Was There Anything Special About Albert Einstein’s Brain?

Albert Einstein had a brain like few others in history, but a pathologist took his admiration for it way too far.

The location of Albert Einstein’s brain was unknown for over 20 years; it had been taken by the pathologist who conducted his autopsy in 1944.
The location of Albert Einstein’s brain was unknown for over 20 years; it had been taken by the pathologist who conducted his autopsy in 1944.

After the famous theoretical physicist died in April 1955, Dr. Thomas Harvey performed an autopsy, but rather than finishing with his finding of cause of death, a burst aorta, Harvey removed Einstein's brain, saving it from cremation with the rest of his body. Harvey pledged to gather an elite group of specialists to examine the brain that gave the world the theory of relativity. Although he promised to publish their findings in the near future, nothing happened for decades.

It wasn't until 1978, 23 years later, that a reporter tracked down Harvey to press him about the whereabouts of Einstein's brain. After much hedging, the pathologist took out a beer cooler. "He reaches in, pulls out these big mason jars," said the reporter, Steven Levy. "And there was Einstein's brain. It was amazing." According to Levy, Harvey still had hopes of publishing.

For the record, numerous studies were conducted in the following decades, but many have since been criticized for their scientific methodology. Interestingly enough, Einstein's brain did have more glial cells than other brains.

More Einstein oddities:

  • Einstein earned the Nobel Prize in 1921, not for his much-heralded relativity theories but for his work on photons.

  • Hating the fact that they got holes in them, Einstein refused to wear socks.

  • Although he loved to sail, Einstein frequently capsized his boat and would rely on nearby sailors to help him right it.

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    • The location of Albert Einstein’s brain was unknown for over 20 years; it had been taken by the pathologist who conducted his autopsy in 1944.
      By: pds209
      The location of Albert Einstein’s brain was unknown for over 20 years; it had been taken by the pathologist who conducted his autopsy in 1944.