Sunday, January 4, 2009

Sunday Essay: "Einstein’s Brain Takes a Vacation…"

"Einstein’s Brain Takes a Vacation…"

Albert Einstein was a genius. You know that, of course. Where ever he went, it was a good bet that he was the smartest guy in the room. He passed away in 1955 after suffering chest pains and, ultimately, a burst aortic aneurysm. That day in April began a rather macabre journey of the man’s brain. Albert Einstein, known for traveling too and fore in deliverance of endless lectures to the academia of the world, was not done traveling…even in his death.

National Public Radio reported in 2005 that Einstein’s brain was sectioned into over 200 blocks, embedded in celloidin, and then stored in formalin. Apparently, all this was done without the permission of the family. In fact, it has been reported that Einstein left specific instructions on how to dispose of his body. He had specifically stated that his remains were to be cremated and scattered in secret to discourage idolaters. For those of you as ignorant as I, an idolater is one who blindly or excessively admires or adores another.

In addition, the doctor who removed Einstein’s brain also removed his eyeballs and delivered them to Henry Abrams, Einstein’s eye doctor. Apparently, to this day, they are sitting in a safe deposit box somewhere in New York City.

Per the New York post in July of 2008:

Abrams, 96, of the Jersey Shore, placed the peepers in a safety deposit box, whose location is known only by him and his wife.

"When you look into his eyes, you're looking into the beauties and mysteries of the world," Abrams once said. "They are clear as crystal; they seem to have such depth."
Gosh…what was the definition of “idolater” again?

The doctor, Thomas Harvey, who removed Einstein’s brain (and eyeballs), was discharged from Princeton Hospital because he wouldn’t turn over the goods. He left, and took that famous piece of Einstein with him. The first stop was Philadelphia, where the remains were sectioned as mentioned above. Subsequently, two of the sections were given out to study, while the remainder sat in a jar parked in Harvey’s basement. Then, with the brain in tote, the journey began in earnest.

First…to Wichita, KS…then to Weston, MO…onto Lawrence, KS…then back to Princeton. All the while, Einstein’s brain was along for the ride…or pieces of it I suppose.

In a cross country trek with a reporter along for the story, Harvey threw Einstein’s brain in the trunk of a Buick Skylark and headed to California. Believe it or not, there is a book entitled, “Driving Mr. Albert: A Trip Across America with Einstein's Brain" (Hardcover)by Michael Paterniti (Author)

He, eventually, returned and placed the brain in the hands of the pathology lab of Princeton Hospital where the trek had begun 40 years prior. That appears to be where it can be found today.

What’s my interest…you ask? (shrugs) I just found it amusing. Plus, I picked up a copy of “Driving Mr. Albert,” recently, and found it absolutely hilarious. If you have the chance, and you are looking for a quirky bit of reading…don’t pass it up.

If I had only known, I would have been a locksmith.
---Albert Einstein


Previous "Sunday Essays":

The Perfect Murder
The Great Pierre Bruneseau
Our Ancestors Ate Dirt
Bastardizing Chivalry
On my way to Obscurity
I'm Adopting!!!
I Need a Muse