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Probe of Einstein's Brain Reveals Clues To His Genius

timothy posted 1 year,16 days | from the so-it-wasn't-the-pipe-after-all dept.

Science 195

sciencehabit writes "Smart, successful, and well-connected: a good description of Albert Einstein and his brain. The father of relativity theory didn't live to see modern brain imaging techniques, but after his death his brain was sliced into sections and photographed. Now, scientists have used those cross-sectional photos to reveal a larger-than-average corpus callosum — the bundle of nerve fibers connecting the brain's two hemispheres. The thickness of Einstein's corpus callosum was greater than the average, and more nerve fibers connected key regions such as the two sides of the prefrontal cortex, which are responsible for complex thought and decision-making. Combined with previous evidence that parts of the physicist's brain were unusually large and intricately folded, the researchers suggest that this feature helps account for his extraordinary gifts." Abstract (full article is paywalled) at the journal Brain.

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Hiring and admission decisions (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,16 days | (#45044803)

This is pretty cool. Perhaps we could use these results to find a way to use brains scans to make better decisions about University admission or hiring for technical positions. Obviously the bit about slicing the brain into sections won't be an option.

This would have to be just one part of the decision process however. Thomas Edison's quote, "Genius is one percent inspiration, ninety-nine percent perspiration" comes to mind.

Re:Hiring and admission decisions (1)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | 1 year,16 days | (#45044893)

Obviously the bit about slicing the brain into sections won't be an option.

Why? That's the whole point of "tomo-" in tomography.

Re: Hiring and admission decisions (3, Funny)

jd2112 (1535857) | 1 year,16 days | (#45045153)

Just replace it with an electronic one. A simple one should suffice. it just needs to be progrsmmed to say "what?" and "where's the tea?"

Re: Hiring and admission decisions (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,16 days | (#45045785)

What?!

Re:Hiring and admission decisions (2)

shaitand (626655) | 1 year,16 days | (#45045515)

Thomas Edison was no genius, he just hired a bunch of smart people. Do not confuse an Edison or a Ford with Tesla or an Einstein. Ford and Edison were normal people with lots of resources who were very successful at getting people to produce results. People like Tesla and Einstein are geniuses.

Re: Hiring and admission decisions (1)

rolfwind (528248) | 1 year,16 days | (#45045723)

Basically Steve Jobs vs Steve Wozniak. Yet I would argue true geniuses need the support structure the Steve Jobs/Edisons/etc can provide to realize their potential.

I'll note that Einstein was against donating his brain to science, so we're still violating this man's wishes, unfortunately.

Re:Hiring and admission decisions (5, Insightful)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | 1 year,16 days | (#45045855)

Ford and Edison were normal people with lots of resources ...

Neither Ford nor Edison were born rich. Both endured hardship. The "lots of resources" came from their early individual successes.

... who were very successful at getting people to produce results.

Except that "normal" people are rarely successful at that.

Yet Another Einstein Article (5, Insightful)

girlintraining (1395911) | 1 year,16 days | (#45044813)

If Einstein were alive, he would have told you, as he told them when he was still alive -- he wasn't particularly intelligent, only passionately curious. That's paraphrasing a direct quote. He probably would have also told you to stand outside utterly fascinating by water drops falling out of a fountain instead of going to accept your award for being so smart, and run around town in your loafers not giving a fuck what anyone else thought of you.

Maybe it's not intelligence per-se that we need to encourage, but non-conformity and the ability to embrace new ideas without pre-judgement.

Re:Yet Another Einstein Article (-1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,16 days | (#45044905)

A little over a hundred years ago, people thought that humans could never fly because science proved it with the knowledge of the era.

And yet when people work on so-called "perpetual motion" machines, they're called idiots just because our current understand of physics says it's not possible. And when you ask a scientist to explain gravity, all he can offer is a formula to calculate its value because all the current theories can't quite explain gravity itself and even those who try see their theories destroyed at smaller scales.

Re:Yet Another Einstein Article (5, Insightful)

girlintraining (1395911) | 1 year,16 days | (#45045073)

A little over a hundred years ago, people thought that humans could never fly because science proved it with the knowledge of the era. And yet when people work on so-called "perpetual motion" machines, they're called idiots just because our current understand of physics says it's not possible. And when you ask a scientist to explain gravity, all he can offer is a formula to calculate its value because all the current theories can't quite explain gravity itself and even those who try see their theories destroyed at smaller scales.

While your comment is massively off-topic, it hits on a topic near and dear to my heart, and it pains me greatly to see anyone misunderstand how science works, even an anonymous internet punter.

1. This is technically a true statement. Humans still cannot fly. We stuff ourselves in giant metal cans with wings on them, and the machines fly. We just sit inside them, continuing to stubbornly obey basic biology.

But I get your point. I notice you said "people thought," not "scientists thought". As far back as roman-greek times, people were dreaming about flying. Davinci was inking flying machine after flying machine. People who were studied in science never claimed it was impossible because they regularly observed birds flying. They knew they simply lacked sufficient understanding to do it, and set to the business of gaining that understanding.

2. Perpetual motion is idiotic; There has never been a case of it being observed. I'll explain in a minute just why scientists consider these people abject morons.

3. When you ask a scientist to explain gravity, he explains it on the basis of observation; Drop an apple, and it hits the ground. We can measure it very precisely. We have a great many theories that have allowed additional experiments to be carried out to observe it in more detail. The fact that it cannot be explained at the very tiny scale of quantum mechanics is not proof the theories are broken, but rather that some crucial observation is missing to tie it all together.

4. On the issue of scale, if I took your car engine and shrunk it to about 1/5th scale, it wouldn't run anymore, despite being exactly correct in every proportion. It's been long-understood that various physical forces only balance each other out at certain points and times. You can't create nuclear fission, for example, until you've gotten enough fissile material in the same place and close enough together. You can't just scale down beyond a certain point -- the machine will fail to function. This isn't a problem with "can't quite explain gravity", but rather a misunderstanding of fundamental physical laws.

When I see people write things like you just did, it makes me sad. Science is about empirical observation. It is the essence, the core, upon which everything else is built. You do not have to understand something to have it become scientific knowledge -- that's just extra. If you can observe something happening repeatedly and explain to others how to observe the same thing, and consistently get the same result, then you have science. Note that I didn't mention a theory, or an understanding, about what is being observed. All I mentioned were the elements of independent observation and the ability to reproduce the results. Understanding only comes in the context of research -- this is where we look at other observations and try to find similarities and common themes and patterns, that might allow us to construct a theory to explain what's going on. And theories can, indeed must, change whenever we find new observations that contradict it. But this is not instantanious. Observation does not automatically lead to theory.

