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Las 30 horas de Einstein en Cuba =

Material Information

Title:
Las 30 horas de Einstein en Cuba = Einstein's 30 hours in Cuba
Parallel title:
Einstein's 30 hours in Cuba
Alternate title:
Treinta horas de Einstein en Cuba
Alternate title:
Einstein's thirty hours in Cuba
Creator:
Altshuler, José, 1929-
Place of Publication:
La Habana
Publisher:
Sociedad Cubana de Historia de la Ciencia y la Tecnologia, Publicaciones Acuario del Centro Félix Varela
Publication Date:
Language:
Spanish
English
Physical Description:
1 online resource (19 pages) : illustrations ; 23 cm

Subjects

Subjects / Keywords:
Travel ( fast )
Viaje ( qlsp )
Descripciones y viajes ( qlsp )
Description and travel -- Cuba ( lcsh )
Cuba ( fast )
Einstein, Albert, 1879-1955. ( fast )
Genre:
non-fiction ( marcgt )

Notes

Statement of Responsibility:
José Altshuler.

Record Information

Source Institution:
Biblioteca del Patronato de la Casa de la Comunidad Hebrea de Cuba
Holding Location:
Biblioteca del Patronato de la Casa de la Comunidad Hebrea de Cuba
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This item was contributed to the Digital Library of the Caribbean (dLOC) by the source institution listed in the metadata. This item may or may not be protected by copyright in the country where it was produced. Users of this work have responsibility for determining copyright status prior to reusing, publishing or reproducing this item for purposes other than what is allowed by applicable law, including any applicable international copyright treaty or fair use or fair dealing statutes, which dLOC partners have explicitly supported and endorsed. Any reuse of this item in excess of applicable copyright exceptions may require permission. dLOC would encourage users to contact the source institution directly or dloc@fiu.edu to request more information about copyright status or to provide additional information about the item.
Resource Identifier:
1101668151 ( OCLC )
036861631 ( ALEPH )
Classification:
QC16.E5 A68 2005 ( lcc )

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Full Text
Jos Altshuler
Las 30 horas de Einstein en Cuba
Einstein's 30 hours in Cuba




Jos Altshuler
LAS 30 HORAS DE EINSTEIN EN CUBA
EINSTEINS 30 HOURS IN CUBA
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Sociedad Cubana de Historia de la Ciencia y la Tecnologa
Publicaciones Acuario del Centro Flix Varela
La Habana, 2005


traduccin al ingls: Pedro M. Pruna
realizacin: Armando Quintana Gutirrez
cubierta: Diseo de Alexis Ponce y apunte-caricatura tomado
del natural por Romn, con autgrafo de Einstein
ISBN: 959-7071-36-3
Jos Altshuler, 1993,2000,2005
Sobre la presente edicin:
Sociedad Cubana de Historia de la Ciencia y la Tecnologa
Publicaciones Acuario, Centro Flix Varela, 2005
Impreso en Cuba
Impresin y encuadernacin: Mar y Pesca


Las 30 horas de Einstein
en Cuba
Muchas ciudades visit y muchos fueron
los pueblos cuyo modo de ser y cuyas costumbres conoci.
-Homero, Odisea
Cuando el mundialmente famoso creador de la teora
de la relatividad puso pie en tierra cubana en la maa
na del viernes 19 de diciembre de 1930, manifest su
deseo de adquirir un sombrero de verano, pues el da
se anunciaba caluroso.
Ni cortos ni perezosos, los encargados de acompa
ar al recin llegado lo llevaron a la tienda ms lujosa
de la capital El Encanto, cuyos dueos tuvieron el
gesto de regalar al ilustre cliente el mejor jipijapa que
tenan. Solo le pidieron que accediera a posar para un
retrato en el estudio fotogrfico del establecimiento.
Tomada la foto, comenz a cumplirse el plan de activi
dades acordado para el da con el profesor Albert
Einstein, premio Nobel de fsica de 1921.


4
EINSTEINS 30 HOURS IN CUBA
Pompa y circunstancia
Lo primero fue hacer una visita de cortesa a la
Secretara de Estado, y asistir luego a un acto solemne
en homenaje al sabio alemn, que tuvo lugar en los
salones de la Academia de Ciencias, Fsicas y Natura
les de La Habana, ofrecido conjuntamente por esa ins
titucin y por la Sociedad Geogrfica de Cuba. Se inici
a las once de la maana con unas palabras de bienve
nida y alabanza pronunciadas por el entonces secreta
rio de Sanidad y Beneficencia, en su condicin de pre
sidente de la Academia, palabras que Einstein agrade
ci brevemente enalteciendo la labor del pueblo cuba
no, que vislumbraba ya como ncleo de grandes y ma
ravillosos destinos, segn versin de un cronista.
En el Libro de Oro de la Sociedad Geogrfica, don
de se le rog dejara escritas unas lneas, expres el dis
tinguido visitante:
La primera sociedad verdaderamente universal fue la
sociedad de los investigadores. Ojal pueda la genera
cin venidera establecer una sociedad econmica y
poltica que evite con seguridad las catstrofes. (31
Qu quiso decir exactamente? No lo sabemos a
ciencia cierta, pero bien podemos imaginarlo, puesto
que el mundo sufra entonces una tremenda crisis eco
nmica y los desempleados se contaban por millones,
incluso en los pases ms industrializados. Hitler est
viviendo del estmago vaco de Alemania, haba decla
rado das antes en Nueva York el propio Einstein.
En cuanto al plan de actividades acordado, este
continu cumplindose rigurosamente. A la una de la
tarde, y tras haber recibido, en compaa de su esposa
Elsa, el homenaje de la comunidad hebrea de Cuba, el
Profesor y sus acompaantes asistieron a un banquete
ofrecido en su honor por el presidente de la Academia


