The greatest mind of science and the posthumous adventures of his brain

Albert Einstein was very interested in science during his lifetime and continued to do so after that. Only in the margins of the controversy that erupted with his subversive theory within theoretical physics, another "battle" was about to begin: the hunt for his mind. See before leaving […]

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Ο Albert Einstein He was very involved in science during his lifetime and continued to do so after that.

Only in the margins of the controversy that erupted with his subversive theory within theoretical physics, another "battle" was about to begin: the hunt for his mind.

You see, before he left the world in April 1955, the brightest mind of the universe had made it clear to his family that he did not want his brain to be studied. He even asked for his body to be cremated.

Only a few hours after his death, someone stole him brain of. Again, despite the clear manifestation of his desire.

When he was rushed to the hospital, Einstein knew his end was near. And so the 76-year-old informed the doctors with all the clarity he maintained up to his chest that he did not want any attempt at resuscitation.

"I want to leave when I want to," he said, "it is pointless to prolong life artificially. I have done my duty, it is time to leave. I will do it with elegance ".

Einstein died the next morning, April 18, 1955, of an abdominal aortic aneurysm. Some, however, would not let him rest.

His brain was removed from his body and remained hidden in a jar at a doctor's house and a university warehouse later.

And if the life of the phenomenon of science and intellect it is sufficiently narrated, the posthumous adventures and the strange journey of his brain are definitely worth a second look…

"People applaud me because everyone understands me, they applaud you because no one understands you," his good friend once told Einstein. Charlie Chaplin.

That was no longer true. The times when no one understood him and insulted him were gone forever.

The academic community had initially ignored its subversive theories, but by 1915 and the formulation of the general theory of relativity, the climate had changed dramatically.

In fact, when he went to America, he was a real celebrity not only in the university world, but also abroad. Even Hollywood stars knew him and spoke to him in the singular.

Gone are the days when Nazi characterized his world-historical conceptions as "Jewish physics", forcing him to leave his hometown.

Princeton was the only one who did not miss out on all of this, welcoming him to his academic community in 1933 (and across the Atlantic) and giving him land and water to continue revealing the secrets of the Universe for the next two decades, as his death…

Even on his last day in life, Einstein was very busy. He wrote his speech for a TV appearance, in the context of the celebration of the 7th anniversary of the founding of his state Ισραήλ.

Einstein again underwent an abdominal aortic aneurysm that day, a condition he had had in the past and underwent surgery in 1948. Only now he did not want to have surgery.

In the early morning hours of April 18, the shift nurse heard him say some words in German that he did not understand, and then closed his eyes permanently.

So when he passed away, the paraphilology of his death began from the first moment. An eminent doctor went so far as to claim that the leading German physicist had been struck by syphilis.

Distinguished Dr. Janos Plesch was even a personal friend of his and stated that the abdominal aortic aneurysm was caused by syphilis.

A condition from which he allegedly suffered "the hypersexual Einstein, who enjoyed the company of countless women despite the fact that he was married", as the doctor claimed.

The necropsy, however, did not indicate the presence of syphilis in his body. We now know that as an avid smoker, it was probably the cigarette that contributed to the aneurysm.

The doctors of his hospital Princeton in New Jersey) had been repeatedly advised to quit smoking. But it was a habit he could not break.

The day he died, the hospital was flooded with journalists and ordinary people. "It was chaos," said Ralph Morse, the photographer who sent Life magazine to take pictures.

Morse then went to his office at the Institute for Advanced Studies and immortalized with his flashlight the shelves of cluttered books, the chalk equations on the blackboard, and the scattered notes in his office.

Life would not publish them though. Einstein's son, Hans Albert, contacted the magazine and asked to respect the loss of the family. "His funeral and cremation are completely personal matters," the magazine wrote simply, respecting the difficult times of the family.

Although we can not say the same for everyone else involved…

With the death of the leading scientist, an episodic and completely autonomous journey would begin. Of his mind, yes.

You see the debate over whether the human brain that changed the way we see the world had something special in its structures raged for years and now was the time to trigger at least one comedic tragedy thriller.

Soon after the autopsy at Princeton Hospital in New Jersey, the brain of the man who constantly shook science disappeared.

Shift physician Thomas Harvey decided to steal it. A move that did not exactly receive a warm welcome when it became known.

Of course, it would take time for Einstein to become famous, since according to his wishes, Einstein cremated the next day in Trenton, New Jersey at a ceremony closed to the world. His ashes were scattered on the Delaware River.

"I want to be cremated so that people do not come to worship my bones," Einstein told Abraham Pais.

And while things turned out the way they wanted, his brain, but also his eyes (which we do not even know where they ended up, however, are rumored to be kept in a private safe in New York), were an annoying exception.

It was his son, Hans, who suspected that his father's body was not exactly intact, and the tragic confirmation came in the most categorical way from the front page of the New York Times, which informed its readers that the great scientist's brain had been removed for "scientific study".

As he later revealed with the BBC, Dr. Harvey believed that by stealing Einstein's brain and finally finding the feature of his intellect he would also become famous.

After all, Harvey knew that he would not be involved in the law, as the removal of parts from dead people was not prohibited at that time.

Hans went once and found Harvey, who convinced him that his father's remains were crucial to science and finally obtained his consent to the blatant kidnapping.

However, because of the brainstorming scandal, Harvey lost his place in the university hospital. Not in 1955, but in 1988!

Einstein 's brain was secretly transferred to Philadelphia, at the University of Pennsylvania, where Harvey and his colleague Marta Keller cut it into 240 pieces and kept the remains in cellulose slides (from 500-1.500 such slides he once said they had made).

And while Harvey kept most of it to himself, taking literally countless photographs, he sent some samples to American research institutes and some to leading neuroscientists.

Today we know that doctor carried parts of the brain to various parts of the US holding them inside a wooden box at the bottom of a portable beer cooler.

Many years later, Harvey tried to shape Einstein's granddaughter by sending her a piece of her grandfather's mind. However, she refused the macabre gift.

The doctor published an article on Einstein's mind in 1985, claiming that he looked different from the typical human brain, and so it might have worked differently.

The first serious research into the infamous mind that took place years later, when the science he had advanced and felt confident to face the brain of the physicist, they did not find anything remarkable in his morphology.

What all these parts of his brain have become in the years that followed, that would need another narrative.

Today, however, anyone wishing to see a small part of the larger mind of science must fly to the Mütter Museum in Philadelphia.