Take a virtual walk through the Einstein archives
Google's new Arts & Culture app offers an unprecedented look at the famous scientist.
When we were recently given a VIP tour of the Albert Einstein archives on the campus of Hebrew University in Jerusalem, our first thought was, "Man, it would be great if other people could see this, too." Thanks to a new app from Google, that's now possible.
The search giant just launched the Google Arts & Culture app, which gives smartphone users access to the artworks and artifacts of a thousand museums across 70 countries. This includes more than 150 items from the Einstein archives. So now, for the first time ever, you can carry the original theory of relativity right in your back pocket.
Albert Einstein was a co-founder of Hebrew University, a member of its Board of Governors and the chairman of its Academic Committee. He bequeathed to the university 80,000 documents, which span the spectrum of both his personal and professional life. The collection includes the manuscripts of Einstein’s writings, his correspondence with colleagues and friends, as well as his personal documents and family correspondence. The collection also includes photographs, sound recordings and film footage.
Hanoch Gutfreund, a theoretical physicist, is the academic director of the Einstein archives in Israel. "The interest in Einstein does not fade into history," he told From The Grapevine. "If one can say anything about this, the interest in Einstein increases with time. It's greater now."
With the 100th anniversary of Einstein's theory of relativity being celebrated this year, the beloved genius is experiencing a moment in the zeitgeist. He's been cropping up all over pop culture, paintings, comic books, TV shows and even cakes. Some are even crediting his scientific explanation of GPS technology with laying the groundwork for the wildly popular Pokémon Go phone app.
In addition to the Einstein archives, users of Google's new Arts & Culture app can get lost in a British museum, take a 360-degree tour of Machu Picchu or visit the Sydney Opera House. You can view Monet’s famous water lilies in super-high "gigapixel" resolution and zoom in to see his layered brushstrokes – then visit Monsieur Monet’s real-life garden to see his inspiration. (Don't know where to start? Check out our list of the world's best museums.)
"Until recently, the act of enjoying art and culture was limited by geography," Google wrote in a blog post about the app. "Unless you could visit a museum in person, it would be hard for you to appreciate a work, brushstroke by brushstroke. And to fully understand the legacy of someone like Van Gogh, you would have to go from Amsterdam to Chicago to New York to Tokyo to discover and marvel at all of his influences, works and successors."
Google says it will be adding new artwork and artifacts from museums about every two weeks. "Virtual visits will never replace the real thing," they continued. "But technology can help open up art and culture to everyone, and we think that’s a powerful thing."
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