EINSTEINS 30 HOURS IN CUBA
5
en el roof-garden del Hotel Plaza. Concluido el con
vite, salieron de recorrido en automvil, en vista de
que Einstein haba manifestado su deseo de conocer
lo ms posible la Habana y el campo cubano en las
pocas horas que su itinerario le otorgaba.
Los visitantes fueron conducidos a los exclusivos
Country Club y Havana Yacht Club, y luego a la zona
de Santiago de las Vegas, para que pudieran admirar
los paisajes de la campia cubana, en todo su verdor a
pesar de la poca, y visitar las obras hidrulicas loca
les, el asilo de Mazorra para enfermos mentales, el cam
po de aviacin Curtiss, y la Escuela Tcnica Industrial,
inaugurada poco tiempo atrs. Como era de esperar,
no se incluy en el programa una visita a la Universidad
de La Habana, que, convertida en el centro ms visible
de la rebelda popular contra la tirana machadista en
el poder, acababa de ser clausurada indefinidamente
por decreto presidencial.
El ltimo acto de la jornada en que particip el
clebre fsico fue una recepcin en su honor ofrecida
por la Sociedad Cubana de Ingenieros. Comenz a las
cinco de la tarde con unas palabras de su presidente, a
las cuales el homenajeado respondi expresando su
agradecimiento por las atenciones recibidas, que le ha
ban permitido conocer los paisajes ms pintorescos, y
desendole a la nacin un porvenir venturoso.
Luego del esplndido buffet, de rigor en estos ca
sos, y tras estampar su firma en el libro de visitantes,
cay sobre Einstein un verdadero chaparrn de peticio
nes de autgrafos por parte de la concurrencia unas
doscientas personas, compuesta no solo por ingenie
ros, sino tambin por otros intelectuales, invitados al
efecto, cuyos nombres prefiri omitir la resea publica
da en la revista de la Sociedad por falta de espacio y por
no incurrir en olvidos lamentables Tampoco aludi a


6
EINSTEINS 30 HOURS IN CUBA
la forma poco protocolar en que termin el acto, cuando
el homenajeado, sin duda abrumado por tanto agasa
jo, abandon de buenas a primeras el recinto, se in
trodujo precipitadamente en el automvil que lo espe
raba, y parti con sus acompaantes hacia el muelle,
para subir a bordo de su barco.
Un viaje movido
Einstein haba declinado la invitacin oficial de alojar
se en el Hotel Nacional, el ms lujoso de la capital, que
estaba a punto de inaugurarse. Aleg que deseaba per
noctar en el vapor Belgenland donde viajaba, al igual
que haba hecho durante los cinco das que dur la
escala anterior en Nueva York, del 11 al 16 de diciembre.
En aquella ocasin, poco despus del arribo del
buque, subieron a bordo cincuenta reporteros y otros
tantos fotgrafos con el propsito de entrevistar al Pro
fesor, quien despus anotara en su diario: Los repor
teros hicieron preguntas particularmente insustanciales
a las cuales respond con chistes baratos, que fueron
recibidos con entusiasmo. Ms que en ninguna parte,
los cazadores de autgrafos se presentaron como una
plaga implacable. Ante la imposibilidad de eludirla, Elsa
se las ingeni para que contribuyera a un fin humani
tario dejando correr la voz de que el doctor se sentira
feliz si cada solicitud de autgrafo se hiciese por carta
acompaada, digamos, de tres dlares para los pobres
de Berln .
Adems de su esposa y de una amiga de la familia,
iban con el clebre cientfico en aquel viaje su secreta
ria, Helen Dukas, y el matemtico austraco Walther
Mayer, quien haca ms de dos aos vena colaborando
estrechamente con Einstein en lo que ya entonces se
haba convertido para este en una obsesin: establecer
una teora unificada del campo capaz de enlazar los


EINSTEINS 30 HOURS IN CUBA
7
fenmenos electromagnticos con la atraccin
gravitatoria entre los cuerpos, pues la teora general
de la relatividad se aplicaba nicamente a la
gravitacin.
Buscando pruebas en el cielo
El Profesor y sus acompaantes haban tomado el bar
co en el puerto belga de Amberes el 2 de diciembre,
para dirigirse, a travs del Canal de Panam, a la ciu
dad californiana de San Diego y de ah por carretera
hasta la vecina ciudad de Pasadena, a donde llegaron,
invitados por el director del Instituto Tecnolgico de
California, Robert Millikan, premio Nobel de fsica de
1923 en consideracin a sus importantes determina
ciones experimentales, una de las cuales permiti con
firmar a plenitud la frmula del efecto fotoelctrico ob
tenida por Einstein en 1905. Significativamente, otro
de los invitados era Albert Michelson, galardonado con
el Nobel de fsica de 1907, cuyos experimentos sobre
propagacin de la luz guardaban una estrecha vincula
cin con la teora especial de la relatividad, que Einstein
haba formulado tambin en 1905, cuando tena ape
nas veintisis aos de edad.
Para el ilustre cientfico la visita a Pasadena posea
un atractivo muy especial, pues le dara la oportunidad
de llegarse al cercano observatorio astronmico de Monte
Wilson, de cuyas posibilidades excepcionales esperaba
servirse para realizar ciertas investigaciones que de
ben aportar nuevas pruebas a mi teora general de
Relatividad [pues] confo en que el poderoso instrumental
de Monte Wilson me permitir obtener pruebas
astrofsicas indiscutibles segn le expres al perio
dista de la revista cubana Bohemia que lo entrevist
sobre la cubierta del buque. Pero lo que hoy parece ser
una prueba vlida de la ndole a que se refera el sabio


