Beta

Slashdot: News for Nerds

×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

iPad App Offers Detailed Images of Einstein's Brain

samzenpus posted about 2 years ago | from the turn-the-slice dept.

Science 66

puddingebola writes in with news of a new app that might be of interest to those studying Einstein's brain, or just looking for something neat for Halloween. "Albert Einstein's brain, that revolutionized physics, can now be downloaded as an iPad app for USD 9.99. The exclusive application, which has been just launched, promises to make detailed images of Einstein's brain more accessible to scientists than ever before. The funding to scan and digitize nearly 350 fragile and priceless slides made from slices of Einstein's brain after his death in 1955 were given to a medical museum under development in Chicago, website 'Independent.ie' reported. The application will allow researchers and novices to peer into the eccentric Nobel winner's brain as if they were looking through a microscope. 'I can't wait to find out what they'll discover,' Steve Landers, a consultant for the National Museum of Health and Medicine Chicago, who designed the app, was quoted as saying by 'Press Association.'"

cancel ×

66 comments

what is 'This BS' AC was quoted to say (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41471799)

So this is an advert for a $9.99 iPad app?

I don't get it.

Why can't they give us the MRI image instead? (0)

Taco Cowboy (5327) | about 2 years ago | (#41471957)

Why do they have to physically slice up Einstein brain?

We have PET scan, we have MRI, we have the technology to do virtual 3D slicing.

Why can't they give us the MRI or PET scan image of Einstein's brain instead?

Re:Why can't they give us the MRI image instead? (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41472007)

Because the slices of his brain were made soon after his death in 1955.

Re:Why can't they give us the MRI image instead? (1)

rossdee (243626) | about 2 years ago | (#41473039)

So the images are out of copyright then? Who would pay for it?

Re:Why can't they give us the MRI image instead? (1)

MrZilla (682337) | about 2 years ago | (#41474657)

The slices were made in 1955. The scans were made recently.

Re:Why can't they give us the MRI image instead? (1)

viperidaenz (2515578) | about 2 years ago | (#41472013)

They can't because they already cut it up into little pieces.

Re:Why can't they give us the MRI image instead? (2)

Tastecicles (1153671) | about 2 years ago | (#41472245)

because PET and MRI didn't exist in 1955?

Re:Why can't they give us the MRI image instead? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41472639)

Wouldn't it have been more useful to have scans of his brain when he was alive and thinking? I mean, Hannibal Lecter might have a use for this but who else?

Re:Why can't they give us the MRI image instead? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41472769)

You are perfectly right, Captain Hindsight.

Re:Why can't they give us the MRI image instead? (1)

maxwell demon (590494) | about 2 years ago | (#41479933)

Wouldn't it have been more useful to have scans of his brain when he was alive and thinking? I mean, Hannibal Lecter might have a use for this but who else?

Unfortunately we still haven't figured out how to build time machines, in order to get the modern scanners back in time to when Einstein lived. And then, how to scan his brain back then without altering the past.

Re:Why can't they give us the MRI image instead? (1)

c0lo (1497653) | about 2 years ago | (#41473449)

We have PET scan, we have MRI, we have the technology to do virtual 3D slicing.

Exactly! I just can't wait for the article titled "Neural correlates of perspective taking in the post-mortem Einstein's brain" [prefrontal.org]

(this is to say: what the hell is one expected to find in a brain dead for more than half a century?!)

Re:Why can't they give us the MRI image instead? (1)

TapeCutter (624760) | about 2 years ago | (#41474903)

(this is to say: what the hell is one expected to find in a brain dead for more than half a century?!)

Something different to other "non-genius" brains that have been dead and preserved for a similar length of time. Such expectations may or may not turn out to be laughable but the original aim was not about expectations, it was all about data preservation.

Re:Why can't they give us the MRI image instead? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41475979)

Oh, if I had mod points....!!! I instantly thought of the salmon when I read the headline on /.
The app is just a way to monetize the sensationalism of the common geek. Nobody in neuroscience would even give a shrug about it. And don't get me started on fMRI...

Re:Why can't they give us the MRI image instead? (1)

Arancaytar (966377) | about 2 years ago | (#41475163)

They had none of these when the images were made.

Re:Why can't they give us the MRI image instead? (1)

Arancaytar (966377) | about 2 years ago | (#41475171)

Edit: When the slices were made, I mean.

