Sunday, May 18, 2014

Missing Manuscripts

Recent years have seen the discovery of a trove of never-known or long-forgotten manuscripts  by famous artists and scientists.  As -- to take one recent one at random:

A manuscript that lay unnoticed by scientists for decades has revealed that Albert Einstein once dabbled with an alternative to what we now know as the Big Bang theory, proposing instead that the Universe expanded steadily and eternally. The recently uncovered work, written in 1931, is reminiscent of a theory championed by British astrophysicist Fred Hoyle nearly 20 years later. Einstein soon abandoned the idea, but the manuscript reveals his continued hesitance to accept that the Universe was created during a single explosive event.
The newly uncovered document shows that Einstein had described essentially the same idea much earlier. “For the density to remain constant new particles of matter must be continually formed,” he writes. The manuscript is thought to have been produced during a trip to California in 1931 — in part because it was written on American note paper.
It had been stored in plain sight at the Albert Einstein Archives in Jerusalem — and is freely available to view on its website — but had been mistakenly classified as a first draft of another Einstein paper.

Granted, that paper sketches (and merely sketches, not develops) an idea that Einstein himself soon abandoned;  its interest now (and here it is more than slight) is purely for the History of Science, and not for cosmology.  -- Though even so:  One idea that Einstein famously championed and later discarded in shame, the hypothesis of the Cosmological Constant, was later rejuvenated and is central to much current cosmological speculation.  However, the idea was essentially re-discovered independently;  Einstein’s original (later self-rejected) paper on the subject, was not key here.

In the area of literature, the lost passage of Huckleberry Finn -- considered by many  to be the greatest American novel -- turned up entirely unexpectedly, not long ago.  And the literary community has greeted with astonishment  certain even more recent unearthings, which we have revealed in the following essays:

*  A newly-discovered quatrain of the Ruba`iyyat of Omar Khayyam
*  A bit of anonymous Middle-English doggerel, of no literary interest  apart from its early date;
*  Previously unpublished snippets from Campion, Crashaw, and Marvell;

*  A lost sonnet of Saint Augustine (translated from the original Latin);
*  A lost fragment of “Our Mutual Friend”, by Mr Charles Dickens.

* A new adventure of Mr Sherlock Holmes, published here for the first time.

* Un morceau de Proust, légèrement mis à jour

Scholarly discussion of these matters is already intense;  we offer these now to the general reader.

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