The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

There’s now a font based on Albert Einstein’s handwriting

The font prototype in action. (Harald Geisler/Elizabeth Waterhouse)
Placeholder while article actions load

By the end of the year, you will be able to write like Albert Einstein (or at least fake his handwriting). A Kickstarter campaign to turn the famous physicist's handwritten script into a font has been successfully funded with more than a month of fundraising time left. Here's the campaign video:

Harald Geisler, the designer who came up with the idea along with Elizabeth Waterhouse (a dancer with a degree in physics), has dabbled in genius handwriting before: He once turned neurologist Sigmund Freud's handwriting into a font. The Kickstarter campaign will allow him to bring the Einstein font, which already exists in a primitive stage, up to a level as lifelike as his Freud font.

That $15,000 is going toward at least six months of work. To create a font from handwritten script, Geisler traces each letter on a tablet to record a realistic pen stroke, a process that he feels is more effective than simply scanning the written text and letting a computer copy it. Then he manipulates each letter to replicate the fickle nature of real ink, making it catch and drag in a realistic way.

Then he has to do that all over again three more times.

In its current form, the font is beautiful, and sentences typed with it certainly look like something Einstein might have written. But with only one version of each character, it doesn't actually produce sentences and paragraphs that look like real handwriting. That's because handwriting produces slightly different letters with every lift of the pen. If you wrote a page of text in a "handwritten" font that only used one set of characters, it would end up looking a bit off.

By like Geisler's Freud font, the completed Einstein font will automatically shuffle between one of four variations for each letter of the alphabet, number, punctuation mark, and accented letter (to allow for international use). In fact, if Geisler and Waterhouse hit their stretch goal of $30,000 -- a distinct possibility with nearly $18,000 raised and 37 days to go -- he'll create a fifth set to make the font even more realistic. At $35,000, he'll add Greek letters to the mix.

And hey, it won't make you a genius, but isn't there something kind of lovely about borrowing the handwriting of one of history's favorite geniuses? The project's page quotes several scientists who think so.

“While producing documents in Einstein’s handwriting would not alter the quality or respectability of my own physics research, there’s something very pleasing about representing the universe in the same style as someone who was himself so effective at it," Phil Marshall of the Kavli Institute for Particle Astrophysics and Cosmology is quoted as saying. "It’s also just very nice handwriting, which perhaps shouldn’t come as a surprise: Einstein’s equations were beautiful, so it makes sense that their presentation should be as well!”

Geisler hopes to have the final font completed by December.

Want more science? Give these a click:

Can’t focus? Maybe you’re a creative genius.

#Shirtgate inspires a Kickstarter for shirts covered in (science) ladies

What ‘The Imitation Game’ didn’t tell you about Turing’s greatest triumph