Princeton, NJ

The bizarre story of Albert Einstein's brain, which was stolen hours after his death

Maya Devi

Albert Einstein, the renowned physicist needs no introduction. He is known for his brilliant contributions to the field of Physics, like the general theory of relativity and the mass-energy equivalence.

After Einstein passed away on 18th April 1955, in Princeton, New Jersey, due to a burst of the aorta, his body was to be cremated after an autopsy. However, his most coveted body part - his brain - was stolen before the cremation.

Thomas Harvey, a pathologist, had kept Einstein's brain to himself after he performed the autopsy thinking it was a marvel. He wanted to study the genius’s brain and see how it was different from an average human’s brain.

But Albert Einstein wanted his body to be cremated and not studied or worshiped, because of which his son, Hans Albert, was furious at Harvey. Somehow Harvey convinced Hans Albert to let him study his father’s brain.

Einstein’s brain brought Harvey a lot of loss. He lost his job at Princeton, got divorced, and lost his entire career. Even after years of research, Harvey couldn’t come up with how Einstein’s brain was different. He also sent several scientists’ brain samples for their research. But many of them didn’t reply, and those who replied couldn’t find any uniqueness.

In 1978, an article published brought to light a small difference in Einstein's brain. That was just the start. In 1996, it was found that the neurons in Einstein’s brain were more tightly packed. Similarly, in 1999, his brain was observed to have a wider inferior parietal lobule, which is responsible for spatial cognition and mathematical thought.

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