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Out of mind

The man who has Einstein's brain

By Aarathi Prasad   April 2002

The name triggers a cascade of impressions. Einstein: the shock-haired and sockless genius, avuncular symbol of pure intellect, head in a whirlwind of equations and galaxies. Scientist, sage, ambiguous pacifist, lousy husband, negligent father and now, what’s left of him, fragments of brain in a jar.

Not long after Einstein’s death, in 1955, Roland Barthes called his brain a mythical object, a paradoxical conflation of man, magic and machine. Nearly 50 years on, the myth remains potent. To look at any brain is to confront a deep mystery. The brain can’t be the theatre of consciousness-it’s a solid object -and…

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