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Science

iPad App Offers Detailed Images of Einstein's Brain 66

Posted by samzenpus
from the turn-the-slice dept.
puddingebola writes in with news of a new app that might be of interest to those studying Einstein's brain, or just looking for something neat for Halloween. "Albert Einstein's brain, that revolutionized physics, can now be downloaded as an iPad app for USD 9.99. The exclusive application, which has been just launched, promises to make detailed images of Einstein's brain more accessible to scientists than ever before. The funding to scan and digitize nearly 350 fragile and priceless slides made from slices of Einstein's brain after his death in 1955 were given to a medical museum under development in Chicago, website 'Independent.ie' reported. The application will allow researchers and novices to peer into the eccentric Nobel winner's brain as if they were looking through a microscope. '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, was quoted as saying by 'Press Association.'"
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iPad App Offers Detailed Images of Einstein's Brain

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 26, 2012 @07:33PM (#41471799)

    So this is an advert for a $9.99 iPad app?

    I don't get it.

    • Why do they have to physically slice up Einstein brain?

      We have PET scan, we have MRI, we have the technology to do virtual 3D slicing.

      Why can't they give us the MRI or PET scan image of Einstein's brain instead?

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Because the slices of his brain were made soon after his death in 1955.

      • They can't because they already cut it up into little pieces.
      • because PET and MRI didn't exist in 1955?

      • by c0lo (1497653)

        We have PET scan, we have MRI, we have the technology to do virtual 3D slicing.

        Exactly! I just can't wait for the article titled "Neural correlates of perspective taking in the post-mortem Einstein's brain" [prefrontal.org]

        (this is to say: what the hell is one expected to find in a brain dead for more than half a century?!)

        • (this is to say: what the hell is one expected to find in a brain dead for more than half a century?!)

          Something different to other "non-genius" brains that have been dead and preserved for a similar length of time. Such expectations may or may not turn out to be laughable but the original aim was not about expectations, it was all about data preservation.

      • They had none of these when the images were made.

      • PET requires a radiotracer that is impossible to load into dead fixed tissue (by fixed I mean that it has been bathed into a fixative solution for long-term preservation). MRI is possible in dead tissue but does not offer the resolution that can be achieved by more classical optical methods, you won't see individual cells or anything smaller than that. The best you can do is probably to distinguish between macroscopic structures although I am not a specialist of this technique. Slices are the best solution
        • There wasn't really much point in replying to the parent post. The guy clearly doesn't understand PET or MR, or imaging in general for that matter. Nice summary. In conclusion, optical methods offer better resolution and specificity than tomographic methods. Also, Einstein rules.
  • $9.99? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Missing.Matter (1845576) on Wednesday September 26, 2012 @07:36PM (#41471827)
    It's pretty disgusting that you can monetize images of someone's brain. I wonder how Einstein would feel about that.
    • Re:$9.99? (Score:5, Funny)

      by CSMoran (1577071) on Wednesday September 26, 2012 @07:49PM (#41472031) Journal
      It's all relative.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      What's more, the brain was supposed to be kept with the body per Einstein's wishes, and instead it was stolen and studied. I admit that would have been a shame to lose that information, but it was against the man's wishes.

    • by Triklyn (2455072)

      My outrage is mitigated by how poorly written the story is. I can't even tell if they're trying to make a profit, or trying to scrounge up funds to digitize the slides. Also, how incredibly pointless. We've got geniuses, living ones, dead ones, dying ones.. Ones we can run modern tests on after obtain modern informed consents. But, no, let's jump headfirst into dubious moral territory for an n of 1. Idiots

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Einstein is dead, he doesn't give a shit.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      They tried to brainscan Steve Jobs, but he's ego would no fit any MRI...

    • by causality (777677)

      It's pretty disgusting that you can monetize images of someone's brain. I wonder how Einstein would feel about that.

      Well, he DID work at the patent office...

      • It's pretty disgusting that you can monetize images of someone's brain. I wonder how Einstein would feel about that.

        Well, he DID work at the patent office...

        Yes, that's where he realized that everything is relative. If something to be patented was already known before, you just change the frame of reference to change the temporal order of events. :-)

  • by Tastecicles (1153671) on Wednesday September 26, 2012 @07:37PM (#41471839)

    ...then I wouldn't rely on it too much.

  • by mfwitten (1906728) on Wednesday September 26, 2012 @07:46PM (#41471979)

    Not even in the secular sector can people avoid their bizarre attraction to the macabre relics of mythically aggrandized heros.

  • by cosm (1072588) <thecosm3 AT gmail DOT com> on Wednesday September 26, 2012 @07:47PM (#41471985)

    The application will allow researchers and novices to peer into the eccentric Nobel winner's brain as if they were looking through a microscope.

