Princeton, NJ

Albert Einstein's brain and his final days

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Einstein ordered that he not be inspected or tested when he died in Princeton, New Jersey (USA). A pathologist removed Einstein's brain without his family's permission in April 1955, shortly after his death, and preserved it in formaldehyde until roughly 2007, just before dying himself.
Explanation: The brain on the right is a dolphin brainImage Courtesy

During that time, the brain of the man credited with some of science's most creative and inventive ideas was imaged and fragmented, with small bits distributed to various researchers.

He finally gave it to other scientists to investigate after testing and scrutinizing it for 40 years— it had been revealed that Einstein's brain had 17 percent more neurons than a typical person's.

Einstein's brain also revealed that he had significantly more grey matter than the average individual! — Higher IQs are associated with thicker grey matter folds.

When scientists examined Einstein's brain more closely, they uncovered a startling discovery that was out of the ordinary. The [partial operculum area] of his brain was missing, allowing the [inferior parietal lobule] to develop 15% wider than normal.

Language, mathematical processes, and body image are all dealt with by the [inferior parietal lobule].

This is why Einstein excelled at mathematics.

An Einstein Encyclopedia offers this well-known if horrific "brain in a jar" anecdote in addition to an extensive quantity of information on the personal, scientific, and public spheres of Einstein's life. However, there is a quieter one that reveals far more about Einstein himself: Helen Dukas, Einstein's lifelong secretary and companion, narrates his final days.

By the middle of the twentieth century, medically assisted dying had become commonplace, and Einstein died in his local hospital. But what stands out most about the tale is Einstein's simplicity and composure in the face of his own death, which he saw as a natural occurrence. From his collapse at home to his diagnosis of a hemorrhage, to his reluctant trip to the hospital and the refusal of a famous heart surgeon, this narrative is told in a matter-of-fact manner.

Dukas recalls that he smiled through the pain of an internal hemorrhage (“the worst pain one can have”), taking morphine as needed. He read the paper and talked about politics and science on his final day, when he was not in agony.

When Dukas wakes up in the middle of the night to check on him, he tells her. “You’re really hysterical—I have to pass on sometime, and it doesn’t really matter when.” he tells Dukas, when she rises in the night to check on him.

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