I wrote this for Physics Open Day back when I was in undergrad.
Now decided to make a post out of it.
There exists a very strong pre-conception among all the generations that a person of science always has difficulty finding his/her love. This is trivial to see in popular media such as “The Big Bang Theory” and any movie where the “geek” character never gets any love interest. This writing aims to upheaval those preconceptions. Every paragraph provides a gist of the love life of the physicist to whom the paragraph is dedicated. This case study has 5 celebrated eminent physicists, namely, Albert Einstein, Richard Feynman, Erwin Schrodinger, Marie Curie and Paul Dirac.
Einstein had two marriages in his life. His first marriage was with Maric in January 1903. According to letters (which were discovered in 1987), Einstein and Maric had a daughter named Lieserl sometime in 1902 (i.e., one year before their marriage), however, the whereabouts of her are unknown. The letter points either the girl was given for adoption or may have died of Scarlett fever in infancy. Post marriage, he had two sons with Maric, one in 1904 and another in 1910. It was sometime in 1914, after the Einstein’s had moved to Berlin, that Maric learnt that Einstein’s chief love attraction was his cousin Elsa Lowenthal (whom he married in 1919). Einstein and Maric got separated after that and finally ended up getting divorced on 14 February 1919 (Ironically, on Valentine’s day). Furthermore, on the basis of the letters (discovered in 2015) written by Einstein to his early love, Maria Winteler, where he expressed his unwavering strong feelings for her despite him being committed to Maric. These letters written in 1910 when Maric was pregnant with their second child. Einstein wrote to Maria in his letters, “I think of you in heartfelt love every spare minute and am so unhappy as only a man can be”, which clearly express his feelings to Maria. Einstein’s second marriage was with his cousin, Elsa in 1919 with whom he had a personal relationship since 1912 (2 years before Einstein and Maric got separated). Their marriage lasted for 17 years. Elsa died in December 1936 due to heart and kidney problems.
During his PhD, Richard Feynman was seeing high school sweetheart, Arline Greenbaum. However, he couldn’t marry her because of his scholarship conditions. At that time, Arline was diagnosed with tuberculosis (which was incurable then). Nevertheless, they tied the knot on June 29, 1942 in the city office (which was not witnessed by any close friends or family), soon after, Arline was admitted to hospital. During this time, Feynman was working on the Manhattan project in Los Alamos. On weekends, he would drive to Albuquerque (New Mexico) to see his wife. Arline left for heavenly abode on June 16, 1945. Feynman was working in Computer room when he was informed of Arline nearing her time. He rushed to Albuquerque and was with her in her final hours. Feynman went into depression when he lost his father around 1946, while he was still mourning for Arline. As a way to get closure, Feynman wrote a letter to Arline (who left for heaven-abode) expressing deep love and heartbreak. The letter was sealed and was only opened after his death. The letter concluded as following:”Please excuse my not mailing this but I don’t know your new address.” Feynman started becoming restless at Cornell around 1949. He would never settle in a particular house or apartment. He would date undergrads, hire prostitutes, and sleep with the wives of his friends. In July 1949, Feynman went to Rio de Janerio and came back with a woman called Clotilde who lived with him in Cornell for some time. Around 1952, Feynman was completely smitten by Mary Louise Bell whom he met in a cafeteria in Cornell. He proposed to her over email and they married in Boise, Idaho on June 28, 1952. Due to their incompatibility, they got divorced on the grounds of “extreme cruelty” on June 19, 1956. Post his divorce, his love life had been troubled. One of his girlfriends went off with his Albert Einstein medal and another girlfriend feigned pregnancy and blackmailed him for money. In September 1958, Feynman was sent for the Atoms for Peace conference held in Geneva as US delegate. There, he met Gweneth Howarth whom he offered $20 a week to be his live-in maid. Gweneth already had two boyfriends but eventually decided to accept Feynman’s offer. Feynman and Gweneth got married on September 24, 1960. They had a son in 1962 and adopted a daughter in 1968.
