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Watson Lecture - Einstein in Pasadena: Between Two Worlds

Wednesday, March 13, 2024
7:30pm to 8:30pm
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Beckman Auditorium
  • Public Event

This event is currently at capacity. A recording of the event will be made available on our YouTube channel. Join our mailing list to receive the latest on public events at Caltech. Thank you for your interest!

For months prior to Albert Einstein's arrival in California on December 31, 1930, newspapers across the United States and Europe reported breathlessly on his upcoming visit to Caltech: "Noted Guest Is Nearing Pasadena. Hundreds of Flower-Laden Schoolgirls and Boys' Choir to Greet Scientist on Arrival Today. Privacy Guarded While in City. Mathematical Wizard to Meet Theory Testers." At the time, the young science-and-engineering institute was already notable for its accomplished faculty and its association with the Mount Wilson Observatory. Nonetheless, the voyage from Berlin to Pasadena meant a monthlong journey, spanning 8,000 miles by ship through the Panama Canal. How and why did the then 51-year-old Einstein decide to make the visit? The Einstein Papers Project at Caltech is delving into Einstein's massive written legacy of more than 500,000 pages that contain his correspondence, notebooks, diaries, lectures, calculations, speeches, and interviews. The project's ongoing work—one of the most ambitious scholarly publishing ventures in science—aims to present the first complete picture of Einstein's writings in a printed series, The Collected Papers of Albert Einstein. Sixteen volumes have been published to date. In this talk, Diana K. Buchwald, director and general editor of The Einstein Papers Project and Caltech's Robert M. Abbey Professor of History, will share recent insights into Einstein's scientific work and private life during the late 1920s and the early 1930s, when the physicist visited Caltech for three winters in the California sunshine.

Evening Schedule

6 p.m. — Activities and music. Food, drinks, and books available for purchase

7 p.m. — Doors open

7:30 p.m. — Talk and Q&A

8:30 p.m. — Post-talk concessions and conversation

The live event is in-person and a recording will be made available on our Youtube channel.

About the Series

For more than 100 years, the Watson Lectures have brought the wonder of Caltech research and discovery to the public.

Free and open to the public, the Watson Lecture Series offers a unique and accessible opportunity to learn more about cutting-edge science directly from Caltech's premier researchers. Come early to mingle with your neighbors over food, drink and music, as well as interactive displays related to the evening's topic. Then head inside to hear a stimulating talk and stay to ask your burning questions.

Many past Watson Lectures are available on YouTube.

For more information, please contact The Caltech Ticket Office by email at