Science

Albert Einstein’s Advise To Marie Curie On Dealing With Trolls

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| July 4 , 2018 , 19:23 IST

Social media, that began as a platform that gave voice to the common man and enabled global communications has been plagued with several shades of grey, trolling being the most visible of them.

While social media has been able to show the darkest and some of the worst part of human behaviour, outrage culture isn’t new to the world. In this context, an old letter, written in 1911 from one of the greatest minds to walk the planet might give us ideas on how to deal with trolls and haters on social media.

Marie Curie became the first woman to win the Nobel Prize in 1903. The award, Nobel Prize in Physics was jointly awarded to Marie Curie and her husband Pierre Curie.

Pierre passed away in 1906 in Paris in an accident. A devastated Marie found love in fellow scientist Paul Langevin, almost four years after losing Pierre.

Paul was Pierre’s protégé and was married but separated. Paul’s wife found out their love letters and leaked them to the press. An angry mob descended at her house as she returned from a conference in Belgium. Concerned about their safety, Marie and her daughter stayed at one of their friend’s house. The Press, on the other hand, ostracized Marie for being a foreign Jewish homewrecker. Her academic opponents and critics used this as an opportunity to attack her.

When Einstein came to know of this, he was deeply disturbed and outraged. He wrote a letter to Curie to express his solidarity and to advise her not to give any credence to the hate-filled reportage.

He wrote:

Highly esteemed Mrs. Curie,

Do not laugh at me for writing you without having anything sensible to say. But I am so enraged by the base manner in which the public is presently daring to concern itself with you that I absolutely must give vent to this feeling. However, I am convinced that you consistently despise this rabble, whether it obsequiously lavishes respect on you or whether it attempts to satiate its lust for sensationalism! I am impelled to tell you how much I have come to admire your intellect, your drive, and your honesty, and that I consider myself lucky to have made your personal acquaintance in Brussels. Anyone who does not number among these reptiles is certainly happy, now as before, that we have such personages among us as you, and Langevin too, real people with whom one feels privileged to be in contact. If the rabble continues to occupy itself with you, then simply don’t read that hogwash, but rather leave it to the reptile for whom it has been fabricated.

With most amicable regards to you, Langevin, and Perrin, yours very truly,

A. Einstein

Months later, Curie was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry thus became the first person to win two Nobel prizes that too in two different categories.