The Man Who Stole Einstein's Brain (2023) Movie Script

- Tom harvey has been very much
An enigmatic,
mysterious character.
- He was a little bit secretive
About having einstein's brain
in his apartment.
- I mean, he was no hero,
but I don't think
He did anything with
evil intentions.
- Bottom line, he was to protect
that brain, and he did.
- Tom harvey turned out
to be the man who really
Set in motion the immortal
afterlife of einstein's brain.
(mysterious music)
(mysterious music)
- Tom harvey is a very
mysterious fellow,
And his motivations
are not understood.
There was high expectations
in tom's family
For high achievement,
in professional terms.
He had a great-grandfather
that was a doctor
And a grandfather
who was a judge.
It was sort of a given
that he would, you know,
Do something like that,
doctoring or lawyering,
And so he went to yale
for medical school,
And he had always hoped
to be a pediatrician.
(birds chirping)
- Einstein in 1905, he's
a patent clerk, second class,
And he rips off five
of these earth-shattering,
paradigmatic articles.
You know, the annus mirabilis
Where you're finding out
e equals mc squared,
And special relativity. I mean,
for a patent clerk in bern,
Just rattling off these papers.
And then, ten years later,
learning enough mathematics
That he could come up with the
theory of general relativity.
What was going on
in this guy's head
That he could think
of stuff like that?
- Tom harvey was partly through
medical school at yale
And he developed tuberculosis,
And in those days,
to treat tuberculosis,
They thought fresh air
was the cure,
So they had him set up
at the gaylord sanatorium.
(man coughing)
Which was just this place
where young people were living
All year-round,
no matter the temperature,
And it could get cold.
And he described shivering
Out there and really having
a renegotiation
With religion during that time.
And it also turned out
to be where he met
His first wife, elouise,
And she was a nursing student.
When they both recovered, they
got married shortly after that.
- Einstein came up with the
general theory of relativity,
But it was based on many
scientists before him
Who had come up
with the building blocks
For the theory of relativity.
And then, like a spark
of lightning,
He finished the equation
and he made it famous,
And boom, he's on the cover
of the new york times.
You know, he's time magazine's
person of the century.
(boar horn honking)
(camera shutter clicking)
- When he comes
to the united states
And he's mobbed at new york
Where there was a huge
jewish population,
You know, they were yelling out
to him like he was the messiah.
He was a great jew.
And he thought this was
totally ridiculous.
After the seizure of power
by hitler in January 1933,
He was removed from his position
At the prussian academy
of sciences.
So einstein moved
to the united states.
He said, "I'm never returning."
(indistinct chatter)
- the war broke out,
And this was difficult for tom
because he was a quaker.
And quakers are pacifists.
So instead of fighting
on the battlefield,
He signed up to work
in an army pathology lab.
In very quick succession,
elouise and tom had three sons.
(baby crying)
by the time the war was over,
It was pretty clear to tom
that he could go back
And be a resident and try
to become a pediatrician,
But it would be pretty hard
to house and feed the family
On a resident's salary.
Whereas if he went
into pathology,
Which he sort of already
had this grounding in
during the war,
He could get paid fairly well.
(woman): Yeah.
- Princeton had its virtues.
My father, he was a pathologist.
It was an unusual kind of
upbringing, in that regard,
Surrounded by organs and,
you know, bits and pieces
Of humanity.
And I guess one of the most
dramatic recollections
I have of him when I was tiny,
He took me to watch him
do an autopsy.
I didn't quite know
what to think about that
For a long time, but you know,
He seemed so calm
about the whole process
That I just tried
to absorb it and enjoy it.
(man): At princeton university
lives new jersey's
Most famous foreign-born
Professor albert einstein.
- Albert einstein came
to princeton in '33.
Only good stories.
The stories of, you know,
Helping kids with their
homework, they're legit.
They've actually followed up
some of those.
Even though he had
this statement about,
"it's a funny little town
with gods on stilts,"
But... I think
he liked the town.
(dog barking)
- Oh, well, the basement
was interesting.
(eerie music)
It was an anatomical museum
of a sort, you know,
With organs and...
Organs that I couldn't identify.
You know, some of them
were clearly brains.
It was very strange, and
it was a real source of wonder
To friends that we would
bring over and take downstairs.
We should've charged money.
I could've been a very...
...Very well-off child.
- Einstein was an interesting
man of contradictions.
On the one hand,
he really didn't care
What people thought about him.
He would walk around princeton
In his pyjamas.
He had dishevelled hair,
he didn't wear socks.
He was a man of very few
social graces.
And so, he really didn't care
what people thought about him.
And I think that's what made him
so popular with people.
It was kind of this, you know,
doing the opposite
Is what made him popular.
Being authentic is what
made him popular.
- Tom harvey was always
interested in making
Some kind of meaningful
contribution to science
and society.
You know, when the boys
were young, he would team up
With this cast of characters
to conduct these experiments
In his yard and his garage.
- An armenian doctor that had
lost his laboratory,
He was looking
for cures to cancer.
He wanted to use our garage
and my father said sure.
And it turned out he was using
chickens for his lab subjects.
It was quite peculiar
for a while.
- The holy grail for einstein
was the theory of everything.
The idea of saying, can you
reconcile quantum mechanics,
Electromagnetism with gravity,
A theory that explains
And to his dying day,
And that's not an expression
I use loosely.
When he died on April 18th, '55,
There were five or six pages
of handwritten manuscript
Where he was still
trying to come up
With a mathematical synthesis
of the theory of everything.
(man): Doctor albert einstein
came to america with his wife
To escape nazi persecution.
