Albert Einstein’s brain was dissected, divided into 240 pieces, and gradually sent to scientists all over the globe after his passing in 1955. Where, however, is Einstein’s head now?
Albert Einstein’s brain was removed after his passing in 1955 against his desires and given to doctors all over the globe in pieces.
Albert Einstein passed away from an abdominal rupture on April 18, 1955, at the University Medical Center of Princeton in Plainsboro, New Jersey, when he was 76 years old. The renowned physicist’s body was cremated in accordance with his desires, and his bones were dispersed in a secret spot.
Except for his intellect, that is.
Immediately following Einstein’s death, the man who oversaw the autopsy on the late physicist — a Princeton hospital pathologist named Thomas Stoltz Harvey — removed Einstein’s brain from his body, cut it into 240 blocks and kept most of the preserved pieces in his personal possession for more than 40 years. According to the BBC, 170 of those slabs were delivered back to the University Medical Center of Princeton today and are now secured behind locked doors.(opens in new tab). At the Mütter Museum of Medical History in Philadelphia, there are another 46 incredibly thin sections of Einstein’s brain tissue on exhibit. There are still many other lacking parts.
How did the probably most renowned brain in history lose so many of its components? The explanation stems from a viewpoint held by Harvey and others that Einstein’s brain was biologically unique and that a thorough scientific examination of the brain could account for Einstein’s brilliance. The rationale comes from the belief of Harvey and others that Einstein’s brain was physically distinct and that a careful study of the brain could explain Einstein’s genius.
John Stoltz In 1994, Harvey displays a container holding a fragment of Albert Einstein’s brain. In 1955, Harvey supervised Einstein’s postmortem and held onto much of the physicist’s brain for more than 40 years.
Harvey instructed the cutting of some of the blocks into 12 groups of 200 incredibly thin tissue segments, each no wider than half the breadth of a human hair, after removing and cubing Einstein’s brain in 1955. (He also took photographs of the complete brain from various angles, before dissection). After removing and cubing Einstein’s brain in 1955, Harvey gave the order to cut some of the blocks into 12 groups of 200 extremely thin tissue pieces, each no broader than half the width of a human strand. (He also took photographs of the complete brain from various angles, before dissection).
Harvey put those brain slices on slides without asking Einstein’s family’s approval and gave them away to whoever he thought might be able to unlock the mysteries of the brain. According to Science, Harvey physically drove many of these samples across the United States and sections of Canada while storing the majority of Einstein’s brain in a jar hidden in a cardboard box in his vehicle.(opens in new tab).
Harvey transferred the leftover brain blocks to a number of jars in his home when his road journey with the genius’s brain was eventually over. Harvey held onto the majority of Einstein’s brain for 43 years, 43 years after taking it from Einstein’s cranium, though he continued to give samples to interested academics. Harvey eventually returned the remains to the University Medical Center of Princeton in 1998. According to the BBC, scientists are currently only permitted access to the genius’s brain if they make a very persuasive proposition to the Medical Center.
Was Harvey’s attempt to reveal Einstein’s brain’s mysteries successful? Somewhat. The first study on the images and samples that Harvey disseminated appeared in 1985 and has since been followed by a number of others. These studies found minor differences in Einstein’s brain structure compared with control groups of non-genius brains, including an extra groove in Einstein’s frontal lobe(opens in new tab) — the part of the brain associated with working memory and planning — and a greater concentration of neurons(opens in new tab) in certain areas, possibly allowing for quicker information processing.
Harvey gave brain sections to many academics, but many of them have since taken them back. A few of the transparencies that Harvey sent off, though, have never been found. This makes the issue of where Einstein’s brain is a little more challenging. The majority of its dissected parts are still in Princeton, where the brilliant scientist passed away, but countless tissue samples have simply disappeared. The mind of Einstein might be anywhere. Many scholars received brain parts from Harvey, but many of them have since returned them. However, some of the images that Harvey sent off were never recovered. This makes it slightly more difficult to determine where Einstein’s brain is. However, countless tissue samples have simply vanished, while the majority of its dissected sections are still in Princeton, the location of the bright scientist’s passing. Einstein’s thoughts could be anywhere.