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Walking with Einstein’s brain

Have you ever asked yourself  if Einstein’s brain is different from ours, anatomically speaking? Let’s discover that together…

Albert Einstein was born in Ulm, Germany, from a Jewish family; he spent his childhood in Munich, and then he went to study in Switzerland, where he took a degree.

He chose a modest job, so he could spend most of his time studying Physics.

His first study led to the theory of relativity, represented by the famous formula

where E represents energy, M the mass of a body and C is a constant, the speed of light. The formula stated that mass and energy are two aspects of a same reality, meaning that even when a body is at rest, it still has energy in the shape of mass.

Einstein’s second study confirmed the existence of atoms.

Finally, he hypothesized that light is propagated by means of PHOTONS, which are concentrated “packets” of energy.

photons

When Hitler came to power, Einstein was forced to emigrate to the USA, where he taught at Princeton University. He condemned violence, but was involved in the building of the atomic bomb, because it was a result of the theory of relativity. However, when the war finished, Einstein pledged against the war and the racist persecutions.

After Einstein’s death, on 18th April 1955, the pathologist Thomas Stoltz Harvey stole his brain after the autopsy to try to understand the reason of his genius. Harvey dissected Einstein’s brain into 240 blocks and he encased the segments in a plastic-like material called collodion.

Scientists immediately noticed that while there’s a lateral sulcus, the Sylvian fissure, in a normal brain, this sulcus was truncated in Einstein’s brain.

They also noticed that the inferior parietal region was unusually bulky. This vacancy enabled the neurons to communicate better in this part of his brain. The inferior parietal lobe was 15 percent wider than in a normal brain, too, and this area is the site of mathematical thought, visuospatial cognition and imagery of movement.

This may explain his skills of tracking and solving scientific problems, indeed he said that he saw them and translated those visual images into mathematical language. Moreover, the ratio of glial cells in Einstein’s brain has been compared with that of 11 men (glial cells are special cells that nourish the network of neurons, catching glucose and feeding them with it) and take part in signal transmission.

the small ovals are the glial cells among neurons

People usually have about two neurons for three glial cells, while, according to recent studies, Einstein’s brain had a higher percentage of glial cells. This justifies his thinking abilities and conceptual skills. However, this discovery has been very much criticized because Einstein’s brain has been compared with the brains of only 11 people. Moreover, he was 76 when he died, while his brain was compared with those of a group of people who were 64.

So scientists haven’t come to a definite conclusion about the differences between Einstein’s brain and ours. Furthermore, they can’t establish how the neurons functioned.

Although the world was a bit smaller after Einstein died, his studies have changed our conception of reality, space, time and every aspect of modern physics.

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2 thoughts on “Walking with Einstein’s brain

  1. hello, nice blog! question: who is the owner of the second picture in this post with the neurons? Is it copyrighted or can it possibly be used for a cover of a phd thesis book?

    thanks askimokyss

    • Hi askimokyss.
      Most pictures in our posts are taken from the internet, but we always give the website address they are taken from: if you move the mouse over the picture in the post you can find information about where it is taken from. As for using the image as a cover, I guess you should find out who the owner is and ask him/her.
      thanks for following us!

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