Einstein's Brain, Einstein's Glia

NPR’s Jon Hamilton has a nice piece on Einstein’s brain, and what might have made it special. The difference doesn’t seem to have to do with its neurons, but with the other cells of the brain, the glia. I wrote about the glia–what I called the dark matter of the brain–in this Discover column last fall.

0 thoughts on “Einstein's Brain, Einstein's Glia

  1. Sorry, there is nothing special about Einstein’s brain. Einstein spent his entire life promoting spacetime but never realized that a time dimension makes motion impossible by definition. Surprise!

    Google “How Einstein Shot Physics in the Foot” if you’re interested in the future of physics.

  2. “Sorry, there is nothing special about Einstein’s brain. Einstein spent his entire life promoting spacetime but never realized that a time dimension makes motion impossible by definition. Surprise!”

    Oh goody… someone who thinks they understand physics better than the combined minds of all the physicists of the past 100 years……

  3. The work of Einstein, which for some reason (often zealous conservatism or religious zeal or both) is hated by people who don’t understand physics (or much of anything else and at least #1 isn’t an exception to the full implementation of that rule) isn’t really important to the story, nor is his person. Instead this is about interesting developments in neuroscience with respect to the role of glia cells and a very well deserved plugging of this book: http://theotherbrainbook.com/about.php.

  4. Rory, I dare you to prove me wrong. It is a fact that nothing can move in spacetime. This is the reason that Karl Popper called spacetime, “Einstein’s block universe in which nothing happens” (C0njectures and Refutations). Relativists (the ones who know) don’t like to talk much about this little known fact because it’s embarrassing.

  5. Bakker, neither you nor Kent understand relativity. So stop acting like you’re smarter than other people. I just taught both of you something about relativity that you were ignorant of. You should at least be grateful instead of acting superior. Your pomposity is only surpassed by your ignorance.

  6. Taught who what? You spout quackery with your tinfoil hat on and imply there’s a conspiratorial reason why physicists don’t broach the problem you claim exists?

    You claim Einstein’s brain was not special? Coming up with General Relativity is a pretty huge intellectual leap and it has been documented that his brain was not exactly normal. Dismissing those facts as if they are false or completely unimportant to the discussion is silly and stupid.

    Go back to your creationist website or whatever pseudo-scientific cesspool from which you spawned.

  7. I don’t know if we can really determine the specifics of what enable some people to think so radically differently, and still make their ideas productive, at least in terms of brain structure and function alone, but I do admire the efforts to try to puzzle out the parts we can discern.

    re: Savain

    On general principle, I do like the idea of questioning assumptions, such as whether Einstein was really a creative thinker or just became a popular icon of genius. However in this particular case it seems perverse to argue that Einstein was not a creative thinker, regardless of the status or merits of his theories at a given time. It seems to me he developed several remarkable original lines of thought that had specific testable implications, were eventually accepted by the majority of experts in his own field, and remain largely counter-intuitive. What would be a better way of expressing genius?

    I think I have to conclude that universal acceptance or appreciation of an idea is not a necessary criterion for creative genius, and may even be impossible. If we set the bar that high, the concept of creative genius would become meaningless.

    I can relate to the annoyance that people often have over the fuss we make over “icons” of genius. They are at heart people with original ideas that managed to promote them well. Maybe we make too much of a fuss over them. But if we do care about human exceptionality, then I think Einstein is as good a case study as any for original productive thinking.

  8. hey, I’m a big fan of Einstein, so whatever part of his body, even a single strand of his hair is considered special..

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