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Love letters and astrophysics: 5,000 of Einstein's papers released online

Albert Einstein lights up in front of the Athenaeum Faculy Club at the California Institute of Technology in 1932.
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By Keith Wagstaff
Albert Einstein lights up in front of the Athenaeum Faculy Club at the California Institute of Technology in 1932.Today

Albert Einstein wrote a lot more than E=MC2 . Starting on Friday, when 5,000 of his personal papers are put online, people will be able to read everything from Einstein's love letters to his high school essays.

The Digital Einstein Papers — launched by Princeton University Press, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the California Institute of Technology — provides a look into the first 44 years of the German-born theoretical physicist's life. The documents published on the Web are just a few of the 80,000 he left behind before dying in 1955 at age 76. 

For scientists, there are lectures he gave on his theory of relativity at Princeton in 1921. For those looking for a little romantic intrigue, there is his letter at age 22 to Mileva Marić, his future wife, after she gave birth to their daughter Lieserl: 

Poor, dear sweetheart, you must suffer tremendously if you cannot even write to me yourself! And our dear Lieserl too must get to know the world from this aspect right from the beginning ... Is she healthy and does she cry properly? What kind of little eyes does she have? Whom of us two does she resemble more? 

Yes, before Einstein became famous, he was pitching woo to the ladies and making adorable inquiries about his daughter. (The fate of Einstein's illegitimate daughter, who was not known to the outside world until 30 years after his death, is a matter of debate).

The papers are now online thanks to the website's editor, Diana Kormos-Buchwald, a professor of physics at the California Institute of Technology. There is a bunch of other fascinating stuff in there, like the telegram announcing that Einstein won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1921 (not for relativity, but for his explanation of the photoelectric effect) , but even more is on the way.