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Last updated on April 19, 2014 at 8:45 EDT

Brain Of Albert Einstein Can Be Downloaded As An App

September 25, 2012
Albert Einstein. Credit: Wikipedia (public domain)

Peter Suciu for redOrbit.com — Your Universe Online

Artifacts owned by celebrities can fetch big prices at auction, while actual body parts can be quite valuable as well. Last year John Lennon´s tooth sold for more than $31,000 at auction. By contrast Che Guevara´s hands — which were cut off the body of the revolutionary after he was executed in 1967 to confirm that he was truly dead — have mysteriously disappeared and were even the subject of a film!

The brain of Albert Einstein by contrast is neither so valuable, nor so elusive. In fact, the brain that reportedly revolutionized physics can be downloaded as an app for $9.99. Just don´t expect it to teach you anything about the theory of relativity. In fact, don´t expect it to do much.

Einstein reportedly didn´t even know his own phone number, and this app won´t be able to remember a user´s number either. The app doesn´t actually include Einstein´s genius or contain his knowledge. It is simply scans of the famous physicist´s brain.

This is just the latest twist in the history of the grey matter of Einstein’s brain since his death in 1955.

After his death, Einstein´s brain was removed by pathologist Thomas Harvey, who had performed Einstein´s autopsy. The hope was that future researchers could uncover secrets behind his genius. Harvey divided the brain into 240 pieces, which were stored in jars. These were given to researchers over the years, with the remainder eventually going to Dr. Elliot Krauss at Princeton University Medical Center in 1998.

Slides of the brain were used in a 1999 “Lancet” study, in which Harvey collaborated. That study showed that a region of Einstein´s brain — the parietal lobe — was 15 percent wider than normal, as reported by the Associated Press. This section of the brain is important to the understanding of math, language and spatial relationships and could help explain Einstein´s understanding of the universe.

Now the various pieces of the brain, which have been preserved on slides have been made available as an iPad app, which has been developed by the National Museum of Health and Medicine Chicago, an offshoot of the Department of Defense´s National Museum of Health and Medicine in Silver Spring, Maryland.

“I can´t wait to find out what they´ll discover,” said Steve Landers, a consultant for the National Museum of Health and Medicine Chicago who designed the app, in an interview with the Associated Press. “I’d like to think Einstein would have been excited.”

However, would-be tablet researchers shouldn´t expect too much and shouldn´t get too excited.

While the app may allow researchers to look deeper into the various regions of Einstein´s brain, the tissue was preserved before modern imaging technology, and thus it could be difficult for scientists to determine exactly where each piece originated. The app only organizes the slides into general brain regions and doesn´t fully apply them with precision to an anatomical model.

As a result there is no 3D model of the brain to work with, and moreover the 1-inch-by-3-inch slides represent only a fraction of the entire brain. To those working with it, it is a puzzle without all the pieces.

Perhaps it would be a puzzle someone like Einstein would excel at tackling — or at least enjoy studying.


Source: Peter Suciu for redOrbit.com – Your Universe Online