A new study indicates that the physical structure of physicist Albert Einstein’s brain may be the secret to his genius. In layman’s terms, it appears that Einstein’s extraordinary intellect was literally in his head.
The study, led by Weiwei Men of East China Normal University, focused on a section of the brain that lies between the left and right hemispheres. In Einstein’s brain, this area is “more robust” and may explain why he was able to think the way he thought about the things he thought about.
The team employed a new method of studying the structure of Einstein’s brain, and discovered more extensive connections between the left and right hemispheres than in other brains younger and older than his. This led the team to theorize that these connections may have fueled Einstein’s intellect and enabled his unique ability to “see” physics as no other before him.
Could the same be considered true for many of today’s genius level intellects? Is genius a physical manifestation of cerebral structure or does it come in other more exotic forms yet to be quantified?
The word “genius” is defined as “exceptional intellect or creative power or other natural ability.” With this in mind, consider carefully what may be considered true genius and the many forms such can take. History is overflowing with people who have been lifted up to this pedestal as higher thinkers and applauded for the influence on their contributions to their fellow human beings. During some of their lifetimes, however, they were not held in such high regard, or not recognized for the true depth of their “genius” until later research proved their ideas and theories correct.
While Einstein flipped modern physics and astronomy on its head, Galileo Galilei was forced to recant his discovery of a solar-centric universe. This was contrary to the teachings of the Church at that time and considered heresy. For his own safety, Galileo had to toe the line and denounce his own work or face the consequences. Galileo’s work in astronomy, physics, and mathematics was eventually proven valid and helped push mankind and the Church past outdated views of the universe we live in.
Artist, engineer, and inventor Leonardo da Vinci was a multifaceted creator and innovator of his time. His ideas were so revolutionary that we are still referring back to his writings today. Mechanics, robotics, medicine, art and engineering rely upon da Vinci’s ideas as a springboard for modern technology. He was the consummate Renaissance man, but had to conduct much of his research in secret. He too was under the heavy hand of the Church, during a time when dissection of corpses was heretical behavior.
Some believe da Vinci quietly challenged Church oppression by hiding messages and meanings in his artwork. The Last Supper and the Mona Lisa continue to be studied around the world to decipher their “codes” and gain a better understanding of just what da Vinci has been trying to tell us.
The list of exceptional human beings who can be considered geniuses is often contended and debated. Those mentioned here are commonly acknowledged as geniuses in their fields, but when one explores the breadth of genius, science does not hold a monopoly.
Musical geniuses include Mozart, Bach, and Beethoven. Many would add modern performers like Stevie Wonder and Michael Jackson to that list. Literary geniuses would not be complete without Shakespeare, Voltaire, Poe, Twain, and Dante. Inventors Edison, Tesla, Morse, Benjamin Franklin and more must be considered. Military geniuses, Napoleon, Alexander the Great, Shaka Zulu, and Winston Churchill must be named. Picasso, Michelangelo, van Gogh along with da Vinci changed the way art was done and perceived in their lifetimes and beyond. Mathematical minds like Pascal, Bohr, Pythagoras and Higgs have been cited as genius and without them, physics, engineering even space flight would not be possible. Philosophical genius like Socrates, Plato and Aristotle laid the groundwork for modern politics and civil liberties.
Today we have geniuses of the 21st century like Stephen Hawking. Though his body is ravaged by Lou Gehrig’s disease, his mind is one of the most extraordinary in the world. Hawking continues to contribute to science and –perhaps not on purpose- religion. His assertion that God cannot be mathematical proved or disproved created waves on both sides of the science-religion debate.
Could it be, then, that genius is not just in the physical structure of the bran but also in the way the brain perceives reality and peers into that reality to reveal secrets the general public does not fathom? Is the method to the madness of genius just as important as the physical predisposition discovered in Einstein’s brain?
Sadly, we do not have the cerebral matter from the other revolutionary thinkers here, but the question must be considered. Is genius a mere manifestation of physical connections in the brain or is it much, much more? Is it all in our heads?
Written by: Brandi Tasby