Slices Of Einstein's Brain Are On Display For The First Time In Britain

The two slides of Einstein’s brain material

Photo: AP/Alastair Grant

If you’ve always wanted to see the mind of a genius, now’s your chance. Sections of Nobel laureate Albert Einstein’s brain are set to go on display in Britain for the first time, the UK Press Association reports.

They are part of the Wellcome Collection’s London exhibition “Brains: The Mind As Matter”, which also include the brains of an ancient Egyptian, computer science pioneer Charles Babbage, and U.S. suffragette Helen Gardner (who donated her brain to science to disprove gender stereotypes), among others. The exhibition examines the mapping, modelling, cutting and treating, and preservation techniques used on the brain, The Daily Mail reports.

Two slides from Einstein’s brain are on loan from the Mutter Museum in Philadelphia, Pa., where they were shown publicly for the first time in the U.S. last year. Following Einstein’s death at 76 in 1955, he was cremated. But pathologist Thomas Harvey, who performed the postmortem exam, made the disputed claim that Einstein’s son had allowed him to keep the brain for research.

Harvey kept the brain anyway, and divided it into 240 sections, preserved in jars of formaldehyde at his house. He gave a box of 46 slides to his colleague William Ehrich. These samples were eventually donated to the museum in Philadelphia.

Co-curator Lucy Shanahan said while the specimens can’t really tell us how their owners’ minds worked, their preservation still makes people stop and think, Reuters reports.

The exhibition, which runs till June 17, ends with video clips of interviews with prospective brain donors.

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