Referred to as the “Dead Sea Scrolls” of physics, The Digital Einstein Papers Project “is an open-access site for The Collected Papers of Albert Einstein, the ongoing publication of Einstein’s massive written legacy comprising more than 30,000 unique documents.”
Created by Princeton University Press through the cooperation of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem — to whom Einstein gave his copyright — the project is, in essence, an effort to make every known aspect of the mind of the late genius as accessible as possible. Anyone with an internet connection will be able to scour everything from his love letters to the notebook in which he derived his general theory of relativity.
The work available currently encompasses 13 different volumes — about 5000 documents — up to 1923, and is expected to eventually span up to 25 volumes in total, comprising all of the 80,000+ papers he left behind by the time of his death in 1955. Each text is equipped with an archival identifier number, enabling users to click through to the original archive at Einstein Archives Online, and in many cases provides the ability to toggle between the original German or English versions. New volumes will be subsequently added approx. two years after original book publication of the material, with vol. 14 set to be added to the site in January of 2016.
Einstein, as we’ve cited before, was single-handedly responsible for unlocking one of the deepest ciphers of the physical world through his general theory of relativity. Out of his studies arose the ground upon which both quantum and string theory have come to be based, as well as the concepts of zero-point energy, dark energy, the theory of wormholes and the search for a unified field theory. His science was also responsible for the first atomic bomb. A great duality.
While privacy is undoubtedly an inalienable human right for living persons, is it fitting that every aspect of their lives should become available for study to the general public after death? In the case of someone such as Einstein, the answer appears to be a resounding ‘yes’. Even as the Digital Einstein Project continues to unfold, revealing everything there is to be known about the life of the German physics genius, 46 thin slices of his brain sit mounted on microscope slides, on exhibit at the Mütter Museum in Philadelphia. Some people, it seems, are so fascinating the human race simply can’t get enough.