The Net Advance of Physics RETRO:
by Alexander Moszkowski


Over the course of 2014, The Net Advance of Physics plans to serialise Alexander Moszkowski's Einstein the Searcher, a largely-forgotten text which, in addition to being one of the first popular accounts of relativity, provides a glimpse of Einstein's personal philosophy at the moment when he emerged on the international stage as a public figure.

Moszkowski, born in 1851, was a successful journalist and popular novelist -- one of the first writers of science fiction in German -- but for that very reason had a somewhat controversial reputation. He met Einstein in 1916 and immediately knew that here was someone history would remember as a German titan like Goethe ; he resolved forthwith to be remembered himself as a new Eckermann, and carefully recorded all of his conversations with the rising genius. The decision to publish these "dialogues" was obviously catalysed by the enormous publicity accompanying the 1919 British eclipse expedition, and was strenuously opposed by Max and Heidi Born, who despised Moszkowski as a low-brow money-grubber. (The story of how Einstein the Searcher came into the world despite the Borns' venom and Einstein's own ambivalence has been told entertainingly by Kevin Brown in his essay The Moszkowski Affair at MathPages.Com.) The published text of 1921 (followed here) apparently is only part of what Moszkowski wrote, having been heavily abridged in the fear that a longer work would make Einstein come across as a narcissist obsessed with his own fame. (Eckermann, after all, had published his memoirs only after Goethe's death -- Moszkowski, twenty-eight years older than Einstein, was naturally unwilling to wait!) Even in its partial state Einstein the Searcher fulfills its German title, providing remarkable and otherwise unobtainable "insights into the thought-world" of the greatest physicist of the 1900s during a critical period of his life. While the reader might wish that there was a bit more Einstein and less Moszkowski in some of the dialogues, one cannot but be grateful to the author for recording (and sometimes provoking) Einstein's comments on subjects about which his views would otherwise be unknown.

New chapters will be added at five-week intervals. Although Brose's translation will provide the basis of this edition, it will be checked against the German original and a few notes will be added. It is hoped that Einstein specialists and other scholars who happen to find this site will provide additional input that can be incorporated into this edition ; please write to Norman Hugh Redington, redingtn at mit full-stop edu.

SOURCE: Einstein: Einblicke in seine Gedankenwelt -- Gemeinverständliche Betrachtegung über die Relativitätstheorie und ein neues Weltsystem entwickelt aus Gesprächen mit Einstein von Alexander Moszkowski [Hamburg: Hoffmann und Campe, 1921]
English translation: Einstein the Searcher translated by Henry L. Brose [New York: E. P. Dutton, 1922]


  1. Phenomena of the Heavens
  2. Beyond our Power
  3. Valhalla
  4. Education
  5. The Discoverer
  6. Of Different Worlds
  7. Problems
  8. Highways and By-ways
  9. An Experimental Analogy
  10. Disconnected Suggestions
  11. Einstein's Life and Personality