'Stick to it': Einstein's note of career advice up for auction
A novice chemist didn't know what to do with his life. The world's favorite genius had an answer.
If you're looking for career advice, who better to seek counsel from than one of the smartest men of the 20th century?
That's exactly what Clymer Marlay Noble Jr. decided to do. After completing his studies in chemistry at UC Berkeley and serving as a navigator in the U.S. Air Force, Noble was unsure what he should do with his life. So he asked the famed genius for career advice.
"The main thing is this," Albert Einstein wrote back. "If you have come across a question which interests you deeply, stick to it for years and do never try to content yourself with the solution of superficial problems promising relatively easy success."
This letter is an enduring part of Einstein's legacy, as it portrays a caring person interested in giving advice and guidance that is relevant to anyone who's uncertain of their path. The novice chemist decided to pursue a career in chemistry and worked in the field for 30 years.
This note is just part of a cache of letters written by Einstein that will be up for auction in the coming days. Other items include correspondence to a mathematician about the formalization of the theory of relativity as well as a letter of thanks to the University of the Republic of Uruguay for hosting him for a lecture.
Another note is a letter of condolence that Einstein wrote to a family who lost loved ones in war. "When our daily predictable life is cut off, we find that we are like sea travelers whose ship has sunk and are forced to try to maintain their balance on a miserable plank of wood," Einstein wrote. "People forget their point of departure and don't know to where they're drifting. When they reach this realization, they make peace with the situation, and life becomes easier, and there is no more room for real disappointment. Hoping that the planks on which we sit will soon meet."
The auction, set for March 6, is being held at Winner's Auction House in Jerusalem. Those who can't attend can place bids online. Also included in the auction are several rare photos of Einstein. "It is a great pleasure for me to see various and unique Einstein letters and items that teaches us more about this great man,” the auctioneer, Gal Wiener, told From The Grapevine.
The Winner Auction House is slowly becoming the go-to place to purchase Einstein correspondence. In October, they sold a note that Einstein wrote to a Japanese bellhop for $1.5 million. The sale, which was the largest Einstein auction in recent history, made international headlines.
Einstein bequeathed his papers to Hebrew University in Jerusalem, a school he helped establish. It is home to the official Albert Einstein archives, which recently announced it will be opening the archives to the public. But items that belonged to others, like the notes being auctioned off next month, are often sold to collectors.
Six decades after his death, Einstein memorabilia continues to flood the marketplace. In 2015, a batch of Einstein's letters fetched $420,000 at auction. In 2016, we reported on a letter that Einstein wrote to his son that was auctioned for around $100,000. An autographed copy of the iconic photo of Einstein sticking his tongue out sold for $125,000 at auction. Perhaps the renewed interest in Einstein objects is, in part, due to a National Geographic TV series about the beloved genius. An auction which coincided with the show's finale netted $210,000.
"The interest in Einstein does not fade into history," said Hebrew University's Hanoch Gutfreund, who helps run the Einstein archives. "If anything, the interest in Einstein increases with time. It's greater now."
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Related Topics: Albert Einstein