Olympia Academy

Habicht, Solovine, and Einstein (1903)
Conrad Habicht, Maurice Solovine, and Albert Einstein, circa 1902-1903, at one of their Olympia Academy meetings, during which time they read Karl Pearson's 1900 The Grammar of Science, with its superluminal Filon-Pearson demon note. [2]
In intellectual groups, Olympia Academy was a 1902 study group formed by German born American physicist Albert Einstein and Rumanian college student Maurice Solovine (1875-1958), others joining shortly, wherein they read list of great works during the course of which they would meet up weekly to the discuss the great questions of the day in modern science and philosophy.

In 1895, sixteen year old Albert Einstein had contemplated the following, as he would later write: [1]

“Such a principle [relativity] resulted from a paradox upon which I had already hit at the age of sixteen: If I pursue a beam of light with a velocity c (velocity of light in a vacuum), I should observe such a beam of light … at rest. However, there seems to be no such thing, whether on the basis of experience or according to Maxwell’s equations.”

In 1902, Einstein, having recently graduated (1900) from the Ecole Polytechnique of Zurich, with a degree in mathematical physics, and working for a minimal wage at the Berne Patent Office, put an ad in the paper offering to teach physics as a private tutor at so much an hour. Shortly thereafter, Rumanian college student Maurice Solovine (1875-1958), who was studying a mixture of subjects at Berne University, including literature, philosophy, Greek, mathematics, and geology, became Einstein’s first tutor pupil. The two men struck up a close relationship and Einstein was to say to Solovine a few days after meeting him:

“It is not necessary to give you lessons in physics, the discussion about the problems which we face in physics today is much more interesting; simply come to me when you wish, I am pleased to be able to talk to you.”

On the third visit, Solovine suggested that they should read some of the standard works and discuss the problems they presented. Einstein then proposed they start with Karl Pearson’s 1900 The Grammar of Science.

This was followed by John Mill’s A System of Logic, David Hume’s Treatise on Human Nature, Benedict Spinoza’s Ethics, Ernst Mach’s Analysis of Sensations, Henri Poincare’s Science and Hypothesis, the work of Bernhard Riemann, whose non-Euclidean geometry was utilized in Einstein’s development of his 1916 general theory of relativity, along with literary works, such as Miguel de Cervantes’s Don Quixote. At some point along the line, Conrad Habicht (1876-1958), Einstein’s old friend from Zurich, who had recently arrived in Bern to continue his mathematical studies, joined the study group. [3] The three formed a weekly discussion group that eventually came to be known as the Olympia Academy.

Further details of the group’s reading and discussion list is detailed by Galina Weinstein. [4]

1. Kaku, Michio. (2005). Einstein’s Cosmos: How Albert Einstein’s Vision Transformed Our Understanding of Space and Time (pg. 44). W.W. Norton & Co.
2. Maurice Solovine – Wikipedia.
3. Clark, Ronald W. (1984). Einstein: the Life and Times (pgs. 78-79). Harper Collins.
4. Weinstein, Galina. (c.2015). “Albert Einstein: Close Friends and Colleagues from the Patent Office” (pg. 12) (pdf), AriXiv.org.

External links
‚óŹ Olympia Academy – Wikipedia.

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