Monday, February 28, 2011

San Pedro Real Estate Agent Claims Albert Einstein Stole His Theory; Sues in Federal Court

In February 1931, San Pedro real estate agent Ira D. Edwards sued renowned physicist Albert Einstein in United States District Court. Edwards charged that Einstein pilfered the complex "Unified Field Theory" from Edwards' booklet entitled "The Why and Wherefore of Things" published and copyrighted in November 1929.

Albert Einstein speaking, ca. 1940
Library of Congress photo

Edwards asked the court to grant an injunction forbidding Einstein from using the unified field theory. He also wanted Einstein subpoenaed to answer the charges, and "such further relief as the court may see fit and full costs of the action."

Einstein's research associate Dr. Walther Mayer swiftly ridiculed the suit as "simply one of those annoying things that people are subjected to at times."

Professor Einstein was lecturing on the unified field theory at the Mt. Wilson Laboratories at this time, and was in fact residing at his bungalow in Pasadena when first told of Edwards' lawsuit. Einstein  remarked that "I never heard the name before," and in his formal reponse to the suit noted while his lectures were based on mathematics, Edwards' work was not. 

Stories about this lawsuit appeared in newspapers around the country.  Even Time magazine mentioned it.

Ira D. Edwards was well-known in the San Pedro business and real estate community.  As World War I was drawing to a close in 1918, Edwards, as president of the Community Association of San Pedro, worked to promote the development of the local harbor areas of his hometown, Wilmington, and Long Beach.  He was particularly interested in developing new housing for shipyard workers.

Edwards' San Pedro friends said that while they knew Edwards as a resourceful real estate dealer who had "been heard to expound ideas about the universe which they were not able to grasp," they had not read his book.

Unfortunately for San Pedro's real estate guru and would-be theoretical physicist, however, Federal judge William Cosgrave agreed with Einstein and quickly dismissed Edwards' lawsuit for copyright infringement in March 1931.

More on the unified field theory here:

Sources: Los Angeles Times, Time magazine, Billings Gazette (Montana), Bakersfield Californian, New Castle News (Pennsylvania), Nevada State Journal, Zanesville Signal (Ohio)

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Happy Birthday President Reagan -- San Pedro Remembers "the Gipper"

To commemorate what would have been Ronald Reagan's 100th birthday, I have updated with new research the following article I wrote that was published in More San Pedro (Daily Breeze) in 2008, and previously published on this blog:

Ronald Reagan's Visits to San Pedro and the L.A. Harbor area
Ronald Reagan was no stranger to San Pedro and the harbor area. He visited frequently decades before he was elected Governor of California in 1966 and 40th President of the United States in 1980.

Reagan first came to the area when he traveled to Catalina Island in the mid-1930s as a radio sports announcer to familiarize himself with the Chicago Cubs while they held spring training there. On November 13, 1941, just a few weeks before the attack on Pearl Harbor, he underwent a physical examination at Fort MacArthur in San Pedro. This exam stated that Reagan was “permanently incapacitated for Active Duty due to compound myopic astigmatism -- bilateral, severe – distant vision 6/200 both eyes without glasses.” He was seen during this period at the base and also with his first wife Jane Wyman at the base.

Reagan (who in 1937 was appointed a second lieutenant in the Officers’ Reserve Corps of the Calvary) went on active duty in 1942 after he passed another exam, although he was classified as limited service only. Reagan soon transferred from the Calvary to the Army Air Force (AAF). Among other assignments, he served one tour of duty as liaison officer at the Los Angeles Port of Embarkation in Wilmington, and was also the adjutant with the 18th AAF Base Unit at Culver City. On September 8, 1945, Captain Reagan was ordered to Fort MacArthur again, this time for separation, which was effective December 9, 1945. Reagan and his second wife Nancy reportedly visited the former stately Matson passenger/cargo marine terminal at Berths 195-198 in Wilmington (dedicated in 1953) during its heyday.

On October 2, 1966, while campaigning for Governor, Reagan attended San Pedro’s Fishermens' Fiesta. He praised the traditional blessing of the fleet stating: "There's a new sparkle in the waves and new gold in the summer because of this wonderful custom."  (John Mardesich's "North Pacific" boat won the competition with a Flintstones' theme.) 

On March 16, 1968, Governor Reagan officiated at the groundbreaking of the final $10.5 million link that tied the Harbor Freeway to the Vincent Thomas Bridge. Other officials at the ceremony were local Assemblyman Vincent Thomas and Los Angeles City Councilman John S. Gibson Jr.

Sources: "An American Life" by Ronald Reagan, The National Archives, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Long Beach Independent Press-Telegram