8
EINSTEINS 30 HOURS IN CUBA
no se obtuvo sino muchsimo despus, tras pasarse
cuatro aos realizando delicadas mediciones
radiotelescpicas de cierto objeto celeste (el pulsar
binario PSR 1913+16) descubierto en 1974, cuyo com
portamiento se ajusta muy precisamente a las predic
ciones de la teora general de la relatividad. Lamenta
blemente, el creador de esta no pudo disfrutar del acon
tecimiento, porque haba fallecido veinte y tantos aos
antes, en 1955.
La otra realidad
Faltan por resear las peripecias de las ltimas horas
de Einstein en Cuba, pues, como se recordar, lo ha
bamos dejado a bordo de su barco al final de la abru
madora jornada del da 19 de diciembre.
A la maana siguiente vinieron a recogerlos a l y a
sus acompaantes para pasearlos por la ciudad, el di
rector del Observatorio Nacional y su esposa. No pudie
ron menos que sorprendelse cuando el distinguido vi
sitante insisti en recorrer los barrios ms pobres, pues
habiendo visitado la vspera los parques, los clubs, las
residencias de la gente acomodada, tenan ahora em
peo en ver todo lo contrario, segn la Revista de la
Sociedad Geogrfica de Cuba, donde puede leerse que
se complaci su deseo de penetrar en los ms misera
bles hogares, en los desordenados patios de los solares
y cuarterasy se condujo al grupo al Mercado nico, a
las tiendas ms modestas de la calzada del Monte, y a
los barrios tpicos de la pobreza cubana, que sus mora
dores han bautizado con los extraos apelativos de Pan
con Timba y Llega y Pon .
Einstein se despidi de sus cicerones agradecin
doles la amabilidad que haban tenido al complacerlo
en sus raros empeos. A la una de la tarde, el Belgenland
zarp rumbo al Canal de Panam, luego de haber per-


EINSTEINS 30 HOURS IN CUBA
9
manecido unas treinta horas en el puerto de La Haba
na. Atrs quedaba la Cuba neocolonial: Clubes lujosos
al lado de una pobreza atroz, que afecta principalmente
a las personas de color anot Einstein en su diario
aquel sbado 20 de diciembre de 1930.
Einstein y su esposa, Elsa, en la cubierta del vapor Belgenland, a su llegada a La Habana, temprano en la
maana del 19 de diciembre de 1930. Tambin acompaaban al clebre cientfico su secretaria, Helen Dukas,
elmatemco Walther Mayery una amiga de la familia.
Einstein and his wife, Elsa, on the deckofthesteamshipHe^wlani when theyarrivedIn Havana, early in
the morning of December19,1930. The renownedsdendstwas also accompanied by his secretary, Helen


EINSTEINS 30 HOURS IN CUBA
ALBERT EINSTEIN
Foto tomada en La Habana el 19 de diciembre de 1930
Photo taken In Havana, December 19,1030


EINSTEINS 30 HOURS IN CUBA
SALUDA EL SABIO ALEMAN A LOS PROFESIONALES CUBANOS
19 de diciembre de 1930: Einstein dirige
a sus anfitriones cubanos unas
palabras de saludo en el paraninfo de la
Academia de Ciencias Mdicas, Fsicas
y Naturales de La Habana, cuyos locales
pertenecen actualmente al
Museo Nacional de Historia de las
Ciencias Carlos J. Flnlay.
December19,1930: Einstein thanks
bis Cuban hosts at the main ball of the
AcademyofMedical Physical and
Natural Sciences of Havana,
whose premises now belong to the
CarlosJ. FinlayNational Museum of
the History of Sciences
Einstein abandona la sede de
la Academia al terminar el acto
de homenaj e que se le tribut.
Einstein leaves thepremises
ottheAcademyalter the homage
paldtoblm


EINSTEINS 30 HOURS IN CUBA
En el Libro de O rote la Sociedad
Geogrfica de Cuba Einstein deja
su firma baj o estas palabras:
La primera sociedad verdadera
mente universal ftie la sociedad de
los investigadores.
Ojal pueda lageneradn
venideraestableceruna sociedad
econmica y poltica que evite
con seguridad las catstrofes.
Einstein sigas eVlsi tors
Book o the Geographic Society
of Cuba, where be wrote:
The first truly universal society
was the society of researchers
May the coming generation
establish a political and economic
society which will ensure us
against catastrophes
Einstein en el Instituto de Tecnologa de California a comienzos de 1931, entre otros dos premios Nobel
de fsica: A.A. Michelson (izquierda)y R.A. Millikan, presidente del Instituto. W. Mayer, colaborador y
compaero de viaje de Einstein, aparece en el centro de la segunda fila.
Einstein at the California Institute ofTechnology earlyin 1931, between two otherNobellaureatesinphyslcs:
AA Michelson (lett) andRAMWIkan, the Institutes president W. Mayer, Einsteins collaborator and voyage
companion, appears in the middle of the back row.


Einsteins 30 hours
in Cuba
Many cities did he visit, and many were the nations
with whose manners and customs he was acquainted.
Homer, Odyssey
When the world famous author of the theory of relativity
set foot on Cuban soil in the morning of Friday,
December 19, 1930, he mentioned that he wished to
purchase a summer hat, since it looked like it would be
a hot day.
His Cuban hosts took him immediately to the most
fashionable store in Havana El Encanto where the
store owners presented the illustrious visitor the best
panama hat they had. In exchange they only asked him
to pose for a portrait in the establishments photo studio.
After the photo was taken Professor Albert Einstein,
Nobel laureate for physics of 1921, started to follow the
plan his hosts had set for the first day of his visit to
Havana.


14
EINSTEINS 30 HOURS IN CUBA
Pomp and circumstance
First on the agenda was a courtesy visit to the Cuban
State Department (the Foreign Office) followed by a
solemn ceremony in his honor at the Academy of Medical,
Physical and Natural Sciences of Havana, offered jointly
by that institution and the Geographical Society of Cuba.
It began at eleven oclock in the morning. The Secretary
of Health and Welfare, who was also president of the
Academy at the time, said a few words of welcome and
praise. Einstein briefly thanked him, extolling the work
of the Cuban people, in whom he already glimpsed the
essence of great and marvelous destinies, according to
a journalists account.
The distinguished visitor was asked to write a few
words in the so called Golden Book of the Geographic
Society and he wrote:
The first truly universal society was the society of
researchers. May the coming generation establish a
political and economic society which will insure us
against catastrophes.
What exactly did he mean by this? We dont know
for certain but we can well imagine, as at that time the
world was going through a tremendous economic cri
sis, and the unemployed numbered millions, even in
the most industrialized countries. Hitler is living upon
Germanys empty stomach, Einstein had declared a few
days earlier in New York.
The scheduled activities continued as planned. At
one oclock in the afternoon, after he and his wife Elsa
had been honored by the Jewish community in Havana,
Einstein and his companions attended a banquet offered
in his honor by the president of the Academy at the roof
garden of the Plaza Hotel. After the banquet, Einstein
was taken on a tour of the city, since he had expressed