His mathematical wizardry
led to the atomic age.
He received highest honors,
But lived quietly at princeton,
new jersey.
There, death came to albert
einstein. He was 76.
- So, einstein died
at princeton hospital
At about one o'clock in the
morning on April 18th, 1955,
And somewhere
in the middle of that night
between that and dawn,
A call came to tom harvey's
house from the hospital,
And it was einstein's doctor,
guy dean,
And he said basically, "tom,
you should get over here."
"einstein died last night,
And we'd like you
to do the autopsy.
You should come in first thing
and get to it."
(dishes clinking)
- Well, I remember sitting
around the kitchen table
And the subject came up.
And, of course, I had no idea
what really, you know,
It portended in terms of what
was going to happen
In terms of my father's career.
(bicycle bell ringing)
- Tom harvey got ready for work
that morning and walked,
As he often did, from
his home on jefferson street
To the hospital.
- At that point, I think there
was a realization on his part
That all of his ambitions,
which, on many levels,
Had been thwarted
for his career,
Were now leading him
to this moment.
He was going to be
the pathologist, the one,
As the chief pathologist
of princeton hospital,
To perform the autopsy
on albert einstein,
The genius of the modern age.
- He does the autopsy.
In the 50s, they did that,
And he would've set to work.
- And then he did something
that was off the script,
And he basically takes a saw
to remove the skull,
Reaches in, grabs the brain...
- When I asked him
in the autopsy suite
Why he decided to take
albert einstein's brain,
He said, quite unequivocally,
You know, that this was
the brain of a genius,
And he would've felt ashamed
if he left it.
(jazzy music)
This was the 50s, you know,
a high time for science.
You know, color televisions
and antibiotics
And dna structure
had just been discovered.
There was a whole lot of hubris
around science at that time.
Could we find the source
of genius? Of course we can!
We just have to look
at albert einstein's brain.
So for tom, in that moment,
This brain represents
all of his ambitions
To make a meaningful
contribution to science.
The president of the hospital
at that time wasn't a doctor
But a really ambitious
businessman by the name
of jack kaufmann,
And he was really keen that,
You know, not only would they
do the einstein autopsy,
But that princeton hospital
would hold on to that brain.
And he was happy that tom harvey
then went out after the autopsy
And announced this to the press,
'cause it put them on the map.
- I don't know how the media
found out about it,
But there's a photograph
of him, there's sort of
wrought iron veranda.
It's on the ground level of
the princeton medical center,
And he's talking
to the reporters.
- And the problem came
the next day
When einstein's family reads
about it in the new york times
That einstein's brain
did not get cremated
with the rest of him.
That's when things go sideways.
- I mean, I understand that
members of einstein's family
Were very concerned
about what had happened
And whether or not my father
should have the brain,
And I don't know all the factors
in his decision,
But I trusted my father
and his judgement.
- Somehow, harvey had a
conversation with otto nathan,
Fellow migr
and einstein's executor,
And hans albert, his son,
And convinced them that this
is a unique specimen.
You know, a genius for the ages,
and a man of science.
And I'm told his son
went for it,
And then pretty much
the executor, otto nathan,
had to go along with it.
He said, "okay, go ahead
and study it."
- Dear dr. Harvey...
- And tom makes this promise,
This oath which really
would outlast every other
he made in his life,
Which was that he would save
the brain for scientific study
And that it would only be used
for scientific research,
And that anything about it,
any publicity about it
Would only appear in scientific
or medical journals.
That it would not become
the object of layperson's
Or to quote einstein,
who really didn't want people
To come and worship
at his bones.
So, that was tom harvey's
(soft music)
- This was a violation
of einstein the man,
Einstein the body
in such a visceral way,
And so I find it hard
to believe that anyone would say
Thomas harvey was doing
the right thing.
Who was he to make that call?
You know, nowadays, hopefully,
I would hope that morgues
Are run in a better fashion,
That people can't steal
the brain.
- The rest of einstein
was cremated.
That's not in the will,
but he was cremated.
No one knows
where his ashes are.
Some people feel
they were scattered near
the crematorium in ewing.
Other people felt that they
scattered them on lake carnegie,
Where einstein liked to sail
a bit, but no one really knows.
Harvey kept the brain.
- People called it the heist
of the century.
I mean, that was always
one of the crazier aspects
of this story.
I mean, when they were
collecting einstein's papers
And works after his death,
There were armed guards,
like, escorting his work
To the hebrew university
where the archives are,
And yet his brain somehow ended
up going right off the grid!
(soft music)
I think that when tom first took
the brain into his possession,
He was reading constantly
about normal brains
And what they looked like,
and how best to preserve them.
- The first thing was
to preserve the tissue,
One with formaldehyde
put through the great blood
vessels of the brain,
And then you put it in a jar
full of formaldehyde to...
This is double fixation.
This is what you want to do
With specimens to reduce
artefacts so you get the most...
The best slides.
And then once they were
in the plastic stuff
That you put the blocks in,
Then you could put them
in a microtome.
Think of like how
you slice cold cuts,
You know, those
at the grocery store?
Well, you got a fancier one
for that, a very special one
That only a few people
knew how to do it.
- After he had sectioned
the brain into, you know,
240 pieces or so,
And after he had boxes of slides
made of the brain tissue,
He went about distributing
the brain out on a road trip
Along the highway
to different scientists.
(jazzy music)
It was in an effort to try
to get somebody interested
In actually studying the brain.
But everybody was busy,
and tom didn't have any money.
Who was going to study
einstein's brain for free?
As it turned out,
not many people.
