Search for Albert Einstein's Brain Part 4

About one man's search for the brain of genius Albert Einstein.

MY SEARCH FOR EINSTEIN'S BRAIN

No I didn't know where to reach him. But I had one last idea. Since my man was a doctor, he must be a member of the American Medical Association. Suerely they keep track of their members.

There was a tense pause when I asked the man who came to the phone whether he was the same Dr. Harvey who had worked at Princeton Hospital in the mid-1950s. Almost as if he had been considering a denial, he slowly said yes. I told him I was interested in Einstein's brain and I was willing to visit him to talk about it.

Throughout the conversation Dr. Harvey had sounded very uncomfortable, so I hadn't asked him some obvious questions. Like why nothing had been published. Like why the subject was still so touchy. Like whether he still had any of the brain in his possession.

These questions I would ask in Witchita.

What the reporters weren't told in 1955 was that Dr. Harvey was enlisting some brain experts to assist him in studying the most significant chunk of "gross material," as Harvey put it, ever to become available to medical science.

The first step in the process was an exacting measurement and complete photographing of the whole brain. This was done at Princeton Hospital, which had agreed to partially fund the study. From these measurements, there was apparently no difference between Einstein's brain and a "normal" one. Certainly it was no bigger and, at 2.64 lb., it was no heavier. This was no surprise; the real work would take place in microscopic studies of the dissected brain.

So sometime in the early fall of 1955 Dr. Harvey packed up the brain of Albert Einstein, made sure it was well cushioned in its formaldehyde-filled jar, and drove--very, very carefully--from Princeton to Philadelphia, where the brain would be sectioned in a laboratory at the University of Pennsylvania.

From there, the sections of the brain, some in small chunks preserved in celloidin (a gelatinous material), some on microscopic slides, went off to various parts of the country to be studied by specialists. "I usually delivered the pieces myself," said Harvey. "It could have been handled by mail, I guess, but I wanted to meet these men."

The idea was that the specialists would eventually publish papers on the brain parts they studied. Meanwhile, Harvey would perform his own tests, some paralleling the other work and some that no one was duplicating.

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