EINSTEINS 30 HOURS IN CUBA
15
the wish .to get to know Havana and the Cuban
countryside as much as possible in the few hours
which the itinerary allowed.
The visitors were taken to the exclusive Country
Club and Havana Yacht Club, and later to the nearby
town of Santiago de las Vegas, so they could admire
the scenery of the Cuban countryside, in all its lush
greenery despite the season, and also visit the local
water-works, the Mazorra asylum for the mentally ill,
the Curtiss aviation field, and the Industrial Technical
School which had been recently inaugurated. As one
might have expected, no visit was planned to the
University of Havana, which had just been closed
indefinitely by decree, for it had become the most glaring
center of the popular rebellion then going on against
the current dictator, Gerardo Machado.
The last event of the day in which the celebrated
physicist participated was a reception held in his honor
by the Cuban Society of Engineers. It began at five in
the afternoon with a speech by the Societys president,
to which the honored guest responded by stating his
gratitude for the attentions received, which had allowed
him to become acquainted with the most picturesque
landscapes, and wished the nation a prosperous future.
After the speeches, a splendid buffet was served.
Einstein then signed the visitors book and a virtual
avalanche of requests for autographs fell upon him from
some two hundred people present at the reception. The
audience comprised not only engineers, but also other
invited intellectuals whose names however were
not included in the account published in the Societys
journal due to lack of space and to avoid regrettable
omissions. The author of the account chose not to
mention the less than formal way in which the reception
ended when the guest, undoubtedly worn out by so


16
EINSTEINS 30 HOURS IN CUBA
many attentions, suddenly left the place, hurriedly
got into a waiting car, and went off with his
companions toward the pier to board his ship.
A lively voyage
Einstein had declined the official invitation to stay at
the Nacional Hotel, the most luxurious of the Cuban
capital, which was to be inaugurated in a few days. He
wanted to spend the night on the steamship that brought
him to Cuba, the Belgenland. He had done the same
during his earlier five-day stopover in New York,
December 11 to 16.
On that occasion, just after the ships arrival, fifty
reporters and as many photographers showed up, with
the idea of interviewing him. He noted afterwards in his
diary: The reporters asked particularly inane questions
to which I replied with cheap jokes that were received
with enthusiasm. More than anywhere else, autograph
seekers hounded him. Faced with the impossibility of
eluding them, Elsa devised a way for them to contribute
to a humanitarian cause by announcing that the doc
tor will be very happy if every letter requesting an
autograph was accompanied with say, three dollars for
the Berlin poor.
In addition to his wife and a friend of the family,
the celebrated scientist was accompanied on that trip
by his secretary, Helen Dukas, and the Austrian
mathematician, Walther Mayer. The latter had been
closely collaborating with Einstein for nearly two years
on what at that point had become an obsession for him
to establish a unified field theory capable of linking
electromagnetic phenomena with the gravitational
attraction between bodies, since the general theory of
relativity applied only to gravitation.


EINSTEINS 30 HOURS IN CUBA
17
Looking for evidence in the heavens
Einstein and his companions had boarded the ship at
the Belgian port of Antwerp on December 2, in order to
reach San Diego, California, via the Panama Canal, and
then travel by highway to the neighboring city of
Pasadena, where they arrived with the new year. They
had been invited by the director of the California Institute
of Technology, Robert Millikan, the Nobel laureate for
physics of 1923 for his important experiments, one of
which allowed the formula for the photoelectric effect,
obtained by Einstein in 1905, to be fully confirmed.
Significantly, another guest was Albert Michelson,
winner of the 1907 Nobel prize for physics, whose
experiments on the propagation of light were closely tied
to the special theory of relativity formulated by Einstein
also in 1905, when he was barely twenty six years old.
For the renowned scientist, the visit to Pasadena
held a special attraction, as it would give him the
opportunity to visit the nearby Mount Wilson
observatory, whose exceptional potentialities could be
useful for undertaking certain research which should
provide new findings to confirm my general theory of
Relativity [since] I believe that Mount Wilsons powerful
instrumentation will allow me to obtain unquestionable
astrophysical proofs. This is what Einstein stated on
the deck of his ship in an interview with a journalist
from the Cuban magazine Bohemia. But what seems
today the kind of proof Einstein was seeking was
obtained much later, when a certain celestial object (the
binary pulsar PSR1913+16) was discovered in 1974,
and four years were spent performing delicate
radiotelescopic measurements on it. Einstein, however,
could not enjoy this finding, since he had died more
than twenty years earlier, in 1955.


18
EINSTEINS 30 HOURS IN CUBA
The other reality
We still have to account for Einsteins last hours in
Cuba, after he spent the night of December 19 on the
ship.
The next morning, the director of the National
Observatory and his wife came for him and his
companions to take them around the city. They felt
surprised by the distinguished guests insistence on
touring the poorest neighborhoods; since after having
visited the parks, the clubs, the residences of the
wealthy, now they were determined to see the other side.
The journal Revista de la Sociedad Geogrfica de Cuba,
reported that Einstein entered the most wretched
homes, and the untidy yards of the solares [very humble
Cuban tenement houses]. The group also went to the
Mercado nico [the main market in Havana], to the most
modest stores on Monte Avenue, and to the typical
neighborhoods of Cuban destitution, called by their
inhabitants such strange names as Pan con Timba
[Bread and Guava Paste] and Llega y Pon [Come and
Flop].
Einstein said farewell to his guides, and thanked
them for their kindness in complying with his unusual
demands. At one oclock in the afternoon, the Belgenland
weighed anchor and headed for the Panama Canal, after
having remained some thirty hours in the port of Havana.
Behind lay neocolonial Cuba. Luxurious clubs side by
side with naked poverty mainly affecting the colored
people, Einstein wrote in his diary that Saturday,
December 20, 1930.