I think a lot of the researchers
who were interested
In getting pieces
of the brain from harvey
Were interested,
not simply because they were
Really interested in finding
the source of intelligence,
But because it was
einstein's brain.
They were, in many ways,
seduced by the allure
Of the fame of the man himself,
The proximity to genius.
(calling out)
- Harvey was invited down
To the armed forced institute
of pathology,
Which was kind of just
an incredible aggregation
of experts,
In terms of any type of
pathology, but brain pathology,
They had special experts.
- And chief among them
was the head of neuropathology
For the us army, a fellow
by the name of webb haymaker.
- Haymaker was quite a guy.
He was a chain-smoking
pathologist, wrote a bunch
Of books, he supposedly
looked at mussolini's brain
And robert ley's brain,
who was a nazi criminal.
He was kind of
a hard-bitten guy,
And he was trying to get harvey.
He says, "well, you are going
to leave the brain
With us, dr. Harvey."
And harvey, I think,
probably had anticipated that,
'cause he didn't bring
the brain with him.
- He had never any intention
of turning the brain
Over to the us military,
Which is interesting because
he really thought, on one hand,
It was because he had made
the personal promise
to einstein's family
And they had given him
the permission to keep it,
Not to turn it over
to anyone else,
And also as a pacifist
and knowing that also
einstein was a pacifist,
He didn't want to see the brain
in the hands of the army.
That was another motivating
factor for him to hold on to it.
- I mean, this is a labor of
love. This is off the clock.
This guy's got a full-time job.
"does my patient have kidney
cancer, dr. Harvey?"
And he would deal with that,
but on the weekends,
He would do this.
- He really thought
that if he devoted himself
To einstein's brain in this way
that it would put him in,
At last, the higher
annals of science.
The irony was that after
taking this brain
And making this promise,
His personal life sort of
started to unravel.
After tom harvey took the brain,
He became a bit
of a local celebrity, right?
The rumor was that tom ended up
having an affair
With somebody at the hospital,
a lab technician or a nurse.
And apparently,
this word got out
And tom's wife
heard about it.
She was livid. And so,
she went to jack kaufmann
Who was the president
of the hospital,
The one really happy that they
had einstein's brain,
And she went in
and she told him, "hey!"
Apparently, lost her temper
and said,
"what kind of place
are you running here?
Do you know this is happening?"
- They broke up, they got back
together, they broke up again.
I don't know how many times
That happened, I think it
might've happened a third time,
Which was when my mother
finally gave him a divorce.
- No one really knows
why he quit his position
At princeton medical center.
You know, maybe his marriage
was going south,
He had a number
of relationships in his life,
But he quit the job or...
Did he get pushed a bit because
of the einstein publicity?
No one really knows.
- Was he fired? Did he quit?
He certainly, sometime late
in the 60s, resigned.
And einstein's brain
went with him.
- Well, when he and my mom met
and they were just dating,
My earliest literal memory
was calling him uncle tom.
But we started calling him
"dad" immediately.
He is the only dad
I've ever known.
The only dad I've ever known.
- All I remember is always
knowing that he did
The autopsy on albert einstein.
I knew he was a pathologist,
And I'm sure when I was really
young I'm like, I don't know,
"what's a pathologist?
What's an autopsy?"
- They met in princeton.
I know they met in princeton.
They did so many things
together. They both loved
Sailing, they loved
the outdoors.
They both literally
loved the outdoors.
- Well, my dad was
a little character.
His personality, you know,
Because he was kind of
a quiet man, you know?
And wasn't a loud, boisterous,
flamboyant... But quietly.
Quietly, like, with no words,
mowing the lawn in lederhosen.
You know, just entertaining
his guests with his kilt on.
You know, just quietly doing it,
Not bringing any other attention
than it was already bringing.
- My dad had a pair
of leather lederhosen.
And whenever he had those on,
It was the day we had to be
cleaning the yard.
He mowed the lawn
in his lederhosen
With the socks
and the suspenders
And the little ivory thing
and the whole...
He played the banjo
and he played the accordion.
- He had his office
in the basement
In the very back
left corner,
And you know, one of those big,
wooden desks,
And bookshelves with
loads of books,
And he had the brain there.
(eerie music)
- And I happened to see this jar
with a brain in it.
And I asked what it was,
and he told me,
But we weren't allowed
to talk about it.
We were not allowed
to talk about it.
- Well, yeah, I'm the one
who wanted like,
"can I bring it
into school?"
And you know,
but it was like, "no."
And any time I had a friend
over, "come on, let me show you
Where the brain is!"
And we'd go down the stairs
And into the back room,
and there it is!
(birds chirping)
- In 1975, we moved to kansas.
Now, living in new jersey
and moving to wichita,
Which all we ever heard about
was dodge city,
Cowboys and indians,
and we literally thought,
"we're gonna be the only people
In the state of kansas
with a car."
And I'm not kidding,
that's what we thought.
- And it was hard, because then,
You know, all our real close
friends were in new jersey.
And I don't think it affected
my younger sisters,
They were young. But...
I just know that
that's hard on kids.
And also to pull my mom away
from all her friends and family,
You know, just where we grew up.
- It was different.
It was different.
'cause my parents,
their marriage ended there,
So that was hard. Really hard.
- Every time tom moves,
otto nathan,
Einstein's executor
tracks him down,
And he keeps writing tom
these impatient letters,
Basically begging him
for an update
On what's happening
with the study of his great
friend's brain.
- It's a little bit of,
what I would call,
An asymmetric correspondence,
Because it's overwhelmingly
nathan pleading with harvey
To do something with that brain.
- Dear dr. Harvey...
