Einstein's Blackboard

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Einstein's Blackboard at the Museum of the History of Science in Oxford.

Einstein's Blackboard is a blackboard[1] which physicist Albert Einstein (1879–1955) used on 16 May 1931 during his lectures while visiting the University of Oxford in England.[2] The blackboard is one of the most iconic objects in the collection of the Museum of the History of Science in Oxford.[3]

The lecture in which the blackboard was used was the second of three, delivered at Rhodes House in South Parks Road. Einstein's visit to give the Rhodes Lectures, and also to receive an honorary Doctor of Science degree from Oxford University on 23 May 1931, was hosted by the physicist Frederick Lindemann.[4] Einstein's first lecture was on relativity, the second on cosmological theory, and the third one was on unified field theory.

The board itself was rescued by E. J. Bowen at the end of the lecture and donated by the Warden of Rhodes House, Sir Francis James Wylie.[5][6] The blackboard included equations concerning the diameter, expansion, and age of the universe. "L.J." on the blackboard indicates "light years" in German. However, the results were never published by Einstein subsequently.

The blackboard is considered a "mutant" object or artefact in that it is very different from most of the objects in the collection of the museum (mainly scientific instruments such as astrolabes).[7][8]

Einstein returned to Oxford to lecture again in 1933.[9]


  1. ^ "Bye-bye blackboard ... from Einstein and others". Oxford: Museum of the History of Science. Retrieved 14 April 2014. 
  2. ^ Garrett, C. (June 11, 2009). "Einstein's Blackboard at Oxford's Museum of the History of Science". The Geek Atlas. Retrieved 14 April 2014. 
  3. ^ Bennett, Jim. "Einstein's Blackboard – in Oxford's Museum of the History of Science". YouTube. 
  4. ^ Clark, Ronald W. (1984). The Life and Times: Einstein – An Illustrated Biography. New York: Wings Books. pp. 255–256. ISBN 0-517-14718-1. 
  5. ^ "Einstein's Blackboard", Label in gallery (Oxford: Museum of the History of Science) 
  6. ^ Callaghan, Mark (20 May 2011). "Einstein's Blackboard". The Oxford Student. 
  7. ^ Gauvin, Jean-Francois (9 March 2009). "Einstein’s Blackboard as a Mutant Object". Carrière et vie professionnelle. WordPress. Retrieved 14 May 2014. 
  8. ^ "Einstein’s Blackboard as a Mutant Artefact". History of Scientific Objects. Germany: International Max Planck Research Network. Retrieved 14 May 2014. 
  9. ^ Robinson, Andrew (2005). Einstein: A Hundred Years of Relativity. Palazzo Editions. p. 96. ISBN 0-9545103-4-8. 

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