MILEVA MARIC, the Other Einstein

Alana Cash dropped me an email to say she enjoyed Doctor January (even though she wasn’t expecting to!). We got talking about women working in science and the reasons they often leave. It turned out that Alana knows a lot about the unsung heroines of science. She very kindly agreed to write  guest post on the subject. 

In researching the lives of Mileva Maric and her husband, Albert Einstein, for a documentary, I became very disappointed as I found that the kindly humanitarian Albert Einstein, the Albert Einstein of scientific brilliance-beyond-all-compare did not exist.  Einstein’s behavior in many ways was markedly self-interested and his character traits suppressed from the public in order to maintain a portrait of him that is skewed – most notably his treatment of Maric and their children as well as the fact that he consistently needed collaboration on his papers.

Mileva Maric, a Serbian, attended ETH in Zurich with Einstein.  With a history of brilliant accomplishments, meeting Einstein was to Maric’s detriment and her grades slipped.  She became pregnant shortly after her final year at ETH, and Einstein refused to marry her with the excuse that he didn’t have a job.  Einstein’s arrogance had alienated him from his professors, none of whom would give him a recommendation.  He had the exhibited the same arrogant behavior in high school and was expelled [he got a note from a doctor declaring Einstein’s first nervous breakdown and left school before the expulsion could be formalized].

Maric and Einstein

Maric’s father offered him employment, but Einstein avowed he couldn’t master the Serbian language.  Einstein also declared that he didn’t have his parents’ permission to marry.  He was 21 and of age to marry without permission.  Maric, of course, had no options for employment because of the child and faced a lifetime of being supported by her family.

They continued to correspond and some of Einstein’s letters to Maric were published ironically as The Love Letters edited by Jürgen Renn.  Einstein wrote how glad he would be when they were together again to work on “our theories” and more on their scientific collaborations.

When Maric and Einstein did finally marry in Bern, Switzerland in January 1903 [six months after he got his patent office job], their daughter was two years old and left behind in Serbia with Maric’s parents to prevent scandal for the newlyweds.  Eventually, the child was sent to live with distant relatives.  Einstein never attempted to meet her.  Maric and Einstein had two children after the marriage.  Hans Albert born in 1904 and Eduard born in 1910.

During the period 1900-1902, when Einstein was basically unemployed, his publishing career amounted to two flawed scientific papers.  With his marriage to Maric, his writings became more accurate, more important, and more frequent.  Two years after the marriage, in 1905, Annalen der Physik published the four papers that would make Einstein an icon.  The last important paper Einstein published was in 1913, the same year he separated from Maric.  After that, his papers were explanations of relativity.  He also put his name on other people’s papers.

After publication of the 1905 papers, hailed as a genius, Einstein began to get job offers.  Against Maric’s wishes, he accepted employment at the German University in Prague [1911] and the family moved there.  Einstein visited Berlin during that time and began an affair with his first cousin Elsa [and possibly with her daughter as well].  A year later, the Einstein/Maric family moved to Zurich where he taught at ETH and remained in touch with Elsa and her daughter.

This was the period of development of the paper on the general theory of relativity, and Maric argued with Einstein over the fact that he was collaborating with Marcel Grossman.  Maric was striving to be involved in the work, but the marriage was deteriorating rapidly. [When married to Elsa, Einstein would declare that he was glad Elsa knew nothing about science because, “my first wife did.”]

When Einstein was offered a position at Berlin University, he accepted.  Again the family moved, but not for long.  Just before WWI broke out, Einstein demoralized Maric with a note demanding that she not talk to him at home, no longer expect to have sexual relations with him, he barred her from involvement in his work – she was to do his laundry and make his meals.  Basically Maric was to be his domestic servant.  [Einstein gave that same note to Elsa after they married]. Maric left Einstein in Berlin and returned to Zurich.  Einstein had a breakdown.

During the WWI, Einstein made very little effort to support Maric and his children with the excuse that the mail was disrupted.  Maric relied on her family to send money from Serbia and the mail system seemed to work for them.  At the end of the war when Einstein sought a divorce, Maric had a heart attack and complete physical breakdown.  She had given up her daughter for a man who was now going to marry his cousin.

