The Life and Pioneering Work of Hans Albert Einstein

Thursday, July 24, 2014

By Jackie Stolze
IIHR--Hydroscience & Engineering

For Hans Albert Einstein, the man he knew as “Papa” was also the world’s most famous scientist. A new book by Robert Ettema and Cornelia F. Mutel explores the life and work of Hans Albert Einstein, a 20th-century pioneer in the field of river engineering. The book offers new insights into the Einstein family and the complex relationship between father and son, documented with personal letters and other original materials never before shared outside the Einstein family.

Hans Albert Einstein: His Life as a Pioneering Engineer, published by the American Society of Civil Engineers, tells the story of Albert Einstein’s eldest son, Hans Albert, a gifted and dedicated hydraulic engineer. The book is the culmination of a longstanding project at IIHR—Hydroscience & Engineering, a research institute at the University of Iowa College of Engineering. Hans Albert Einstein: His Life as a Pioneering Engineer combines the story of Hans Albert’s life with a fascinating account of his work in the field of river engineering. The book’s authors weave these two threads together seamlessly, providing an absorbing and readable account that will appeal to scientists and nonscientists alike.

Hans Albert Einstein was single-minded in his efforts to understand and quantify the relationships between alluvial sediment transport and water flow in rivers. He was, for example, the first to develop a mathematical formulation describing sediment transport in rivers — a tremendous achievement that to this day stands as an important component of our understanding of river flow. His work extensively aided major river engineering projects in the United States, including those along the Missouri and Arkansas Rivers.

Robert Ettema is a professor at the University of Wyoming, where he served six years as dean of the College of Engineering and Applied Science. In addition to research and teaching activities, he consults extensively for agencies and industry, and has served as editor of ASCE’s Journal of Hydraulic Engineering. Previously, he was a faculty member and research engineer at IIHR, where he also served as associate and then interim director.

Cornelia F. Mutel is senior science writer at IIHR; she has written a dozen books and numerous articles on a variety of science-related topics, ranging from natural history to ecological restoration to the history of engineering. Her most recent writing reflects the increasingly complex interaction between Iowa’s altered natural environment, the state’s hydrology, and the consequences of climate change.

Hans Albert Einstein: His Life as a Pioneering Engineer is published by the ASCE Press, ISBN 9780784413302.