Sometimes you may wonder, "If Albert Einstein were alive today, what would we be able to learn from him?" Well, one of the greatest scientific minds in history may not be around anymore, but that doesn't mean he still can't enlighten us.
Princeton University, where Einstein lectured from 1933 until his death in 1955, just launched a new digital archive called The Collected Papers of Albert Einstein. The site makes available thousands of Einstein's personal documents for you to read for free online. This includes everything from letters to papers to diary entries that Einstein had left around Princeton and in such non-preservative places as shoeboxes.
Right now, the archive includes roughly 5,000 documents in 13 volumes. The documents are presented in their original language of German, but an English translation is available in most cases. Another volume containing 1,000 documents is expected to arrive online in January, barely scratching the surface of about 80,000 documents from Einstein.
The documents available in the digital archive so far chronicle Einstein's life from his youth to 1923, when he was 44 years old, just a year after he received his Nobel Prize in Physics. While reading the notebook where he worked out the general theory of relativity is definitely fascinating, what we really want to see is the juicy stuff, right? If you're looking to get something a bit more tantalizing out of this archive, you can check out Einstein's love letters, divorce file and high school transcript.
However, this isn't the first time Einstein's documents have been made available to peruse online. Since 2003, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, the California Institute of Technology and Princeton University Press have made his documents available through the Einstein Archives Online. Diana Kormos-Buchwald, a professor of physics and the history of science at the California Institute of Technology spearheaded the new Eisntein archive.
From a quick look around the digital archive, it's a clean and well-organized site. Click on one of the 13 volumes, which are organized chronologically, and you'll be redirected to a table of contents linking to each individual document. The titles aren't that descriptive, so unless you're an Einstein expert or really know what you're looking for, it's probably best to not have any expectations going into this collection and just explore. Making new discoveries for yourself is probably how Einstein would have wanted it anyway.