As part of the divorce settlement, Einstein agreed to give Maric all monies he received from the Nobel Prize which he expected to win because he had been nominated five times by that point.  One has to ask why would Maric receive all of the Nobel Prize money?  Why not simply a portion?  Why any at all?  This is a man who didn’t support his children financially.  Why would that man give his loathed ex-wife all the money for work that was supposedly completely his own?  And why are the Einstein-Maric divorce papers sealed?

When Maric & Einstein’s youngest son, Eduard, began having schizophrenic episodes in 1930, Einstein blamed the unstable nature of the Maric family.  He pointed the finger at Maric’s breakdown during the time of their divorce, neglecting to acknowledge his own several nervous breakdowns.  He pointed to Maric’s sister, Zosia, as further evidence of the Maric family instability.  Zosia was an alcoholic, but Einstein knew that she had been gang-raped as a teenager by Croatian soldiers.

Einstein left Europe for Princeton in 1933 and never saw Eduard again.  They did correspond, and during one of his stays at Burgholzli Clinic, Eduard sent his father a poem he had written.  Einstein critiqued the poem and returned it to his Eduard.

Maric paid for Eduard’s treatment at Burgholzli Clinic.  She had bought two houses with the Nobel Prize money, one to live in and one to rent.  Eventually, she sold the rental house to help with the medical expenses.  After electro-shock treatment Eduard was unable to recover.  Ultimately, Mileva needed to sell her own home in order to survive financially.  She made an agreement for Einstein to buy her house in Zurich and allow her to live in it for the rest of her life [she was 73].  Einstein bought the house, then immediately served Maric with an eviction notice.  She died of a stroke shortly thereafter.

Albert Einstein’s papers were sealed for 25 years after his death in 1955, while his intellectual and saintly reputation was not only protected, but expanded and solidified so that he is quoted by everyone from self-help gurus to plumbers.  Now that a portion of his papers have been released and his life has been scrutinized, his sainthood has been deeply tarnished and it is clear that Mileva Maric made unrecognized contributions to the theories that made her husband famous.

There are those who would argue against Maric’s involvement, wanting to represent that Einstein arrived in a scientific vacuum to publish the equation e=mc2. Einstein donated his brain to science because he was sure it was ordinary, but given that Einstein’s IQ has been estimated anywhere from 175 to 220, one has to ask why Einstein never took the Binet-Simon IQ test developed in 1905 to prove it?  Or maybe he did and the results were suppressed because the results weren’t as stellar as expected.  And why no more important papers after separating from Maric?

When a reporter once asked him the speed of sound, Einstein couldn’t give the answer, claiming he didn’t like to clutter up his mind with facts he could look up in a book.  In France, Paul Langevin came up with the algebraic equation e=mc2 at the very same time it was published under Einstein’s name, and since Langevin developed sonar radar, he also knew the speed of sound.

Why didn’t Maric insist on credit for the theories?  First of all, when one considers that she couldn’t even insist on Einstein marrying her when she was pregnant, insisting would have been futile.  But she did insist on the monies from the Nobel Prize and got it.  How that happened is sealed in the divorce papers.  More to the point, considering the turmoil Maric went through just getting into the marriage with Einstein, given her naturally shy nature and the secret of Liserl’s birth, Maric would have avoided the fame that her husband sought.

Thank you for that fascinating article, Alana. I’m off to look up Maric now.

Alana’s book, Saints In The Shadows is available now (and so is mine, obviously). You can find out more about her books and short films on her website  or on IMDB

Doctor January is released in e-Format!

graphic cover with silhouettes
Doctor Janaury book cover
Doctor January Lab-Lit Romance


I’ve ever so excited today. First there was the news that Doctor January was released as an ebook today – a whole month and a bit before the paperback comes out.

And then the post arrived:

A box of author copies of Doctor January in paperback.
The BEST parcel ever!


Now I feel like a real grown-up author! Woohoo!

I would LOVE it if you could share my good news. Any shares, tweets, G+s, telling your friends etc would be very much appreciated. Thank you in advance!

Right. Now I need to go celebrate with an ice cream sundae.


How to find great images for your blog: Getty Images – free to use if you embed them

Embed from Getty Images

Getty images have decided to release a whole load of their images for free if you embed them.

