lots marked with the Star symbol (*) or the words “Starred Lot”, or with the Omega symbol (Ω) or the words “Omega Lot”, on Temporary Admission) and for all other lots proof of export within 3 months of shipping. For buyers outside the EU where items are shipped outside the EU through Christie’s Art Transport, you will not be required to pay the VAT at settlement. Please contact Christie’s Client Services on +44 (0) 207 839 9060 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org for further information.
For details on private and company bidding registration, tax information (including refunds and exemptions), and CITES lots, please see our FAQs and Conditions of Sale or contact us by email at email@example.com or by telephone on +44 (0) 20 7839 9060.
You must pay the full amount due (comprising the hammer price, buyer’s premium, any applicable value added, sales, compensating use or equivalent tax, any and all shipping expenses, including costs, packing and handling, any loss/damage liability fees and all other applicable charges) no later than 23:59 (GMT) on Monday, 11 December 2017. This applies even if you wish to export the lot and an export license is, or may be, required. You will not acquire title and own the lot until all amounts due to Christie’s have been received by Christie’s in full and funds cleared.
Provided that your purchased lots are paid for in full and funds cleared by the payment deadline, Christie’s will store your purchased lots free of charge until the relevant deadline for shipment, at which time purchases will be shipped to you at your expense and pursuant to the instructions you provided at the time of payment. You must indicate if you wish to have your purchases shipped domestically or internationally at the time of checkout. Payment for your purchase, including any applicable charges for shipping, and a provision of your final shipping destination, must be returned to Christie’s by the payment deadline to qualify for this extended free-of-charge storage. If shipping arrangements have not been confirmed for any items sold or such items have not been paid for in full, and funds cleared by the payment deadline, administration and handling fees may be charged at Christie’s full discretion. If such shipments can be facilitated, purchases will be shipped to the address you provide at checkout. Purchases cannot be delivered to P.O. boxes. Please ask for details from your customs agent, applicable government entity or other organization.
If you opt to collect your purchase(s) at Christie's, 8 Place de la Taconnerie, 1204 Geneva, Switzerland, please kindly email Christie’s Client Service centre at firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule your collection at least 48 hours in advance and to secure any relevant forms. Payment must be made online prior to collection.
If you do not collect your purchase(s) within two weeks after sale close Christie’s reserves the right ship them to you at your expense.
Should you send someone to collect your purchase(s) on your behalf, please complete a Letter of Authorization and send it to us at email@example.com prior to collection. Your representative must present a valid picture ID at the time of collection, such as a driver’s license or passport.
A long analysis of a faulty experiment on residual rays, with comments on electron theory, the failings of the Solvay Congress, an important proof about spectral lines – and news of an old girlfriend.
'I recently wrote a short paper about residual rays...'. Einstein goes on to discuss at length some experimental findings by Heinrich Rubens, which he considers wrong, providing a series of diagrams showing Rubens's measurement of the residual rays of sodium chloride, the expected finding (as an even series of waves) and the actual result ('a sort of beats'): 'Rubens interpreted this as a sort of beat, produced by the fact that there are two almost monochromatic residual rays in a bundle, and NaCl has two proper frequencies'. Three further diagrams show the results of the analysis of a single proper frequency using dispersion theory, and showing the reflectivity, and finally showing the true curve.
The letter opens with a reference to the failed attempts at the Solvay Congress to base radiation theory on electron theory: 'I made no further progress with electron theory. In Brussels too they acknowledged the failure of the theory with lamentations, without finding a cure. The congress there generally very much resembled a lamentation over the ruins of Jerusalem. Nothing positive came from it...'. There is positive news of Habicht's 'Maschinchen' (for measuring small quantities of electricity), which has had a successful demonstration in Berlin; and there are many other interesting scientific matters to talk about – too many to commit to paper: 'As the most important result to have been confirmed by physicists seems to me the proof that spectral lines can be emitted and absorbed by neutral metal vapours'. Einstein concludes with a brief mention of his impending return to a post at the Zurich Polytechnic, and a reference to his former romantic attachment to Besso's sister-in-law Marie Winteler, with a hint of residual guilt: 'I am very pleased to hear of Marie's marriage. Thus dwindles a dark point in my life...'. The accompanying letter by Mileva Einstein expresses her relief that they will be returning to Switzerland soon from Prague, and sends news of their recent activities ('We go often to the theatre and concerts'), and of the first schooldays of their eldest son, Hans Albert, in particular regarding his religious education.
Need Help? Email our Specialists or call +1 212 636 2002 with questions.