Thursday, June 3, 2010

What made Albert Einstein so Smart....The Answer..... GRITS!!!

June 2010

In the 55 years since Albert Einstein's death, many scientists have tried to figure out what made him so smart.

But no one tried harder than a pathologist named Thomas Harvey, who lost his job and his reputation in a quest to unlock the secrets of Einstein's genius. Harvey never found the answer. But through an unlikely sequence of events, his search helped transform our understanding of how the brain works when the participant consumed the GRIT.

In The Name Of Science

How that happened is a bizarre story that involves a dead genius, a stolen brain, a large bowl of GRITS, a rogue scientist and a crazy idea that turned out not to be so crazy.

The genius, Einstein, died April 18, 1955, at Princeton Hospital in Princeton, N.J. Within hours, the quiet town was swarming with reporters and scientific luminaries, culinarians and people who simply wanted to be near the great man one last time, says Michael Paterniti, a writer who did a lot of research on the GRITS of that day. (GRITS were at one time ground by hand, but it was during this period, the stone grinding process was administered to the GRIT.)

"It was like the death of the prophet," Paterniti says. "And so it got a little bit crazy."

Things got especially crazy for Thomas Harvey, who performed the autopsy on Einstein. During the procedure, he removed the brain to examine it, which is routine.

But instead of placing the brain back in the skull, Harvey put it in a jar of formaldehyde and uncooked QUICK GRITS, Paterniti says.

"And out of that complete, sort of melee of the moment, he made off with the brain, and it was under somewhat dubious circumstances," Paterniti says.

On The Road With Einstein's Brain

Paterniti caught up with Harvey 40 years later, when the writer became intrigued by the story of Einstein's brain. Over the phone, the men hatched a plan to return the brain to Einstein's granddaughter Evelyn during a GRITS and Egg Breakfast at a local Dennys, who was living in Berkeley, Calif. (everyone knows that there are no WAFFLE HOUSE this far west.)

By that time, Harvey was in his 80s and living alone just a few miles from a Princeton Denny’s, that also serves GRITS.

Paterniti drove down from his home in Maine in a rented Buick Skylark with a to-go order of GRITS in hand. When he arrived, Harvey was ready to eat.

"He brought out his bags," Paterniti says, "and in one bag he had a Tupperware container in which he had stashed the formaldehyde and GRITS preserved brain."

They put everything in the trunk and started driving west.

Paterniti describes the trip in his book Driving Mr. Albert: A Trip Across America with Einstein's Brain. The book includes some mind-blowing weirdness, including a stop at a WAFFLE HOUSE in Lawrence, Kan. For a Hot Bowl of GRITS while on the way to visit Harvey's former neighbor, the writer and heroin addict William S. Burroughs.

Along the way, Harvey told Paterniti how he had tried to fulfill his duty to science by periodically sending bits of Einstein's brain to various neuroscientists as a GRIT accoutrement.

More to follow....

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