Albert Einstein is regarded as one of the greatest scientists ever. But do you know what happened to Einstein’s brain after his death?
Now, let’s take a look at what happened to Einstein’s brain after his death.
The frizzy-haired scientist becomes an icon of the 20th century, befriended Charlie Chaplin, escaped Nazi Germany, and pioneered an entirely new model of physics. He was a celebrity and a genius. After achieving fame and status, Einstein died of an abdominal aortic aneurysm on April 17, 1955.
The brain of Albert Einstein has been a subject of much research and speculation. His brain was removed within seven and a half hours of his death. His brain has attracted attention because of his reputation as one of the foremost geniuses of the 20th century.
Shortly after his death, Thomas Harvey removed the brain and kept it for himself. Harvey then took the brain to a lab at the University of Pennsylvania where he dissected it into 240 pieces. But how does the brain get into the hands of Thomas Harvey?
Well, after his death, Einstein’s autopsy was conducted in Thomas Harvey’s lab. Here, Harvey took Einstein’s brain. Whether Einstein’s brain was preserved with his prior consent is a matter of dispute. According to the biography of Albert Einstein by Ronald Clark, Einstein had insisted that his brain should be used for research and that he be cremated. However, more recent research has suggested that the brain was removed and preserved without the permission of either Einstein or his close relatives.
Later, Einstein elder son, Hans Albert Einstein endorsed the removal. He insisted that his father’s brain should be used only for research to be published in scientific journals of high standing.
Thomas Harvey thought studying the brain under a microscope would reveal useful information about Einstein’s genius. He dissected the brain into several pieces. Some pieces, he kept to himself while others were given to leading pathologists. He also photographed the brain from many angles. Harvey also removed Einstein’s eyes and gave them to Henry Abrams, Einstein’s ophthalmologist. This information remained hidden until its rediscovery by a journalist 2 decades later.
In 1978, Steven Levy rediscovered Einstein’s brain in Harvey’s possession. It was preserved in alcohol in two large mason jars within a cider box for over 20 years. Harvey’s heirs transferred all of his holdings constituting the remains of Einstein’s brain to the National Museum of Health and Medicine. This included 14 photographs of the whole brain (which was now in fragments), never before revealed to the public. In 2013, some segments of the brain acquired by Mutter Museum went on exhibit in the museum’s permanent galleries. The exhibit featured thin slices of Einstein’s brain, mounted on microscope slides. Today Einstein’s brain can be found only in these two museums.
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