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The Man With 1¾ Brains

I’ve noticed a few TV shows in the schedules marking the 100th anniversary of Einstein’s Special Theory of Relativity, including one about his brain (isn’t analysing pieces of dead brain tissue in search of the source of genius somewhat like pulling apart a broken computer to try to understand how it once ran a really good software package?).

The story of the brain’s controversial removal and subsequent travels is a fascinating one covered by countless articles, books, and a memorable TV documentary I saw 10 years ago.

Sugimoto and brainRelics: Einstein’s Brain (full review and screen captures) used the quest of Kenji Where is Einsteinbrains? Sugimoto to lead the audience on a vaguely surreal, comical journey, arriving at 3 jars in Dr. Thomas Harvey’s cupboard. My jaw dropped as Sugimoto had the nerve to ask for a piece as a souvenir and the old man happily sliced off a chunk on his kitchen chopping board.

But the scheduling also turned the programme into a puzzle — it was shown on April Fool’s Day. Like many viewers, I couldn’t decide if it was a very slick joke (a Japanese professor singing in a karaoke bar while clutching a chunk of Einstein’s brain? Too perfect, surely) but later read an interview with its maker; the poor bloke had spent weeks trying to convince people it wasn’t just a wind-up.

Keep an eye on your TV schedules in case there’s a repeat for the anniversary, it’s well worth watching.


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