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The Quest For Genius In Einstein’s Brain

This Guy Stole Albert Einstein’s Brain!

The bizarre journey of Einstein’s brain illustrates the pitfalls in science’s search for the origins of brilliance

On April 18, 1955, Albert Einstein died at Princeton Hospital of a ruptured aortic aneurysm. Within hours the pathologist on call, Thomas Harvey, acting on his own initiative, removed the famed physicist’s brain without the family’s permission. He then preserved the organ, counter to Einstein’s stated wish to be cremated. Harvey managed to secure a retroactive blessing from Einstein’s son Hans Albert, with the stipulation that the brain would be used only for scientific purposes. But Harvey himself lacked the expertise needed to analyze the organ, so he began to seek out specialists to help him. It would take him 30 years to find one. The quest changed the course of Harvey’s life and consigned his precious specimen to a fate that is at once strange, sad and fraught with ethical complications.

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Maps Of Albert Einstein’s Brain On Display At Medical Museum

Microscopically thin sections of Albert Einstein’s brain are now on display at the National Museum of Health and Medicine, Silver Spring, Md., as part of an installation titled “What Can We Learn from a Brain?” This temporary exhibit will be on display through May 31, 2013.

In 1955, pathologist Dr. Thomas Harvey performed an autopsy on Professor Albert Einstein and preserved the brain for study. Several years after Harvey passed away, his estate contributed Harvey’s slides and related archival material to the NMHM. The slides and other materials are managed by the NMHM’s Otis Historical Archives.

“Dr. Harvey made a life-long commitment to preserving and studying this very unique specimen, and NMHM has been entrusted with the legacy he left behind,” said Dr. Adrianne Noe, NMHM director.

The new exhibit features “maps” and photographs Harvey prepared while processing the brain before, during and after the sectioning process in the months after Einstein died. These photographs and maps have never been on public display, and are made available now for the first time, showing the means by which sectioned brain slides can be associated with their location in the brain. These resources may offer insights into understanding what made Einstein’s brain so unusual, and these may also demonstrate the care taken by Harvey to protect this material for future scholarly work.

Life After His Escape

Rulloff was likely assisted in his escape by the son of Ithaca’s undersheriff, Albert Jarvis, who had been tutored in Greek and Latin by Rulloff, and would later become his partner in crime; or by Jarvis’s mother Jane, who had also befriended Rulloff, and publicly manifested her disbelief about him being a murderer. Whatever the case, Rulloff fled west, alone and on foot. He fed on wild nuts and food stolen from farms, and lost two toes to frostbite.

Reaching Meadville, Pennsylvania, he introduced himself to local inventor A. B. Richmond under the alias “James Nelson”, and convinced him to start a business partnership after Rulloff brandished his knowledge in subjects as varied as conchology, mineralogy, forensic anthropology and entomology. Rulloff made a similar impression at Jefferson College, and was about to take a professorship when Jarvis wrote him, informing him that his mother and himself were now destitute, and threatening him if he did not help them out. Rulloff robbed a jewelry store with the intention of giving the bounty to the Jarvises, but he was arrested and sent back to Ithaca. In spite of being a murder convict, a fugitive, and a robber, Rulloff appealed his murder conviction successfully, was acquitted, and was released after authorities decided to not prosecute him for other offenses.

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What This Means For You

During her career as a professor of integrative biology at the University of California, Berkeley, Diamond concluded that five factors were crucial for healthy astrocytes — and for the human brain to thrive at any age: a good diet, exercise, challenge, novelty — and love .

Focusing on these five things can increase stress resilience and keep you mentally sharp. If you’re leading a team, you may not be able to change everyone’s diet and exercise routines or show love, but you can make sure your team has ample opportunities for “newness” and challenge. Minimize repetitiveness and standardization and encourage employees to learn and master new things outside of their skill set.

