Thursday, February 8, 2024

Dissecting Einstein's Brain

The RadioLab podcast just rebroadcast this:
Albert Einstein asked that when he died, his body be cremated and his ashes be scattered in a secret location. He didn’t want his grave, or his body, becoming a shrine to his genius. When he passed away in the early morning hours of April, 18, 1955, his family knew his wishes. There was only one problem: the pathologist who did the autopsy had different plans.

In the third episode of “G”, Radiolab’s miniseries on intelligence, we go on one of the strangest scavenger hunts for genius the world has ever seen. We follow Einstein’s stolen brain from that Princeton autopsy table, to a cider box in Wichita, Kansas, to labs all across the country. And eventually, beyond the brain itself entirely. All the while wondering, where exactly is the genius of a man who changed the way we view the world?

Later in the show, it discussed theories for the origin of Einstein's most brillian idea -- special relativity. Besides his extra-smart brain, it mentioned his physicist wife and a philosopher. It even had professor Galison explaining how train schedules causes people to rethink time.

Okay, but there was no mention of Lorentz and Poincare, or the fact that they had published the entire theory ahead of Einstein.

Galison is unusual because he does not recite crazy stories about Einstein's originality, like other Einstein scholars. He read Lorentz and Poincare and obviously understands that they did it all first, but he refuses to comment on the priority dispute.


  1. Dear Roger,

    1. Haven't yet pursued the links.

    I get your point though: "An unexamined priority is not worth having," as qualified with: "in physics / science."

    2. I guess, but don't know [neither do I care at all to get to know] that the American pathologist's point might have been: "An unexamined brain of a dead celebrity / genius is not worth 'having' when in my own hands--- whatever be the latter's own wishes, made explicit in his own life-time by his own self too."

    3. Aristotle:

    "An unexamined life [of his own life, by and for his own self] is not worth having."


    1. Correction [am in-keying from one of a *categorically* stupid device, viz. a "hand-held / palm-held 'computing' " device]:


      "An unexamined life [of one's own, by, and for, his own self] is not worth having."