Einstein and the Naturforschende Gesellschaft in Zürich (Society for Natural Sciences, Zurich):

 „... Ich bin gerne bereit, den Vortrag am 16. Januar zu halten. Dagegen kann ich mich
leider nicht dazu verpflichten den Vortrag niederzuschreiben. ..."

"... I am quite willing to hold the lecture on January 16. However, and unfortunately,
I cannot oblige myself to write the lecture down. ..."

 Albert Einstein in a letter to the President of the Society for Natural Sciences, Zurich, Carl Schröter, Zurich 1910
 

EINSTEIN AND THE SOCIETY FOR NATURAL SCIENCES, ZURICH

A short story of the society

The society was founded for the Promotion of Natural Sciences in 1746. The founders were the Swiss natural scientist Johannes Gessner (1709-1790) and citizens of the city of Zurich. First under the name Physics Society, later Society for Natural Sciences, Zurich. In addition to physics it devoted itself, among other things, to natural history (this meant botanic, zoology, geology, geography, meteorology and astronomy), mathematics, technique, pharmacy and agriculture. In addition to the organisation of excursions and public lectures with subsequent discussions the society published quarterly papers and New Year's papers with articles of natural scientists as well as book reviews. The Zurich University and the ETH Zurich profited from the activities of the society.

The Society for Natural Sciences, Zurich, one of the oldest natural-scientific societies in Switzerland, has at the moment approx. 1,000 members. One of its most prominent members was Albert Einstein.

Albert Einstein and the Society for Natural Sciences, Zurich

On November 14, 1910, Albert Einstein became member of the Society for Natural Sciences, Zurich. On January 16, 1911 he held a lecture with the topic: „Die Relativitäts-Theorie" ("The Theory of Relatitivy") in front of members of the society. This lecture was preceded by a correspondence: On December 11, 1910 Einstein wrote to the President of the society, the Swiss botanist Carl Schröter (1855-1939):

„... Ich bin gerne bereit, den Vortrag am 16. Januar zu halten. Dagegen kann ich mich leider nicht dazu verpflichten den Vortrag niederzuschreiben. Denn erstens würde es mir schwer, die Zeit dazu aufzutreiben, und zweitens habe ich dabei gar nichts Neues vorzubringen, sodass eine Publikation nicht gerechtfertig wäre. ..."

"... I am quite willing to hold the lecture on January 16. However, and unfortunately, I cannot oblige myself to write the lecture down. One reason is that I probably may not have enough time for it, and a second reason is that I do not have something new at all, so a publication would not be justified. ..."

However, there was a transcript and publication of Einstein‘s lecture. While Einstein held his lecture, one of the present students, Otto Vollenweider, took notes.

In a letter dated January 20, 1911 to Schröter, Einstein wrote:

„... Morgen (Samstag) kommt der Stenograph, und wir werden solange beieinander sitzen, bis die Sache vollkommen erledigt ist. ..."

"... Tomorrow (Saturday) comes the stenographer, and we will sit together until we are completely finished. ..."

One day later Einstein wrote to Schröter again:

„... Es ist nun alles durchkorrigiert. Heute Nachmittag und morgen wird Herr Vollenweider die Sache in die Schreibmaschine diktieren und dafür sorgen, dass das druckfertige Manuskript morgen Abend in Ihre Hände kommt. ..."

"... Now it is all reviewed and corrected. This afternoon and tomorrow Mr. Vollenweider will dictate it all in the typing machine and will take care that the printable manuscript will be with you tomorrow evening. ..."

In the minutes of the meeting on January 30, 1911 Carl Schröter especially thanks Albert Einstein for the laborious work when sighting and reviewing the transcript of his lecture. Albert Einstein was also ready to discuss the theory of relativity with members of the society.

On November 27, 1911 the article „Die Relativitäts-Theorie" ("The Theory of Relativity") was published in the quarterly paper 56, pages 1-14. Quite a number of lectures and articles of Einstein should follow in connection with his membership in the Society for Natural Sciences, Zurich.

Also after he left the city of Zurich, Einstein continued to cultivate the contact to the Society for Natural Sciences, Zurich and to some members. His membership ended with his death on April 18, 1955.

Bibliography:

   
Editors: Martin J. Klein, A. J. Kox, Jürgen Renn, Robert Schulmann The Collected Papers of Albert Einstein, Volume 3 Princeton 1993
Editors: Martin J. Klein, A. J. Kox, Robert Schulmann The Collected Papers of Albert Einstein, Volume 5 Princeton 1993
Editors: Robert Schulmann, A. J. Kox, Michel Janssen, József Illy The Collected Papers of Albert Einstein, Volume 8 Princeton 1998
     
 

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