By Jon Hamilton for NPR:
In the 55 years since Albert Einstein’s death, many scientists have tried to figure out what made him so smart.
But no one tried harder than a pathologist named Thomas Harvey, who lost his job and his reputation in a quest to unlock the secrets of Einstein’s genius. Harvey never found the answer. But through an unlikely sequence of events, his search helped transform our understanding of how the brain works.
In The Name Of Science
How that happened is a bizarre story that involves a dead genius, a stolen brain, a rogue scientist and a crazy idea that turned out not to be so crazy.
The genius, Einstein, died April 18, 1955, at Princeton Hospital in Princeton, N.J. Within hours, the quiet town was swarming with reporters and scientific luminaries, and people who simply wanted to be near the great man one last time, says Michael Paterniti, a writer who did a lot of research on the events of that day.
“It was like the death of the prophet,” Paterniti says. “And so it got a little bit crazy.”
Things got especially crazy for Thomas Harvey, who performed the autopsy on Einstein. During the procedure, he removed the brain to examine it, which is routine.
But instead of placing the brain back in the skull, Harvey put it in a jar of formaldehyde, Paterniti says.
“And out of that complete, sort of melee of the moment, he made off with the brain, and it was under somewhat dubious circumstances,” Paterniti says…
[continues at NPR]