What’s with the obsession over Einstein’s brain?
Francis Sedgemore, Wednesday 28 March 2012 at 13:13 UTC
Radio, television, newspapers – in Britain there is currently no end of stories about Albert Einstein’s brain, and what we can learn about the physicist’s genius from prodding and poking at this mass of artificially preserved grey matter. There is a media obsession with Einstein’s brain, and one has to assume that there is some popular appeal in it too.
Why? Einstein was a great physicist, but his genius was no more than that of many scientists, artists and other accomplished individuals. Einstein himself was a slow starter whose school reports were pretty dismal, forecasting the idler he was to become in adult life.
“He will never amount to anything.”
Maybe those neurologists interested in the origins of genius should focus on the brains of idlers and loafers in general. Here’s my hypothesis, for what little it’s worth: Genius is an exceptional creative faculty aided by the capacity to think clearly and conceptually, either free of worldly concerns, or with the ability to put them to one side.
Einstein was a very intelligent man, but he was no mathematical prodigy. His skill in mathematics was acquired through grinding study at his polytechnic university, and later while pretending to work in the Basel patent office. Einstein acquired his mathematical skills through training, and applied them along with his creative potential to solve a number of physics problems ranging from the everyday to the cosmological.
We owe much to Albert Einstein, but in the end he vas just zis guy.