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Michele Angelo Besso (Riesbach, 25 May 1873 – Geneva, 15 March 1955) was a Swiss/Italian engineer.[1]

Besso was born in Riesbach from a family of Italian Jewish (Sephardi) descent. He was a close friend of Albert Einstein during his years at the Federal Polytechnic Institute in Zurich,[2] today the ETH Zurich, and then at the patent office in Bern, where Einstein helped him to get a job.[3] Besso is credited with introducing Einstein to the works of Ernst Mach, the sceptical critic of physics who influenced Einstein's approach to the discipline.[4] Einstein called Besso "the best sounding board in Europe" for scientific ideas.[5] In Einstein's original paper on Special Relativity, he ended the paper stating, "In conclusion I wish to say that in working at the problem here dealt with I have had the loyal assistance of my friend and colleague M. Besso, and that I am indebted to him for several valuable suggestions."[6]

Besso died in Geneva, aged 81. In a letter of condolence to the Besso family, Albert Einstein wrote "Now he has departed from this strange world a little ahead of me. That means nothing. People like us, who believe in physics, know that the distinction between past, present and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion." Einstein died one month and 3 days after his friend, on 18 April 1955.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Einstein and Besso: From Zürich to Milano by Christian BRACCO
  2. ^ Einstein as a Student
  3. ^ An Einstein Encyclopedia, Alice Calaprice, Daniel Kennefick, Robert Schulmann, p.65, Princeton University Press, 2015
  4. ^ Einstein the Early years
  5. ^ Calaprice, Alice; Lipscombe, Trevor (2005). Albert Einstein: A Biography. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 24.
  6. ^