We must experience first, then understand. It has always been this way. This is not science; This is life.

Re:Yet Another Einstein Article (-1)

shaitand (626655) | 1 year,16 days | (#45045611)

"2. Perpetual motion is idiotic; There has never been a case of it being observed."

That isn't true at all. Perpetual motion is an innate property of the universe itself on many scales. On the macro scale there is the constant expansions and contraction. All energy and particles are in a state of perpetual motion. The only reason anything ever appears to not be moving is because the scale you are focusing on is moving at a rate comparable or slower than the rate your energy is moving at on that scale.

If your body and mind moved at the speed of rock the landscape would be bubbling (rock moves like a fluid, rising when heated, sinking when cool, and yes I'm referring to the 'solid' stuff) and erosion on a mountain might appear to be sand being blown off a dune. People might look like sparks or possibly move so fast as to not be observable.

Re:Yet Another Einstein Article (5, Informative)

girlintraining (1395911) | 1 year,16 days | (#45045757)

That isn't true at all. Perpetual motion is an innate property of the universe itself on many scales.

Extraordinary claims demand extraordinary proof.

On the macro scale there is the constant expansions and contraction. All energy and particles are in a state of perpetual motion. The only reason anything ever appears to not be moving is because the scale you are focusing on is moving at a rate comparable or slower than the rate your energy is moving at on that scale.

No, it's because I understand the first and second laws of Thermodynamics. The fact that things are in motion does not change the fact that (a) energy can be neither created nor destroyed, and (b) the entropy of an isolated system never decreases, because isolated systems spontaneously evolve toward thermodynamic equilibrium; which is to say... it stops moving. All that motion you're describing is part of an open system, not closed. And even it will eventually stop; See also -- heat death of the universe.

If your body and mind moved at the speed of rock the landscape would be bubbling (rock moves like a fluid, rising when heated, sinking when cool, and yes I'm referring to the 'solid' stuff) and erosion on a mountain might appear to be sand being blown off a dune. People might look like sparks or possibly move so fast as to not be observable.

Look, if you want to play games with optical illusions and relativistic effects, rock on with your socks on... but no physical laws are being broken here. Your perpetual motion machine... can't exist.

Now, if you have some proof that the laws of thermodynamics are broken, the second law in particular... please step forward and collect about 50 consecutive Nobel Prizes. Otherwise, you need to accept that perpetual motion machines... are a scientific impossibility. The end.

Re:Yet Another Einstein Article (1)

Belial6 (794905) | 1 year,16 days | (#45046021)

I'm pretty sure that as far as human understand goes, the universe is a closed system. Even if you go with one of the multi-verse theories, you are just working with a redefinition of universe, so change it to the multi-verse being a closed system, and you are back at a perpetual motion machine.

Basically, you have two options to explain the fact that the universe exists at all. 1) It is a big perpetual motion machine. 2) Magic. Option 2 is a far extraordinary claim than option 1.

I am all for the scientific method. I love science, and all of the glorious things it gives us. I do not in anyway believe in the supernatural. One thing I find frustrating is that most people who claim to trust science, even professional scientists at the highest levels, go all religious and supernatural as soon as they hit a subject that is outside of their understanding.

Re:Yet Another Einstein Article (3, Funny)

girlintraining (1395911) | 1 year,16 days | (#45046255)

so change it to the multi-verse being a closed system, and you are back at a perpetual motion machine.

There are not enough Picards on the internet to facepalm this.

Re:Yet Another Einstein Article (2)

Kielistic (1273232) | 1 year,16 days | (#45046423)

Basically, you have two options to explain the fact that the universe exists at all. 1) It is a big perpetual motion machine. 2) Magic. Option 2 is a far extraordinary claim than option 1.

Probably a few more options than that. Especially considering the current "most commonly accepted" (to the best of my knowledge) theory as the fate of the universe is heat death. That does not sound very perpetual to me..

Re:Yet Another Einstein Article (1)

nuonguy (264254) | 1 year,16 days | (#45046597)

I don't accept your premise, but even if I did, your line of reasoning doesn't work. It sounds something like this:

"There are two explanations for our existence: 1) My ignorant portrayal of science I learned in church 2) God; you cannot show me that missing link, therefore god did it."

Re:Yet Another Einstein Article (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,16 days | (#45045885)

Funny thing about perpetual motion. The very act of observing it implies an exchange of energy external to the supposed perpetual motion system.

"2. Perpetual motion is idiotic; There has never been a case of it being observed."

That isn't true at all. Perpetual motion is an innate property of the universe itself on many scales. On the macro scale there is the constant expansions and contraction. All energy and particles are in a state of perpetual motion. The only reason anything ever appears to not be moving is because the scale you are focusing on is moving at a rate comparable or slower than the rate your energy is moving at on that scale.

If your body and mind moved at the speed of rock the landscape would be bubbling (rock moves like a fluid, rising when heated, sinking when cool, and yes I'm referring to the 'solid' stuff) and erosion on a mountain might appear to be sand being blown off a dune. People might look like sparks or possibly move so fast as to not be observable.

Regarding the universe itself as a perpetual motion system, we assume that it is closed to external sources. We also note that things invariably change such that entropy is increased (overall) or at least stays the same. However, perpetual motion implies indefinite and never-ending, which is unfortunately not an assumption that we can make about the universe itself (in the absolute sense; it may be a safe bet). One theory regarding the future of the universe is that eventually no more work or exchange of energy will be possible as temperatures approach a uniform distribution and everything cools (look up "Big Freeze" or "Heat death of the universe"). In such a case, even the universe fails to be a perpetual motion machine.

Re:Yet Another Einstein Article (1)

platypusfriend (1956218) | 1 year,16 days | (#45045715)

So, then, no fact exists outside of science? If so, doesn't the fact that science requires observation and repeatability imply a weakness? Perhaps a factual, world-knowledge-altering event is witnessed by a lone observer (assume this person is known to be of sound scientific background), yet the observation is (perhaps by its nature) unrepeatable and unknowable to anyone else. The observer stands fast to their belief that the details of the witnessed event are now fact, but no one else in the scientific community believes it. So, the observation, however unscientific, remains fact to at least one observer. Were it to happen, what would you make of this experience? Does science allow for it? Would any newly-witnessed facts be true? False? Would there be a superposition of "fact" and "not fact" from some reference frame?

Re:Yet Another Einstein Article (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,16 days | (#45045819)

While I agree with your other points (particularly, Perpetual Motion really is idiotic), actually, Lord Kelvin, one of main scientists of his time, important enough to have a unit called after him (his title, not his name), said, as late as 1895, that heavier-than-air flight is impossible

http://scienceworld.wolfram.com/biography/Kelvin.html

He wasn't alone among scientists by then.

