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Authors: Irving Belateche

Einstein's Secret

BOOK: Einstein's Secret
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Einstein’s Secret

 

 

 

Irving Belateche

 

 

Laurel Canyon Press

Los Angeles

 

 

Laurel Canyon Press, February 2014

 

Copyright © 2014 by Irving Belateche

 

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, including information storage and retrieval systems, without written permission from the publisher, except for brief quotations in reviews.

 

This book is a work of fiction. Any references to historical events, real people, or real locales are used fictitiously. Other names, characters, places, and incidents are products of the author’s imagination, and any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

 

 

Library of Congress Control Number: 2014902307

 

ISBN 978-0-9840265-5-5

 

 

Edited by David Gatewood

www.lonetrout.com

 

Cover design by Karri Klawiter

www.artbykarri.com

 

Formatting by Polgarus Studio

www.polgarusstudio.com

 

 

Laurel Canyon Press

Los Angeles, California

www.LaurelCanyonPress.com

Prologue

In the late 1940s, Albert Einstein, the man who singlehandedly transformed the way we understand our universe, was well into his sixties, but his health was declining. He suffered from severe stomach pain and anemia.

In December 1948, his pain became so unbearable that he checked into Brooklyn Jewish Hospital in New York. There, doctors immediately rushed him into exploratory surgery and discovered that he’d had an aortic aneurism. To stop the aneurism from rupturing, they used a revolutionary technique. They wrapped his heart in cellophane.

That technique extended Einstein’s life. But from that day on, the celebrated scientist knew he was living on borrowed time. To most of his acquaintances, he appeared to be fine. He continued to play the role of reluctant celebrity, a role he’d come to accept, lending his name and reputation to a few high-profile causes dear to his failing heart, and he continued to spend the bulk of his time working through thousands of equations, trying to discover the unified field theory, the theory that still eluded him.

But starting in late 1954, some of his close friends noticed that Einstein’s demeanor had changed. The once buoyant professor was now more somber, as if something had started to weigh heavily on him, and they suspected that this something was more than his mortality.

Some of his friends suggested that it was his growing frustration at not yet having discovered the unified field theory. Others suggested it was something more pressing, perhaps a flaw he’d found in one of his established theories. And a few believed that he’d discovered something significant and that he wanted to share it with the world, but for some reason was reluctant to do so.

On the morning of April 13, 1955, seven years after doctors had wrapped Einstein’s heart in cellophane, Einstein didn’t leave for his office at the Institute for Advanced Studies at Princeton University. He was feeling sick, so he stayed home.

That afternoon, his long-time assistant, Ruth Meyer, heard him collapse in the bathroom. She called his doctor, who rushed over and gave him morphine. Einstein went to sleep, but it was clear to the doctor that Einstein’s aneurysm had started to rupture.

The next day, a group of doctors arrived at Einstein’s house and examined him. They recommended surgery and also told him that the aorta was probably too far gone to be salvaged. So Einstein refused the surgery, saying, “I want to go when I want. It is tasteless to prolong life artificially. I have done my share, it is time to go. I will do it elegantly.”

*

If Einstein’s wishes had been followed, I would’ve never discovered that the world’s most famous scientist had a secret. He would’ve died at home and taken his secret with him.

But his wishes weren’t followed.

The next morning, Ruth Meyer found him in severe pain and decided to call an ambulance. The ambulance arrived promptly, and Einstein was rushed to Princeton Hospital. At the hospital, he stabilized, and a couple of days later, on April 17, he said he felt well enough to write. He asked for paper and pencil, worked on some equations, then fell asleep.

Late that night, at 1:18 a.m., he awoke, spoke a few words in German, and died. Mrs. Ander, the nurse on duty at the time, didn’t know German, so she didn’t understand his last words.

History recorded that the last message from Einstein to the world, the last message that we could understand, was those pages he’d written, filled with equations. And I, like everyone else who’d studied Einstein’s life, accepted history’s judgment.

Until I came across a long-lost quote in a newspaper.

In the immediate aftermath of Einstein’s death, many newspapers and magazines published articles about his last few days. He’d died at Princeton Hospital, so the local New Jersey papers also solicited quotes from the doctors and nurses who’d attended to the scientist.

Those papers all carried the same quote from Nurse Ander, the last person to see Einstein alive. They quoted her as saying that Einstein spoke a few words of German right before he passed away. Her quote was why this fact was so persistent in all that’s been written about Einstein’s death.

But one newspaper carried more of her quote.

The
Trenton Evening Times
also quoted her as saying that those words of German might’ve been the same words he’d written down a little earlier in the night. This quote was my gateway into Einstein’s secret.

Nurse Ander was saying that Einstein hadn’t written just equations on that final day, as history had recorded. He’d also written
words
. Words that I believed preserved a secret. Einstein had been hiding something from the world during the last year of his life, and he’d finally shared it on his deathbed. He’d confessed his secret rather than taking it with him to his grave, where it would have been forever buried.

And I was so sure of this, that I’d devoted the last twelve years of my life to uncovering that secret.

Chapter One

There is irrefutable evidence that the past existed, but everything else about the past is hearsay.

If anyone had asked me to sum up my theory of history, as I hurried across the campus of the University of Virginia, headed for the new faculty orientation, that’s what I would’ve said. Almost any version of history can be supported by interpreting the facts in just the right way.

