You don’t know Mileva Marić-Ajnštajn. Maric changed the face of contemporary science and you have no clue who she is. In fact, no one really knows what happened to her, which is both a shame and apropos of our existential legacies.
Mileve Maric was a nerd, a mathematician and a physicist. At 22, she was set to go out into the world and do rad things. But she made a cosmic mistake. A mistake that would alter the course of history, and pulverize her dreams in the process: she got married.
The only thing we learn from history is that we don’t learn from history.As has happened a billion and a half times before, Maric’s brilliance was buried under the thankless, made-from-the-shattered-bits-of-broken-dreams construction known as the housewife. For history though, Maric was no ordinary housewife. Her husband, a fellow nerd, mathematician and physicist would take her help on the problems he was working on, go out into the world, hair uncombed and talk about the solutions he found.
The solution(s): Everything you know about space, time, mass, energy and your existence on the planet is wrong. Here’s what’s really happening around you, you goofballs…And that’s as far as I can explain the theory of relativity
The husband: Albert Einstein.
The influence Maric had on Einstein’s life and success while part controversial and part mythical, cannot be ignored because it has something important to teach us about the historically tragic enterprise known as changing the world.
It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say Einstein modified the world somewhat. His resume got him to be Time magazine’s Person of the century. Obviously, he was some sort of a genius and it’d be naive to call him lucky. Like most geniuses, however, Einstein (or we) seemed to have taken his genius a little too seriously. Here’s a fun fact: there’s no mention of Maric’s contribution to his theories.
While privately acknowledging her contributions in letters he wrote her, Einstein didn’t feel the need to tell the world about the captive imprisoned within the confines of his home who was amply contributing to and complimenting his genius. And it may not be an exaggeration to say, without Maric, Einstein may have just been the name of a wacky scientist who had a bad hair day every day.
It’d be impossible to know how much of the contribution exactly led to Einstein’s breakthroughs. But that’s not the point. The point is no one person can change a century, forget the world. Not to mention, the underlying stark fact that the century that saw some of the greatest technological advances completely missed the point when it came to understanding what it meant to be human and conscious in it. Despite all the intellectual rah-rah, the humanity of the 20th century hardly ever paused to ask, “are we missing out on something here? An entire gender, maybe?”
It’s Maric and people like her (and the list is long) that made the 20th century. We will never know any of them. That’s been the unfamed fate of everyone that did century-shattering stuff. But that’s what heroism is about. The name of the lone genius is a mere label for the thousand faces that went into making that person he (and despite it all, “she”) became.
The genius is no hero. The people who made him, are. The realization is what may have led Einstein to give away all his (Nobel) prize money to Maric, and we can only hope that took away some of the certain pain from his greatness.
We all crave to change the world. Put our own dent. Etch our names on the stripping pole that’s fame. Piss on every grain of sand there is. In the end, when you are standing up there on the mountain top, alone, ass freezing, the realization will hit you: you never made the climb alone. And your life will be better off if you remembered that as you made the climb.