Sure, flight wasn't forbiden by any laws of physics of his time (of course, many animals fly), unlike the perpetual motion thing, which is forbidden as much as then as it is now. This was just his, and many others scientists', opinion. Gladly succesful inventors usually knows the difference between these two situations.

Re:Yet Another Einstein Article (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,16 days | (#45045141)

A little over a hundred years ago, people thought that humans could never fly because science proved it with the knowledge of the era.

And yet when people work on so-called "perpetual motion" machines, they're called idiots just because our current understand of physics says it's not possible. And when you ask a scientist to explain gravity, all he can offer is a formula to calculate its value because all the current theories can't quite explain gravity itself and even those who try see their theories destroyed at smaller scales.

And don't even get me started on fuckin' magnets...

cardgamesfortwo (-1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,16 days | (#45044953)

http://cardgamesfortwo.com/

Re:Yet Another Einstein Article (1)

Wraithlyn (133796) | 1 year,16 days | (#45045085)

Probably this one?

“I have no special talents. I am only passionately curious.” - Albert Einstein.

But you know, his subjectively modest opinion of his own relative intelligence, doesn't disprove that his brain had unusual features which may have provided certain advantages. Saying "anybody who works hard and has a good sense of curiosity has the potential to be an Einstein" is a nice thought, but that doesn't actually make it true.

Correlation, causation etc. (4, Interesting)

Dr. Evil (3501) | 1 year,16 days | (#45045201)

" his brain had unusual features which may have provided certain advantages"

Or... his life revolved around unusual studies which caused his brain to respond by developing the corpos callosum?

Re:Correlation, causation etc. (1)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | 1 year,16 days | (#45045651)

So a guy with the monicker "Dr. Evil" is giving credit to "unusual studies" involving the brain? Natch.

Re:Correlation, causation etc. (1)

Wraithlyn (133796) | 1 year,16 days | (#45045843)

Certainly another possibility. Emphasis on "may have" in my original post. :)

Unusual brain features? (1)

justthinkit (954982) | 1 year,16 days | (#45045537)

Aren't these unusual brain features exactly what half the humans on this planet have? Women have more "cross linking" of the two brain halves. IMO these are a minus when it comes to focusing on one thing -- like Einstein did with Relativity -- not a plus. So I'll go with the "more curious" explanation.

Re:Yet Another Einstein Article (1)

h4nk (1236654) | 1 year,16 days | (#45046103)

His ability to think abstractly with such precision, and to actually conceive almost unimaginably sophisticated concepts... that's a kind of genius that has to be marveled at. He didn't agree with Niels Bohr on Complementarity and he didn't fully buy into Hiesenburg's and Born's theories that flew in the face of causation. But it's not to say Einstein was wrong, he felt that the prevailing quantum theories were incomplete. But in a way, he was the Newton of his time, Although he contributed greatly to the early establishment of quantum theory, and later on helped establish ideas on locality and entanglement, he was dismayed by the seemingly nonsensical contradictions of duality. He helped to foster these concepts and hypothesis nonetheless. I believe that after developing special relativity, it was very jarring for him to consider a reality outside of Newtonian space and time. It is interesting to imagine what his thoughts on the nature of reality would be in 2013, even as we are proving much of his predictions on the nature of gravity and space-time.

Re:Yet Another Einstein Article (1)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | 1 year,16 days | (#45045293)

If Einstein were alive, he would have told you, as he told them when he was still alive -- he wasn't particularly intelligent, only passionately curious.

Curiosity is necessary for a great scientist (or even a not-so-great one) but it's not sufficient. Along with his brilliant statements about the nature of the universe, Einstein said a lot of goofy things, and this is one of them. His passionate curiosity combined with his intelligence is why he's still pretty much the canonical image of the scientist today. I guarantee you there are many, many people who are just as curious about the world as he was, and very few of them will be remembered.

Re:Yet Another Einstein Article (1)

girlintraining (1395911) | 1 year,16 days | (#45045393)

Curiosity is necessary for a great scientist (or even a not-so-great one) but it's not sufficient.

No, sorry, but this is a fractally wrong statement to make. With sufficient curiousity, you will be dedicated to learning as much as you can. The drive to learn will push you where you need to go. Intelligence merely sets the speed by which you'll arrive. Your over-emphasis on intelligence is elitism; It's suggesting that if you can't be "smart enough", you shouldn't be in science.

I disagree. Firmly. Anyone can be a scientist. It is a method, a way of learning about the world. Almost every human being on the planet is capable of this. Even non-sentient animals have demonstrated an ability to use tools and experiment with their surroundings to gain understanding. If birds, wolves, monkeys, dolphins, and other animals can manage to do science, your argument of high general intelligence being necessary is totally and completely busted.

I stand by what I said before: You just need to be passionately curious. Even Einstein said as much, so if you want to argue the "you need to be smart too!" ... you're going up against someone who, by your own measure, is the smartest person to ever have lived. Good luck.

Re:Yet Another Einstein Article (1)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | 1 year,16 days | (#45045775)

No, sorry, but this is a fractally wrong statement to make.

What do you mean by "fractally wrong"?

With sufficient curiousity, you will be dedicated to learning as much as you can. The drive to learn will push you where you need to go. Intelligence merely sets the speed by which you'll arrive.

True, but I'd argue that "mere" speed is pretty important. There are only so many hours in the day. A particular problem with modern science--bad enough in Einstein's day, worse now--is that there's a whole lot you have to learn before you can hope to make meaningful new contributions to any field. To refer back to an earlier famous scientist, standing on the shoulders of giants is great, but a lot of times you reach the shoulder of the giant only to realize that you're staring at the feet of the next giant. The climb will take you a long time even if you're very smart; if you're not, it may well take more than a lifetime to complete. Having just finished a PhD that took [mumble mumble] more years to complete than I expected at the outset, I'm acutely aware of this problem ...

Your over-emphasis on intelligence is elitism; It's suggesting that if you can't be "smart enough", you shouldn't be in science.

Hardly. No one really knows at the outset if they've got what it takes, and everyone who wants to do so should certainly give it a try. Even if they don't reach the top, they'll learn a lot along the way. But not everyone will reach the top, just as (mixing metaphors a bit) a whole lot of people who set out to climb the world's highest mountains don't succeed, and often die trying.

Anyone can be a scientist. It is a method, a way of learning about the world.

In that sense, sure--anyone can, and everyone should. But that's not the same thing as "doing science" the way Einstein did, making major discoveries that change the way we look at the world. Hell, it's not even the same thing as publishing a few highly cited articles, which is a fair accomplishment for any working scientist to aim for.