- Some 23 years past
since einstein's death,
And there was a particular
editor who assigned
A young reporter by the name
of steven levy
To go in search
of einstein's brain,
And this actually would set off
What became
the recurring pattern.
So, somebody in the media
would say,
"hey, whatever happened
to einstein's brain?
We should find out."
- And one day, my editor,
He was a pretty new editor
who would come from new york,
Told me, "I want you to find
einstein's brain."
It was a crazy assignment.
Einstein's brain is missing?
I hadn't heard anything
about that.
(phone ringing)
And my editor told me,
"by the way, I want to use this
For the August cover story."
Which only gave me a few weeks
to find einstein's brain,
Something no one had done
in more than 20 years.
First point of contact was
dr. Otto nathan,
Who was the executor
of the einstein estate.
And he gave me no help.
He was aggressively
not interested
In following up on this.
The new york times article
had said the brain had been
Removed from the body
by dr. Thomas harvey.
And you know, there was no way
to google him back then in 1978,
But there were ways to look
people up, and eventually,
I realized that since
he was a physician, an md,
The american medical association
Might know where he is
or who he was.
(steven): I want you to find
this guy, dr. Thomas harvey...
And I called them up,
their office was in chicago.
And I talked some very nice
woman there into telling me,
You know, the numbers
of any dr. Thomas harvey.
There was a dr. Thomas s.
Harvey, I knew his middle name,
And she said there's one
in wichita, kansas.
I arrived in wichita.
By the time I got there,
there was a torrential rain,
And the taxi cab is driving
and bumping around
And going through giant puddles
the size of bomb craters.
And I arrive
at this medical lab.
And I had been under the
impression that it would be
Some sort of research lab
with state-of-the-art equipment
And people going around
And doing advanced
scientific research,
But it was the kind of lab
you'd go to get a blood test.
And dr. Harvey greeted me
at the door.
I think we both were
a little nervous,
And took me back through the lab
to his office,
Which was sort of a glass
enclosure towards the back
of the building,
And we sat in his office
and began to talk.
He was definitely nervous about
talking about this and feeling,
You know, almost as if there
had been some other ear
In the room that was listening
With a voice saying,
"no, no, no, no,
You shouldn't be
talking about this."
And I'm listening to this
and taking it in.
I'm realizing I'm hearing things
that haven't been said
For over 20 years,
But on the other hand
I'm wondering,
"where's the brain?"
so I keep pressing him on this,
And finally. I get frustrated
and say, "don't you even have
Like a photograph
of einstein's brain?
Anything I could look at?"
'cause I'm thinking
My whole mission
might be going to naught.
He said, "well, I do have some
of the gross matter here."
So, I better describe
what this room was like.
I'm sitting in a chair
and behind me are some
cardboard boxes,
And there's kind of like
a red cooler off to the side.
So he gets up from his desk
without a word
And walks, kind of like cuts
in front of me,
Kind of where the cooler is,
and I'm wondering,
Is einstein's brain
in a beer cooler?!
But no, he keeps walking and
he goes to the cardboard box
Behind me. I look at it
and it has a legend on the box.
"costa cider."
And there's like stuff inside
And he goes up and there's
kind of yellowed masking tape
Around the thing and he said,
"well, this is the cerebellum,
And these are aortic vessels."
And I'm looking at it. It's
definitely brain-like stuff,
And it is einstein's brain.
I'm looking at it right then!
And before I could even
collect myself, he goes
And gets this other jar,
and there's these things,
They look like goldenberg's
peanut chews,
Which are these candies
in the philadelphia area,
maybe about this big.
And he said, "well,
these are the sectioned parts
Of the brain." and each one
was labelled with a number
That described where it was
in his brain.
And there it was!
Einstein's brain!
(ominous music)
So, at first, I was stunned
that it was really there,
My mission was accomplished.
And then I realized that...
Why people were so fascinated
with this, because there it was,
The physical... Source
Of these theories
and discoveries
That literally changed
our world.
You know, changed the way
we perceive the world,
The universe. And there was
sort of a magic to it.
The story was our August cover.
And it caught fire.
This was pre-internet,
but at the time,
Things could get picked up,
You know, in a pony express
kind of way.
And you know, I spent
two days doing one radio
Interview after another.
- And now, ladies and gentlemen
- The apex was, johnny carson
Made a joke about it.
- Now, here's an unusual item,
I hope it doesn't turn you off
Because it's kind of
a scientific item,
But portions of albert
einstein's brain
Have turned up in a laboratory
in wichita, kansas.
Remains were found
in a jar there...
(brief applause)
What really convinced
The scientists
in wichita, kansas,
That it was einstein's brain,
One morning,
they came into the lab,
And they saw the brain checking
the greyhound schedule bus
Leaving wichita.
So they figured it was einstein.
- I was watching
the johnny carson show.
And he made reference to, um...
Einstein's brain
Getting off a greyhound bus.
In wichita, kansas.
And of course, you know,
it was just like...
Oh my gosh,
they followed us here.
- Now, I shared the story
with him,
On the eve of publication.
And I send him
the advance copy as well.
He was okay with the story.
He felt it was fine.
But then, the story came out,
The news hit,
The einstein estate was unhappy,
And there were people camped out
on his lawn wanting interviews.
And his life was changed...
because of that story,
Because the secret
being public.
He wasn't too happy.
And from that moment on,
He was the person who had
einstein's brain.
Even worse, he was the person
who had einstein's brain
Who had a lot of questions
to answer about it.
