Einstein's Brain Was Stolen, Cut Into 240 Pieces. Read The Strange Story

Albert Einstein's brain was stolen by Thomas Harvey, a pathologist, who wanted to decode the secret behind the physicist's intelligence.

Einstein's Brain Was Stolen, Cut Into 240 Pieces. Read The Strange Story

Albert Einstein died in Princeton Hospital on April 18, 1955.

Albert Einstein was one of the greatest scientific minds of the 20th century. The Nobel-prize winning physicist is known for his theory of relativity, which has become one of the two pillars of modern physics. He also gave several other scientific principles that made his brain special - so special that when he died in Princeton Hospital on April 18, 1955, the pathologist on call, Thomas Harvey, stole it. Harvey not only preserved, photographed and measured it, but also cut the brain into 240 pieces.

According to the BBC, the pathologist created 12 sets of 200 slides containing tissue samples indexed to the blocks.

The brain had been missing for 23 years when an editor dispatched his reporter named Steven Levy to find the illustrious organ. Levy found that Harvey had left Princeton Medical Centre and eventually tracked him down to Whichita, Kansas.

"I told him, 'I'm writing a story about Einstein's brain'. The first thing he said was: 'I really can't help you with that'. He wasn't eager to talk," Levy was quoted as saying by the BBC.

But when he eventually met Harvey, Levy got to know that the pathologist had indeed studied Einstein's brain. Levy asked for a picture and Harvey showed him a beer cooler. The blocks of brain were lying inside.

Describing the contents of one of the jars, Levy said in an article published in the New Jersey Monthly, "A conch shell-shaped mass of wrinkly material the colour of clay after firing. A fist-sized chunk of greyish, lined substance, the apparent consistency of sponge. And in a separate pouch, a mass of pinkish-white strings resembling bloated dental floss."

A second, larger jar contained "dozens of rectangular translucent blocks, the size of Goldenberg's Peanut Chews".

After the discovery, Harvey became famous. In 1985, he published the first study of Einstein's brain, claiming that it had an abnormal proportion of two types of cells, neurons and glial - that fix neurons into place and keep them supplied with oxygen and nutrients. More studies were conducted that claimed Einstein's brain could help uncover the neurological underpinnings of intelligence, according to National Geographic.

But many experts, including Terence Hines, a professor of psychology at Pace University, debunked the studies, dubbing them nonsense.

Although the brain's scientific significance remains debatable, its story has been culturally productive, spawning a novel, a comic book and even a play by Nick Payne, inspired by Harvey's story.