Re:Yet Another Einstein Article (1)

girlintraining (1395911) | 1 year,16 days | (#45045909)

What do you mean by "fractally wrong"?

This [lmgtfy.com] .

True, but...

The end. There is no "but"; Either it's a correct statement, and you need to admit your original was mistaken and try again, or it's not, in which case no 'but' is required. All that using the word 'but' means is that your pride was hurt. While I sympathize, please stop using your busted argument.

No one really knows at the outset if they've got what it takes,

"Science is a way of thinking much more than it is a body of knowledge." -- Carl Sagan

No, people do know. It takes the ability to observe natural phenomenon, form conclusions based on that, then test them until you can get the same result multiple times. That's it. As I said before -- animals do this all the time. Not just people. So you don't need to climb mountains and risk death to be a scientist. Maybe you do to get paid, but science is something anyone can do.

But that's not the same thing as "doing science" the way Einstein did,

Are you saying you can't pick up a piece of chalk and write on a blackboard? That you can't stare into space having a good think on something? Are you suggesting you're incapable of looking with fascination at something happening around you and say "I think I would like to know more about that." Because that's what Einstein did, he just happened to do it particularly well.

Look, at this point you're arguing just for the sake of argument; Science is the light of reason. It is something available to all. You don't have to pay for it. You don't have to be smart. You don't have to put on a lab coat, or get a PhD, or climb mountains, or risk death. All you really need is to be observant and enough mental capacity to see how your own interactions with the environment change it. Everything on top of that is just extra.

There is no reason why we cannot all be scientists. I get that you wanna hero worship Einstein because you feel that your own intelligence should be rewarded and acknowledged, at least in some small measure, like his was. But drop the emotional neediness here and look at the big picture: The pursuit of science is its own reward. You don't need recognition or publication to benefit from your own pursuit of knowledge.

Re:Yet Another Einstein Article (1)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | 1 year,16 days | (#45046005)

Huh. It's like you're having an argument with someone who made a post vaguely similar to mine. Well, have fun with that.

Re:Yet Another Einstein Article (1, Funny)

girlintraining (1395911) | 1 year,16 days | (#45046085)

Huh. It's like you're having an argument with someone who made a post vaguely similar to mine. Well, have fun with that.

Ah, the ad hominid with a side of snark. The time-tested way of letting everyone on the internet know you just went full retard.

Re:Yet Another Einstein Article (1)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | 1 year,16 days | (#45046127)

Ah, the ad hominid with a side of snark. The time-tested way of letting everyone on the internet know you just went full retard.

Have you actually read your own posts in this thread?

Re:Yet Another Einstein Article (0)

girlintraining (1395911) | 1 year,16 days | (#45046377)

Have you actually read your own posts in this thread?

No, I turned the monitor off and pressed tab 5 times and then enter when I was done. Why do you ask?

Re:Yet Another Einstein Article (1)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | 1 year,16 days | (#45046595)

Thanks, that helps clear things up.

Re:Yet Another Einstein Article (1)

AK Marc (707885) | 1 year,16 days | (#45046665)

That wasn't an ad hominem. Saying "I never said that" is not an attack on you personally.

Your inability or unwillingness to listen to others makes you a dumber than the stupidest person on the planet. At least they have an excuse for being so stupid. What's yours?

There, is that a better ad hominem?

Re:Yet Another Einstein Article (1)

Samantha Wright (1324923) | 1 year,16 days | (#45045347)

Tsk. Curiosity generates intelligence. There are other ways, of course (meeting parents' expectations, in particular), but they're not as reliable or resilient. I would argue that the developedness of Einstein's corpus callosum (which does seem to be a congenital trait) simply meant that he was better able to benefit from his curiosity and to be more satisfied and captivated by its fruits.

Re:Yet Another Einstein Article (1)

girlintraining (1395911) | 1 year,16 days | (#45045629)

Tsk. Curiosity generates intelligence.

Citation needed. Please show me a study where someone who becomes curious about something becomes more intelligent. Conventional thinking right now is that intelligence is primarily genetic, and while it can be influenced by environment, it is largely fixed from birth. There are no cases I'm aware of where a person who was firmly tested and found to be of average or below average intelligence, by some later life experience, became a genius. This is real life, not Flowers for Algernon.

I would argue that [...] he was better able to benefit from his curiosity and to be more satisfied and captivated by its fruits.

Curiousity is a personality trait. Intelligence is an ability. You can be curious and stupid, or disinterested yet intelligent. One has no bearing on the other. The fact that he was curious and intelligent also is no proof that he was more satisfied by its fruits. A king losing his crown and a child losing her doll means the same to each. A person's level of emotional satisfaction has to do with past experience and temperament, rather than the abstract measure of impact the event had.

Now I know what you were trying to say here; But what you actually said is bogus. People who are intelligent generally are also more open-minded. Which means they're generally more curious, more prone to analytical thinking, and generally more likely to embrace science, etc. But this is true of groups; We can say nothing with confidence about any individual on the basis of having observed one of these two traits.

Re:Yet Another Einstein Article (1)

Samantha Wright (1324923) | 1 year,16 days | (#45046249)

Citation needed. Please show me a study where someone who becomes curious about something becomes more intelligent.

Given that we're talking about development from an extremely early age, that would be illegal, but I will do my best to explain this.

Conventional thinking right now is that intelligence is primarily genetic, and while it can be influenced by environment, it is largely fixed from birth.

This is the primary reason given for the class bias seen in IQ testing. That is not, at all, conventional thinking. Read this [ucsd.edu] and this [psmag.com] . If intelligence were genetic to the extent you suggest, the children of immigrants would be incapable of integrating at the most fundamental cultural level.

Curiousity is a personality trait. Intelligence is an ability. You can be curious and stupid, or disinterested yet intelligent. One has no bearing on the other.

If you are curious about how something works, you will be more likely to figure out how it works. Once you understand how things work, you can use that understanding to interpret more situations. This includes abstract concepts. Pattern matching, abstract reasoning, and creativity all depend on the fruits of a mind knowledgeable in such things. The brain cannot function in a vacuum (as learned from Genie [wikipedia.org] , along with observations of animals in factory farms), and it cannot derive new ideas from absolute nothingness, only recombine what it has experienced (this is a central hypothesis of computational creativity [wikipedia.org] ).

The genetic element you're identifying is a person's potential to be intelligent. That potential is meaningless until some force motivates the person to learn to use it, whether that's curiosity, school, or parenting, because we are not born with an understanding of any axioms that we can derive new concepts or thinking strategies from. These last two don't cause self-sustaining intellectual growth, leaving curiosity as the only reliable driving force for a person's development of their intelligence.