Erwin Schrodinger formulated his wave equation when he was suffering from tuberculosis in the 1920s. He married Annemarie Bertel on 6 April 1920. He had a Menage a trois which means a domestic arrangement where three people having romantic or sexual relations with each other. It consisted of Schrodinger, his legally-wedded wife Annemarie and Mrs. Hilde March who was the wife of an Austrian colleague. Schrodinger had three daughters with two different women. His unconventional personal life posed too much trouble in procuring a fellowship in many of the places including Oxford, Princeton, etc. He had also accepted the offer of chair position at Department of Physics, Allahabad University in India.
Their mutual passion for science brought Pierre Curie and Marie Curie together. Marie who was looking for some laboratory space got acquainted with Pierre Curie by a Polish physicist Jozef Kowalski. Though Pierre Curie didn’t have a large laboratory space, whatever space he had, he gave to Marie Curie to begin her work. But when Pierre proposed marriage, Marie didn’t have any plans of settling in Paris and did not accept. For the marriage proposal to get accepted, Pierre was ready to go with Marie back to Poland (where she is from) even when it would mean he could only teach French (at that time he was a teacher in School of Physics and Chemistry). When Marie went to Warsaw, she was denied a position at Krakow University because of her gender, which gave the idea of her settling in Paris some support (because she already some laboratory space thanks to Pierre). It was at this point, Pierre convinced Marie to come back to Paris to pursue and when she came back, she, in turn, convinced Pierre to complete his doctorate. They got married on 26 July 1895. Marie Curie didn’t wear any conventional bridal gown to her own wedding. She wore a dark blue outfit which would serve as her laboratory outfit for years to come. In Pierre, Marie had found a new love, a partner, and a scientific collaborator on whom she could depend. And Marie was called “Pierre’s biggest discovery”. Unfortunately, on 19 April 1906 Pierre was killed in a road accident. His untimely death left Marie Curie crushed and also left the chair at University of Paris that was made for him vacant until it was offered to Marie Curie. She became the first woman professor at the University of Paris by accepting that chair. Around 1910-1911, Marie Curie had a stint with Paul Langevin. This affair caused a press scandal and she was wrongly portrayed as a foreign Jewish home wrecker. But when, she was nominated for Nobel, the same French press extolled and portrayed her as a French hero.
Paul Dirac was a taciturn individual, due to very rough temperament of his father, he seldom spoke. He is described as a person who had absolute zero interest in other people or their feelings and utterly devoid of empathy. Dirac was socially awkward and showed no interest in opposite sex. Once when Dirac was on a cruise ship from California to Japan, with Heisenberg. Dirac asked Heisenberg “Why do you dance?”, to which Heisenberg replied, “When there are nice girls, it is always a pleasure to dance.” Dirac’s reply was, “But Heisenberg, how do you know beforehand that the girls are nice?” Known to family and friends as “Manci”, Margit Wigner, sister of Eugene Wigner, saw Dirac walk into the restaurant and that was when they had their first meet. Manci completed Dirac in many ways. Manci wrote long letters to Dirac but only received letters containing few sentences. Marci asked Dirac many questions about his life, and one of them was if he had any feelings for her. Dirac answered “Yes, some”. Following is a warning by Dirac to Marci when Marci was prying too much into Dirac’s life “I am afraid I cannot write such nice letters to you – perhaps because my feelings are so weak and my life is mainly concerned with facts and not feelings.” Eventually tired of Dirac’s lack of feeling, Marci wrote to Dirac that he should “get a second Nobel Prize in cruelty”. However, things started to change. After a trip to Budapest with her, Dirac wrote “I felt very sad leaving you and still feel that I miss you very much. I do not understand why this should be, as I do not usually miss people when I leave them.” Soon thereafter, they married. They went on two honeymoons little more than month apart. Later he wrote to her: “Manci, my darling, you are very dear to me. You have made a wonderful alteration in my life. You have made me human… I feel that life for me is worth living if I just make you happy and do nothing else.”