19
Albert Einstein, septuagenario, por el caricaturista cubano Juan David
Albert Einstein In bisseventies by the Cuban caricaturist Juan David






La breve visita de Albert Einstein a Cuba en
diciembre de 1930 prcticamente no se recoge
en las muchas biografas publicadas hasta la
fecha sobre el clebre creador de la teora de la
relatividad. Esta monografa ilustrada
contiene una narracin precisa, pero amena,
de sus actividades en La Habana, que muestra
cun perspicaz fue Einstein en su apreciacin
de los problemas econmicos y sociales que por
entonces aquejaban al mundo en general y a
Cuba neocolonial en particular.
Albert Einstein's brief visit to Cuba in December,
1930 is practically unrecorded in the many
biographies published to date of the world
famous creator of the theory of relativity. This
illustrated booklet contains a straightforward
but readable account of his activities in
Havana, which shows how perceptive Einstein
was of the economic and social problems then
afflicting the world in general and neocolonial
Cuba in particular.
9789597
ACUARIO


Full Text
Jos Altshuler
Las 30 horas de Einstein en Cuba
Einstein's 30 hours in Cuba


Jos Altshuler
LAS 30 HORAS DE EINSTEIN EN CUBA
EINSTEINS 30 HOURS IN CUBA
Qa B)bQio\v&c
^ ^LCuA_ \\&KeJjVy, G** fa) YYJLQtO
MM
^ AGOGS'
Sociedad Cubana de Historia de la Ciencia y la Tecnologa
Publicaciones Acuario del Centro Flix Varela
La Habana, 2005

traduccin AL ingls: Pedro M. Pruna
realizacin: Armando Quintana Gutirrez
cubierta: Dlsefio de Alexis Ponce y. apunte-caricatura tomado
del natural por Romn, con autgrafo de Einstein
ISBN: 959-7071-36-3
@ Jos Altshuler, 1993,2000,2005
@ Sobre la presente edicin:
Sociedad Cubana de Historia de la Ciencia y la Tecnologa
Publicaciones Acuario, Centro Flix Varela, 2005
Impreso en Cuba
Impresin y encuadernacin: Mary Pesca

Las 30 horas de Einstein
en Cuba
Muchas ciudades visit y muchos fueron
los pueblos cuyo modo de ser y cuyas costumbres conoci.
-Homero, Odisea
Cuando el mundialmente famoso creador de la teora
de la relatividad puso pie en tierra cubana en la maa
na del viernes 19 de diciembre de 1930, manifest su
deseo de adquirir un sombrero de verano, pues el da
se anunciaba caluroso.
Ni cortos ni perezosos, los encargados de acompa
ar al recin llegado lo llevaron a la tienda ms lujosa
de la capital El Encanto, cuyos dueos tuvieron el
gesto de regalar al ilustre cliente el mejor jipijapa que
tenan. Solo le pidieron que accediera a posar para un
retrato en el estudio fotogrfico del establecimiento.
Tomada la foto, comenz a cumplirse el plan de activi
dades acordado para el da con el profesor Albert
Einstein, premio Nobel de fsica de 1921.

4
EINSTEINS 30 HOURS IN CUBA
Pompa y circunstancia
Lo primero fue hacer una visita de cortesa a la
Secretara de Estado, y asistir luego a un acto solemne
en homenaje al sabio alemn, que tuvo lugar en los
salones de la Academia de Ciencias, Fsicas y Natura
les de La Habana, ofrecido conjuntamente por esa ins
titucin y por la Sociedad Geogrfica de Cuba. Se inici
a las once de la maana con unas palabras de bienve
nida y alabanza pronunciadas por el entonces secreta
rio de Sanidad y Beneficencia, en su condicin de pre
sidente de la Academia, palabras que Einstein agrade
ci brevemente enalteciendo la labor del pueblo cuba
no, que vislumbraba ya como ncleo de grandes y ma
ravillosos destinos, segn versin de un cronista.
En el Libro de Oro de la Sociedad Geogrfica, don
de se le rog dejara escritas unas lneas, expres el dis
tinguido visitante:
La primera sociedad verdaderamente universal fue la
sociedad de los investigadores. Ojal pueda la genera
cin venidera establecer una sociedad econmica y
poltica que evite con seguridad las catstrofes.t3l
Qu quiso decir exactamente? No lo sabemos a
ciencia cierta, pero bien podemos imaginarlo, puesto
que el mundo sufra entonces una tremenda crisis eco
nmica y los desempleados se contaban por millones,
incluso en los pases ms industrializados. Hitler est
viviendo del estmago vaco de Alemania, haba decla
rado das antes en Nueva York el propio Einstein.
En cuanto al plan de actividades acordado, este
contino cumplindose rigurosamente. A la una de la
tarde, y tras haber recibido, en compaa de su esposa
Elsa, el homenaje de la comunidad hebrea de Cuba, el
Profesor y sus acompaantes asistieron a un banquete
ofrecido en su honor por el presidente de la Academia

EINSTEINS 30 HOURS IN CUBA
5
en el roof-garden del Hotel Plaza. Concluido el con
vite, salieron de recorrido en automvil, en vista de
que Einstein haba manifestado su deseo de conocer
lo ms posible la Habana y el campo cubano en las
pocas horas que su itinerario le otorgaba.
Los visitantes fueron conducidos a los exclusivos
Country Club y Havana Yacht Club, y luego a la zona
de Santiago de las Vegas, para que pudieran admirar
los paisajes de la campia cubana, en todo su verdor a
pesar de la poca, y visitar las obras hidrulicas loca
les, el asilo de Mazorra para enfermos mentales, el cam
po de aviacin Curtiss, y la Escuela Tcnica Industrial,
inaugurada poco tiempo atrs. Como era de esperar,
no se incluy en el programa una visita a la Universidad
de La Habana, que, convertida en el centro ms visible
de la rebelda popular contra la tirana machadista en
el poder, acababa de ser clausurada indefinidamente
por decreto presidencial.
El ltimo acto de la jornada en que particip el
clebre fsico fue una recepcin en su honor ofrecida
por la Sociedad Cubana de Ingenieros. Comenz a las
cinco de la tarde con unas palabras de su presidente, a
las cuales el homenajeado respondi expresando su
agradecimiento por las atenciones recibidas, que le ha
ban permitido conocer los paisajes ms pintorescos, y
desendole a la nacin un porvenir venturoso.
Luego del esplndido buffet, de rigor en estos ca
sos, y tras estampar su firma en el libro de visitantes,
cay sobre Einstein un verdadero chaparrn de peticio
nes de autgrafos por parte de la concurrencia unas
doscientas personas, compuesta no solo por ingenie
ros, sino tambin por otros intelectuales, invitados al
efecto, cuyos nombres prefiri omitir la resea publica
da en la revista de la Sociedad por falta de espacio y por
no incurrir en olvidos lamentables Tampoco aludi a

