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  • E=mc2 = De Pretto Not Einstein

    by Anthony Parente

    The equation E=mc2, which has been forever linked to Einstein & his Theory of Relativity was not originally published by Einstein. According to Umberto Bartocci, a professor at the University of Perugia and a historian of mathematics, this famous equation was first published by Olinto De Pretto, who was an unknown industrialist from Vicenza, two years prior to Einstein's publishing of the equation. In 1903 De Pretto published his equation in the scientific magazine Atte and in 1904 it was republished by the Royal Science Institute of Veneto. Einstein's research was not published until 1905.

    Bartocci's article doesn't take away entirely from what Einstein is credited for. Yes, De Pretto was the first to introduce the formula, but it was Einstein who connected it with the Theory of Relativity. People were trying to understand Einstein's theory that they seemed to forget who really jump started the whole process. As the 20th century came to a close, Einstein was given the honor of Science's Man of the Century. Could this have been possible without De Pretto?

    No one will ever know if Einstein passed De Pretto's equation off as his own, but evidence does suggest he may have done just that. Einstein was well versed in Italian and even lived in Northern Italy for a brief time. He was very familiar with the work of many Italian scientists, enjoyed studying their beliefs and theories and he most likely was familiar with both of the magazines that published De Pretto's equation. With all that said, you can make your own conclusions, theories and hypotheses as to who really is the man that conjured the formula E=mc2.

    I myself was unaware of De Pretto being the one who first published this formula. It was brought to my attention from a post on the Italian Culture forum. You just can never tell what you might learn when you visit the forum. I look forward to seeing you there.

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