What Ever Happened to Einstein’s Brain?

History

| LAST UPDATE 11/09/2022

By Amie Alfaro
Albert Einstein death brain
Oren Jack Turner via Wikimedia Commons

Without permission from Einstein or his family, the physicist completing the late genius' autopsy had removed the famous scientist's brain. Now, the strange question: remains where in the world is Einstein's brain? Here's a deeper look.

Albert Einstein was a theoretical physicist who developed the theory of relativity and is one of the most well-known and influential physicists of all time. He won a Nobel Prize and made many contributions to the science world. His name is synonymous with 'genius,' and many people took an interest in how this man was so astronomically intelligent. One man took it to the next level: on April 18, 1955, the famous physicist died of an abdominal aneurysm. He was 76 years old. His wishes were to be cremated and then to have his ashes scattered at an undisclosed location. However, the now-deceased Thomas Stoltz Harvey had another plan in mind.

Thomas Harvey einstein brain
Michael Brennan/Contributor via Getty Images
Advertisement

Harvey was a pathologist at Princeton, where Einstein was being treated and passed away. He was in charge of the autopsy on Einstein and decided to take that opportunity to remove the late physicist’s brain before cremating his body, per his wishes. Once Harvey removed his brain, he photographed, analyzed, and then cut it into 240 blocks. He kept most of those blocks in his personal possession for over 40 years, and the others he had sliced even smaller. Harvey took those slices and sent them to an unknown number of researchers to hopefully figure out why Einstein was so brilliant. Upon finding out about the removal of his father’s brain, Hans Albert was upset but reluctantly agreed that his father’s brain could be studied in only the interest of science. Several studies on his brain revealed that he had larger parietal lobes than usual, which are associated with mathematical, visual, and spatial cognition.

Today, there have since been 170 blocks of the 240 returned to the University Medical Center of Princeton. Then, in 1998, Harvey finally returned the significant bulk of Einstein’s brain that he had held onto all those years. The whereabouts of the remaining pieces are unknown to this day. Albert Einstein led a life of science, academia, and some mystery. He was possibly one of the greatest minds to ever exist - but the question remains: where is the rest of his brain?

Advertisement