Albert Einstein's Brain Was Stolen

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Albert Einstein's Brain Was Stolen

Albert Einstein died from an abdominal aneurism at Princeton Hospital on April 18, 1955. Einstein had always wanted his body to be cremated, but Thomas Harvey, the pathologist on call, decided to steal his brain to study it later. His crime didn't stay a secret for long, but once Einstein's family found out, Harvey managed to get their retroactive permission to use it as long as it was solely in the service of scientific research. For obvious reasons, Harvey lost his job soon after. When Harvey left the hospital, he took the brain with him and eventually sliced it into 240 pieces to be preserved in hard, rubbery celloidin. Years later, Harvey was joined by a team of researchers to publish the first study of Einstein's brain, which found that it had an abnormal proportion of neurons and neuron-support cells called glia. Today, portions of his brain are on public display at the Mütter Museum in Philadelphia.

A Century After Einstein Predicted Them, We Finally Found Gravitational Waves

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A Century After Einstein Predicted Them, We Finally Found Gravitational Waves

In June of 1916, Einstein predicted the existence of gravitational waves based on his general theory of relativity, which had been published the previous year. This prediction was a bold one; too bold even for Einstein himself, who waffled on its likelihood a few times later on. But 100 years after his initial hypothesis, on February 11, 2016, scientists from LIGO (Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory) announced that they had detected gravitational waves for the very first time. The waves were first observed on September 14, 2015, after which a long verification process ensued. The team now knows that these waves were caused by the collision of two black holes, each of which were about 30 times the mass of our sun. More than one billion light-years away from our planet, they accelerated around one another until they finally merged into one. The implications of this discovery are as far-reaching as they are mind-blowing. Astrophysicists believe that it will open the door to observing cosmic strings, colliding neutron stars, and perhaps a record of the "trigger" of the Big Bang. Gravitational waves could also reveal more about the properties of dark energy, the mysterious force that accounts for most of the mass of our universe.

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Key Facts to Know

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    Gravitational waves occur when masses accelerate and change the distortion of space. 0:37

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    LIGO uses lasers to measure the changes in the distances between the ends of long tunnels. 1:32

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    The detection of gravitational waves opens the door to a completely new way of studying the universe. 2:36

Einstein's Famous Equation Isn't The Full Story

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Einstein's Famous Equation Isn't The Full Story

Einstein's famous equation only accounts for objects that have mass and that aren't moving. In fact, it's an abbreviated version of a larger equation that works for both massless and moving objects, including photons. Though this larger equation might look intimidating, it can be easily visualized using the Pythagorean theorem.

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Key Facts to Know

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    E=mc^2 only describes objects that have mass and that aren't moving. 0:06

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    The equation for the energy of a moving, massless particle (such as a photon) is E=pc. 0:43

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    An object's velocity is equal to the speed of light times the ratio of the object's momentum to energy. 1:08

Here's How Einstein's Brain Differed From An Average Person's

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Here's How Einstein's Brain Differed From An Average Person's

After Einstein's death, his brain was removed, photographed, and sliced into 240 blocks for research purposes. Several studies have since been conducted on the famous scientist's brain and its purportedly unique anatomy. A 2013 study was the first to analyze the corpus callosum, and found that many segments in Einstein's brain were thicker than average, hinting at a stronger connection between his hemispheres. Another study, conducted in 2012, noted that Einstein's parietal lobes were asymmetrical, the right one being far larger than the left. The correlation between these features and Einstein's incredible mental abilities aren't exactly clear, but many scientists believe that examining his brain's oddities can help to explain his groundbreaking ideas.

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from Think Fact

Key Facts to Know

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    If brain size correlated with intelligence, the sperm whale would be the world's smartest animal. 0:47

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    Neanderthals had larger brains than humans. 2:37

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    Einstein's brain was no bigger than average, but it did have areas that appeared more developed. 4:15

You've Shared Your Air With Einstein

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You've Shared Your Air With Einstein

Not only that, but you've probably breathed in some of the molecules from one of Einstein's most momentous breaths—the one after he wrote his famous relativity equation, for example. Various people have used the math demonstrated below to determine that the air we breathe has been shared with countless famous figures in the past. Even when you account for molecules lost due to various processes, the chances that you've inhaled the same stuff as your favorite historical icon are high.

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Key Facts to Know

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    If the Earth was the size of a soccer ball, its atmosphere would only add about one millimeter to the surface. 0:51

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    The atmosphere weighs about 5 x 10^21 grams. 1:55

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    Each time you inhale, you breathe in about one liter of air. 2:15