Re:Why can't they give us the MRI image instead? (1)

golden age villain (1607173) | about 2 years ago | (#41477621)

PET requires a radiotracer that is impossible to load into dead fixed tissue (by fixed I mean that it has been bathed into a fixative solution for long-term preservation). MRI is possible in dead tissue but does not offer the resolution that can be achieved by more classical optical methods, you won't see individual cells or anything smaller than that. The best you can do is probably to distinguish between macroscopic structures although I am not a specialist of this technique. Slices are the best solution if you want to see individual cells and their processes. Slices are also quite popular as they allow to use immunohistochemistry to label cells, structures or proteins of interest with fluorescent tagged molecules allowing all kinds of fluorescent imaging investigations of the tissue. I doubt this has been done with his brain though.

Re:Why can't they give us the MRI image instead? (1)

paxprobellum (2521464) | about 2 years ago | (#41479131)

There wasn't really much point in replying to the parent post. The guy clearly doesn't understand PET or MR, or imaging in general for that matter. Nice summary. In conclusion, optical methods offer better resolution and specificity than tomographic methods. Also, Einstein rules.

$9.99? (5, Insightful)

Missing.Matter (1845576) | about 2 years ago | (#41471827)

It's pretty disgusting that you can monetize images of someone's brain. I wonder how Einstein would feel about that.

Re:$9.99? (5, Funny)

CSMoran (1577071) | about 2 years ago | (#41472031)

It's all relative.

Re:$9.99? (1)

alostpacket (1972110) | about 2 years ago | (#41472261)

Mod parent higher than it's current score +

Re:$9.99? (2)

quenda (644621) | about 2 years ago | (#41472581)

Mod parent higher than it's current score +

Don't be silly. It would take an infinite number of mods to pass the +5 singularity.

Re:$9.99? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41472121)

What's more, the brain was supposed to be kept with the body per Einstein's wishes, and instead it was stolen and studied. I admit that would have been a shame to lose that information, but it was against the man's wishes.

Re:$9.99? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41472177)

If the brain was indeed stolen, these are criminal gains.

Re:$9.99? (1)

Triklyn (2455072) | about 2 years ago | (#41472183)

My outrage is mitigated by how poorly written the story is. I can't even tell if they're trying to make a profit, or trying to scrounge up funds to digitize the slides. Also, how incredibly pointless. We've got geniuses, living ones, dead ones, dying ones.. Ones we can run modern tests on after obtain modern informed consents. But, no, let's jump headfirst into dubious moral territory for an n of 1. Idiots

Re:$9.99? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41472225)

Einstein is dead, he doesn't give a shit.

Re:$9.99? (1)

artor3 (1344997) | about 2 years ago | (#41472743)

Hence the GP wondering how Einstein "would feel" rather than how he "feels".

Re:$9.99? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41472797)

Do you care now what people do to your body after you die?

  Some do, it's about respecting the rights of the now living more than those past on.

Re:$9.99? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41472279)

They tried to brainscan Steve Jobs, but he's ego would no fit any MRI...

Re:$9.99? (0)

rubycodez (864176) | about 2 years ago | (#41472503)

designer weenies don't have much brains anyway. now the engineer behind Apple's success, that's another matter.....

Re:$9.99? (1)

harperska (1376103) | about 2 years ago | (#41472969)

You of course are referring to Burrell Smith, right?

Re:$9.99? (2)

causality (777677) | about 2 years ago | (#41472371)

It's pretty disgusting that you can monetize images of someone's brain. I wonder how Einstein would feel about that.

Well, he DID work at the patent office...

Re:$9.99? (1)

maxwell demon (590494) | about 2 years ago | (#41480491)

It's pretty disgusting that you can monetize images of someone's brain. I wonder how Einstein would feel about that.

Well, he DID work at the patent office...

Yes, that's where he realized that everything is relative. If something to be patented was already known before, you just change the frame of reference to change the temporal order of events. :-)

Re:$9.99? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41472801)

Ok, welcome to capitalism.

it would have been cool if they made the price $3.14.

Re:$9.99? (0)

TamiHolness (2613097) | about 2 years ago | (#41472885)

Why even bother buying that kind of stuff. It should be free for all! Why not post it online? :D not everybody has Ipod. blog for blogs [draconian.dk]

Re:$9.99? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41474149)

download his brain and have a look.

Re:$9.99? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41474363)

It's disgusting that someone would judge voluntary interaction this way.

if it's anything like the maps app... (3, Funny)

Tastecicles (1153671) | about 2 years ago | (#41471839)

...then I wouldn't rely on it too much.

Re:if it's anything like the maps app... (1)

ubrgeek (679399) | about 2 years ago | (#41472143)

You'll end up looking at his feet.

