In his early years (actually, straight through the early 1910s), Albert Einstein published a lot of papers in Annalen der Phyisk, a very old and prominent German scientific journal. However, this trend stopped around 1912-ish, and throughout the rest of his career, Einstein spread his wings and skipped around to a whole bunch of journals. Why did he make the switch? The Wikipedia page on Annalen der Physik notes that

In the 1920s, the journal lost ground to the concurrent Zeitschrift für Physik.

However, this is certainly later than 1912, and it seems that Einstein was responsible for much of Annalen der Physik's popularity in the early 20th century. Why didn't he stay with the journal?

  • $\begingroup$ I roughly remember reading somewhere, that Einstein had a major dispute with the editors of the journal. I don't have any reference by hand right now, will post it as soon as I find it. $\endgroup$ – Daniel Dec 10 '14 at 9:02
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    $\begingroup$ By the way, his paper founding GR "Die Grundlage der allgemeinen Relativitätstheorie" was published in Annalen der Physik, that was 1916. $\endgroup$ – Daniel Dec 10 '14 at 9:05
  • $\begingroup$ @Daniel Oh, cool! I had seen that paper in the list, but I didn't know that was the GR paper. I should have realized that. $\endgroup$ – HDE 226868 Dec 10 '14 at 16:33
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    $\begingroup$ @Daniel any chance that you'll dig up that reference and provide an answer to this question? $\endgroup$ – Danu Dec 12 '14 at 9:51
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    $\begingroup$ @HDE226868: That's funny because the title literally is "the foundation of general relativity", in german :) $\endgroup$ – Nikolaj-K Dec 25 '14 at 2:20

This web page by Sean Carroll seems to have some relevant information. Einstein was visiting the US in 1933 when Hitler was elected chancellor, and he lived in the US from then on. Because he was in the US, he switched to publishing in American journals.

The dispute that Daniel refers to in comments appears to have been a 1936 dispute with Physical Review, over an incorrect paper that Einstein wrote with Rosen, claiming that gravitational waves didn't exist. The anonymous reviewer (now known to have been the well-known cosmologist Robertson) wrote a lengthy critique of the paper, and the paper was not published. Although the paper was wrong, Einstein apparently held a grudge about it and never again published in Physical Review, even though he eventually realized that the paper had been wrong, and published a different version with the opposite conclusion.

This is not a complete answer, because it may be true that Einstein started publishing in different European journals ca. 1917-1933, and if so, then I don't know why.

A complete, footnoted source of information on the Phys Rev dispute is an article in Physics Today, September 2005, p. 43, by Daniel Kennefick. The article is available here.


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