(typewriter clacking)
- Dear dr. Harvey,
I'm writing you to renew our
acquaintance of almost 27 years,
But also to inquire about your
present intention to describe
And publish your work
on einstein's brain.
- It's like this homework
One of those nightmares
you have.
You have this long-standing,
important assignment
That you haven't completed.
For decades, this poor man
Had not been able to complete
his assignment.
- So, steve levy
writes his article
And it makes a big splash.
And you know, it seemed like
The whole world had forgotten
about einstein's brain.
And science, which is one of
the leading science journals,
In the world, actually,
and based in the united states,
They actually feature a picture
from levy's article
Of the brain in the cider box.
And someone in the lab
of marian diamond at berkeley
Cuts it out and pins it up on
the bulletin board in the lab.
And marian diamond is this,
you know, dynamo maverick,
Brain researcher, at the time,
Who was really
ahead of her time.
She was doing all kinds
of studies proving
That we are born with a brain,
But that the brain can change,
depending on our environment.
She was showing that there was
a kind of brain cell
Called the glial cell,
Which is like a nursemaid
to neurons,
And the more of them you have,
the better your neurons work.
So this is how a brain
could grow.
So she's doing
this kind of work,
And it's in this environment
that she looks over
At her bulletin board
and she sees this picture
From the magazine
Of einstein's brain
in a cider box.
And she think, "hmm, I wonder
how many glial cells he had."
And she thinks,
"okay, how do I get that?"
And this then takes her
onto the rabbit chase
Of finding tom harvey.
(crickets chirping)
(train honking in the distance)
(soft music)
- He always wanted to be
a family doctor.
But he was a pathologist
his whole life.
So here he was in his 70s,
Becoming a family doctor
for the first time.
Everybody called him "doc".
If somebody didn't have money
to be treated,
He treated them anyway.
If they'd bake him a loaf
of bread, and we were even.
He made house calls.
He was "that" person.
He genuinely cares about people.
- When I first met
dr. Tom harvey,
The first week I worked for him,
The telephone rang.
The man on the other line said,
"could I speak to
dr. Thomas harvey?"
And I said, "who's calling,
And he said, "david hartman
from good morning america."
Young girl in her 20s,
I got really excited.
Jumped up,
ran to doctor's office.
He said, "oh, you take care
of it.
And don't tell him anything."
We were busy. We were busy
Taking care of everyday life,
for people.
Keeping them healthy,
Treating emergencies,
making house calls.
I think he was really happy.
He loved what he was doing.
He did other things
in his life:
Working emergency rooms,
To try to support his family
and his lifestyle.
- As somebody who had gone
to medical school,
You know, in the '30s,
And then, had done a general
pathology residency, I mean,
Sure, you understand
what the heart does
And what the kidneys do,
but that's something else
If somebody comes in with
a urinary tract infection.
You haven't spent several years
Learning the ropes
of practicing medicine.
So he did that for a while.
- I guess there was
a complaint against him,
At the time, and he was
in his mid-70s.
And so, this complaint
results in a hearing,
And I think there's
a realization that,
"whoa, this doctor is like
in his mid-70s.
I think you better take your
state licensing exam again."
- He actually had to...
Sit for the boarding exams
somewhere in the midwest.
I don't know, at that point,
what is he? He's in his 80s?
And those exams
are very challenging.
And I think he came close,
But he couldn't get
relicensed for that.
- They said he diagnosed
them incorrectly.
And when...
And when he had to give
his license back...
Oh! The diagnosis was correct!
He did not misdiagnose anybody.
Just conclusions were jumped to.
And because that doctor
didn't agree with the way
He was being treated,
the diagnosis...
Automatically thought
it was wrong.
But it wasn't.
I wasn't there.
I don't remember exactly
what he gave this patient.
But it was the right treatment.
- As the story goes,
That's when otto nathan
writes harvey
And indignant letter saying,
"you've had the brain
for quite some time.
Why are you not publishing?"
So, clearly, the expectation
was harvey should keep the brain
For scholarly study,
And if anything, he was getting
berated for not doing enough.
- Tom harvey's getting a lot
of pressure from otto nathan
In the letters, saying, "hey!
I've seen this article
in new jersey monthly.
I'm really not so happy
That the brain
is in a costa cider box,
And it's being compared
to some kind of candy chews.
And what the heck?!
Like, where's
the study already?"
And so, what happens
is tom's like,
So delighted to hear
from marian diamond
Who's, you know,
this maverick researcher
That he immediately goes
to his jars
And fishes out four pieces
of einstein's brain,
Puts them in a mayonnaise jar
and they arrive at berkeley.
Then, she begins this really,
really tedious study
Of counting the glial cells
einstein had per neuron,
Compared to average brains.
And she concludes that einstein
had more
Of these glial cells, generally,
than other people.
- So we had hypothesized,
if we were dealing
With one of the greatest brains
that's ever lived
That we should find more
glial cells per neuron.
And that's essentially
what we did find.
- In fact, dr. Diamond
found 73% more glial cells
Than average.
- Of course, you know,
she's not got a lot of genius
Brains for comparison,
And she publishes this
in a friend's journal
Because she's wanting
to give her friend a boost,
And it was called
experimental neurology.
So it comes out in the 1980s.
And you know, she's really
hopeful that it will be, um,
You know, something
that will help bring
More attention to her work
and that it would boost
The journal and so on...
And instead, it's met with
some pretty fierce criticism.
And in fact, a lot of people
used her study as an example
Of not good science,
of bad science.
There was one researcher
who even used to post
A slide in his powerpoints
as a kind of joke
To break the ice.
