How Einstein’s Brain Ended Up in A Series of Strange Places

Albert Einstein

Albert Einstein became an even bigger curiosity after his death. So much so that pieces of the great scientist’s brain were stored for decades in some strange locations.

Before his death in 1955, Albert Einstein told his biographer, “I want to be cremated so people don’t come worship at my bones.” Per his wishes, Einstein’s ashes were scattered at an unknown site. Imagine his family’s amazement and outrage when they found that, during his autopsy, Dr. Thomas Harvey with the University of Pennsylvania had taken out and kept Einstein’s brain.

In fact, he kept most of the brain in a jar for 45 years!

Harvey was finally granted permission to study Einstein’s brain and find out what made him so intelligent. However, Harvey never published any findings. Instead, Harvey measured, photographed, weighted, and got paintings made of the brain but never found anything quite different between Einstein’s and the average brain.

Harvey then sent four samples in a Kraft Miracle Whip mayonnaise jar to neuro-anatomist Marian Diamond from the University of California, Berkley. In 1985, Diamond reported a higher-than-average rate of tightly packed glial cells in the part of Einstein’s brain thought to play a role in difficult thinking. Trying to study a dead brain is much more complex than analyzing a live one.

When asked why he saved Einstein’s brain in the first place, Dr. Harvey answered, “I didn’t know anyone else wanted to take it.”

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