May 13, 2016
On April 17, 1955, the greatest scientist of his generation checked himself into Princeton Hospital due to chest pains. By early the next morning, Albert Einstein had died from an abdominal aortic aneurysm. Dr. Thomas Stolz Harvey was the pathologist on call during the early morning hours of the 18th and was the doctor assigned to attend to Dr. Einstein. Seven hours after the scientist’s death at 1 is, Harvey began the autopsy he claimed he was given permission to do. After determining the cause of death, Harvey went about removing, measuring, and weighing Einstein’s brain. Harvey later said that he “knew we had permission to do an autopsy, and I assumed that we were going to study the brain.” To this day, no paperwork nor permission prior to the autopsy has ever been found. For decades, Harvey kept the brain in a glass jar, sometimes in a cider box under a beer cooler. Now, the Mütter Museum is one of only two places in the world where you can see pieces of Albert Einstein’s brain. Brain sections, 20 microns thick and stained with cresyl violet, are preserved in glass slides on display in the main Museum Gallery.