6
EINSTEINS 30 HOURS IN CUBA
la forma poco protocolar en que termin el acto, cuando
el homenajeado, sin duda abrumado por tanto agasa
jo, abandon de buenas a primeras el recinto, se in
trodujo precipitadamente en el automvil que lo espe
raba, y parti con sus acompaantes hacia el muelle,
para subir a bordo de su barco.
n viaje movido
Einstein haba declinado la invitacin oficial de alojar
se en el Hotel Nacional, el ms lujoso de la capital, que
estaba a punto de inaugurarse. Aleg que deseaba per
noctar en el vapor Belgenland donde viajaba, al igual
que haba hecho durante los cinco das que dur la
escala anterior en Nueva York, del 11 al 16 de diciembre.
En aquella ocasin, poco despus del arribo del
buque, subieron a bordo cincuenta reporteros y otros
tantos fotgrafos con el propsito de entrevistar al Pro
fesor, quien despus anotara en su diario: Los repor
teros hicieron preguntas particularmente insustanciales
a las cuales respond con chistes baratos, que fueron
recibidos con entusiasmo. Ms que en ninguna parte,
los cazadores de autgrafos se presentaron como una
plaga implacable. Ante la imposibilidad de eludirla, Elsa
se las ingeni para que contribuyera a un fin humani
tario dejando correr la voz de que el doctor se sentira
feliz si cada solicitud de autgrafo se hiciese por carta
acompaada, digamos, de tres dlares para los pobres
de Berln .
Adems de su esposa y de una amiga de la familia,
iban con el clebre cientfico en aquel viaje su secreta
ria, Helen Dukas, y el matemtico austraco Walther
Mayer, quien haca ms de dos aos vena colaborando
estrechamente con Einstein en lo que ya entonces se
haba convertido para este en una obsesin: establecer
una teora unificada del campo capaz de enlazar los

EINSTEINS 30 HOURS IN CUBA
7
fenmenos electromagnticos con la atraccin
gravitatoria entre los cuerpos, pues la teora general
de la relatividad se aplicaba nicamente a la
gravitacin.
Buscando pruebas en el cielo
El Profesor y sus acompaantes haban tomado el bar
co en el puerto belga de Amberes el 2 de diciembre,
para dirigirse, a travs del Canal de Panam, a la ciu
dad califomiana de San Diego y de ah por carretera
hasta la vecina ciudad de Pasadena, a donde llegaron,
invitados por el director del Instituto Tecnolgico de
California, Robert Millikan, premio Nobel de fsica de
1923 en consideracin a sus importantes determina
ciones experimentales, una de las cuales permiti con
firmar a plenitud la frmula del efecto fotoelctrico ob
tenida por Einstein en 1905. Significativamente, otro
de los invitados era Albert Michelson, galardonado con
el Nobel de fsica de 1907, cuyos experimentos sobre
propagacin de la luz guardaban una estrecha vincula
cin con la teora especial de la relatividad, que Einstein
haba formulado tambin en 1905, cuando tena ape
nas veintisis aos de edad.
Para el ilustre cientfico la visita a Pasadena posea
un atractivo muy especial, pues le dara la oportunidad
de llegarse al cercano observatorio astronmico de Monte
Wilson, de cuyas posibilidades excepcionales esperaba
servirse para realizar ciertas investigaciones que de
ben aportar nuevas pruebas a mi teora general de
Relatividad [pues] confo en que el poderoso instrumental
de Monte Wilson me permitir obtener pruebas
astrofsicas indiscutibles segn le expres al perio
dista de la revista cubana Bohemia que lo entrevist
sobre la cubierta del buque. Pero lo que hoy parece ser
una prueba vlida de la ndole a que se refera el sabio

8
EINSTEINS 30 HOURS IN CUBA
no se obtuvo sino muchsimo despus, tras pasarse
cuatro aos realizando delicadas mediciones
radiotelescpicas de cierto objeto celeste (el pulsar
binario PSR 1913+16) descubierto en 1974, cuyo com
portamiento se ajusta muy precisamente a las predic
ciones de la teora general de la relatividad. Lamenta
blemente, el creador de estao pudo disfrutar del acon
tecimiento, porque haba fallecido veinte y tantos aos
antes, en 1955.
La otra realidad
Faltan por resear las peripecias de las ltimas horas
de Einstein en Cuba, pues, como se recordar, lo ha
bamos dejado a bordo de su barco al final de la abru
madora jornada del da 19 de diciembre.
A la maana siguiente vinieron a. recogerlos a l y a
sus acompaantes para pasearlos por la ciudad, el di
rector del Observatorio Nacional y su esposa. No pudie
ron menos que sorprendfse cuando el distinguido vi
sitante insisti en recorrer los barrios ms pobres, pues
habiendo visitado la vspera los parques, los clubs, las
residencias de la gente acomodada, tenan ahora em
peo en ver todo lo contrario, segn la Revista de la
Sociedad Geogrfica de Cuba, donde puede leerse que
se complaci su deseo de penetrar en los ms misera
bles hogares, en los desordenados patios de los solares
y cuarterasy se condujo al grupo al Mercado nico, a
las tiendas ms modestas de la calzada del Monte, y a
los barrios tpicos de la pobreza cubana, que sus mora
dores han bautizado con los extraos apelativos de Pan
con Timba y Llega y Pon .
Einstein se despidi de sus cicerones agradecin
doles la amabilidad que hban tenido al complacerlo
en sus raros empeos. A la una de la tarde, el Belgenland
zarp rumbo al Canal de Panam, luego de haber per-

