Search for Albert Einstein's Brain Part 5

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


"In order to do a study like this," said Dr. Harvey, "you have to have seen enough of the normal brain to have a pretty good idea what would be extraordinary. Unfortunately, not a lot of brains have been studied completely. Less than a dozen. Of course, when it comes to genius...not even that many. It really is a mammoth task. There's a tremendous number of cells in the brain. You don't examine every one of them in detail, but you look at an awful lot of sections. Almost all the brain now is in sections. There's a little left as brain tissue, but very little."

How little? I wondered to myself. And where was it? All this history had been fascinating, but I wanted to view the damn thing. Of course, you couldn't just bust in on a guy and demand to see a brain. Somehow I had to steer things toward the "gross material" itself. I asked Dr. Harvey if it might be possible to see a slide, perhaps.

"I don't really have any slides here in this office," he said. "So you can't do it here."

Perhaps I could have accepted not seeing the brain if I knew that it didn't exist. But to leave Wichita knowing that there might well be some brain to see? Unthinkable. Dr. Harvey noted my obvious dismay, and almost as a consolation asked me if I had any more questions about the study.

Well, all right. Why had things been taking so long?

"We had no urgency to publish. And the actual examination didn't take this long, of course. Though there is some work still to be done. You see, my career since I did this autopsy has been sort of interrupted. I left Princeton Hospital in 1960 and moved to Freehold. And for the past few years I've been here in Witchita. I don't work on it as much as I used to. But we're getting closer to publication."

Has the study found the brain to be...different?

Dr. Harvey thought a bit before answering. "So far it's fallen within normal limits for a man his age. There are some changes that occur within the brain with age. And his brain showed these. No more so than the average man. The anatomical variations," he said, "and within normal limits."

Another uneasy silence followed. Dr. Harvey shifted in his seat. He seemed to have something he wanted to say, but was agonizing over whether to voice it or not.

"Do you have a photograph of it here?" I blurted out.

"No, I don't," he said. "I don't have any material here." Then he paused. A shy grin came over his face. "I do have a little bit of the gross here," he said, almost apologetically.


"Gross material. Unsectioned, But that's all."

Here? In this office we're sitting in?

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