The story behind the name of our cameras: MILEVA

MILEVA is the name of SENSIA’s ultra high sensitivity cooled Optical Gas Imaging. Specially designed for Leak Detection and Repair (LDR) surveys, SENSIA named it to honor the memory of Mileva Marić.

Mileva Marić (1875 – 1948), the first wife of Albert Einstein, was a Serbian physicist and mathematician. She was the only woman among Einstein’s fellow students at Zürich’s Polytechnic and was the second woman to finish a full program of study at the Department of Mathematics and Physics.

The research career of Mileva Marić and Albert Einstein ran in parallel since they met in 1896 at the Zurich Polytechnic. They married in 1903 and divorced in 1919, and had 3 children together. In addition, they handed down a remarkable epistolary correspondence, the basis of Mileva’s various biographies.

While nobody has been able to credit her with any specific part of his work, their letters and numerous testimonies provide substantial evidence on how they collaborated from the time they met in 1896 up to their separation in 1914. The foundation of their relationship was their shared passion for physics.

In the letters, the words “our work”, “our research” are often repeated… Albert Einstein himself makes it clear in a letter from March 1901: “How happy and proud I will be when the two of us together will have brought our work on relative motion to a victorious conclusion.”

However, the society of her time presented a series of obstacles to the professional development of Mileva. After marrying and having children, Mileva assumed the domestic tasks, abandoning their research work. It is also noted, among scholars of Mileva’s life, that given the prevalent bias against women at the time, a publication co-signed with a woman might have carried less weight.

Despite the fact that Einstein did not grant any credit in his theory to Mileva, he somehow paid his contribution to the theory of relativity when he was awarded with the Nobel Prize in Physics: in 1919, she agreed to divorce, with a clause stating that if Albert ever received the Nobel Prize, she would get the money. Nine years later, Einstein was awarded.

The prize endowment was the economic foundation of Mileva and her children for the rest of their lives, along with the private classes she taught.

From SENSIA, we wanted to pay tribute to Mileva Marić not as a positioning in the debate of his possible co-authorship in the works of Einstein, but for being a symbol of oppressive, structural gender discrimination at her time.