Re:Yet Another Einstein Article (1)

mcgrew (92797) | 1 year,16 days | (#45046137)

Tsk. Curiosity generates intelligence.

I think that, but I don't know that. You're a biologist, could you explain the biology behind that to us? I'd be very interested.

Re:Yet Another Einstein Article (1)

Samantha Wright (1324923) | 1 year,16 days | (#45046261)

Sure; I've just given an explanation in response to this [slashdot.org] somewhat more sceptical post.

Re:Yet Another Einstein Article (1)

AK Marc (707885) | 1 year,16 days | (#45046677)

Curiosity causes thinking. Thinking causes more brain development. Just like practice thinking (the studies done about crossword puzzles in old people and such) proves an improvement in brain activity, one could take that to mean "curiosity causes intelligence".

Re:Yet Another Einstein Article (1)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | 1 year,16 days | (#45046157)

Computer analogies available for most topics! (Cars retired.)

It's like when you send your old server to the junkyard to be parted out ... ahhh, crap.

Re:Yet Another Einstein Article (1)

Samantha Wright (1324923) | 1 year,16 days | (#45046297)

Sort of... but the reality is that the core of how cells work is directly analogous to the hardware/software distinction in a computer (in fact, they're Turing-complete), so stretching things into a car metaphor is much harder to do—try explaining the contents of a typical Unix box's task list in terms of types of vehicles you see on a road, and you'll see how pointless it is.

Re:Yet Another Einstein Article (1)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | 1 year,16 days | (#45046495)

the core of how cells work is directly analogous to the hardware/software distinction in a computer (in fact, they're Turing-complete)

I was just trying to make a joke, but it's an interesting question: are cells Turing machines? (To the degree anything in the real world can be called a Turing machine; if you know where to get a computer with infinite memory, please send me the manufacturer's URL.) They have the potential to be, else we couldn't build biological computers--which AFAICT are just lab curiosities for now, but may someday do real work--but it seems to me they don't really act like them in their day-to-day functions. Then again, neither do our computers, a lot of the time ...

The more time I spend modeling gene regulation, the more skeptical I am of any attempt to draw any equivalence between computers and living organisms, or even parts of organisms, except in the very broad sense that we and our machines both process information. The collection of branching stochastic feedback loops necessary to carry out the processes of life, at every level from transcription to tissue function, is like nothing any sane engineer would ever try to build.

Re:Yet Another Einstein Article (1)

Samantha Wright (1324923) | 1 year,16 days | (#45046661)

There's an old machine learning technique called genetic programming [wikipedia.org] , which consists of randomly trying to find the correct algorithm to solve a problem. It's infeasible for large problems, but I've seen an example of using it to find Newton's law of universal gravitation. The raw result was a hilariously overcomplicated equation full of redundant multiplication and division operations, but it showed a real, meaningful evolutionary process. Just because a program's insane doesn't mean it's disqualified! (And as for engineers, remember Weinberg's Second Law: If builders built buildings the way programmers wrote programs, then the first woodpecker that came along would destroy civilization.)

Anyway, there are a lot of analogies that are easily grasped to a computer expert that have significant value in understanding biology, even if they're not perfect—I've been working for a while on comparing chromatin modelling to disk seek time optimization. It doesn't really seem to break down until the focus is on actual networks, although there seems to be no shortage of design patterns in use.

Re:Yet Another Einstein Article (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,16 days | (#45045401)

What he may have meant was that he wasn't necessarily top 1 percent in the type of straight line thinking that characterizes the kind of student that gets a 4.0 GPA at CalTech or MIT, who can ace high-level math and physics courses after a once-though reading of the textbook.

But he had something much better.

Re:Yet Another Einstein Article (1)

mcgrew (92797) | 1 year,16 days | (#45046111)

If Einstein were alive, he would have told you, as he told them when he was still alive -- he wasn't particularly intelligent, only passionately curious.

How could one possibly be intelligent without being passionately curious?

run around town in your loafers not giving a fuck what anyone else thought of you.

Personally, I don't see giving a fuck what others think as a particularly intelligent trait. Not giving a fuck what people think has been beneficial to me. Followers give a fuck, creators seldom do.

Re:Yet Another Einstein Article (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,16 days | (#45046247)

Well, he wouldn't tell you that after having his brain sliced up.

Re:Yet Another Einstein Article (1)

metrix007 (200091) | 1 year,16 days | (#45046507)

Exactly. It's ridiculous the pedestal we place Einstein on.

I'd be willing to bet that many smarter than average people have larger than average corpus callosums. It doesn't seem like something that would be unique to Einstein.

Since Einstein, I think we have people who are without a doubt more intelligent, I mean just check this list [therichest.com] .

Einstein made a breakthrough that would have inevitable happened anyway, because he was curious, smart, confident and able to think critically.

Putting him on a pedestal to the point where we study his brain like this just shows how ignorant and how low average intelligence is.

What the article fails to say but only implies (4, Informative)

MadCow-ard (330423) | 1 year,16 days | (#45044843)

I've read a lot about neuroscience discoveries and interesting abnormalities and didn't know the direct correlation between the corpus collosum thickness and intelligence. Ok, so when someone claims something like this article I think - bah... another stupid claim about Einstein. But this time there is some merit to the claim. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2754582/ [nih.gov] And yes, his other brain differences were know for a while, so this seems to be a new revelation based on new evidence of the correlation and the discovered photos.

Re:What the article fails to say but only implies (1)

girlintraining (1395911) | 1 year,16 days | (#45044923)

And yes, his other brain differences were know for a while, so this seems to be a new revelation based on new evidence of the correlation and the discovered photos.

All this ignores a rather glaring problem: The sample size is one.

Re:What the article fails to say but only implies (1)

MadCow-ard (330423) | 1 year,16 days | (#45044965)

no. The sample size which his brain is being compared to is much larger. He is the not the sample size, he is being compared to the known correlation of intelligence and corpus collosum thickness. Check it on google to find more research results.

Re:What the article fails to say but only implies (1)

mysidia (191772) | 1 year,16 days | (#45045075)

no. The sample size which his brain is being compared to is much larger. He is the not the sample size, he is being compared to the known correlation of intelligence and corpus collosum thickness. Check it on google to find more research results.

Yes. He is being compared; HOWEVER, if you were to argue that this means thick corpus collosum makes you perceived as intelligent, that would be to commit a prosecutor's fallacy.

The study does not show if corpus collosum thickness is useful information or not.

It only shows he had this difference; not that it was a factor in the public's perception that he is deemed intelligent.

The thick corpus collosum could be a coincidence, unrelated; it could have a tertiary or hidden cause, that might (or might) not also be related to our perception of his intelligence.

