Fact Check

A Universal Force

Albert Einstein did not describe love as a "universal force" in a letter to his daughter Lieserl -- or to anyone at all.

Published April 28, 2015

 (MarkoV87 / Shutterstock.com)
Image courtesy of MarkoV87 / Shutterstock.com
Albert Einstein once described love as a "universal force" in a letter to his daughter Lieserl.

A purported missive from renowned physicist Albert Einstein to his daughter about the power of love has reappeared in our inbox multiple times over the years:


In the late 1980s, Lieserl, the daughter of the famous genius, donated 1,400 letters, written by Einstein, to the Hebrew University, with orders not to publish their contents until two decades after his death. This is one of them, for Lieserl Einstein.

"When I proposed the theory of relativity, very few understood me, and what I will reveal now to transmit to mankind will also collide with the misunderstanding and prejudice in the world.

I ask you to guard the letters as long as necessary, years, decades, until society is advanced enough to accept what I will explain below.

There is an extremely powerful force that, so far, science has not found a formal explanation to. It is a force that includes and governs all others, and is even behind any phenomenon operating in the universe and has not yet been identified by us.

This universal force is LOVE.

When scientists looked for a unified theory of the universe they forgot the most powerful unseen force.

Love is Light, that enlightens those who give and receive it. Love is gravity, because it makes some people feel attracted to others.

Love is power, because it multiplies the best we have, and allows humanity not to be extinguished in their blind selfishness. Love unfolds and reveals.

For love we live and die.
Love is God and God is Love.

This force explains everything and gives meaning to life. This is the variable that we have ignored for too long, maybe because we are afraid of love because it is the only energy in the universe that man has not learned to drive at will.

To give visibility to love, I made a simple substitution in my most famous equation.

If instead of E = mc2, we accept that the energy to heal the world can be obtained through love multiplied by the speed of light squared, we arrive at the conclusion that love is the most powerful force there is, because it has no limits.

After the failure of humanity in the use and control of the other forces of the universe that have turned against us, it is urgent that we nourish ourselves with another kind of energy.

If we want our species to survive, if we are to find meaning in life, if we want to save the world and every sentient being that inhabits it, love is the one and only answer.

Perhaps we are not yet ready to make a bomb of love, a device powerful enough to entirely destroy the hate, selfishness and greed that devastate the planet.

However, each individual carries within them a small but powerful generator of love whose energy is waiting to be released.

When we learn to give and receive this universal energy, dear Lieserl, we will have affirmed that love conquers all, is able to transcend everything and anything, because love is the quintessence of life.

I deeply regret not having been able to express what is in my heart, which has quietly beaten for you all my life. Maybe it's too late to apologize, but as time is relative, I need to tell you that I love you and thanks to you I have reached the ultimate answer!"

Your father
Albert Einstein

Lieserl Einstein is one of the great mysteries connected with the life of her father, the famed physicist Albert Einstein. Her very existence was completely unknown to biographers until 1986, when a batch of letters between Einstein and his first wife, Mileva Maríc, were discovered by Einstein's granddaughter Evelyn (ultimately published in the 1992 book The Love Letters).

Those letters revealed a child named Lieserl was born to Einstein and Maríc in January 1902, a year before the couple married, in what is now the country of Serbia. Mileva cared for the child for a time while Einstein was away working in Switzerland, then joined him in that country without bringing Lieserl along. After that, aside from a few scattered mentions of her preserved in Einstein's early 20th century letters, there are very few clues about Lieserl's life or her fate. She was never referenced in any of Einstein's preserved correspondence after 19 September 1903, when he expressed concern about her having scarlet fever.

Other than those few tantalizing clues, whatever happened to Lieserl remains a matter far more of speculation than of fact. In her 1999 book Einstein's Daughter: The Search for Lieserl, author Michele Zackheim combed through the available evidence and reached the conclusion that Lieserl was born with a severe mental handicap and died of the scarlet fever her father had referenced in a 1903 letter (when Lieserl was but 21 months old). Robert Schulmann of the Einstein Papers Project advanced the theory that Lieserl (who was blind from childhood) was adopted by Helene Savíc, a close friend of Mileva's, and lived into her 90s under the name Zorka Savíc. (Milan Popovíc, Helene's grandson, refuted this claim in his 2003 book In Albert's Shadow: The Life and Letters of Mileva Maríc, Einstein's First Wife, stating that he also believed Lieserl died of scarlet fever in 1903.)

In any case, it's simply not possible that Lieserl Einstein "donated 1,400 letters written by Albert Einstein to the Hebrew University in 1980s," as nobody knows whether Lieserl even survived her infancy. And there isn't a single preserved letter from Albert Einstein to Lieserl herself, as the physicist didn't so much as mention her in his correspondence after 1903, when she was less than two years old. (Someone seems to have confused Lieserl Einstein, Albert Einstein's little known daughter, with Evelyn Einstein, the adopted daughter of Albert Einstein's oldest son, Hans Albert Einstein.) So the purported letter from Albert Einstein reproduced above in which the scientist described love as a "universal force" certainly does not stem from the any correspondence with his daughter Lieserl.

Is it possible that is a genuine letter from Albert Einstein to someone other than Lieserl? Probably not, given that:

  • This letter is very much unlike, in tone and content, any other extant correspondence or writing of the famed scientist, particularly in the latter part of his life. (The reference to Einstein's famous mass/energy equivalence E = mc2 would date this letter to no earlier than 1946, as that was the first time Einstein expressed the equivalence in that form.)
  • Even allowing for the vagaries of translation (in letters that may have been written in German rather than English), searches on resources such as the Einstein Archives Online and the Collected Papers of Albert Einstein fail to turn up any matches on any of several distinctive phrases from the letter.
  • We found no reproduction of, or reference to, this alleged letter in print or online prior to its seemingly sudden appearance on the Internet in April 2015.

This appears to be another case of someone's trying to get readers to pay attention to words by attributing them to a well-known, respected figure whom the public views as knowledgeable in the subject matter at hand. And who could possibly know more about God and love and other "universal forces" than the most renowned scientific genius of our time?

David Mikkelson founded the site now known as snopes.com back in 1994.

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