Astrocytes are one thread in the complex tapestry of intelligence, but our growing knowledge about astrocytes has made intelligence a little less baffling today than it was a few years ago.

When Diamond reported her findings in 1985, the overwhelming conclusion was that Einstein’s brain was not much different from anyone else’s. Today, we can confidently say that Einstein’s brain was very different, after all.

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Murders Of Harriet And Priscilla Rulloff

Your Brain vs Einstein

The couple moved to Lansing, New York, where Harriet gave birth to a girl, Priscilla. Rulloff wanted to be farther away from his wife’s family and he pressured her to move to Ohio, where he planned to work as a lawyer or college professor. When Harriet refused and threatened to return to her family with their daughter, on June 22, 1844, Rulloff accused her of having an affair with Bull and fatally hit her on the head with a pestle, then fatally poisoned his daughter.

Rulloff decided to commit suicide, but he found himself incapable. The next day, Rulloff borrowed a horse and wagon from his neighbors, the Andersons, with the pretense of returning a wooden chest to his uncle. Besides the chest, the Andersons saw Rulloff placing a half-full sack or pillow case in the wagon, and subsequently driving toward Cayuga Lake, in the direction opposite of his declared destination. When Rulloff returned, still with the chest, he told Mrs. Anderson that he and his wife would be out of town for a couple of weeks, and left his house in complete disarray.

Cayuga Lake was dredged in an attempt to locate the bodies, but they were never found. As the grand jury was unwilling to indict Rulloff for murder withouta body, he was instead accused of kidnapping his wife. Rulloff conducted his own defense at his trial, in 1846, focusing on the lack of evidence that any crime had been committed. Nevertheless, he was found guilty and sentenced to ten years with hard labor in Auburn Prison.

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The Tragic Story Of How Einsteins Brain Was Stolen And Wasnt Even Special

My headline may be a bit misleading. Albert Einstein, the Nobel prize-winning physicist who gave the world the theory of relativity, E = mc2, and the law of the photoelectric effect, obviously had a special brain. So special that when he died in Princeton Hospital, on April 18, 1955, the pathologist on call, Thomas Harvey, stole it.

Einstein didnt want his brain or body to be studied; he didnt want to be worshipped. He had left behind specific instructions regarding his remains: cremate them, and scatter the ashes secretly in order to discourage idolaters, writes Brian Burrell in his 2005 book, Postcards from the Brain Museum.

But Harvey took the brain anyway, without permission from Einstein or his family. When the fact came to light a few days later, Harvey managed to solicit a reluctant and retroactive blessing from Einsteins son, Hans Albert, with the now-familiar stipulation that any investigation would be conducted solely in the interest of science, Burrell writes.

Harvey soon lost his job at the Princeton hospital and took the brain to Philadelphia, where it was carved into 240 pieces and preserved in celloidin, a hard and rubbery form of cellulose. He divvied up the pieces into two jars and stored them in his basement.

Just when you think this story cant get any weirder, it does. As Burrell explains :

But that premise is nonsense and the studies are bunk, at least according to Terence Hines, a professor of psychology at Pace University.

The Long Strange Journey Of Einstein’s Brain

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    Author Brian Burrell’s book chronicles the scientific odyssey to understand genuis and madness through the study of famous brains, including those of Albert Einstein, Walt Whitman and Vladimir Lenin.hide caption

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    Albert Einstein died 50 years ago Monday. While that day marked the end of his life, it was only the beginning of a long, strange journey for his brain.

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    Last Years In Germany And Sweden

    In 1874, Kovalevskaya and her husband Vladimir returned to Russia, but Vladimir failed to secure a professorship because of his radical beliefs. During this time they tried a variety of schemes to support themselves, including real estate development and involvement with an oil company. But in the late 1870s they developed financial problems, leading to bankruptcy.

