* UP to Leo Szilard Online

The Einstein-Szilard Refrigerators - Further References and Notes

Additional references and notes to Gene Dannen, "The Einstein-Szilard Refrigerators," Scientific American, January 1997, pages 90-95 (international edition, pages 74-79).

Because of Scientific American's publishing format, I was unable to provide full references and acknowledgments in the article. In the interests of scholarship, and in order to thank the many people who helped me, I am providing that information here. -- Gene Dannen

Version 1.0 - December 16, 1996
Version 1.1 - December 23, 1996 - Added or corrected items are indicated with a *
Version 1.2 - May 25-30, 1997 - Included information about translated editions.
Version 1.3 - October 3, 1997 - Updated information on translated editions. Added 2 notes indicated with a double * *

Translated Editions and News Coverage

The full article is not available on the Web in any language. But it also has been published in these translated editions of Scientific American: A translation also may have appeared in Italian (LE SCIENZE), but I have not yet been informed. Tell me!

News reports about the article appeared in English, German, Norwegian, Swedish, and probably other languages. Some of these news reports are available online. See this page.


I am grateful and indebted to: * * For providing further information, in response to the published article, I am especially grateful to Karl D. Stephan and Detlef Lorenz.


As stated in the article, little information about the Einstein-Szilard collaboration beyond the patents themselves was thought to survive. The correspondence in the Einstein Archives, the most extensive known source, was almost opaque without some "Rosetta Stone" of additional context. I hope that my article has provided this context.

Previously published sources about the Einstein-Szilard refrigerators include the following books, articles, and video (in chronological order):

1. Ronald W. Clark, Einstein: The Life and Times (New York: World Publishing, 1971), p 325.

2. Pierre Speziali, Ed., Albert Einstein, Michele Besso, Correspondance 1903-1955 (Paris: Hermann, 1972), pp. 256-257.

3. Bernard T. Feld and Gertrud Weiss Szilard, Eds., The Collected Works of Leo Szilard: Scientific Papers (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1972), pp. 527-722.

4. Spencer R. Weart and Gertrud Weiss Szilard, Eds., Leo Szilard: His Version of the Facts; Selected Recollections and Correspondence (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1978), pp. 9-12.

* 5. Horst Melcher, "Albert Einsteins Patente," Spektrum (Berlin: Akademie der Wissenschaften der DDR), September 1978 pp 23-26.

6. Horst Melcher, "Albert Einstein und die Experimentelle Physik," Physik in der Schule 17 Jahrgang 1979, pp 1-18.

7. A. P. French, Ed., Einstein: A Centenary Volume (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1979), p. 25.

8. Christa Kirsten and Hans-Jürgen Treder, Eds., Albert Einstein in Berlin 1913-1933 (Berlin: Akademie-Verlag, 1979), Teil I pp. 51-52, Teil II pp. 290-291.

9. Georg Alefeld, "Einstein As Inventor," Physics Today 33, no. 5 (May 1980): 9-13.

10. Abraham Pais, 'Subtle is the Lord...': The Science and the Life of Albert Einstein (New York: Oxford University Press, 1982), pp. 489-490.

11. Bernard T. Feld, "Leo Szilard, Scientist for All Seasons," Social Research 51, no. 3 (Autumn 1984): 675-690.

12. Richard Rhodes, The Making of the Atomic Bomb (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1986) pp 20-21.

13. Stephen Moss, "Out of the icebox, into the fire," New Scientist, 23/30 December 1989, p 85.

14. Helen Weiss and Alain Jehlen (producers), "The Genius Behind the Bomb," PBS-WGBH Nova, air date September 29, 1992.

15. William Lanouette with Bela Silard, Genius in the Shadows: A Biography of Leo Szilard, The Man Behind the Bomb (New York: Scribner's, 1992) pp. 83-84.

16. Thomas P. Hughes, "Einstein, Inventors, and Invention," Science in Context 6, no. 1 (Spring 1993): 25-42.

Source notes

The following source references for my article are listed in the order in which they appear in the text:

* Einstein's comment to Szilard about scientists laying golden eggs is quoted from: Spencer R. Weart and Gertrud Weiss Szilard, Eds., Leo Szilard: His Version of the Facts; Selected Recollections and Correspondence (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1978), page 12.

