It is quite well-known that Planck was one of the first people to realize the significance and importance of Einstein's theory of relativity. But I have heard a few times that when Einstein sent his manuscript of the paper to Planck for publication, while Planck was reading it, he had first thought that the paper was not fit to be published. But as he finished reading it, he had realized that Einstein was onto something big. Is this story true? Is there any record of any statement by Planck (or his friends) regarding the same?


1 Answer 1


It seems not. See:

[page 6] Planck was the first major figure to recognize Einstein’s seminal 1905 work on relativity theory, and he became Einstein’s greatest champion in the world of science and one of his closest personal friends.

[page 83] [Einstein's 1905 paper on Annalen] is clearly written and would have been relatively easy to understand for an expert like Planck (who was theory editor for the journal).

[page 85] Despite his reservations about Planck’s method for deriving his radiation law, Einstein treats Planck quite delicately in his paper. [...] [ From] a cryptic comment by Besso much later, in 1928, it appears that Besso prevailed on Einstein to revise an earlier version of this paper in which more pointed comments were made about the correctness of Planck’s derivation.

[page 93] “I do not seek the meaning of the quantum of action (light quantum) in the vacuum but at the sites of absorption and emission, and assume that processes in vacuum are described exactly by Maxwell’s equations.” This was Max Planck’s first known response to Einstein’s heuristic theory of light quanta, sent to Einstein in a letter of July 6, 1907, more than two years after the publication of the “revolutionary” paper of 1905. Planck must surely have known of Einstein’s ideas much earlier, since he was the theory editor of the journal in which they were published, Annalen der Physik. Unfortunately none of the referee or editorial comments on Einstein’s papers of 1905 has survived, so we don’t know how direct a role Planck had in approving them for publication. Planck was known for being open to publishing scientific contributions with which he disagreed, as long as they did not contain clear errors, and this tolerance likely came into play with Einstein’s paper.


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