Einstein’s Brain? There’s An App For That

By Amir Khan on September 25, 2012 11:23 AM EDT

Brain
The brain of arguably the most famous physicist of all time, Albert Einstein, is now available on your iPhone for $9.99. (Photo: REUTERS)

The brain of arguably the most famous physicist of all time, Albert Einstein, is now available on your iPhone for $9.99. But while it won't make you a genius, the app makes his brain more easily accessible to teachers, students, scientists or anyone else who might want to have a look at his brain.

A medical museum in Chicago obtained funding to scan and digitize the 350 brain fragments and slides taken of Einstein's brain after his death in 1955. The app will give widespread access to anyone who wants to see his brain -- and allow them to do so as if they were viewing it under a microscope.

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"I can't wait to find out what they'll discover," Steve Landers, a consultant for the National Museum of Health and Medicine Chicago who designed the app, told the Associated Press. "I'd like to think Einstein would have been excited."

After Einstein's death, a pathologist named Thomas Harvey performed an autopsy and removed Einstein's brain in an effort to better understand what made the physicist so great. He discovered that Einstein's parietal lobe, which is important to the understanding of math and language, was 15 percent wider than normal.

Although the app will give people a closer look at his brain, it's difficult for scientists to figure out where each slide is from.

"They didn't have MRI," Jacopo Annese, a researcher with the Brain Observatory at the University of California, San Diego, told the Associated Press. "We don't have a three-dimensional model of the brain of Einstein, so we don't know where the samples were taken from."

Some people have questioned whether Einstein would have wanted the app to cost $9.99.

"There's been a lot of debate over what Einstein's intentions were," museum board member Jim Paglia said. "We know he didn't want a circus made of his remains. But he understood the value to research and science to study his brain, and we think we've addressed that in a respectful manner." 

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