September 26, 2009

Study links Einstein letters to e-mails

Researchers at Northwestern University in Illinois say the pen and paper letters written by geniuses like Albert Einstein are very similar to today's e-mails.

The Evanston, Ill., university said in a news release Friday a new study of human behavior at the college found that letters from 16 famed performers, politicians, scientists and writers were written in cycles similar to modern e-mails.

By studying letter-writing patterns of the historical geniuses, which also included Charles Darwin and Sigmund Freud, Northwestern researchers found the great minds did not write letters randomly. Instead, the researchers said, those individuals wrote multiple letters in one sitting with no particular order of important.

The study findings were similar in nature to a previous Northwestern study on e-mail behavior and offered clues to how humans make choices in everyday activities, lead researcher Luís Amaral said.

We are interested in identifying and understanding patterns of human behavior, in learning how we make choices, the chemical and biological engineering professor said. There are patterns to how we spend our days, and these models of probability, of how people allocate their time to do certain tasks, can be applied to many different areas.