EINSTEINS 30 HOURS IN CUBA
9
manecido unas treinta horas en el puerto de La Haba
na. Atrs quedaba la Cuba neocolonial: Clubes lujosos
al lado de una pobreza atroz, que afecta principalmente
a las personas de color anot Einstein en su diario
aquel sbado 20 de diciembre de 1930.
Einstein y su esposa, Elsa, en la cubierta del vapor Belgenland, a su llegada a La Habana, temprano en la
maana del 19 de diciembre de 1930. Tambin acompaaban al clebre cientfico su secretaria, Helen Dukas,
elmatemco Waltber Mayery una amiga de la familia.
Einstein and his wife, Elsa, onthedeckoftbesteamsblpVdgecianA when theyarrivedin Havana, early in
the morning oDecember19,1330. The renowned scientist ms also accompanied by his secretary, Helen
Dukas, the mathematician WahherlUayer, anda triendofthelamUy.

EINSTEINS 30 HOURS IN CUBA
ALBERT EINSTEIN
Foto tomada en La Sabana el 19 de diciembre de 1930
Photo taken ¡n Havana, December 19,1930

EINSTEINS 30 HOURS IN CUBA
SALUDA EL SABIO ALEMAN A LOS PROFESIONALES CUBANOS
19 de diciembre de 1930: Einstein dirige
a sus anfitriones cubanos unas
palabras de saludo en el paraninfo de la
Academia de Ciencias Mdicas, Fsicas
y Naturales de La Habana, cuyos locales
pertenecen actualmente al
Museo Nacional de Historia de las
Ciencias Carlos J. Finlay.
December19,1930: Einstein thanks
his Cuban hosts atibe main haDof the
Academy of Metical, Physical and
Natural Sciences ol'Havana,
whosepremlsesnowbelongtothe
CarlasJ. UnlayNational Museum of
the History of Sciences
Einstein abandona la sede de
la Academia al terminar el acto
de homenaje que se le tribut.
Einstein leaves the premises
of the Academyafterthebomage
paid to him

EINSTEINS 30 HOURS IN CUBA
En el Libro de Oroie la Sociedad
Geogrfica de Cuba Einstein deja
su firma bajo estas palabras:
La primera sociedad verdadera
mente universal fUe la sociedad de
los investigadores.
Ojal pueda la generation
venidera establecer una sociedad
econmicaypolfica que evite
con seguridad las catstrofes.
Einsteinsigns tre Visitors
Book of the Geographic Sodety
of Cuba, where he mote:
The tirst trulyuuiversalsodety
was thesodety of researchers
May the coning generation
establish a political and economic
sodety which win ensure us
against catastrophes"
Einstein en el Instituto de Tecnologa de California a comienzos de 1931, entre otros dos premios Nobel
de fsica: A.A. Michelson (Izquierda) y R.A. Millikan, presidente del Instituto. W. Mayer, colaborador y
compaero de viaje de Einstein, aparece en el centro de la segunda fila
Einstein at the California Institute ofTechnology earlyin 1931, between two otherl/obeilaureates hi physics:
AA Michelson (left) andRJL Millikan, the institute's president W. Mayer, Einstein's collaborator and voyage
companion, appears In the middle of the back row.

Einsteins 30 hours
in Cuba
Many cities did he visit, and many were the nations
with whose manners and customs he was acquainted.
Homer, Odyssey
When the world famous author of the theory of relativity
set foot on Cuban soil in the morning of Friday,
December 19, 1930, he mentioned that he wished to
purchase a summer hat, since it looked like it would be
a hot day.
His Cuban hosts took him immediately to the most
fashionable store in Havana El Encanto where the
store owners presented the illustrious visitor the best
panama hat they had. In exchange they only asked him
to pose for a portrait in the establishments photo studio.
After the photo was taken Professor Albert Einstein,
Nobel laureate for physics of 1921, started to follow the
plan his hosts had set for the first day of his visit to
Havana.

14
EINSTEINS 30 HOURS IN CUBA
Pomp and circumstance
First on the agenda was a courtesy visit to the Cuban
State Department (the Foreign Office) followed by a
solemn ceremony in his honor at the Academy of Medical,
Physical and Natural Sciences of Havana, offered jointly
by that institution and the Geographical Society of Cuba.
It began at eleven oclock in the morning. The Secretary
of Health and Welfare, who was also president of the
Academy at the time, said a few words of welcome and
praise. Einstein briefly thanked him, extolling the work
of the Cuban people, in whom he already glimpsed the
essence of great and marvelous destinies, according to
a journalists account.
The distinguished visitor was asked to write a few
words in the so called Golden Book of the Geographic
Society and he wrote:
The first truly universal society was the society of
researchers. May the coming generation establish a
political and economic society which will insure us
against catastrophes.
What exactly did he mean by this? We dont know
for certain but we can well imagine, as at that time the
world was going through a tremendous economic cri
sis, and the unemployed numbered millions, even in
the most industrialized countries. Hitler is living upon
Germanys empty stomach, Einstein had declared a few
days earlier in New York.
The scheduled activities continued as planned. At
one oclock in the afternoon, after he and his wife Elsa
had been honored by the Jewish community in Havana,
Einstein and his companions attended a banquet offered
in his honor by the president of the Academy at the roof
garden of the Plaza Hotel. After the banquet, Einstein
was taken on a tour of the city, since he had expressed

