Thursday, November 22, 2012

SIZE AND SIGHS

Albert Einstein has been on my brain lately, and not just because I'm planning on getting an Einstein tattoo, or because I went dressed as him for Halloween.

It's his brain on my brain — and how size doesn't matter when it comes to what's between your ears.

Einstein's brain was no bigger than yours, or mine. It was, in fact, a tad smaller than most. But it was freaky weird in the prefrontal cortex, according to people who've studied newly discovered photos of it.

After AE's death in 1955, his brain was removed and photographed by the pathologist who scooped it out. He then sliced it into 240 blocks for analysis.

The newly discovered photos have led to a new study, "The Cerebral Cortex of Albert Einstein: A Description and Preliminary Analysis of Unpublished Photographs." Not your typical nighttime reading, but the work of Florida State University evolutionary anthropologist Dean Falk can be summed up in this sentence:
"Although the overall size and asymmetrical shape of Einstein's brain were normal, the prefrontal, somatosensory, primary motor, parietal, temporal and occipital cortices were extraordinary."
That freaky prefrontal cortex probably gave Einstein the ability to imagine things that most humans can't grasp. What's not known is it he started with an abnormal cortex — or if his penchant for imagining and focusing led to physical changes upstairs.

Chicken or egg. That's where we're stuck, of course. No one doubts Einstein was a freaky dude; he loved the ladies, and they also loved him (I'd like to think his wild hair and crazy smarts more than made up for his average looks). He steered clear of the meat. He was a dreamer. If he lived in this era I suspect he would dig Passion Pit.

I'm no Einstein, but I'm no Lennie Small. Most of all, I'm just tired of thinking. I've done too much of it this week. Thanksgiving marks an unpleasant anniversary for me; it was good that I worked the holiday, and worked it hard. Now I'm ready to unplug and frolic. Sadly, there will be no opportunity to do so this weekend. So instead I sigh and tell myself that even if I can't come and play, someday everything will be okay.

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