In 1911, nearly a decade after winning a Nobel Prize for her pioneering work on radiation, Marie Curie received a letter from Albert Einstein in which he urged her not to be beaten down by people who would, today, be called trolls.
The letter is among the thousand of Einstein’s documents released last week — which are being called “the Dead Sea Scrolls of physics” — and it begins by Einstein asking Curie “not [to] laugh at me for writing you without having anything sensible to say.”
“But I am so enraged by the base manner in which the public is presently daring to concern itself with you,” he continued, “that I absolutely must give vent to this feeling.”
The treatment to which Einstein referred included the fact that the French Academy of Sciences denied her application for a seat, possibly because of rumors that she was Jewish — or because she was having an affair with a married man, the physicist Paul Langevin.
“I am convinced that you consistently despise this rabble,” Einstein wrote, “whether it obsequiously lavishes respect on you or whether it attempts to satiate its lust for sensationalism!”
“Anyone who does not number among these reptiles,” he said of her critics, “is certainly happy, now as before, that we have such personages among us as you, and Langevin too, real people with whom one feels privileged to be in contact.”
Einstein concluded that “[i]f the rabble continues to occupy itself with you, then simply don’t read that hogwash, but rather leave it to the reptiles for whom it has been fabricated.”