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4/1/14

The Man Who Found Einstein's Brain in Two Mason Jars inside a Cardboard Box

Steven Levy said that he had an almost religious experience when he found it in Wichita, Kansas.
A journalist for a magazine, New Jersey Monthly, he knew it had been missing since Einstein's death. Yes, missing. The most brilliant mind of all time was buried without his head intact when he died in 1955. By 1978, when Levy's editor told him to find it, the trail had gone cold. People speculated as to where it might be, but nobody had found it. After some investigation, Levy concluded rather logically that the brain might still be in the possession of the man who did the autopsy, the pathologist who examined the great scientist's corpse.

Levy tracked the former Princeton pathologist, Dr Thomas S Harvey, to Wichita, Kansas. The day he chatted with Harvey in the physician's office, he asked the man about the brain. Harvey, after some time, admitted that he had it. Where? asked Levy. Here, replied the doctor. Here? Yes, right here. Rather sheepishly he told Levy that it was in the very office where they sat.

He walked to a box marked Costa Cider and pulled out two big mason jars. Awestruck, Levy then gazed at the brain that changed the world, as the journalist put it. Most of the brain had been sliced, except for the cerebellum and parts of the cerebral cortex.

Before he died at 76, Einstein had wanted his body cremated but granted that his brain be examined by science. Clearly, that didn't happen until the brain was found. In 1985 a study examined Einstein's brain against eleven men who died at age 64. The scientists examined the ratio of glial cells to neurons (nerve cells), in Einstein's brain and compared them to the control group of men. They found nothing to indicate a remarkable difference.

In 1996 a study revealed that Einstein's brain weighed 1,230 grams as compared to the average adult male brain at 1,400 grams. The physicist's cerebral cortex was thinner than each of five control brains while his neurons were denser.

A 1999 paper revealed that the surface of Einstein's brain had unusual groove patterns on both right and left parietal lobes, as compared to the brains of 35 men, average age 57. This lobe area is thought important for math and spatial reasoning. His brain had a much shorter lateral groove, which was partly missing.

What does all this prove? Nothing, really. Nothing at all. He was a genius who allowed that he didn't know where his ideas came from. You can't find the mind in the brain. No ideas, just meat is there. You can't slice the mind on a dissecting table.

Don't get me wrong. Some day science may find a solid physical correlation between brain matter and genius. I suppose that the information will be useful.

But I find something else more useful. I speak of the mystery of life, of consciousness. It is that which pervades our being as the source of our lives. It is the fount of life. Some call it mystery. Others call it God.
______________________

A good read--Driving Mr Albert: A Trip Across America With Einstein's Brain, by Michael Paterniti.



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