    In 1875, for some unknown reason, perhaps the death of her father, Sofia and Vladimir decided to spend several years together as an actual married couple. Three years later their daughter, Sofia , was born. After almost two years devoted to raising her daughter, Kovalevskaya put Fufa under the care of relatives and friends, resumed her work in mathematics, and left Vladimir for what would be the last time.

    Vladimir, who had always suffered severe mood swings, became more unstable. In 1883, faced with worsening mood swings and the possibility of being prosecuted for his role in a stock swindle, Vladimir committed suicide.

    That year, with the help of the mathematician Gösta Mittag-Leffler, whom she had known as a fellow student of Weierstrass, Kovalevskaya was able to secure a position as a privat-docent at Stockholm University in Sweden. Kovalevskaya met Mittag-Leffler’s sister, the actress, novelist, and playwright Anne Charlotte Edgren-Leffler. Until Kovalevskaya’s death the two women shared a close friendship.

    The lunar crater Kovalevskaya is named in her honor.

    Other Regions And Associated Diseases

    How Einstein’s Brain Is Different Than Yours

    Some significant regions that can present as asymmetrical in the brain can result in either of the hemispheres due to factors such as genetics. An example would include handedness. Handedness can result from asymmetry in the motor cortex of one hemisphere. For right handed individuals, since the brain operates the contralateral side of the body, they could have a more induced motor cortex in the left hemisphere.

    Several diseases have been found to exacerbate brain asymmetries that are already present in the brain. Researchers are starting to look into the effect and relationship of brain asymmetries to diseases such as schizophrenia and dyslexia.

    Lateralization of function and asymmetry in the human brain continues to propel a popular branch of neuroscientific and psychological inquiry. Technological advancements for brain mapping have enabled researchers to see more parts of the brain more clearly, which has illuminated previously undetected lateralization differences that occur during different life stages. As more information emerges, researchers are finding insights into how and why early human brains may have evolved the way that they did to adapt to social, environmental and pathological changes. This information provides clues regarding plasticity, or how different parts of the brain can sometimes be recruited for different functions.

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    The Strange Afterlife Of Einstein’s Brain

    Einstein’s death 60 years ago was just the start of a strange journey for the most prized part of his anatomy, his brain. Stored in jars and on slides, it is still inspiring awe and scholarly research.

    At 01:15 in the morning of 18 April 1955, Albert Einstein – theoretical physicist, peace campaigner and undisputed genius – mumbled a few words in German, took two breaths, and died. The nurse on duty at Princeton Hospital did not speak German and the meaning of Einstein’s final words was lost forever.

    Einstein’s cremation took place later that day in Trenton, New Jersey, but the following day his son, Hans Albert, learned that the body in the coffin had not been intact. A front-page article in the New York Times reported that “the brain that worked out the theory of relativity and made possible the development of nuclear fission” had been removed “for scientific study”.

    The pathologist who conducted the autopsy, Dr Thomas Harvey, had gone further than simply identifying the cause of death – a burst aorta. He had sawed open Einstein’s cranium and removed its celebrated contents.

    “He had some big professional hopes pinned on that brain,” says Carolyn Abraham, who met Harvey while researching her book Possessing Genius: The Bizarre Odyssey of Einstein’s Brain. “I think he had hoped to make a name for himself in medicine in a way that he had been unable to do. And then he comes to work one morning and finds Albert Einstein on his autopsy table.”

    Results On Albert Einsteins Brain Study

    The results of the analysis of Albert Einsteins brain were happening from 1975 to the present. After Hans Alberts permission, the outlook for Harvey changed. He was showered with calls, interviews and instantly, even fame. The journalists camped in his garden. Science magazine was in contact with him, as well as the best neuroanatomists in the world.

    The 240 blocks and 12 sets of 200 slides that Harvey had created by dividing Albert Einsteins brain began to pay off.

    What was behind the most desired brain in the world

    The first thing that caught the attention of Albert Einsteins brain was its size. It was smaller than usual.

