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Science

Newly Released Einstein Brain Photos Hint At the Anatomy of Genius 130

Posted by timothy
from the more-loops-more-whorls dept.
scibri writes "Photographs of Einstein's brain taken shortly after his death, but never before analysed in detail, have now revealed that it had several unusual features, providing tantalizing clues about the neural basis of his extraordinary mental abilities. The most striking observation was 'the complexity and pattern of convolutions on certain parts of Einstein's cerebral cortex,' especially in the prefrontal cortex, and also parietal lobes and visual cortex. The prefrontal cortex is important for the kind of abstract thinking that Einstein would have needed for his famous thought experiments on the nature of space and time, such as imagining riding alongside a beam of light. The unusually complex pattern of convolutions there probably gave the region a larger-than-normal surface area, which may have contributed to his remarkable abilities."
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Newly Released Einstein Brain Photos Hint At the Anatomy of Genius

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  • by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Saturday November 17, 2012 @02:39PM (#42013827) Homepage Journal

    Studying is brain is being used to define traits that make humans smart.
    How is that anything short of deification?

    No, it's the opposite of that. We're trying to figure out why he could make leaps others couldn't... there's nothing mystical about it. If we had other similarly interesting brains we'd study them too.

  • by muon-catalyzed (2483394) on Saturday November 17, 2012 @03:03PM (#42014005)
    cosmological constant which he didn't abandon
    Maybe this is because Einstein studied equations, he needed that constant so the model would hold mathematically, his discoveries might have been simply observations he saw in those formulas, you can move and swap variables left right in the energy equations to get exciting and unexpected relationships that involve time, mass velocity and energy.
  • by Black Parrot (19622) on Saturday November 17, 2012 @03:25PM (#42014171)

    Might also explain his obstanance regarding the cosmological constant which he didn't abandon until observing red shif. Might not. I'm uncertain...

    Keep in mind that when he introduced the cosmological constant everyone still thought that our galaxy was the only thing in the universe. Hubble figured out that that was wrong about a decade later (and half a decade before noting the correlation between red shift and distance).

  • Statistical fallacy (Score:3, Interesting)

    by paiute (550198) on Saturday November 17, 2012 @04:05PM (#42014465)
    I don't remember the exact details, but I recall that if you define say 20 parameters for measuring an object, there is a high probability that one of the parameters will be several sigma removed from the mean. So if you take a brain you already know is Einstein's, you can eventually find a property of that brain which is far from average. Does that mean he was a genius because of that property? Probably not.
  • by girlinatrainingbra (2738457) on Saturday November 17, 2012 @08:27PM (#42016195)

    Compare Windows 8 running on an ARM processor tablet to MacOS 8 running on a Powerbook G3 laptop by comparing their visual display of the operating system. Now try to compare a transmission-electron microscope image of the ARM chip vs the PowerPC G3 chip.

    Hell, to equalize things a bit, compare Basilisk running on an AMDx64 chip running a Linux OS vs Basilisk running on an Intel Core i7 with Windows OS (pick your flavor) vs MacOS 7 running on a 68040-bare-hardware Mac IIci. Now run the same program on the emulated MacOS. What does looking at the hardware traces and the PNP-transistors vs NPN-transistors vs. the amount of area used for level I vs level II cache tell you?

    Hells bells, now run Linux debian on three chips: AMD, Intel, ARM, get into a terminal and watch what it does. Does the underlying hardware matter as much as what is running on it?

    Sometimes, looking at the bare metal will tell you nothing at all about what the system does or is capable of when it is "alive" with electrons running through it and with a particular program in its memory.

    I bet the brain is like that. Looking at the specific brain might tell you very little of the "mind" that ran on it when the neurons' chemical and electrical activities created the physiological system that was Einstein's mind.
    :>)
      That is what makes this analysis like phrenology:
      - conflating the mind with the brain;
      - conflating the body with the person that lived in it / inhabited it;
      - conflating the running simulation for the architecture and hardware upon which the simulation is running;
      - conflating the hardware with the running software program; ;
        - conflating the container for the thing contained ::
      Metonymy

We will have solar energy as soon as the utility companies solve one technical problem -- how to run a sunbeam through a meter.

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