In a letter to writer/publisher A. S. Suvorin, Chekhov wrote, “You are right in demanding that an artist should take an intelligent attitude toward his work, but you confuse two things: solving a problem and stating a problem correctly. It is only the second that is obligatory for the artist.”
I used this quote as a guideline in writing the Darwin book, where a reader might expect me to resolve the theological conflict between Charles and Emma and thereby make some pronouncement about my position. But that is not the place of fiction.
This quote might be my guide once again, on the controversial issue of Mileva Maric’s possible contribution to Einstein’s work. I will merely state the problem correctly:
He is married to a physicist classmate who once attended class and took meticulous notes while he went to coffee houses and read the work of contemporary physicists. Gradually, he enticed her to join him there.
They enjoyed discussing physics together and read the same materials.
She sat in on his meetings of the Olympia Academy, contributing little to the discussion.
Einstein told her Serbian friends that she solved all his mathematical problems for him.
When he divorced her, he immediately reunited with his friend, mathematician Marcel Grossmann, the other meticulous note taker at the ETH. Grossmann was by then chair of the department and a specialist in geometry.
Geometry was the course that Maric failed twice, the score that prevented her graduating from the ETH.
The geometry of the fourth dimension was worked out by the math professor at the ETH who had once called Einstein a “lazy dog.”
Einstein regretted having paid so little attention to math when at the ETH. He hadn’t understood its necessity in relation to theoretical physics.
Several international conferences have convened around the subject, the apparent conclusion being that she did his math but there is no evidence that she generated the creative ideas.
This is a but a partial list of the facts, composed from memory after a hiatus on Einstein research, but I shall continue building it as I re-engage and read more.