Where to find them: (Contains instructions on how to use the embed codes.)
Why is this important?
Getty specifically says that blogs that use Google Ads to make money are not considered ‘commercial’. By extension a writer’s blog that advertises their books in the side bar should not be considered commercial either. However, if you use an image in a book cover or to create an ad for your work, that would be require a licence.
But we can just get the images of Google images by right clicking and saving the image, I hear you cry, so why bother with this embed nonsense? Because the photographer has a right to be acknowledged for their work. It’s a moral thing as well as a financial thing (not to mention a legal thing!). By embedding, you allow the photographer (and Getty) to track where their images are being used  without anyone’s copyright being infringed.
So, in the spirit of sharing lovely things…
Here’s David Tennant
Embed from Getty Images

And Matthew McConaughey
Embed from Getty Images

And an Alan Tudyk and Nathan Fillion double whammy!
Embed from Getty Images

Hooray for the internet.

Designing freebies to go in the conference goodie bag

2013-07-04 22.22.14


I’m going to the Romantic Novelists Association conference next week. I’m so excited about this, it’s ridiculous. It’s a whole weekend talking about writing and romance. More importantly, it’s a whole weekend being just me. Not the wife, not the mother, not the tech transfer lady, none of those thing. It’s just me, being me and being the writer. I. Can’t. WAIT.

I’m making lists – what to take (chocolate, teabags, wine… oh yeah, clothes), what notes to make on my WIP, people I need to talk to. One of the fun things about the conference is the goodie bag. We can all contribute something to go into these goodie bags. Some of the bigger publishers give away free books (I’ve discovered many new authors this way), a lot of people put in things ranging from bookmarks, to pens to sweets. All very welcome.

Last year, I made some business cards with my book cover on the back. They looking nice and were fun. I was particularly pleased with the wording on the back – it’s hard to fit a full blurb on a business card, I had to cut it down to ‘The story of a girl ran away from fame to become a lawyer’.  They were okay. They did the job of putting the name of an unknown book in front of people.

This year, I wanted to do something different. I wanted to put in something that was actually useful. I looked into branded Post-Its, notepads, pens, pencils, key chains. You can get just about anything personalised nowadays. Some of them appear quite reasonably priced, but if you multiply it by 200, suddenly it’s not exactly affordable.

So here’s my solution:

RNA conf 3

200 mini cards from

m    (around £ 30)

200 of those tiny craft clothes pegs (off eBay) (around £6)

One tube of good glue from Poundstretcher (£1)

A couple of evenings sitting at the kitchen table gluing and chatting with DH (er… priceless?)

And this is the result:RNA conf 2RNA conf 1

The idea of the big blank space is so that they can be used as labels. Hopefully, they’re cute enough and useful enough that they won’t end up in the bin on day one.

I’ve got a few spare now, so I can use them to clip my receipts together (because the Fairy Godmother says ‘Keep your Receipts’). What would you use yours for?

PS: If you’ve not used Moo cards before – they are beeeeeeautiful. If you click through from here, you’ll get 10% off your first order. It’s a referal link, so I’ll get something off my next order too (Yay!).

Science communication and a day out of the office

This isn’t my usual sort of post. It’s not about a writing, but about indulging my geek-side.

The theme for the day was set when my daughter wanted to watch Commander Chris Hadfield singing Space Oddity (or ‘the major Tom song’) in the International Space Station. We then had a long discussion about girl astronauts and guitars spinning in space on the walk to before-school club.

Later, the day job took me to the Hull University science showcase (#Hullscishow), where I learned about new cancer biomarkers, the PET scanning facility (positron emission tomography – not a scanner for poodles!) , artificial ‘leaves’ for turning sunlight into energy, a tiny water powered car, dry water (seriously!), new OLEDS for display screens (LCDs were discovered in Hull, don’tchaknow) and a hundred other things that were being developed there. All this in the fabulous building that is Hull City Hall.

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A volcano of coloured balls.

Quite apart from providing a place for the likes of me to play with technology I’ve only seen on paper before, the showcase was good entertainment. The morning had been dedicated to showing science to schoolchildren. They got to build DNA out of sweeties, compete to design more efficient wind turbines, see some enormous bacteria (I want one!), play in a racing car, wear 3-D goggles and stand inside a virtual skull and, my favourite, inject ‘radioactive tracer’ into Barbie. And then, in case there wasn’t enough excitement, @volcanologist and @sci_ents simulated a volcano by exploding a bottle of water and liquid nitrogen in a barrel full of coloured plastic balls. It was LOUD.

