Einstein; the Plagiarist of the Century

by Julie Cleaver


When most people hear the name Albert Einstein they think of a genius, tongue-poking scientist and perhaps the formula E = mc2. Those who know slightly more about him recall that he was an imaginative German physicist who fundamentally created the theory of relativity.  

Even fifty six years after his death, Einstein is still globally renowned as being one of the great masterminds of the 20th century. On a personal level he was one of my ‘academic heroes’, his quotes proudly plastered all over my walls. However, when I looked beyond the glowing aura that surrounds him and actually studied his works, I discovered a harsh and disappointing truth. To the scientific community, his brilliance is not actually correlated with inventive discoveries, but rather his ability to plagiarise other scientists and sneakily dodge copyright lawsuits.                                                                           

In 1905 Einstein wrote a long thesis entitled “On the Electrodynamics of Moving Bodies”. This article discusses the theory of relativity, part B disclosing the ever famous formula E=mc2. However, Einstein failed to mention a single source throughout his whole thesis. Scholarly journals generally contain pages of footnotes and references; therefore his inability to cite even one source is beyond peculiar, even for his times. Not to mention the fact that Einstein was also a trained patent clerk, making him more than aware of laws regarding plagiarism.

So was Einstein just an inherently gifted scientific prodigy who was able to conceptualize every theory he supposedly invented on his own, without building on prior discoveries? Yeah right. Surely someone with that sort of mind would be intelligent enough to research other theorists’ viewpoints, at least out of interest if nothing else. But if not Einstein, who is to credit for all of the great breakthroughs in relative motion? There are numerous individuals to recognise, in fact too many to name. Theoretical discoveries and creative processes are generally collective ventures, ones where people build on existing ideas adding their own nuance and expertise to the subject matter. Nonetheless there are two major scientists whom Einstein heavily embezzled information from.

Firstly, there is the French mastermind named Jules Henri Poincaré (1854-1912). Keswani, the author of ‘Origin and Concept of Relativity’ (1965) stated that, “Poincaré introduced ‘the principle of relative motion’ in his book, Science and Hypothesis, published in 1902″. Einstein’s thesis which was created in 1905 ‘coincidentally’ features similar discoveries, yet he claims to have never read or encountered Poincaré’s report… how convenient.

There is also the Dutch physicist Hendrik Lorentz (1853-1928) who won a Nobel Prize in Physics in 1902. Lorentz’s findings were the fundamental basis of Einstein’s paper. Bjerknes, who was a meteorologist instrumental in creating the modern weather forecasting system, stated that, “Einstein’s theory is not a denial of, nor an alternative for, that of Lorentz. It is only a duplicate and disguise for it.” Sorry to be like that kid who told everyone in primary school that Santa wasn’t real, but Einstein is, indeed, a phony. He even said himself that, “The secret to creativity is knowing how to hide your sources.” He was a blatant cheat, and he knew it.

But how did he get away with this? Why didn’t somebody in the know brutally expose him and reveal his deceitful nature to the entire world? The answer is basic, almost obvious; money. The scientific community was profiting greatly from their new poster boy, receiving generous research grants and attention from the media they never before had. So for the greater good of their society they overlooked the truth about Einstein and falsely praised him regardless.

Keep in mind that all this went down in the early nineteen hundreds, so there were no snarky online bloggers to shut him down and reveal him to the public. If Einstein was alive today perhaps this scandal would not have occurred. Although despite numerous semi-recent attempts to expose him, including Christopher Jon Bjerknes book, ‘Albert Einstein: The Incorrigible Plagiarist’ (2002), his idolised reputation has remained ingrained into the collective public opinion.

Now I’m not trying to entirely discredit Einstein; he still was an innately intelligent man who helped propel a few discoveries here and there. However, the towering pedestal he stands on is unfairly deserved. But Einstein’s story is just one example among hundreds, perhaps thousands, of common misconceptions, thus bringing me to my point; “Interroga Omnia”-which is Latin for “Question Everything”.

It is easy to trust accepted beliefs, but they are far too often tainted with inaccuracies. So unless you want to be deceived your whole life, challenge established truths; delve deeply into matters and find the accurate, objective answers to your questions. Your findings may likely be worse than your initial perceptions, but they also may surprise you for the better. Either way, as an intelligent member of this world it is your right to know what is really going on and to not be unknowingly misled into constructing your reality based upon lies. So do not simply listen to the truth, instead, hunt for the truth. Interroga Omnia.