    This summary's stated premise is so incredibly fucking retarded. Why not just post the slides online or release high-res formats, rather than charge a $9.99 premium for an application that displays images on a sub par interface for image manipulation and analysis? (rhetorical question) Aside from the press release FUD, can any researcher honestly tell me that the ability to view historical slides on an ipad is in anyway superior to the thousands of other mechanisms of viewing pictures of things?

    There is no way in hell any tablet is going to provide a superior interface in terms of technology employed for viewing data of this sort for in-depth analysis.

    As with much of the tablet market these days...gimmick after gimmick after gimmick. This. [wikipedia.org]

    • by Nerdfest (867930)

      iPad users will pay for it. The developers like that part ... the rest is not so important.

  • by rolfwind (528248) on Wednesday September 26, 2012 @07:52PM (#41472063)

    I wonder how true that is. Not that this is his brain nor that he revolutionized physics. I just wonder if THIS is the brain that did it.

    You see, London has a strenuous test for Taxi drivers. Their streets are not like New York, where many are numbered in sequential order and relatively easy to learn. London has 25,000 roads, with no real rhyme or reason, and perspective taxi drivers - to get licensed - needs to memorize them and takes several years. The test is called the Knowlege, iirc, and it takes an average of a dozen attempt to pass:
    http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/notrocketscience/2011/12/08/acquiring-the-knowledge-changes-the-brains-of-london-cab-drivers/ [discovermagazine.com]

    The hippocampus of these drivers is substantially larger and stay so throughout their working life. But it shrinks back down after retirement:
    http://www.wellcome.ac.uk/About-us/75th-anniversary/WTVM052023.htm [wellcome.ac.uk]

    This is Einsteins brain after, what, 40 some years after his best achievement? Is it the same brain anymore? Wouldn't it be like poking at the Schwarzenegger's remains whenever he dies to see what makes a bodybuilder at his peak? Just something to ponder.

    • by kinnell (607819) on Thursday September 27, 2012 @07:09AM (#41476069)
      I also find the idea that there was something unique about Einstein's brain that made him a genius. IMHO what set him apart wasn't his academic brilliance, which was nothing special going by his school performance, it was his ability to think up daft questions like "if I were riding a light beam and shone a torch in front of me, how fast would the light from the torch travel?".
  • by viperidaenz (2515578) on Wednesday September 26, 2012 @07:52PM (#41472077)
    Nothing. It's some pictures of a cut up brain. Although LG/Samsung did a pretty good job in making that Retina screen, I don't think there will be enough resolution in the scans to show the synaptic connections between Einsteins neurons.
  • by SternisheFan (2529412) on Wednesday September 26, 2012 @08:25PM (#41472429)
    From Wiki:

    " Einstein's brain was preserved after his death in 1955, but this fact was not revealed until 1986. Albert Einstein's brain has often been a subject of research and speculation. It was removed within seven and a half hours of his death. The brain has attracted attention because of Einstein's reputation for being one of the foremost geniuses of the 20th century, and apparent regularities or irregularities in the brain have been used to support various ideas about correlations in neuroanatomy with general or mathematical intelligence. Scientific studies have suggested that regions involved in speech and language are smaller, while regions involved with numerical and spatial processing are larger. Other studies have suggested an increased number of Glial cells in Einstein's brain. [1]"

    http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Albert_Einstein's_brain [wikipedia.org]

  • Has anyone tried to recover DNA from the preserved brain tissue? According to this article [howstuffworks.com] it was preserved in celloidin.

  • Wow, on /. only 48 hours after is was everywhere else.. maybe /. isn't over the hill yet. /sigh

  • Apropos... (Score:4, Informative)

    by bmo (77928) on Wednesday September 26, 2012 @08:48PM (#41472635)

    This American Life

    http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/167/memo-to-the-people-of-the-future?act=3 [thisamericanlife.org]

    What happened to Einstein's brain after he died.

    --
    BMO

  • Idolatry is a manifestation of laziness. We believe that Einstein had some special brain, as an excuse for not exercising ours. A person has extraordinary achievements. The easiest thing for others, is to proclaim him/her a ``genius'' and take it easy.
    • While what you say could be true in some circumstances, it seems pretty obvious that not everyone has the same abilities. Idolizing an ability in others that you yourself do not possess, seems to be something other than laziness.

  • Isn't this a little like doing a CAT scan on a smartphone to figure out why the icons look so cute?
  • Information being published for a specific platform only is a deplorable development. In the PC era this would have been published as PDF and everyone could read it. These days, the desire to monetize information prompts publishers to package information as an application, excluding everyone who doesn't have the targeted platform.

    This was bad enough when people repackaged a website as an app: one could just access the website instead. But books shouldn't be platform-specific.

"There is nothing new under the sun, but there are lots of old things we don't know yet." -Ambrose Bierce

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