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What someone brought to the party – campylobacter (diahorrea), E.coli and, Streptococcus (sore throat), Syphllis and Gonorrhea.
K-nex windmills powered by desk fans
K-nex windmills powered by desk fans

Since the schoolkids had gone by the time I got there, I got to try all this stuff too. I thought the giant bacteria were adorable – a couple of those E.coli would make lovely cushions for my sofa.

This is science communication at its best. Especially impressive were the PhD students. The exhibits had been carefully designed to be interactive, yet informative. They did a great job of explaining fairly complex science projects (they were explaining PhD projects) in easily understood terms. They even managed to ground some of the more ‘blue skies’ research to actual applications.  

A display showing the effect of grass vs tarmac on water run off. I LOVE the daisies.
A display showing the effect of grass vs tarmac on water run off. I LOVE the daisies.

They’d been trained in group work and presentation, so they were even able to discuss each other’s projects. Above all they were enjoying themselves. Their enthusiasm and passion did more for their subjects than any number of free sweets and pens could. These young people will go into the world of work able to communicate with clarity and sparkle – something that will serve them well regardless of what they go on to do.

When things got quieter, people wandered across and looked at each other’s stands. Synergies were discovered, interesting conversations of the ‘So if you applied that to my work we could see if…’ variety sprang up. This is how science works. Ideas formed in the pub (or exhibition hall) supported by results generated in the lab.

It was science communication at its best. Well done chaps. I’ll definitely be going again next year. Giant bacteria and things that go boom. How could you possibly resist?

Patent Attorney heroes – Marsh is not alone

My novel, Patently in Love (now called Girl On The Run) is set in a patent attorney firm. So, naturally, I contacted @IPKat. For those outside of the world of intellectual property, the IPkat blog is a very popular blog about all things patent, trademark and copyright. I’ve read the blog for years but never had anything worthwhile to contribute, so I was delighted to get a mention on it.

Soon after, I found out that another book featuring a patent attorney hero, a thriller this time, had been released on the same day. This prompted me to go and look for other books with patent attorney heroes. Turns out there are a number of them.

Here’s a list, in no particular order (Thanks to the Patently O review list and Google):

Errors and Omissions by Paul Goldstein – A legal thriller featuring copyright law

A Patent Lie by Paul Goldstein – A legal thriller featuring a Markman hearing

Undue Diligence by Paul Haughey – A legal thriller featuring patent trolls

The book of Air and Shadows by Michael Gruber  – A literary/historical detective story involving copyright

Notes of a Patent Attorney by Brian C Coad  – I haven’t a clue what this is about. I think it’s a compilation of stories – maybe whimsical, maybe fantasy – the Amazon listing isn’t clear

The patented formula for a multi-armed man by Unno Juza – Japanese Sci Fi/political satire (?)

Calvin and Hobbes by Bill Watterson (Calvin’s Dad is a patent attorney – he’s not the main character, but he’s definitely a hero)

The Schmetterling Effect by Ivan Cotter  – Adventure thriller

Pirates of Bollywood by Kalyan Kankanala (also, Road Humps and Side WalksRoad Humps and Side Walks ) – Legal thrillers

Girl on the Run  (formerly Patently in Love) by Me – Romantic comedy – er… not a thriller


It looks like most of these are thrillers. This is probably because most patent attorneys have a background in science and most retired patent attorneys are men (assuming the writing is a hobby, indulged in once the pressures of work have melted away). I think I’ve got my reading list sorted for the rest of the year.

Of course there are patent attorneys who write novels which do not involve IP – Michelle Paver (author of the Wolf Brother series) is the most obvious example, but I’m sure there are others.

It’s not surprising that IP attorneys and examiners would turn to writing. After all, these are people who have to painstakingly explain the difference between ‘comprising’ and ‘consisting of’ on a regular basis. (If you’re not used to them, patent claims can read like cryptic crossword clues).

Just for fun, I thought I’d try writing a set of claims for my story. But then I found this online:  and decided to give up and go to bed.

In praise of librarians

Books 7 by Brenda Starr
Information overload. (Photo by Brenda Starr)

Another day, another article about how librarians are becoming extinct. I wonder if that’s really true. Libraries, yes.  But librarians? Really?

