The Man Who Stole Einstein’s Brain

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When Albert Einstein died on April 17, 1955, his wishes were to be cremated and his ashes scattered. Einstein was concerned about the exploitation that could occur after his death which would rob his family of their privacy. Thomas Harvey, MD, the pathologist on duty in the Princeton Hospital where Einstein died, stole the brain and days later obtained reluctant permission from Einstein’s son to study his father’s brain. Harvey preserved the brain in slides, but stored them poorly in a wooden crate in his basement and it wasn’t until his wife insisted that he get rid of the brain that he took steps to move Einstein’s brain and begin the process of his study and distribution to other scientists. Harvey’s professional life became disorganized with multiple career moves and ultimately the loss of his medical license. He went to work on an assembly line in a Kansas factory and drank with his neighbor, the writer William Boroughs, and boasted about having Einstein’s brain in storage. As time went on, Einstein’s brain was subject to multiple studies and speculations developed about the brain of this genius. Did he have more neurons and glial cells? Were there more folds in his brain? It appears that those studies were flawed and that the samples deteriorated as they aged.

We wanted Einstein’s brain to be different, but in reality he may have had a “normal” brain which he used better than most people. Thomas Harvey was hungry for the fame that would come with his discoveries which didn’t occur due to life’s circumstances and the effects of time on the poorly stored samples.

Click here to read the story in National Geographic: http://phenomena.nationalgeographic.com/2014/04/21/the-tragic-story-of-how-einsteins-brain-was-stolen-and-wasnt-even-special/?utm_source=digg&utm_medium=email

Tag lines: Einstein’s brain, Thomas Harvey, Albert Einstein

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