Scientists Challenge Einstein's Theory of Relativity in Nat Geo's 'Genius'

In Chapter 7 of Nat Geo's "Genius," the pressure is on as Albert Einstein races to prove his theory of relativity amid an uproar of criticism from the scientific community. 

Nat Geo's new action-packed global event series delves into the famous physicist's stormy personal life and struggle for recognition in the scientific community. In the latest installment of the series, which airs tonight (June 6) at 9 p.m. on the National Geographic Channel, Einstein battles both his friends and enemies in his quest to complete his theory of general relativity

David Hilbert, a German mathematician who was a friend and admirer of Einstein, takes it upon himself to figure out the mathematical equations for Einstein's theory of general relativity. [Photos: The 'Genius' of Albert Einstein on Nat Geo]

Knowing that there were flaws in the draft of his theory, informally titled the "Entwurf" ("Draft," in German), Einstein races to tackle some complicated math before his new competition can steal the credit. Max Planck, a Prussian physicist who had become friends with Einstein, calls the rivalry between Einstein and Hilbert a "public pissing contest over academic credit" in the show. 

Einstein faces a much bigger problem than a little friendly competition, though. A group of German scholars, led by the anti-Semitic physicist Philipp Lenard, publicly denounces Einstein's theory of relativity as "Jewish science," calling it a hoax. Einstein's work was under attack by those who sought to disprove it for political purposes. 

Meanwhile, Einstein is caught in a five-year-long divorce dispute with Mileva Marić, his first wife and the mother of his two sons. The couple separated in 1914, but Marić was reluctant to sign divorce papers. 

At the time, Einstein was having an affair with his first cousin Elsa Einstein. Having landed in the public eye for his work on relativity, the couple decided they needed to get married to avoid unwanted attention around their illegitimate relationship. 

In 1918, Einstein finally convinced her by promising her the prize money from a Nobel Prize that he had yet to win but was confident he would someday. 

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Hanneke Weitering
Contributing expert

Hanneke Weitering is a multimedia journalist in the Pacific Northwest reporting on the future of aviation at and Aviation International News and was previously the Editor for Spaceflight and Astronomy news here at As an editor with over 10 years of experience in science journalism she has previously written for Scholastic Classroom Magazines, MedPage Today and The Joint Institute for Computational Sciences at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. After studying physics at the University of Tennessee in her hometown of Knoxville, she earned her graduate degree in Science, Health and Environmental Reporting (SHERP) from New York University. Hanneke joined the team in 2016 as a staff writer and producer, covering topics including spaceflight and astronomy. She currently lives in Seattle, home of the Space Needle, with her cat and two snakes. In her spare time, Hanneke enjoys exploring the Rocky Mountains, basking in nature and looking for dark skies to gaze at the cosmos.