For all we know, thick corpus collosum hindered him, and he would be perceived as even more intelligent if it wasn't so unusually thick.

Re:What the article fails to say but only implies (1)

girlintraining (1395911) | 1 year,16 days | (#45045139)

It only shows he had this difference; not that it was a factor in the public's perception that he is deemed intelligent.

While arguing about logical fallacies you've failed to address the original point entirely; A sample size of one is a problem, guys. It can't disprove the null hypothesis. It doesn't matter how many observations you make in the control group; At the very best, the ideal case, you'll succeed in identifying properties of this brain not present in all those other brains, but what you could be identifying may have absolutely nothing to do with intelligence. It could just as easily be another property, like his love of Justin Bieber (hey, if we're going to allow a sample size of one to be scientifically valid, I'm bringing time travel back -- so no bitching).

Re:What the article fails to say but only implies (1)

MadCow-ard (330423) | 1 year,16 days | (#45045223)

While arguing about logical fallacies you've failed to address the original point entirely; A sample size of one is a problem, guys. It can't disprove the null hypothesis. It doesn't matter how many observations you make in the control group; At the very best, the ideal case, you'll succeed in identifying properties of this brain not present in all those other brains, but what you could be identifying may have absolutely nothing to do with intelligence. It could just as easily be another property, like his love of Justin Bieber (hey, if we're going to allow a sample size of one to be scientifically valid, I'm bringing time travel back -- so no bitching).

But the sample size it not 1. The article is claiming two things: CC thickness is correlated to Intelligence (which the article should have backed up with references), and two: Einstein's CC was thicker then normal. It is thus drawing a rather thin correlation to a correlation. But the sample size is not 1 because the article is not trying to say that since Einstein had a large CC and was intelligent, then CC thickness must mean higher intelligence.

Re:What the article fails to say but only implies (1)

mysidia (191772) | 1 year,16 days | (#45045789)

It is thus drawing a rather thin correlation to a correlation. But the sample size is not 1

A correlation is a comparison of a measurement between two samples.

For example: People who have thick members and those that have thin members.

You cannot take a representative sample of people who have a small penis and a girlfriend-finding success rate of 3 girlfriend/year, and compare it against a sample of one person who has a large penis who happened to have a success rate of 14 girlfriends/year, to find a correlation of penis size to number of successfully found girlfriends.

By the same token, you cannot use a sample size of 1 person to establish a correlation of brain CC thickness to intelligence.

Re:What the article fails to say but only implies (1)

girlintraining (1395911) | 1 year,16 days | (#45046067)

^^ This guy gets it. But next time man, stick with the traditional car analogy. If you mention penis, the discussion goes one of two ways after; Either everyone giggles and spends the next ten minutes exchanging awkward looks before one of them says penis again, ad nauseum... or someone assumes you insulted the size of their penis and WWIII breaks out, resulting in downmods and bitchiness all around. Also, anyone who has even 3 girlfriends a year obviously has commitment issues... let alone 14, at which point I start to question your credibility.

Re:What the article fails to say but only implies (1)

Kielistic (1273232) | 1 year,16 days | (#45046497)

To continue your infantile example you are forgetting about the group of people with a large dick having larger success with women than those with small. Now there is some evidence to say "buddy's giant dick might have helped with the ladies".

To put succinctly: this is not a sample of one. This is a datum in a sample.

Re:What the article fails to say but only implies (1)

MadCow-ard (330423) | 1 year,16 days | (#45045171)

This is not about perception it is about facts, and correlation. Fact: Einstein had a much higher then normal/average intelligence. Fact (but not well understood or even well researched so I would call it a weak fact): thicker corpus collosum is correlated to higher intelligence. Fact (according to one study which measured the thickness of Einstein's corpus collosum using photos): Einstein's CC was thicker then normal. Ergo, there could be a connection between Einstein's CC and his intelligence (if that correlations prove true in the long run).

Re:What the article fails to say but only implies (1)

Udom (978789) | 1 year,16 days | (#45046167)

Einstein also had a bigger nose than most people. The brain is far more complex than painted here, having more connections than there are stars in the universe. While there are specialized modules, thinking is a committee activity and it turns out that almost all decisions are not made rationally but emotionally, with your consciousness being informed moments later ...all the while believing it is in control. If Einstein had only had the rational going for him he would never have found anything of note... Niels Bohr had a dream in 1913 of electrons whirling around a nucleus, woke up and wrote it all down. That dream is the basis of atomic theory. The ability to pull together disparate threads to make something new is now suspected to be the work of the associative cortex... but still in collaboration with all the other committee members that make up the brain.

That's surprising (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,16 days | (#45044847)

Here I thought it was because he tried his best and applied himself, which I've heard is all it takes for anyone to succeed.

Re:That's surprising (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,16 days | (#45046447)

Don't worry. You are a unique and precious snowflake.

comparing different brain images (3, Informative)

mandginguero (1435161) | 1 year,16 days | (#45044869)

Hmm, so we're comparing photographs of a fixed/preserved and sliced brain with those acquired by an MRI. Does anyone know what kind of variance or error these different imaging techniques introduce? There is enough variability in brain size and location of features that normal comparisons of one person's brain via MRI with another person's brain are rather meaningless. The standard procedure is to warp MRI brain scans to a common brain, and then run the comparisons of warped/normalized images....

Yes, but ... (1)

PPH (736903) | 1 year,16 days | (#45044887)

... is this physiological difference innate or developed as a result of Einstein applying his brain to difficult problems? Like what happens to the brains of London cab drivers [wired.com] .

Re:Yes, but ... (3, Informative)

MadCow-ard (330423) | 1 year,16 days | (#45044935)

it is just correlation, not a causation. That is a much higher bar to clear.

Re:Yes, but ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,16 days | (#45045745)

It is a little known fact that "correlation" is not any other word. "correlation" is not, for example, "furniture". "correlation" is also not "rocket" nor "fish". In fact, so few other words mean the same thing as "correlation" that there is almost no point in saying that "correlation" is not some other word. So why do we say it here? Because "correlation is not a causation" is how you say "Shut up!" on slashdot.

comedy in tradgedy (2)

Gravis Zero (934156) | 1 year,16 days | (#45044889)

Thomas Stoltz Harvey [wikipedia.org] (a pathologist) conducted Albert Einstein's autopsy. What they seem to omit (probably due to embarrassment) is that he stole Albert Einstein's brain. [wikipedia.org] Apparently he was trying to figure out (and take the credit to be famous) the very same thing, what made Albert Einstein so intelligent. He became obsessed and it ended up destroying his life and marriages, yes, multiple marriages. The only thing two things he did right was preserve the brain properly (though he sliced it into many parts) and eventually (decades later) return the brain. If you think he got his just deserts, well, take solace in that his selfish actions destroyed him.

you can see this and other disturbing true tales in Dark Matters: Twisted But True [imdb.com] on Netflix or your local torrent site.

