Einstein’s mind switch and the Frenchman with no brain

Did you hear about the Frenchman who had no brain? While this may sound like the start of a really-funny joke, it’s actually true. Or almost true, as the Frenchman concerned had almost no brain at all.

FrenchBrainOur brain is surrounded by a liquid called cerebrospinal fluid, which acts like a shock-absorber. By floating in this liquid, our brain is protected from impacts to our head, and from bouncing around inside our skull when we walk or run.

Normally we produce around a half-litre of this fluid every day, but occasionally we produce too much, and develop a condition called hydrocephalus, which is colloquially referred to as water on the brain. Individuals with this condition will often have a tube inserted through their skulls to drain off this excess fluid. This is where our Frenchman appears.

As a child he was diagnosed with hydrocephalus, and had a tube inserted into his head, which was subsequently removed at the age of fourteen, when doctors thought the condition had cleared. But it hadn’t.

Thirty-years later, the man was feeling unwell, and in 2007 was examined by Dr Lionel Feuillet, a neurologist at the Mediterranean University in Marseille, France. After performing a number of brain-scans, they discovered that his skull was full of cerebrospinal fluid, and that the pressure of the fluid had squeezed his brain to form a thin-layer of brain tissue around the inside of his skull.

The man was married with two children, and worked as a civil-servant in the French government. They ran some intelligence tests and he displayed an IQ of seventy-five, which is below the average figure of 100. If it had been any lower, he would have been categorised as being mentally challenged.

He effectively was living a normal life but with very little brain in his head.

A century before our French civil servant’s condition was discovered, there lived another man, who coincidentally also worked as a civil servant, and who also had a most-unusual brain. He worked in the Swiss patent office in the early 1900s, and was the man who Time magazine labelled as the most-significant-figure of the twentieth-century.

His name was Albert Einstein, and though regarded as one of the most intelligent individuals of all time, there are some very-peculiar facts regarding his genius that most people are unaware of.

EinsteinEinstein failed his initial entrance examination for the Zurich Polytechnic, but successfully passed it on his second attempt. He enrolled on a teaching diploma in maths and physics, but apparently didn’t distinguish himself in the eyes of his lecturers while he was there. He finally graduated, and then spent two-years unsuccessfully applying for university assistantships and permanent teaching positions. During this time, he held several temporary-jobs teaching mathematics at Swiss schools, until a friend’s father helped him get a job in the Swiss patent office, where he spent several years working as an assistant patent-examiner.

In 1902, he fathered an illegitimate child, a girl named Lieserl, who is mysteriously unaccounted for in any records after her first-year. A year later, in January 1903, Einstein married the mother of his child, and subsequently had another child with her in May 1904. He also completed his doctorate-studies at this time, and in 1905, at the age of twenty-six, he submitted his technical theses and was awarded a PhD from the University of Zurich.

Considering the tumultuous period that had occurred in his life during the conservative, early twentieth-century, Einstein then proceeded to have what is described as his miracle year.

In 1905, in addition to submitting his PhD thesis, and without having convenient access to scientific reference materials, Einstein wrote and submitted four papers to the highly-respected, academic publication Annalen der Physik (Annals of Physics) which subsequently published them the same year.

These are the four papers and the dates he submitted them:

AnnalenDerPhysik18 March 1905. Paper on the Production and Transformation of Light. This covers the photo-electric effect and eventually earns Einstein a Nobel Prize.

11 May 1905. Paper on the Motion of Small Particles. An explanation of Brownian motion, or how particles in a gas, travel in random paths based on the impact of atoms and molecules upon them.

30 June 1905. Paper on the Electrodynamics of Moving Bodies. Also referred to as the special theory of relativity, which explains the dynamics of bodies when moving close to the speed of light.

27 September 1905. Paper on the Inertia of Bodies and their Energy Content. This introduces the relationship between matter and energy through the iconic equation of E=mc².

These ground-breaking papers, which were actually submitted in a period of just over six-months, are referred to as the Annus Mirabilis, or Miracle Year papers — and it’s easy to understand why they are so-named.

If you were to write a fictional-story based on a twenty-six-year-old character, who had produced no notable work, and who suddenly writes four amazing scientific papers in six-months, it certainly wouldn’t feel like a plausible plot. How was Einstein suddenly able to unleash his mind to discover these ground-breaking new concepts? How did he achieve his phenomenal Miracle Year out of the turmoil in his personal life?

Maybe he just decided to put his mind to the issue!  He somehow switched on his mind and used it to do some of the most remarkable thinking of the twentieth century.

We just need to know how to turn-on our own personal mind-switches to enable us to boost our own thinking significantly.
(This article is an extract from The Delicate Force by Chris Thomason)


The Delicate Force: the source of new ideas…

Do you get ideas that suddenly pop into your head?The_Delicate_Force_cover
Do you have instances of intuition about people or things?
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