Re:if it's anything like the maps app... (1)

Tarlus (1000874) | about 2 years ago | (#41474135)

Or a hideously distorted rendering of them.

Veneration of the Saints (5, Insightful)

mfwitten (1906728) | about 2 years ago | (#41471979)

Not even in the secular sector can people avoid their bizarre attraction to the macabre relics of mythically aggrandized heros.

GUI interface using visual basic to track... (4, Insightful)

cosm (1072588) | about 2 years ago | (#41471985)

The application will allow researchers and novices to peer into the eccentric Nobel winner's brain as if they were looking through a microscope.

This summary's stated premise is so incredibly fucking retarded. Why not just post the slides online or release high-res formats, rather than charge a $9.99 premium for an application that displays images on a sub par interface for image manipulation and analysis? (rhetorical question) Aside from the press release FUD, can any researcher honestly tell me that the ability to view historical slides on an ipad is in anyway superior to the thousands of other mechanisms of viewing pictures of things?

There is no way in hell any tablet is going to provide a superior interface in terms of technology employed for viewing data of this sort for in-depth analysis.

As with much of the tablet market these days...gimmick after gimmick after gimmick. This. [wikipedia.org]

Re:GUI interface using visual basic to track... (2)

Nerdfest (867930) | about 2 years ago | (#41473001)

iPad users will pay for it. The developers like that part ... the rest is not so important.

Re:GUI interface using visual basic to track... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41476001)

It would cost more than $9.99 to make you a personal copy of the data which is in excess of 10 terabytes.

ta30 (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41472045)

"Einstein's brain, that revolutionized physics..." (5, Insightful)

rolfwind (528248) | about 2 years ago | (#41472063)

I wonder how true that is. Not that this is his brain nor that he revolutionized physics. I just wonder if THIS is the brain that did it.

You see, London has a strenuous test for Taxi drivers. Their streets are not like New York, where many are numbered in sequential order and relatively easy to learn. London has 25,000 roads, with no real rhyme or reason, and perspective taxi drivers - to get licensed - needs to memorize them and takes several years. The test is called the Knowlege, iirc, and it takes an average of a dozen attempt to pass:
http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/notrocketscience/2011/12/08/acquiring-the-knowledge-changes-the-brains-of-london-cab-drivers/ [discovermagazine.com]

The hippocampus of these drivers is substantially larger and stay so throughout their working life. But it shrinks back down after retirement:
http://www.wellcome.ac.uk/About-us/75th-anniversary/WTVM052023.htm [wellcome.ac.uk]

This is Einsteins brain after, what, 40 some years after his best achievement? Is it the same brain anymore? Wouldn't it be like poking at the Schwarzenegger's remains whenever he dies to see what makes a bodybuilder at his peak? Just something to ponder.

Re:"Einstein's brain, that revolutionized physics. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41472141)

Was Einstein only his brain? I heard that general relativity was a post-coital "Eureka!"

Re:"Einstein's brain, that revolutionized physics. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41475193)

I doubt that, but if it were true, then it's a pity Einstein didn't get it on more often or we'd already be colonizing the galaxy with FTL drives.

Re:"Einstein's brain, that revolutionized physics. (3, Insightful)

kinnell (607819) | about 2 years ago | (#41476069)

I also find the idea that there was something unique about Einstein's brain that made him a genius. IMHO what set him apart wasn't his academic brilliance, which was nothing special going by his school performance, it was his ability to think up daft questions like "if I were riding a light beam and shone a torch in front of me, how fast would the light from the torch travel?".

I know what they'll discover. (4, Insightful)

viperidaenz (2515578) | about 2 years ago | (#41472077)

Nothing. It's some pictures of a cut up brain. Although LG/Samsung did a pretty good job in making that Retina screen, I don't think there will be enough resolution in the scans to show the synaptic connections between Einsteins neurons.

Re:I know what they'll discover. (2)

Kaenneth (82978) | about 2 years ago | (#41472475)

Symbiotic alien larva is my hope.