Re:comedy in tradgedy (2)

Gravis Zero (934156) | 1 year,16 days | (#45044983)

it looks like Netflix pulled this title (their probably license expired) but you can get it on amazon.com or your local torrent site.

Damn Lies (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,16 days | (#45044963)

Statistically speaking, half the population has a corups callosum larger than the average.

Re:Damn Lies (1)

MadCow-ard (330423) | 1 year,16 days | (#45044989)

all the women are strong, all the men are good looking, and all the children are above average... The Lake Wobegon effect is good for something, no?

Re:Damn Lies (1)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | 1 year,16 days | (#45045329)

Statistically speaking, half the population has a corups callosum larger than the average.

So, you've studied the distribution of corpus callosum size enough to be sure the median is equal to the mean?

Re:Damn Lies (1)

uglyduckling (103926) | 1 year,16 days | (#45045479)

The median is a form of average, so presumably the GP was referring to average (median) not average (mean).

Re:Damn Lies (1)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | 1 year,16 days | (#45045641)

The problem is that "average" in common usage usually refers to the mean, except when it doesn't. Which is why statisticians avoid the word as much as possible. ;) It was the use of "Statistically speaking ..." that caught my eye; practically every time someone starts out that way, they're going to say something that needs calling out. (Other examples include "I'm opposed to censorship, but ..." and "I'll probably get modded down for this ...")

Einstein Quotes (4, Interesting)

SternisheFan (2529412) | 1 year,16 days | (#45044971)

Collected Quotes from Albert Einstein

"Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius -- and a lot of courage -- to move in the opposite direction."

"Imagination is more important than knowledge."

"Gravitation is not responsible for people falling in love."

"I want to know God's thoughts; the rest are details."

"The hardest thing in the world to understand is the income tax."

"Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one."

"The only real valuable thing is intuition."

"A person starts to live when he can live outside himself."

"I am convinced that He (God) does not play dice."

"God is subtle but he is not malicious."

"Weakness of attitude becomes weakness of character."

"I never think of the future. It comes soon enough."

"The eternal mystery of the world is its comprehensibility."

"Sometimes one pays most for the things one gets for nothing."

"Science without religion is lame. Religion without science is blind."

"Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new."

"Great spirits have often encountered violent opposition from weak minds."

"Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler."

"Common sense is the collection of prejudices acquired by age eighteen."

"Science is a wonderful thing if one does not have to earn one's living at it."

"The secret to creativity is knowing how to hide your sources."

"The only thing that interferes with my learning is my education."

"God does not care about our mathematical difficulties. He integrates empirically."

"The whole of science is nothing more than a refinement of everyday thinking."

"Technological progress is like an axe in the hands of a pathological criminal."

"Peace cannot be kept by force. It can only be achieved by understanding."

"The most incomprehensible thing about the world is that it is comprehensible."

"We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them."

"Education is what remains after one has forgotten everything he learned in school."

"The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing."

"Do not worry about your difficulties in Mathematics. I can assure you mine are still greater."

"Equations are more important to me, because politics is for the present, but an equation is something for eternity."

"If A is a success in life, then A equals x plus y plus z. Work is x; y is play; and z is keeping your mouth shut."

"Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I'm not sure about the the universe."

"As far as the laws of mathematics refer to reality, they are not certain, as far as they are certain, they do not refer to reality."

"Whoever undertakes to set himself up as a judge of Truth and Knowledge is shipwrecked by the laughter of the gods."

"I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones."

"In order to form an immaculate member of a flock of sheep one must, above all, be a sheep."

"The fear of death is the most unjustified of all fears, for there's no risk of accident for someone who's dead."

"Too many of us look upon Americans as dollar chasers. This is a cruel libel, even if it is reiterated thoughtlessly by the Americans themselves."

"Heroism on command, senseless violence, and all the loathsome nonsense that goes by the name of patriotism -- how passionately I hate them!"

"No, this trick won't work...How on earth are you ever going to explain in terms of chemistry and physics so important a biological phenomenon as first love?"

"My religion consists of a humble admiration of the illimitable superior spirit who reveals himself in the slight details we are able to perceive with our frail and feeble mind."

"Yes, we have to divide up our time like that, between our politics and our equations. But to me our equations are far more important, for politics are only a matter of present concern. A mathematical equation stands forever."

"The release of atom power has changed everything except our way of thinking...the solution to this problem lies in the heart of mankind. If only I had known, I should have become a watchmaker."

"Great spirits have always found violent opposition from mediocrities. The latter cannot understand it when a man does not thoughtlessly submit to hereditary prejudices but honestly and courageously uses his intelligence."

"The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and all science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead: his eyes are closed."

"A man's ethical behavior should be based effectually on sympathy, education, and social ties; no religious basis is necessary. Man would indeed be in a poor way if he had to be restrained by fear of punishment and hope of reward after death."

"The further the spiritual evolution of mankind advances, the more certain it seems to me that the path to genuine religiosity does not lie through the fear of life, and the fear of death, and blind faith, but through striving after rational knowledge."

"Now he has departed from this strange world a little ahead of me. That means nothing. People like us, who believe in physics, know that the distinction between past, present, and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion."

"You see, wire telegraph is a kind of a very, very long cat. You pull his tail in New York and his head is meowing in Los Angeles. Do you understand this? And radio operates exactly the same way: you send signals here, they receive them there. The only difference is that there is no cat."

"One had to cram all this stuff into one's mind for the examinations, whether one liked it or not. This coercion had such a deterring effect on me that, after I had passed the final examination, I found the consideration of any scientific problems distasteful to me for an entire year."

"...one of the strongest motives that lead men to art and science is escape from everyday life with its painful crudity and hopeless dreariness, from the fetters of one's own ever-shifting desires. A finely tempered nature longs to escape from the personal life into the world of objective perception and thought."

"He who joyfully marches to music rank and file, has already earned my contempt. He has been given a large brain by mistake, since for him the spinal cord would surely suffice. This disgrace to civilization should be done away with at once. Heroism at command, how violently I hate all this, how despicable and ignoble war is; I would rather be torn to shreds than be a part of so base an action. It is my conviction that killing under the cloak of war is nothing but an act of murder."

"A human being is a part of a whole, called by us _universe_, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest... a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty."

"Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted counts." (Sign hanging in Einstein's office at Princeton)

“If I could do it all again, I'd be a plumber.”

http://rescomp.stanford.edu/~cheshire/EinsteinQuotes.html [stanford.edu]

Re:Einstein Quotes (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,16 days | (#45045227)

I'm sure many of these were from Einstein, but I'll bet a few were attributed to him for convenience. Just as Mark Twain gets assigned ownership of a lot of old zingers whose original author is long forgotten.

Re:Einstein Quotes (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,16 days | (#45045505)

Here's one more: "I really didn't say everything I said."

homosexual men (2)

lisabeeren (657508) | 1 year,16 days | (#45045031)

homosexual men have enlarged corpus collums too. http://paws.kettering.edu/~pstanche/ArchSexBehav.pdf [kettering.edu] what do these macro imaging studies really tell us?

Re:homosexual men (1)

MadCow-ard (330423) | 1 year,16 days | (#45045097)

maybe that they are more intelligent. I'm not trolling, I'm somewhat serious. I also don't think correlation means more then just that: correlation (like ice cream and drownings), but it could. So lets stay open and keep looking for answers.

Re:homosexual men (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,16 days | (#45045447)

Well studies have been done [nih.gov] which seem to correlate. The abstract implies that intelligent people are more likely to "experiment" though. That's not quite the same thing.

Re:homosexual men (1)

Jmc23 (2353706) | 1 year,16 days | (#45045451)

Yeah, but the increased communication in that case is just the nagging from their feminine side!

Re:homosexual men (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,16 days | (#45046467)

HAHAHAHAHA come on how is this not +5 funny?

Re:homosexual men (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,16 days | (#45045751)

TIL Einstein had a big "corpus collosum" and homosexuals have big "corpus collums". That sounds enticing, but how is it related to brains?

"Life's not fair" (1)

Joining Yet Again (2992179) | 1 year,16 days | (#45045087)

And yet people will still say that your fate depends on how hard you try, rather than who your mother and father were.

Re:"Life's not fair" (1)

lisabeeren (657508) | 1 year,16 days | (#45045457)

And yet people will still say that your fate depends on how hard you try, rather than who your mother and father were.

your genes only explain so much, and trying hard seems like a plausible contributor to success. i'm comfortable with the idea that applying yourself can make you more successful. genes certainly contribute (you only need to look at the heritability of IQ), but other factors come into it, otherwise we wouldn't need to bother with education, etc.

Re:"Life's not fair" (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,16 days | (#45046659)

Maybe he meant "connections" his family has, vs. genetics.It's how I interpreted it. Nepotism, laws or not, abounds.

Re:"Life's not fair" (1)

Jmc23 (2353706) | 1 year,16 days | (#45045489)

Ah Marvin. There's two ways to interpret those facts. Stop being part of the negative crowd, especially when we know that what you do affects your brain development.

NOT NEWS (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,16 days | (#45045321)

I heard this 15 years ago. This is not news.

Re:NOT NEWS (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,16 days | (#45045391)

Re:NOT NEWS (1)

Jmc23 (2353706) | 1 year,16 days | (#45045529)

Which has to do with his parietal lobe. The pdf you link says his CC was average, only larger than expected if compared by handedness.

Genetic or Developed? (1)

dittbub (2425592) | 1 year,16 days | (#45045459)

I wonder if those parts of the brain can be developed like you develop muscles. Or is it genetic?

Re:Genetic or Developed? (1)

lisabeeren (657508) | 1 year,16 days | (#45045541)

it appears that taxi drivers learning a city experience increases in size of certain brain structures implicated in memory:

http://www.mnn.com/green-tech/transportation/stories/brains-of-taxi-drivers-work-differently-than-average-people [mnn.com] (couldn't find the journal article sorry)

but that old chestnut keeps coming up:

"What is not clear is whether those trainees who became fully-fledged taxi drivers had some biological advantage over those who failed. Could it be, for example, that they have a genetic predisposition towards having a more adaptable, 'plastic' brain?" Maguire said. "In other words, the perennial question of 'nature versus nurture' is still open."

Thus and so (1)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | 1 year,16 days | (#45045591)

I remember my mom telling me when I was a little kid 40 years ago that Einstein's brain had twice as many convolutions in it as a normal human.

Nova - How Smart Can We Get (1)

Jonah Hex (651948) | 1 year,16 days | (#45045811)

Just watched this which includes the latest findings on Einstein's brain, and was struck by how bad NOVA has become. It used to be a fairly hard science show but this featured adolescent humor and cheesy cut scenes, such as the presenter and a scientist using binoculars to look at Princeton where the majority of his brain is stored. I can only hope this is not the norm for the current NOVA programming, as I was extremely disappointed. - HEX

This is not news. (1)

Roger Wilcox (776904) | 1 year,16 days | (#45046197)

While interesting, this was known decades ago. Carl Sagan's "Cosmos" tv series, produced in 1978, has a segment specifically devoted to Einstein's brain. Sagan talks about Einstein's abnormally thick corpus callosum and suggests that it might somehow be related to his genius. Whoever authored this paper is not making a novel hypothesis.

Again with the statistical abuse (1)

paiute (550198) | 1 year,16 days | (#45046205)

How many times is this story going to show up? When I was tutoring someone for AP statistics, I learned a lot of interesting shit. One thing I remember was that if you take some ordinary object and measure 20 properties of the object, there is a high probability that one of the properties will be far from the mean. So if you take some famous person's brain and measure it in enough ways, you will find a property which is far from normal. Then you say 'aha!' and write a story about how such and such's ability was due to this nonnormal brain property.

CC measurements are inherently problematic (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,16 days | (#45046213)

Oh come on... for a detailed description of why corpus callosum measurements are not really scientific see the chapter on female-male brain differences in Anne Fausto-Sterling's "Sexing the body".

I call hoax. And bad science.

Einstein would probably give this the stink eye (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,16 days | (#45046443)

To say that his intelligence was a "gift" is nothing besides an insult to the man. He earned it and worked for it. People often have this romantic assumption that Einstein was instantly in the money and fame with the general theory of relativity just shat out immediately. No. This is a man who was a patent clerk and had the extreme patience and interest in the world to sit in front of the window and just observe the universe. Imagining what would happen if he saw something such as a window break, but changing factors such as speed and acceleration. He did this for years, day after day. This is what gave him his famous intelligence. He wasn't "gifted" by some benevolent force. Furthermore, he would not call any of his formative years a "gift" considering that it was quite hellish for him during the time that he began forming the special theory of relativity. It even took months for his first paper about it to be noticed.

Pickled (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,16 days | (#45046555)

Was Einstein's brain pickled (for later study) against his wishes? What were his wishes?

I get the impression the actual brain was studies, not just photographs.

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