Albert Einstein - Brain

Why was Einstein so smart?

In the almost 6 decades since Albert Einstein's death, scientists and others have tried to figure out what made him so smart. And some are still trying.

As many of you know, Einstein's Brain will forvever be linked to the pathologist Thomas Harvey, who lost his job and his reputation in a quest to unlock the secrets of Einstein's genius. As earnest as Harvey might have been, he never found the answer. But through an unlikely sequence of events, his search helped transform our understanding of how the brain works.

Weird Science

Talk about bizzare, this tale reads like a science fiction novel. There is a dead genius, a stolen brain, a rogue scientist and a crazy idea that turned out not to be so crazy. Not to mention a wild drive across America in the trunk of a car.

The genius was Einstein, who died April 18, 1955, at Princeton Hospital in Princeton, N.J. Quickly, the quiet town was swarming with reporters and scientific luminaries, and people who simply wanted to be near the great man one last time. It was the death of legend, a truly historical figure.

And that probably effected Thomas Harvey as well, who performed the autopsy on Einstein. During the procedure, he removed the brain to examine it, which is routine. But instead of placing the brain back in the skull, Harvey put it in a jar of formaldehyde, which is far from standard operating procedure. And to compound the oddity, he made off with the brain, under somewhat dubious circumstances.

Harvey later said Einstein's older son Hans Albert had given him permission to take the brain. But the Einstein family denied this.

At the end of day, Harvey lost his job and was denounced by many colleagues. But he kept the brain. His justification, was a sense of duty to science. He believed his role was to preserve this brain and to put it in the hands of some leading neuroanatomists who might be able to figure out the key to Einstein's genius.

But before that could happen, his brain hit the road in a Buick Skylark. You can read about in Micheal Paterniti's fantastic Einstein book, Mr. Albert: A Trip Across America with Einstein's Brain

Back to top

Please visit other sections of our website to learn more about Albert Einstein, Joseph Prindle, the book Einstein's Tears, and the movie A. Einstein.

For further information about the movie A. Einstein, or the book Einstein's Tears, please call us at 1-800-965-6875.

A. Einstein

Bookmark and Share

Albert Einstein as a child

"Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving."

- A. Einstein