He completely revamped our understanding of time. He unraveled the mysteries of gravity and how it applies to the heavens. And he unleashed an understanding of the relationship between matter and energy with one of the most iconic equations of all time, E=MC2.
How did he do it? What made Albert Einstein so much more brilliant than the rest of us?
The architecture and wiring of Einstein’s brain is a wonder so intriguing that, following his autopsy in April 1955, his brain was whisked away by Princeton Hospital pathologist Dr. Thomas Harvey before the body was cremated. Although there is some controversy about whether Einstein wanted his brain donated to science, there it was, in Harvey’s lab, and soon to be segmented into approximately 170 parts, roughly grouped by the various lobes and brainstem, and mounted on 350 slides.
The study of Einstein’s brain allowed scientists to discover that the genius's parietal lobe was 15 percent wider than the average brain. The parietal lobe is the area of the brain that has to do with understanding math, language and spatial relationships. Go figure.
In 2010, the collection was donated to the National Museum of Health and Medicine in Chicago (NMHMC), and in the spring of this year, the museum obtained private funding to begin digitizing the 350 slides of brain slices.
And then the museum officials did what any sentient being with 350 images of Einstein’s brain would do: They developed an app to sell on iTunes. Although they skipped the catchy app name opportunity (iEinstein?) and went with the more curatorial name of “NMHMC Harvey,” the app nonetheless makes public the part of the collection that has thus far been digitized. Available for iPad, the app allows users to poke around the uber-genius physicist’s neuroanatomy as if they were peering through a microscope. Updates to the app will supply additional materials as they become digitized.
All profits from the sale of the $9.99 app will go to U.S. Department of Defense's National Museum of Health and Medicine in Silver Spring, Md., and the NMHMC.
Related brain story on MNN: 5 things your brain does better than a computer [Photo gallery]