Shashi Tharoor Shares fake Albert Einstein Rejection Letter

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The For all those smarting from rejection: those in power today (&in a position to judge you) will not necessarily be proven right tomorrow. And their judgement of you might look downright silly....

Facts Check: Fake

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For all those smarting from rejection: those in power today (&in a position to judge you) will not necessarily be proven right tomorrow. And their judgement of you might look downright silly....

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Facts Check Analysis: Congress MP Shashi Tharoor posted a fake letter which is easily available online since 2016. The image is being shown as rejection letter of Einstein received from the University of Bern in 1907 is fabricated and not true.

The image is in circulation since May 2016. The fake letter as shows to be written by Professor Wilhelm Heinrich to Albert Einstein. He writes “Your application for the Doctorate has not been successful at this time and as such you are not eligible for the position of Associate Professor”

The news was debunked by uniaktuell, The online magazine of the University of Bern. It states that There is currently a forged letter going round on the internet. In the alleged historical writing of 1907, following are the points uniaktuell makes to make it’s stand.

  • At the indicated date, the Faculty of Philosophy and History and the Faculty of Philosophy and Natural Sciences had not been separated yet.
  • There has never been a dean – and not even a lecturer – named Wilhelm Heinrich at the University of Bern.
  • The language of correspondence between Einstein who was a German native naturalised in 1901, and the university, if true, would have been in German and not in English. Bütikofer suspects that the forger obviously cannot speak any German.
  • The stamp next to the signature of «Dean Heinrich» has no relationship whatsoever with the University of Bern. It seems to rather show the coat of arms of Hungary.
  • The Sidlerstrasse listed in the forged letter has only existed since 1931. Before this, it was called Sternwartsstrasse, and today’s post code system also did not exist at the time.

The true story

But was the habilitation of the physicist who was living in Bern at the time initially not really rejected? This is indeed the case, not however due to scientific differences, but due to a formal deficiency. The preserved – and incidentally –  handwritten correspondence that Niklaus Bütikofer found in the cantonal state archive, where the university archive files are stored, tells the following story:

On 17. June 1907, Albert Einstein submitted his application for a habilitation in Theoretical Physics to the Director for Education of the canton of Bern. The application was forwarded to the Faculty of Philosophy of the University of Bern where the members of the faculty discussed and rejected it in the sitting of 28 October 1907 – because he hadn’t submitted a habilitation thesis and not because his theories had been rejected. On the contrary: even then Einstein enjoyed a strong reputation amongst his colleagues in the field, as Paul Gruner’s application proves, Professor for Theoretical and Mathematical Physics. Because of its "major scientific accomplishments", he wanted to have Einstein habilitated, despite the lack of a thesis.

Read for more Information

Read for more Information

The Einstein forgery

There is currently a forged letter going round on the internet. In the alleged historical writing of 1907, the University of Bern rejects Albert Einstein's habilitation. The university archivist Niklaus Bütikofer explains which errors the forger had made and tells the true story by means of the original documents.

 



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