New York: For the first time, 46 ultra-thin
slices of Albert Einstein's brain are on display at a US
museum, allowing visitors to see what the brain of a genius
The brain Einstein, the theoretical physicist who
developed the Theory of General Relativity is on display at
Philadelphia's Mutter Museum and Historical Medical Library,
according to museum curator Anna Dhody.
Visitors can view 45 of the brain slides as-is, and see
one magnified under a lens, CBS News reported.
"He was a unique individual, and to have the organ that's
most associated with intelligence of this great man is a
wonderful opportunity," Dhody told Livescience.
"What we're hoping to do is to showcase this and to
really talk about the brain and the physiology."
The brain slices have had a strange journey since
Einstein's death in 1955 at age 76 from an abdominal aneurism.
The pathologist who completed Einstein's autopsy, a man
named Thomas Harvey, removed Einstein's brain as part of
standard autopsy procedure -- and then failed to put it back.
Harvey later said that Einstein's son had given him
permission to take the scientist's brain, but the Einstein
family disputed that claim, the report said.
Harvey lost his job over the Einstein scandal, but he
kept the brain. Over the years, he would send portions to
neuroscientists trying to understand if something about the
man's brain structure made him so brilliant.
"Dr Harvey had done some of his training in Philadelphia,
and he came back to Philadelphia and asked specifically for
one of his slide technicians," Dhody said. "All the boxes and
all the series of slides were done in Philadelphia."
When that pathologist, William Ehrich, died in 1967, his
widow passed the slides to another local doctor, Allen
Steinberg, who, in turn, gave the slides to Lucy Rorke-Adams,
the senior neuropathologist at the Children's Hospital of
Philadelphia. Rorke-Adams recently decided to donate the
slides to the Mutter Museum.
According to Rorke-Adams, Einstein's brain does look
unusually young on a microscopic level. He lacks a build-up of
lipofuscin, cellular waste associated with aging. His blood
vessels are also in remarkably good shape.
"He died at the age of 76, so he was an older
individual," Dhody said. "But Dr. Rorke-Adams said looking at
his brain, you would think it was the brain of a younger
The brain will stay on display for the foreseeable future
at the museum, Dhody said, and the museum may consider loaning
out slides for future neuroscience research.
First Published: Thursday, November 24, 2011, 21:39