So came the very first
sort of public suggestions
That scientists who were
interested in studying
This brain were more seduced
by the idea of celebrity,
Less by the idea
of doing serious science.
- Some of them were interested
for purely scientific reasons.
And they had valid...
Issues about whether
they could continue with...
A certain line
of research or not.
But still fascinates people...
...On multiple levels, you know.
I don't know.
I guess...
Even if they had
some of the brain,
You know, what can you
ascertain from one sample?
How important could that be?
- When he was in weston,
he was married to rachelle.
That was his third wife.
But he worked almost 24-7.
He would leave the clinic
and go to ers to work.
He worked at the prison,
He just... That was his life,
was to work.
So I imagine it was
a lonely life for her.
I later found out
that they divorced,
After he lost his license.
- When I met tom, he was
working second shift at e & e.
It's kind of inherently
dangerous work.
During the time I worked
at e & e,
I watched a young woman
cut her index finger off.
I was 20 feet away when actually
a very good friend of mine
Used a radial saw and kind of
Sliced down the middle
of his finger this way.
I mean, there...
Yes, there were plenty
Of accidents all the time.
(soft music)
- By the time tom is, you know,
at an age when most people
Would be thinking
about retiring
And putting their feet up
and so on,
He is, you know,
Working flat out
at a plastics factory.
- He was working on the back
of a machine called an extruder.
An extruder is kind of like
a play-doh hair factory.
I don't know if you had one
of those when you were a kid,
But you cram all
the play-doh in here,
And then you use this lever
and you crank down on it
And it comes out over here.
You can make it
into certain shapes.
You can put the star
attachment on
And it comes out
as a cross-sectional star,
Or a tube, or whatever
you wanna do.
That's essentially
what an extruder is.
And so, tom's job was, he was
on the back-end of the thing
Taking off this long extrusion
and cutting it to size.
So for 8 to 10 hours a day,
Tom would pull a part off
the extruder,
Wait for an automatic saw
to cut it roughly,
And then, he would put it
in a jig and use a radial saw,
Cut one in,
put it in the other end,
And cut the other end.
Can you believe that?
Tom was a little bit
of a misfit, initially.
Eventually, tom became
very well liked.
Every month, we would pick
an employee of the month.
And I couldn't even begin
To tell you what month
or what year it was,
But tom was selected
as an employee of the month.
And it was a pretty big deal.
You got a parking spot
Right out in front
of the building
And you got like a plaque,
and then there was a thing
In the break room
that your name went on for,
You know, perpetuity,
or at least until the company
Goes out of business.
- Well, I was a poor
phd student.
And it struck me that he was
a man of moderate means as well.
That seemed like
a perfect match.
And before we knew it,
we had moved in.
He moved in these enormous
wooden shelves, bookshelves,
And filled the dining room wall
with bookshelves.
And what followed
soon afterwards
Were piles of books and papers,
and a mysterious jar.
And then, it all came out.
And I suddenly realized
that I was probably
One of the very few physics
students in history
That were living with
the god of physics' brain.
It did suddenly appear one day
on the dining room table.
And he would sit there
with the jar
Right next to his breakfast.
Like, can't imagine anybody
Would dream of such thing
in their wildest dreams.
(soft music)
- As quakers, we tried
to be sort of quiet.
I thought of tom as just
this quiet elderly man
Who rode a bicycle
and who was kind and...
Pleasant to be around,
quiet, he didn't say much.
So I was... I was really
surprised, as time went on,
When I found out more
about his past.
- We often had parties together
and he was a real party animal.
He was a lot of fun.
He could mix with any age group.
He could mix with
any social class.
He was a real quaker
in that respect,
And he brought it to the party.
Nothing like a quaker
at a party.
He could drink people
under the table.
He could laugh
and joke with anyone.
He was fabulous to have around.
- Tom did seem a bit
mysterious to me.
Here was this older man
who rode a bicycle
And worked at a plastics plant
Who'd been a chief pathologist
at princeton hospital.
And it kind of didn't
seem to fit real well.
And then, I learned that
not only had he done
The autopsy on einstein,
But that he possessed
einstein's brain.
- I did not understand
how that...
How having a dissected brain
Could further our
understanding of brains.
So as a scientist,
I struggled to understand
How having one sample
could lead you
To a theory of...
The brain.
- When I saw the brain,
I was sort of unimpressed
Because, again, I was expecting
to see the whole brain.
And I just saw this little
piece of it.
And so, it was like,
oh, it was not quite
As impressive as I expected.
I don't know what I was
expecting, actually.
I guess when you think
of einstein's brain,
You think of something
really marvelous,
Like you've never seen before.
And it was just like a specimen
in a specimen jar.
- One of the things that
everybody loved about tom,
The guy never missed work.
I mean, never missed work.
One day, I got a call
telling me that tom
Was not going to be
at work that day.
And I was told that he was
in a bicycle accident.
He was hit, while on his bike,
was hit by a car
That was driven
by a woman who...
Oh, by the way, at the time,
he was 79 or 80.
And she was one year older
than tom,
If you can imagine that.
So I've always kind of suspected
That if guinness book
of world records
Ever had a category
for "bike v. Car
Accident combined age,"
There's not doubt in my mind
that they would be
In the running for that one.
When tom did come back
to the line
After the bicycle accident,
I don't think I ever saw him
move without pain,
In the same way that I did
before the accident.
He lost a little bit
of strength,
And he was noticeably
less agile.
I think he always moved
really well, um...
And I think he just couldn't be
quite as pain-free after that.
- Whenever he came back
from the factory,
He was clearly exhausted.
He was ashen with just...
