Scientists Turn Einstein’s Brain into an iPad App

EinsteinA good deal less creepy than putting it in a jar, scientists at the National Museum of Health and Medicine Chicago have put Einstein’s brain into an iPad app. Now anybody from neuro-scientists to the general public can grab the NMHMC Harvey app and take the opportunity “to examine the Nobel Prize-winning physicist’s neuroanatomy as if they were sitting in front of a microscope.”

Named for pathologist Dr. Thomas Harvey and based on his 1955 autopsy performed on Albert Einstein at Princeton Hospital, this app provides a deeper and more accessible look into the brain of a true genius.

When Dr. Harvey removed Einstein’s brain for study he “segmented the brain into approximately 170 parts, roughly grouped by the various lobes and brainstem, and then sectioned those parts into hundreds of microscope sections. These sections were mounted on microscope slides and stained to highlight both cellular structure and nerve conductive tissue.” With these tools (donated by Dr. Harvey’s estate in 2010) the potential exists for the brain that revolutionized physics to make yet another contribution –who knows what people will study and discover!

Previous studies have uncovered details like the wider parietal lobe found in Einstein’s brain (the area critical to the understanding of math, language and spatial relationships).

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There are some criticisms of the slides found within the app, suggesting that because of their vintage and the lack of technology at the time of the autopsy may make the specimens less useful and meaningful; no MRI means no 3D mapping of Einstein’s brain as a whole. Even if that is true, it does contribute to the ground-breaking efforts found in seemingly simple iPad apps that deliver valuable research data into the hands of clever and interested people.

You can download NMHMC Harvey from the App Store for $9.99. Profits made from the sale of this app are being donated to the Department of Defense’s National Museum of Health and Medicine in Silver Spring, Maryland, as well as the National Museum of Health and Medicine Chicago.

The question that begs asking is whether Einstein himself would have enjoyed this app (and the iPad itself)?

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