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Friday, July 10, 2020

Tesla’s Patents, Einstein’s Letters and an Enigma Machine Are Up for Auction | Science - Smithsonian Magazine

Theresa Machemer, freelance writer based in Washington DC. observes, Christie’s Eureka! sale features personal and academic objects owned by 20th-century scientists.
Nobel Prize Medal in Physiology or Medicine, awarded to Robert G. Edwards in 2010 for the development of in vitro fertilization (Christie's Images Ltd. 2020)
Famous scientists are often viewed only in the context of their work. But personal artifacts can show a broader picture of these individuals’ personalities, from their sense of humor to their political beliefs. Now, reports Matthew Taub for Atlas Obscura, letters, patents and assorted objects featured in Christie’s “Eureka! Scientific Breakthroughs of the 20th Century” sale are set to reveal the lesser-known sides of some of history’s most prominent scientists.

The 58 auction lots include a rare World War II Enigma machine, patents by Nikola Tesla and Thomas Edison, a Nobel prize medal, and a plastic figurine of Stephen Hawking’s “Simpsons” character. Noticeably absent are any artifacts representing women’s contributions to science. The online auction—the sixth in a series of sales highlighting “autograph material, printed books, photographs and association objects from the most brilliant scientific minds of the modern age,” according to a statement—opened June 24 and will conclude on July 16.

One of the most recognizable names appearing in the auction is that of Albert Einstein, who developed the theory of relativity and won the 1921 Nobel Prize in Physics for his discovery of the photoelectric effect. A 1932 letter from Einstein to his son Eduard seeks to comfort the young man, who was then undergoing treatment for schizophreni...

More recent artifacts include a 2010 Nobel Prize granted to Robert Edwards for his development of in vitro fertilization and several objects from Hawking’s estate, including his doctoral hood and the original artwork for a 1988 comic strip.
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Source: Smithsonian Magazine