I Only Had Einstein's Brain
by Mad Dog
Some people collect thimbles. Some Beanie
Babies. In Hamilton, Ontario they figured brains would be a fun thing to amass. And why
| The human brain is a funny thing. Some of us use it. Some consider it a
vestigial organ like the appendix or little toe and treat it like a museum piece that
shouldnt be disturbed. Still others forget they have one, but were not here to
talk about TV programming executives.
In any case, according to scientists, one physical brain is
pretty much like the other. Thats right, the difference between two brains, like say
Albert Einsteins and Jesse Helms, is negligible. Aside from the fact that in
this case neither of them shows any sign of neural activity.
Einsteins shouldnt. After all, its been
sitting in a cafeteria-size mayonnaise jar full of formaldehyde for 44 years, taking up
precious cardboard box space in the Kansas office of Dr. Thomas Harvey. Harvey is the
doctor who performed the autopsy on Einstein, saving the brain even though he didnt
have permission. In some statesokay all of themthis is whats called
theft. But the Einstein family let him keep it, probably because he used the convincing
argument that "It's too light for a doorstop, too wet for a paperweight ,and you'll
need to get your hands on a second one if youre going to use it as a bookend."
A couple of years ago, doing his best Calvin Coolidge
imitation, Dr. Harvey sent a one-sentence fax to McMaster University in Canada asking if
they wanted to check out the cool brain he had. Now the people at McMaster werent
exactly sitting around the Bunsen burner toasting Smores and singing, "If we
only had a brain." After all, they already had one of the worlds largest
collections of brain samples. Some people collect thimbles. Some Beanie Babies. In
Hamilton, Ontario they figured brains would be a fun thing to amass. And why not? When it
comes time to sell them there wont be a whole lot of competition on eBay, now will
Home and Garden
Television claims 52 percent of the men they surveyed prefer to spend their leisure time
doing gardening and landscaping while 47 percent would rather have sex. Yeah, right.
| Thats how a
team of neuroscientists ended up going over Einsteins brain with a fine tooth comb,
which is more than he ever did with his hair when he was alive. It turns out that his
brain is very much like yours and mine only much, much smarter. Okay, much, much, much,
much, much smarter. Its average size, average weight, and looks like a soggy
gray cauliflower thats been sitting on a Las Vegas buffet table way too long.
They did, however, discover something interestingit turns
out the parietal operculum (Latin for "icky brain stuff") was missing.
They called Dr. Harvey, the guy who stoleI mean yanked it out in the first place,
but he swore he didnt have it.
Thats how they came to postulate a theory, which lucky
for them is legal in Canada. At least during any month ending in R. They
theorized that the lack of the parietal operculum (or "missing gunk")
left a gap so another part of the brain (technically called "other stuff") grew
larger than usual, which may have accounted for Einsteins ability to stay dead all
these years without his brain. Oh yeah, and come up with those high falutin theories
Scientists are convinced that by examining and probing the
brain they'll eventually understand how it works. Right. These are, after all, people who
have trouble remembering to zip up their musca domestica. Or call it a fly like the
rest of us.
The problem is they're looking for rational answers in an
irrational organ. How else to explain a recent survey by (Motto:
"Zzzzzzzzzzz") that claims 52 percent of the men they surveyed prefer to spend
their leisure time doing gardening and landscaping while 47 percent would rather have sex.
Yeah, right. What the study failed to point out was that the ones who preferred pulling
weeds to pulling, well, something much more fun bore a remarkable similarity to
Einsteinthey were medically brain dead too.
Psychotic patients are
starting to have delusions about being controlled by the Internet. Yes, the Internet
is The Official Delusion of the New Millennium.
| But scientists
keep trying. And Lord knows they have plenty of brains to work with. They have the
smartest (Einstein's), the most powerful (Stalin's), and the most warped (Jeffrey
Dahmers). The Russians claim to have the biggest collection of brains in the world,
including those of czars, politicians, and criminals, which does seem rather redundant.
One brain they dont have, though, is John Dillenger's. Then again, neither do we.
Well, not exactly. The Smithsonian Institute reputedly has his penis and, as any woman
will attest, this means they also have his brain.
brain with forceps, a scalpel, and a Ronco Home Garnish Tool isnt going to reveal
but so much. The brain will always do unpredictable things. An article in the June issue
of the Southern Medical Journal ("Yall turn your head and cough, now, ya
heah?") says psychotic patients are starting to have delusions about being controlled
by the Internet, replacing such standbys as Communists, the CIA, radio waves, and that
voice on Punky Brewster reruns that keeps telling me to wear Tupperware in my pants so I
dont become sterile.
Yes, the Internet is now The Official Delusion of the New
Millennium. The article tells of a man who was convinced that someone placed Internet bugs
in his ears that could read his mind and control his thoughts. And that his web page was
linked to his extremities so when certain keys were pressed his arms and legs would jump.
Sounds like the next generation of sex chat rooms if you ask me.
Maybe when he dies hell donate his brain to science so
they can see how it compares to Einsteins. And Dahmers. I suspect theyll
discover them all to be about the same size, same weight, and even have pretty much the
same parts. Except, of course, Einsteins will be much, much smarter.
©1999 Mad Dog Productions, Inc. All
These columns appear in better newspapers across the country. Read
them. Einstein would.