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    In 1985 We Thought Einstein’s Brain Wasn’t Much Different From Anyone Else’s We Were Wrong

    We still don’t completely understand how the brain works and yet we’re building machines to replicate it. Our quest to create artificial intelligence has grown into a near-frenzy as we surge ahead with unprecedented progress. But will we really reach the finishing line?

    Any hope of success will depend on our ability to answer one simple question: What exactly is intelligence?

    In 1985, American scientist Marian Diamond studied the brain of Albert Einstein and found an answer.

    The Autopsy And A Basement

    Einstein

    He carefully removed Albert Einsteins brain, weighed it, dissected it, and placed it in several jars. Afterward, he put it safely in the basement of his house. He was not a neurologist, so his goal was as simple as it was ambitious.

    He wanted to bring together the best specialists in the world to study in detail every area of that brain, every fragment, every cell. His goal was to publish the results as soon as possible in the most prestigious magazines and to gain worldwide fame.

    Now all those longings and aspirations of Dr. Harvey were truncated. The first thing that happened was obvious: he lost his job. He was harshly criticized and sanctioned by the scientific community.

    His promising career at Princeton was frustrated. And his wife left him. His action and the rugged act of keeping a brain hidden in a basement did not seem logical or even less pleasant.

    However, curious as it may be, the only encouragement he had to go ahead with his business came from Hans Albert, Einsteins son. Thus, and although at first he was affected and indignant, later he concluded with something that, in his opinion, had his logic. Einstein always advocated scientific advancement.

    If the analysis of that brain would be of any use to the scientific community, the family gave the go-ahead. Thomas Harveys work could go on.

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    What Did Einstein’s Brain Actually Reveal

    If you insert human astrocytes into the brains of newborn mice, they grow up to be more intelligent. Their learning and memory are significantly sharper. It’s only in the past few years that we’ve come to understand the extraordinary reason why.

    We have always assumed that a synapse, the point where two brain cells join to carry information, is made up of two brain cells. We were wrong. A synapse is made of two brain cells — and an astrocyte.

    Astrocytes nurture synapses. Not only are they key in synaptic plasticity, but they are plastic themselves. They grow and change. One astrocyte can be in contact with two million synapses, coordinating their activity and plasticity across vast realms of the human brain — and contributing to our intelligence.

    Did You Know Einstein’s Brain Was Stolen Cut Into Pieces And Studied To Unlock The Mystery Behind His Intelligence

    Best known for developing the general theory of relativity and the mass-energy equivalence, one of the most absent-minded genius physicists, Einstein was born on March 14, 1879, in Germany.

    His scholarly feats have made the name of Einstein synonymous with ‘Genius’. When he passed away on April 18, in the year 1955, in Princeton, New Jersey, from an abdominal aortic aneurysm, his brain was stolen by the pathologist on call, Thomas Harveys.

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    The Incredible Story Of Einstein’s Brain

    30 July, 2018

    The pathologist Thomas Harvey stole Albert Einsteins brain after his autopsy in 1955. After that, a whole story full of truculence and scientific curiosity opened up. There were many people who wanted to know the secret of his genius. Others did not see the advantage of his brain being stolen. Either way, the results of the analysis were more than revealing.

    The truth is that few accounts of our scientific historical fabric are just as disturbing as they are fascinating. There is something tragic in this story without a doubt but it also illustrates the intense desire of the human to know himself. To know the ins and outs of brains capable of changing the world is a powerful tool to help us discover great things.

    The father of relativity is one of those powerful tools. Albert Einstein was also something else: an icon and media figure of great social impact.;He was well aware of this fact and gave very precise instructions for what to do after his death. Discretion and privacy were paramount. He also wanted to be cremated and have his ashes scattered in a river. After all this, his death could be announced to the media.

    But something went wrong. No one considered an almost unimaginable factor: Thomas Harvey. This pathologist made off with Albert Einsteins brain after the autopsy. Therefore, Einstein became what he never wanted to be; a revered relic.;;

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