* Although Szilard did not publish his solution to the problem of Maxwell's Demon until 1929, he conceived the idea -- as I stated in the article -- soon after completing his dissertation in 1922. See, for example, Weart and Szilard page 11.

The information from Bernard T. Feld about the Berlin newspaper article comes from my interview with Feld, May 14, 1982. See also Bernard T. Feld, "Leo Szilard, Scientist for All Seasons," Social Research 51, no. 3 (Autumn 1984):675-690.

The terms of the agreement between Szilard and Einstein are preserved in a letter from L. Szilard to A. Einstein, April 1, 1927; Einstein Archives #35-567, unpublished.

Szilard's letter to his brother Bela describing their progress is: L. Szilard to A. B. Szilard, October 26, 1926; Einstein Archives #35-560; Szilard Papers 17/25, unpublished.

Albert Korodi was born Albert Kornfeld; he took the Hungarian name Korodi in 1950. He provided me with information through both interviews and correspondence. Tape-recorded interviews were conducted on my behalf by Henry Throop in Budapest on May 4 and May 20, 1993. A third interview, not recorded, was conducted on my behalf by Carol Paulson in Budapest on November 13, 1994. In addition, Korodi corresponded with me at length from July to December 1993 and read a draft of the article.

All information from AB Electrolux comes from the files of AB Electrolux in Stockholm, for which I am especially indebted to Helene Jonsson and Björn Lindström. The quotation from the American patent attorney about Einstein's dual citizenship is from: W. T. Hedlund to Platen-Munters Refrigerating System, December 19, 1927, unpublished, courtesy of AB Electrolux, Stockholm.

Additional information on Szilard's income from the A.E.G. comes from L. Szilard to E. P. Wigner, September 29, 1940; Szilard Papers 21/4; unpublished.

References to an Einstein-Szilard bank account can be found in: L. Szilard to A. Einstein, January 28 and October 12, 1929; Einstein Archives #35-582 and #35-585, unpublished.

Szilard's letter to Einstein about Europe's political future is: L. Szilard to A. Einstein, September 27, 1930; Einstein Archives #35-590; Szilard Papers 7/27; also reprinted in Michael Grüning, Ein Haus für Albert Einstein: Erinnerungen, Briefe, Dokumente (Berlin: Verlag der Nation, 1990), pp. 335-337.

The Dennis Gabor quote that the pump "howled like a jackal" is from: Dennis Gabor, "The Collected Works of Leo Szilard, Scientific Papers" (book review), Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists 29, no.7 (September 1973): 51-52.

The Philip Morrison quote that the pump howled "like a banshee" is from: Philip Morrison, "Books," Scientific American 229, no.1 (July 1973): 118.

The full citation for the A.E.G. final report is:
Kornfeld and Bihaly, "Entwicklungsarbeiten an einer Kompressions-Kältemaschine mit Wanderfeld-Flüssigkeitsmotor," 16 August 1932; A.E.G. Technischer Bericht Nr. 689, unpublished typescript, only known copy courtesy Albert Korodi. (According to Dr. Peter Strunk of the AEG Firmenarchiv in Frankfurt, all information about the Einstein-Szilard refrigerators in the A.E.G.'s files was destroyed in WWII.)

* * But the AEG Firmenarchiv was mistaken. The publication of the German translation of my article has produced further information. Detlef Lorenz, of DaimlerBenz Forschung und Technik Berlin, informed me that Technischer Bericht 689 was indeed in the possession of AEG. This forgotten document, whose connection to Einstein and Szilard was unrecognized, is now in the collection of the Deutsches Technikmuseum.

For an overview of modern electromagnetic pumps, see Richard S. Baker and Manuel J. Tessier, Handbook of Electromagnetic Pump Technology (New York: Elsevier, 1987).

Copyright 1996-1997 Gene Dannen

* UP to Leo Szilard Online

Last modified: October 3, 1997
URL: http://www.dannen.com/fridge1.html
Gene Dannen / gene@dannen.com