EINSTEINS 30 HOURS IN CUBA
15
the wish .to get to know Havana and the Cuban
countryside as much as possible in the few hours
which the itinerary allowed.
The visitors were taken to the exclusive Country
Club and Havana Yacht Club, and later to the nearby
town of Santiago de las Vegas, so they could admire
the scenery of the Cuban countryside, in all its lush
greenery despite the season, and also visit the local
water-works, the Mazorra asylum for the mentally ill,
the Curtiss aviation field, and the Industrial Technical
School which had been recently inaugurated. As one
might have expected, no visit was planned to the
University of Havana, which had just been closed
indefinitely by decree, for it had become the most glaring
center of the popular rebellion then going on against
the current dictator, Gerardo Machado.
The last event of the day in which the celebrated
physicist participated was a reception held in his honor
by the Cuban Society of Engineers. It began at five in
the afternoon with a speech by the Societys president,
to which the honored guest responded by stating his
gratitude for the attentions received, which had allowed
him to become acquainted with the most picturesque
landscapes, and wished the nation a prosperous future.
After the speeches, a splendid buffet was served.
Einstein then signed the visitors book and a virtual
avalanche of requests for autographs fell upon him from
some two hundred people present at the reception. The
audience comprised not only engineers, but also other
invited intellectuals whose names however were
not included in the account published in the Societys
journal due to lack of space and to avoid regrettable
omissions. The author of the account chose not to
mention the less than formal way in which the reception
ended when the guest, undoubtedly worn out by so

16
EINSTEINS 30 HOURS IN CUBA
many attentions, suddenly left the place, hurriedly
got into a waiting car, and went off with his
companions toward the pier to board his ship.
A lively voyage
Einstein had declined the official invitation to stay at
the Nacional Hotel, the most luxurious of the Cuban
capital, which was to be inaugurated in a few days. He
wanted to spend the night on the steamship that brought
him to Cuba, the Belgenland. He had done the same
during his earlier five-day stopover in New York,
December 11 to 16.
On that occasion, just after the ships arrival, fifty
reporters and as many photographers showed up, with
the idea of interviewing him. He noted afterwards in his
diary: The reporters asked particularly inane questions
to which I replied with cheap jokes that were received
with enthusiasm. More than anywhere else, autograph
seekers hounded him. Faced with the impossibility of
eluding them, Elsa devised a way for them to contribute
to a humanitarian cause by announcing that the doc
tor will be very happy if every letter requesting an
autograph was accompanied with say, three dollars for
the Berlin poor.
In addition to his wife and a friend of the family,
the celebrated scientist was accompanied on that trip
by his secretary, Helen Dukas, and the Austrian
mathematician, Walther Mayer. The latter had been
closely collaborating with Einstein for nearly two years
on what at that point had become an obsession for him
to establish a unified field theory capable of linking
electromagnetic phenomena with the gravitational
attraction between bodies, since the general theory of
relativity applied only to gravitation.

EINSTEINS 30 HOURS IN CUBA
17
Looking for evidence in the heavens
Einstein and his companions had boarded the ship at
the Belgian port of Antwerp on December 2, in order to
reach San Diego, California, via the Panama Canal, and
then travel by highway to the neighboring city of
Pasadena, where they arrived with the new year. They
had been invited by the director of the California Institute
of Technology, Robert Millikan, the Nobel laureate for
physics of 1923 for his important experiments, one of
which allowed the formula for the photoelectric effect,
obtained by Einstein in 1905, to be fully confirmed.
Significantly, another guest was Albert Michelson,
winner of the 1907 Nobel prize for physics, whose
experiments on the propagation of light were closely tied
to the special theory of relativity formulated by Einstein
also in 1905, when he was barely twenty six years old.
For the renowned scientist, the visit to Pasadena
held a special attraction, as it would give him the
opportunity to visit the nearby Mount Wilson
observatory, whose exceptional potentialities could be
useful for undertaking certain research which should
provide new findings to confirm my general theory of
Relativity [since] I believe that Mount Wilsons powerful
instrumentation will allow me to obtain unquestionable
astrophysical proofs. This is what Einstein stated on
the deck of his ship in an interview with a journalist
from the Cuban magazine Bohemia. But what seems
today the kind of proof Einstein was seeking was
obtained much later, when a certain celestial object (the
binary pulsar PSR1913+16) was discovered in 1974,
and four years were spent performing delicate
radiotelescopic measurements on it. Einstein, however,
could not enjoy this finding, since he had died more
than twenty years earlier, in 1955.

18
EINSTEINS 30 HOURS IN CUBA
The other reality
We still have to account for Einsteins last hours in
Cuba, after he spent the night of December 19 on the
ship.
The next morning, the director of the National
Observatory and his wife came for him and his
companions to take them around the city. They felt
surprised by the distinguished guests insistence on
touring the poorest neighborhoods; since after having
visited the parks, the clubs, the residences of the
wealthy, now they were determined to see the other side.
The journal Revista de la Sociedad Geogrfica de Cuba,
reported that Einstein entered the most wretched
homes, and the untidy yards of the solares [very humble
Cuban tenement houses]. The group also went to the
Mercado nico [the main market in Havana], to the most
modest stores on Monte Avenue, and to the typical
neighborhoods of Cuban destitution, called by their
inhabitants such strange names as Pan con Timba
[Bread and Guava Paste] and Llega y Pon [Come and
Flop].
Einstein said farewell to his guides, and thanked
them for their kindness in complying with his unusual
demands. At one oclock in the afternoon, the Belgenland
weighed anchor and headed for the Panama Canal, after
having remained some thirty hours in the port of Havana.
Behind lay neocolonial Cuba. Luxurious clubs side by
side with naked poverty mainly affecting the colored
people, Einstein wrote in his diary that Saturday,
December 20, 1930.

]
19
Albert Einstein, septuagenario, por el caricaturista cubano Juan David
AlbertEinsteinin bisseventies by the Cuban caricaturist Juan Da vid

<


La breve visita de Albert Einstein a Cuba en
diciembre de 1930 prcticamente no se recoge
en las muchas biografas publicadas hasta la
fecha sobre el clebre creador de la teora de la
relatividad. Esta monografa ilustrada
contiene una narracin precisa, pero amena,
de sus actividades en La Habana, que muestra
cun perspicaz fue Einstein en su apreciacin
de los problemas econmicos y sociales que por
entonces aquejaban al mundo en general y a
Cuba neocolonial en particular.
Albert Einstein's brief visit to Cuba in December,
1930 is practically unrecorded in'the many
biographies published to date of the world
famous creator of the theory of relativity. This
illustrated booklet contains a straightforward
but readable account of his activities in
Havana, which shows how perceptive Einstin
was of the economic and social problems then
afflicting the world in general and neocolonial
Cuba in particular. V
ACUARIO