You know, mind-numbing
And it broke my heart
to see somebody of his age,
And of his incredible abilities,
Working away
at this kind of work.
- He could have somehow
profited personally
From his role as the keeper
of einstein's brain,
But he never did.
So he would turn down
Big money offer interviews
from various media and tv shows.
And yet, he would show
the brain to, you know,
Sort of the rotary club members
or high school students
Or, you know, fellow quakers.
Or he wouldn't sell the brain.
He had offer, you know.
People wanted to buy the brain,
and so on.
But he would instead work like,
three, four, five jobs
To make ends meet before
he thought about, you know,
Taking any money for the brain.
But at the same time,
he got so busy living
That einstein's brain was this
thing on his to-do list
That slipped further and further
down the list.
(indistinct pa announcement)
- Long trip from japan, huh?
- Yeah.
- Very long.
So what is the purpose
of your visit here?
- I'm looking for
einstein's brain.
- Okay.
- A couple years later,
there was a documentary
That some guy did.
- Dr. Harvey's house
Is just on the other side
of the creek.
- This physicist from japan
Was really very interested
in einstein.
And harvey clearly liked him.
It was in kansas.
- Oh! Wow!
(clears throat)
- His brain has been sectioned.
- Oh!
- Cut into many pieces.
As you see.
(speaking in japanese)
- Possible please give me...
From photo, one piece
of einstein's brain?
- And he says, "could I have
a piece of the brain?"
And harvey...
Harvey grabs
his mayonnaise jars
And cuts off a little bit
of the cerebellum
With a kitchen knife.
I know he had a better knife.
I think he had
a pathology knife.
And gave him a bit.
- Let me get this knife and...
Cutting board.
(speaking in japanese)
- And slowly, it took on
some circus-like aspects
That were exactly
the nightmare...
- This is brain stem
and cerebellum.
- ...That the einstein estate,
And einstein himself I guess,
Would never want to see.
- Oh, thank you for this, sir.
- You're welcome.
- Later on, it took on,
you know, kind of crazy aspects,
Maybe culminating in this one
trip some guy wrote a book about
Going cross-country
with einstein's brain.
(rock music)
I think it's driving mr. Albert
by paterniti
Which was a great read,
But it really didn't do
Anything great
for thomas harvey.
Paterniti, you know,
went cross-country with a brain,
With harvey and sort of
portrayed him as,
I don't even know
how he portrayed him.
He got down to wichita
and he introduced him
To william burroughs
of naked lunch fame.
And william burroughs...
Harvey, who was this very,
to me,
Scholarly quaker quiet guy,
And burroughs is saying,
"what's your addiction, doctor?"
So that's in the book,
and... I mean,
Those kind of things which make
for a very diverting reading,
I don't think the family
was terribly thrilled with it.
- And dr. Harvey, at that point,
Didn't seem really in possession
of his own story,
But was just going with it.
Maybe at that point
he just should've given it
To a research institution
and passed it on
Instead of having
the brain loose out there
And not under, you know,
The protection
of a scientific institute.
And you know...
Less of a spectacle.
- Tom was quite unfairly
portrayed in some media.
I think there was the element
of the sort of freak show
About tom and his possession
of the brain.
By and large, journalists
did not bother to find out
That aspect.
They immediately latched onto
The circus element of it all.
And almost abused it,
in a way.
And marketed it
as a brand.
(soft music)
- Einstein has a bobble head.
There's been lots of movies
about einstein.
People have posters of einstein
in their room.
I remember watching
a spiderman movie.
And in the spiderman movie,
There's a poster of einstein
on peter parker's wall.
One of the reasons is because,
a: He personifies genius.
And I think everybody,
across race, religion, culture,
Republican, democrat,
right, left, old, young.
It doesn't matter.
Everybody knows who einstein is.
I live in the appalachian
And you know, I wake up
in the morning
And get eggs from my chickens
and then I boot up my computer,
And to the world I am
the digital avatar
Of albert einstein.
It's pretty bananas.
Believe it or not,
einstein is one of the few
Dead celebrities who has
a presence on social media.
And he has 20 million followers
On facebook,
instagram and twitter.
More than most living
More than tom hanks,
more than jennifer aniston.
And... Yeah!
I get all sorts of interesting
people try to direct message me
On social media.
I get teenagers in india
Message me for help
with their math homework.
I get physicists in florida
Who want to show me their new
scientific research paper.
As if I can weigh in on it
in any meaningful way.
Well, I think you're missing
a comma over there.
Or I think that equation
is off.
I don't know what
they're thinking.
Maybe they just want a response,
a pat on the...
A virtual, digital
pat on the shoulder
For their good work.
One of the first things I posted
When I took over the albert
einstein social media account
Was the story about
thomas harvey
Stealing einstein's brain
in the morgue.
And it got one of the worst
Results ever on einstein's
social media.
People did not want to hear it.
These were fans who look up
to einstein,
He's a beloved character,
He's enshrined in their mind
as this perfect totem of genius,
To hear the story
of thomas harvey
Violently taking the brain,
And the brain, and what it
represents for einstein.
It's not like he took
einstein's ear
Or a lock einstein's hair.
Einstein's brain
is what he's famous for.
And this guy cracked open
his head,
Grabbed the brain
and stole it.
And when... Think about it.
Like, I wasn't thinking
when I posted it...
Here's a fan page
for albert einstein
With 20 million people
who love albert einstein.
I should've known better
how they were gonna respond.
It didn't get that many likes,
It got all these
negative comments.
"what are you doing?
We don't wanna hear about this."
Even the einstein archives
themselves were like,
"could you please not post
about thomas harvey so much?"