'Einstein's Brain' Wikipedia entry (2)

SternisheFan (2529412) | about 2 years ago | (#41472429)

From Wiki:

" Einstein's brain was preserved after his death in 1955, but this fact was not revealed until 1986. Albert Einstein's brain has often been a subject of research and speculation. It was removed within seven and a half hours of his death. The brain has attracted attention because of Einstein's reputation for being one of the foremost geniuses of the 20th century, and apparent regularities or irregularities in the brain have been used to support various ideas about correlations in neuroanatomy with general or mathematical intelligence. Scientific studies have suggested that regions involved in speech and language are smaller, while regions involved with numerical and spatial processing are larger. Other studies have suggested an increased number of Glial cells in Einstein's brain. [1]"

http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Albert_Einstein's_brain [wikipedia.org]

Einstein's DNA (1)

arobatino (46791) | about 2 years ago | (#41472565)

Has anyone tried to recover DNA from the preserved brain tissue? According to this article [howstuffworks.com] it was preserved in celloidin.

timely (1)

JediJorgie (700217) | about 2 years ago | (#41472583)

Wow, on /. only 48 hours after is was everywhere else.. maybe /. isn't over the hill yet. /sigh

Why is that an app? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41472757)

And why does it cost actual money?

Re:Why is that an app? (1)

gl4ss (559668) | about 2 years ago | (#41474599)

And why does it cost actual money?

it's an app so that you can pay for it on impulse - and it costs money so that they can gouge money.

what? torrenting them for all mankind for free? but that wouldn't have paid for the consultant bill!

Got a spare smoke, mate? (1)

TapeCutter (624760) | about 2 years ago | (#41475111)

what? torrenting them for all mankind for free? but that wouldn't have paid for the consultant bill!

If you have ever been a smoker you will know that complete strangers will approach you on the street and basically ask for a free cigarette, an equal number will offer to buy one. Sometimes I will share, particularly if I find the approach amusing or genuine, sometimes I won't simply because I'm not in the mood to be either bought or generous. The best recent approach I had was a young African guy in a nice suit coming from the direction of a big employment agency, he formally introduce himself and shook my hand before offering to purchase a smoke.

I never take money even from those who insist, but the thing I hate most is people who when politely told, "sorry mate but no", go on to demand I give them a free smoke just because they gave one to someone else in the past. To people with those sort of expectations I repeat my answer, and strongly suggest what they are looking for is a job or a tobacconists, as the case may be.

If you really are genuine about creating and sharing your own stuff, nobody is stopping you. What I object to is the (minority) attitude here at slashdot that because you are generous to others in the same "user space", those who are in that "user space" must return that generosity on demand. That attitude is neither generous nor sharing since you have an up front expectation that others should repay you in kind. I'm no fan of religions but the one thing all of them got right was "the golden rule", a proper application by ALL those involved in the "IP user space" and the MAFIAA would be stone cold dead the very next business day.

If u can't wait to find out what they'll discover (0)

franciscohs (1003004) | about 2 years ago | (#41472811)

Then don't charge for the application at all and give it a wider audience. This is BS, just PR to monetize something marginally ethical...

I apologize for my rudeness (2)

extraqwert (983362) | about 2 years ago | (#41472851)

Idolatry is a manifestation of laziness. We believe that Einstein had some special brain, as an excuse for not exercising ours. A person has extraordinary achievements. The easiest thing for others, is to proclaim him/her a ``genius'' and take it easy.

Re:I apologize for my rudeness (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41472913)

That's true to some degree, but some people really are just more intelligent. If people stopping being indolent and complacent, they very well could accomplish more, but what they accomplish wouldn't necessarily be amazing.

Re:I apologize for my rudeness (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41473253)

There is a difference between idolatry (which this app would qualify as) and respecting/proclaiming genius. The latter involves inspiration, learning, building and furthering that work.

His physical brain is probably not all that special, what he taught the world is though.

Re:I apologize for my rudeness (1)

strikethree (811449) | about 2 years ago | (#41482155)

While what you say could be true in some circumstances, it seems pretty obvious that not everyone has the same abilities. Idolizing an ability in others that you yourself do not possess, seems to be something other than laziness.

And no app to display detailed images of my city? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41473337)

Too bad iPad doesn't have an app to display detailed images of my city.

Anyway, who uses apple today?

Do the same to an iPhone? (1)

cvtan (752695) | about 2 years ago | (#41476059)

Isn't this a little like doing a CAT scan on a smartphone to figure out why the icons look so cute?

The fragmentation of information (1)

hackertourist (2202674) | about 2 years ago | (#41477267)

Information being published for a specific platform only is a deplorable development. In the PC era this would have been published as PDF and everyone could read it. These days, the desire to monetize information prompts publishers to package information as an application, excluding everyone who doesn't have the targeted platform.

This was bad enough when people repackaged a website as an app: one could just access the website instead. But books shouldn't be platform-specific.

Check for New Comments
Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
Create a Slashdot Account

Loading...