Many advancements have been made in our world through the studies of science. Still, sometimes, scientists take their study of science just a little bit too far, in the name of science. There isn’t a person in the world who hasn’t heard of Albert Einstein. He was not only the iconic, but common to geniuses, Einstein was also eccentric. Nevertheless, he was a brilliant scientist, mathematician, and one of the most intelligent people in history. Because of his brilliance, Einstein also knew that upon his death, there would undoubtedly be some crazy scientist who would want to study his brain. I can’t imagine knowing that my brain would be in demand, and in fact might be stolen after I had died. That seems totally insane to me, but for Einstein, it was a very real possibility. Knowing that, Einstein left detailed instructions to cremate his body and not to allow any brain examinations.

As sometimes happens, even when a detailed and legal will is written, there are those who do not necessarily think that it needs to be followed. I think that is just heinous!! When Einstein died in 1955, a scientist named Thomas Stoltz Harvey conducted the autopsy. This man completely disregarded the will that was written by Albert Einstein, and despite the family not granting permission, he stole Einstein’s brain and took it to the University of Philadelphia to study it. When they found out about the theft, Einstein’s family decided to give permission to Harvey to go ahead and study Einstein’s brain, as long as he published the finding in a scientific magazine. At that point they had few other options. Still, I believe it was a criminal act, and Harvey should have been punished to the fullest extent of the law.

After, Harvey stole Einstein’s brain, “it was preserved, photographed, dissected, and even mailed to other scientists in hopes that studying it might uncover the source of his genius. Over decades, several interesting features of his brain have been discovered, including more extensive connections between the two hemispheres of his brain, a lighter than average weight, and an enlarged lateral sulcus. The part of his brain dedicated to mathematical and spatial thought, the inferior parietal lobe, was larger than average as well.” These days, you can view his brain (now with permission from his family)…or what is left of it after the mutilation it was subjected to, in the permanent exhibitions of the Mütter Museum in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

I don’t think “in the name of science” should be a license to steal something that belongs to someone else. Their body parts, whether needed for a transplant or for scientific study, should not be allowed. If a person wanted their body donated for science or transplant, they would have stated as much. I understand a family allowing a transplant if no specific instructions were given, but when specific instructions were given, as in the case of Albert Einstein, how dare someone decide that their desires are more important than the desires of the deceased!! Once the damage was done, and the brain was stolen, Einstein’s family made the decision not to prosecute, but rather to allow the scientific testing. It was a gracious move on their part, and an act of mercy that was most certainly not earned by one Thomas Stoltz Harvey!! I also speculate that it could have opened the door for additional victims…allowed in the name of science. This was just wrong…in so many ways!!

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