I used to know a trainee librarian. We used to joke that she had to spend an hour a day practising saying “Shhh” and glaring at people over her glasses.  I suspect that’s what a lot of people think librarians do. Not true. They do a lot more than that.

Information has value and librarians are good with information. If you want to know anything about anything, your first port of call (after wikipedia), should be a librarian. They won’t know the answer immediately (well, they might, I suppose, depending on the question), but they will know where to find the information. If it’s something particularly tricky to find – they will at least know who has the tools to dig it up.

When I needed to know which worming pills were used in the 1960s (my life is so glamourous), I phoned up the science desk at the British Library  and spoke to a librarian who found me the right journals to look in. There are librarians who specialise in local history, those who specialise in medicine, those who specialise in chemistry, in engineering, politics, digital archiving, patents, you name it. They can search databases, rummage through archives, find contacts for experts, source copies of rare documents. If that weren’t enough, they can recommend an author that writes like that author you already like.

I suggest that librarians are not going to go extinct. In an age where there is more and more (and more) information available, we need people with the skills to sift the nuggets from the noise. Librarians will probably need to rebrand themselves. They will be managers of information, searchers for fact. I’ve put some time into coming up with more fun names and my favourite so far is Information Ninja. Discrete, silent and (mostly) dead on target.

In 2012, I will mainly be looking forward to…

It’s’ a new year, hooray. Things I’m looking forward to in 2012:

  • Another series of Sherlock – After watching the last series, I reread the books and had so much fun I forgot to think about Benedict Cumberbatch (he doesn’t match my mental picture of Holmes anyway). Conan Doyle’s writing feels surprising modern in tone and the pace is nice and snappy (apart from the  Utah bit in A study in Scarlet – which was not snappy. At all). I was going to add reading ‘Sir Nigel’ and ‘The White Company’ as another bullet point, but realised I can’t find my copies of them any more. Bother.
  • The possibility of Sheldon Cooper and Amy Farrah-Fowler getting together – okay, a this is a little creepy to contemplate, but I want to know how they handle it.
  • Putting on a few pounds (If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em. They have chocolate.)
  • The Kindle Fire coming to the UK. If I’m going to succumb to techno-geekery, I want one that does EVERYTHING.
  • Patently In Love coming out in March (obviously)
  • And…  The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists! – the movie. I read the book and loved it. There’s pirates, scientists, Dodos, Bobo the ManPanzee and ham. I’m more excited about this than a grown woman should be.

Happy New Year everyone!

Coming up with a pen name

The Guardian book blog yesterday posted an article about how an author chooses a pen name.
There’s been a similar discussion on the online group of the RNA lately. How do you choose a pen name? WHY do you choose a pen name?

Me, I have a name that’s difficult to spell and difficult to pronounce (those who claim otherwise almost invariably pronounce it wrong). So, it made sense to use a pen name.
But what name?
Middle name + mother’s maiden name – yeah, okay. Plausible, but still difficult to spell.
My first pet + street I grew up in? Er, my brother named the dog ‘Knight Rider’…

I love a silly name. So here are my top four ways of finding names, silly or otherwise:

1.Motorway road signs – when driving along, look at the turn offs and see if you can pair up place names. Bradley Stoke, Brent Knowle, Filton Thornbury… It’s more entertaining than eye-spy. In fact, the lead singer of Triphoppers in Patently in Love was originally called Ashby Coalville (junction 22 off the M1) until my critique partner made me change it.

2. Common household names/trademarks – Sturmey Archer,Nat West, Pepsi Max, Cal Pol, Jeff Lemon … er… Cillit Bang.
Jasper Fforde is the king of silly names like this. Commander Braxton Hicks? Genius.

3. Two words picked at random. You might have to move them around a bit until it sounds right. Ruby Wellington, Fortune Armoire,  Hera Pungent. A dictionary is useful for this. The rude words are just a bonus.

4. Bacteria – Spiro Keats, Sal Monella, Steph Aureus, Sue Domonas, Liz Teria, Dick Tostelium (okay, not a bacterium, but too good to pass up).

So when I had to choose a pen name, the choice was fairly obvious. It needed to be short, easy to spell, somehow personal to me. So I named myself after my favourite pretty-coloured bacterium.
And, yes, I realise that I’m a very sad person just for HAVING a favourite bacterium.