It's one of the few blemishes
on einstein's legacy.
- I got the impression that
he was profoundly embarrassed
That he had not
produced the study.
He had sent it to many,
many people.
And one could argue
that at a certain point
He owed it to
the einstein family,
To the public,
maybe to einstein himself,
To come up with what
he had at that moment.
And then, maybe throw it open
for other scientists.
- There was a canadian
researcher, sandra witelson,
Who had a very large collection
of normal brains,
Which is, you know,
highly unusual
And very precious
in brain research.
And so, one day, she received
a one-page fax
That came out of the blue
into her office
That simply said,
"would you like to study
The brain of albert einstein?"
(soft music)
Tom told me this story
Of having packed the brain
into the trunk of his dodge.
And driving up to canada
And crossing at niagara falls
at midnight.
And trying to declare
The brain of albert einstein
at customs.
and the customs officers
Had said, you know,
"do you have anything
to declare?"
He tells them what he has.
I suspect they did not
believe him
Because he said they didn't ask
to see it or anything.
He just drove straight through
And he delivered a certain
portion of the brain
To sandra witelson in hamilton.
You know, she describes
holding it in her hands
And feeling a sense of awe.
You know, you think scientists
are somehow immune
To the kind of mystical
That goes around
when we think about
The body parts of famous people,
But they're not.
And I think that that's one
Of the interesting things
about science,
Is that it tries
to be objective,
It tries to transcend all
of the other foibles
That mark the human condition.
But it can never
because it's driven by people.
And we are all flawed.
- She wrote this paper
about the exceptional brain
Of albert einstein.
And, I'm gonna do her
a disservice,
But say that she really focused
on the parietal lobe,
Albert einstein's parietal lobe
Which, when she studied
the photographs,
She found anatomical anomalies.
- Neuroscientist sandra witelson
Has just finished peering
into one of the greatest minds
Of the 20th century.
- The width of the brain,
from left to right,
Was larger by 15 percent,
in einstein's brain,
Compared to the control group.
- I remember her describing it
at the time
And saying, to her,
it was as obvious
As seeing eyebrows misplaced
on the face.
And that's how different
this one particular fissure
In einstein's brain was.
And it so happens that
the regions of the brain
That this fissure separates
generally in people
Are involved in mathematical
and visual, spatial reasoning,
Which really correlates
to the way einstein
Used to think,
or describe his thinking,
Which he said, he didn't think
in terms of numbers.
It wasn't math
that he envisioned
When he conducted
his thought experiments,
But rather he would actually
see himself,
Be able to imagine himself
riding on a beam of light.
So, you know, when sandra
witelson completed her study,
She said, you know,
maybe this explains
Why he thought in images,
Why he had such
a fertile lab for a mind.
She felt that she had located,
to some extent,
The source of what made
his mind so extraordinary.
Then, after witelson's study,
Fred lepore and his research
partner dean falk,
Came out with a big study
of their own.
And I think tom would've felt
vindicated for all the years
He kept the brain.
- Witelson just stopped
at the parietal lobe.
But we found every lobe:
Frontal lobe, parietal lobe,
Occipital lobe,
cingulate lobe...
Everything was different.
That is not standard issue,
That frontal lobe.
- So one more makes a big
difference, okay, got it.
- Extraordinary,
never-before-seen pictures
Of albert einstein's brain
have just been revealed
And they could provide clues
about how he came to be
One of the greatest geniuses
of all-time.
- And now, people can study
his brain in detail
Through modern technology.
There's an ipad app which has
detailed three-dimensional
Images of einstein's brain.
- I wanna see that.
(birds chirping)
(soft music)
- I mean, he was no hero.
But I don't think he did
anything with evil intentions.
- I'm sure he had regrets,
we all have regrets.
But he was always
about doing the right thing.
- I think history
has been unfair to him.
He wanted to be thought
of as a scientist.
- He didn't want to use
the brain for fame's sake.
But he did hope that by doing
right by the brain,
It would make him famous
in a scientific sense.
He did not leave this earth
a wealthy man.
But he left this earth
with his integrity
And knowing he always did
the best he could for people.
- I think it cost him a lot.
Would that same sequence
of events,
Would he've had
marriages that'd go south
Without einstein's brain,
Would they have kindly
inclined to him as a part
Of the medical center
of princeton?
We're never gonna know.
- I got interested
in albert einstein
Because I was in college
reading a book
That was like, "oh, my god,
Somebody stole
einstein's brain."
And that story itself,
if that story gets people
Interested in albert einstein,
there's something positive
To be said about that.
- Do we know where
the brain is now?
- No. No, you don't.
And you're not gonna find out.
If you call medical centre
in princeton, they say,
"well, that's under
the care of dr. X."
I don't blame dr. X about being
concerned about publicity.
- These are the original jars
that dr. Harvey
Placed all the brain parts
in back in 1955
When he did the autopsy
and dissected the brain.
It is a heavy responsibility.
Dr. Harvey understood that.
He carried it with him
for most of his adult life.
And after he ceded the brain,
I think he was somewhat relieved
Not to have to worry
about it anymore,
That someone else was taking
over the helm,
That the person who was
taking it over
Had sufficient respect
for this material.
It was never meant
to be a museum piece.
It was never meant to sit
on a shelf
For people to gawk at.
It was to be used
for scientific purposes.
And I think that,
At least as far as we have been
able to go with the science,
We've kept true to that spirit.
Hopefully, in the future,
We'll be able to do
more with it.
It sounds silly to have
a heavy responsibility,
But it is einstein's brain.
It's not nothing.
It is einstein's brain.
(soft music)