And that’s exactly what I’d been doing for the previous twelve years. Taking facts, which were immutable, and bending them to fit my version of history. And my version of history was all about the great mystery I was trying to solve.

The way I saw it, you couldn’t really get at the truth of past events without talking to the people involved. And even if you
could
talk to those people, how could you be sure they were telling the truth?

So while most men and women in their early thirties were fixated on laying the groundwork for their careers, I was treading water, postponing a career, fixated on a secret carried by a man who’d died more than sixty years earlier.

Luckily, this year I’d caught a break when it came to my career. Alex Turner, one of my former college classmates, was taking a sabbatical to work on a biography, and he’d recommended me to cover a couple of his classes. Even though he was the youngest professor in the department, he was already a rising star. His first book, a biography of Dwight D. Eisenhower, had made the
New York Times
bestseller list, so his recommendation had carried some weight.

Enough weight that I’d gotten the job and was now walking along the red brick walkways of this gorgeous campus, passing students lounging on green lawns, and hoping that this stint would put me back on track for a long-term teaching career. Thank you, Alex. Thank you for salvaging my teaching career from what the rest of my peers considered twelve years flushed down the toilet.

I was just about to step into Old Cabell Hall, the venue for the orientation meeting, when I heard a “hey” from behind me. I turned around and was greeted by a big, scruffy guy equipped with a backpack and a grin. “I’m Eddie Bellington, a friend of Alex’s.”

“Jacob Morgan,” I said.

“How’s McKenzie treating you so far?”

Benjamin McKenzie was the department chair, so I hesitated, trying to come up with a politically correct answer.

“Don’t worry, I don’t like him either,” Eddie said.

“You’re in the department?”


Was
in the department. I got my master’s, but didn’t make the cut for the Ph.D.”

“Sorry.”

“No worries. I found a more lucrative career.”

“Want to let me in on it?”

“I collect stuff, or what other people call memorabilia.” He adjusted his backpack and lost his grin. “You got a minute to talk?”

“Not right now.”

“That orientation is bullshit. And McKenzie won’t be in there if you’re looking to make a good first impression.”

It still seemed like a bad idea to miss my first official meeting. Plus this guy was coming on way too strong for my taste. “We can talk afterwards,” I said.

“We can, but the sooner, the better.”

“I’m sure it can wait.”

“Haven’t you waited long enough?”

That caught my attention.

“You know exactly what I’m talking about,” he said.

It had to be Einstein’s secret—and, if it was, he was right. I had waited long enough, and “waiting” was the right word, because the trail leading to Einstein’s secret had reached a dead end a few years ago. My time was now spent rearranging the facts I’d already discovered, hoping that this would lead to a new theory. In other words, I was spending my time reinterpreting facts, rather than finding new ones.

The sad truth, one that I rarely admitted to myself and never admitted to anyone else, was how long ago it’d been since I’d come up with a significant lead. It had come right at the start of my quest. I’d stumbled onto it at a yard sale right before the second semester of my sophomore year.

I was looking for a lamp for my dorm room when I came across a box packed with old magazines. I rummaged through the magazines and came across a glossy tabloid called
Fame
, from 1955, with Albert Einstein on the cover. It caught my attention because I already had Nurse Ander’s quote on my mind. I’d found her quote while doing research for a paper on Einstein’s life for my History of Science course. The paper was done and handed in, so I didn’t need to buy the magazine for more research.

But I bought it anyway. The coincidence of finding it made that inevitable.

That night, I read the article that went along with the glossy Einstein cover photo. It’d been written a month after Einstein’s death, and the premise was that even though Einstein was a genius, he was also a regular Joe, like the rest of us. The article consisted of interviews with Einstein’s friends. Tidbits on Einstein’s love life, his daily routine, his favorite foods, et cetera. The interviews read like they’d been lifted from other publications.

But two sentences caught my attention. Like the rest of the article, they supposedly served as proof that Einstein was just a regular Joe.

To me, they proved something much more significant.

Like the rest of us,
the sentences read
, Einstein also had secrets. And according to Henry Clavin, Einstein wrote one of those secrets down right before he died at Princeton Hospital.

I was hooked. From the research I’d just done for my paper, I knew that Einstein had been writing down equations at the hospital. That’s what history had recorded.
Except
for that one quote by Nurse Ander, a tiny inconsistency that stood alone in the
Trenton Evening Times.
Well, it no longer stood alone.

Henry Clavin confirmed that Einstein had written down more than equations on his deathbed. He’d written down words. And more than that, Clavin was claiming that Einstein had written down a secret.

Why had I been so eager to build a case around this? Because of one other fact I’d found while researching my paper on Einstein. Einstein had been worried about something during the last year of his life. Most historians assumed he was worried about dying before he discovered the unified field theory. But a few of Einstein’s friends thought Einstein had something critical he wanted to share with the world. Something he never did share.

Those who knew about my obsession with Einstein’s secret thought that my quest was based on that fact and Nurse Ander’s quote in a legitimate newspaper and a couple of other facts recorded by history. Facts that I still twisted through interpretation, but facts nonetheless. No one knew that the most critical fact, the one that validated my quest, came from a fifties tabloid magazine. If any of my colleagues had known that, I would’ve been subjected to more ridicule than I already was.

BOOK: Einstein's Secret
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