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Student stumbles on Einstein paper

A Dutch graduate student has unearthed a key original manuscript written by famed physicist Albert Einstein.

The student, Rowdy Boeyink, was searching archives at Leiden University's Lorentz Institute for Theoretical Physics when he came upon the prized 16-page document. The paper, titled "Quantentheorie des einatomigen idealen Gases" (Quantum theory of the monatomic ideal gas), is dated 1924 and handwritten in Einstein's native German. It predicts the behavior of atoms of a gas at very low temperatures, a process now known as Bose-Einstein condensation.

Albert Einstein
Credit: AFP/Getty

"You can even see Einstein's fingerprints in some places," Carlo Beenakker, a Leiden University professor, told the Associated Press. "We're going to keep it as a reminder of his visits here."

Einstein--who is best known for his theory of relativity--frequently lectured at Leiden University, which is located in the Netherlands near The Hague, during the 1920s. Boeyink found the Einstein document while researching his thesis on Paul Ehrenfest, a physicist affiliated with Leiden University and a close friend of Einstein's.

High-resolution photographs of the manuscript, as well as more information on the discovery, have been posted on the institute's website.

This year, physicists, authors, cooperative computing projects and even choreographers are commemorating the 100-year anniversary of five key scientific papers submitted by Einstein in 1905. Collectively, these proved the existence of atoms, uncloaked the bizarre realm of quantum mechanics and shifted views of space and time.