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The Day Einstein Died
April 16, 2010 9:57 PM   Subscribe

Albert Einstein died 55 years ago, on April 18, 1955, of heart failure at the age of 76. His funeral and cremation were intensely private affairs. Only one person, LIFE photographer Ralph Morse, managed to capture the events of the day Einstein died.
posted by Effigy2000 (17 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite

 
"A Bottle of Scotch Makes All the Difference"

Amen.
posted by stringbean at 10:02 PM on April 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


He died, was autopsied, and then cremated all in the same day?
posted by contessa at 10:24 PM on April 16, 2010


He died, was autopsied, and then cremated all in the same day?

Yeah, you have to stock the brain vat right away, or it'll die.
posted by Malor at 11:13 PM on April 16, 2010 [2 favorites]


The moral of the story is: don't be famous when you die. Someone will want to intrude on your mourners for a scoop.
posted by Cranberry at 11:28 PM on April 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


Seeing his messy desk was sad. Death is never convenient.

The moral of the story is: don't be famous when you die. Someone will want to intrude on your mourners for a scoop.

Eh, the pictures were kept secret for several decades.
posted by delmoi at 11:40 PM on April 16, 2010


delmoi: doesn't change the fact that someone intruded on his mourners for a scoop.

Hindsight is no consolation for the now.
posted by IAmBroom at 1:17 AM on April 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


The picture of his desk seems somehow iconic or archetypal. The others just seem intrusive in a private matter.
posted by darkstar at 1:20 AM on April 17, 2010


Seeing that pipe on the desk reminded me of my father's eyeglasses after he died.

The finality of death hits hard when you realise those personal items will never be used by their owners ever again.

It is good his desk was preserved on film for posterity. The family business? Not so much.
posted by bwg at 2:08 AM on April 17, 2010


Protopaparazzi.
posted by fairmettle at 3:13 AM on April 17, 2010


His funeral and cremation were intensely private affairs.

Due to the gravity of the situation, only specific relativity were invited.
posted by hal9k at 4:43 AM on April 17, 2010 [5 favorites]


The long strange journey of Einstein's brain
posted by Xurando at 5:02 AM on April 17, 2010


[Pathologist Thomas Harvey] relocated to Lawrence, Kansas, took an assembly-line job in a plastic-extrusion factory, moved into a second-floor apartment next to a gas station, and befriended a neighbor, the beat poet William Burroughs. The two men routinely met for drinks on Burroughs's front porch. Harvey would tell stories about the brain, about cutting off chunks to send to researchers around the world. Burroughs, in turn, would boast to visitors that he could have a piece of Einstein any time he wanted.

Isn't the world an odd place?
posted by Grangousier at 6:05 AM on April 17, 2010


I wonder if any editor today would be so decent as to nix the publication of such photos at the behest of the family.

As a person who has attended far too many funerals of family members already, I wouldn't be terribly upset if someone were photographing the events. I don't know how I'd feel about them being published, but I rarely take issue with respectful recording of history for posterity's sake.

I'm sure I would feel differently about the whole thing if there had been 20 photographers there at the funeral snapping pictures or even one guy going about it obnoxiously, like you see the paparazzi doing these days ("[name]! Look over here, just once!!"). That would be annoying. But one guy quietly going about his business? Meh.

Either way, the images of his office are great.
posted by wierdo at 6:21 AM on April 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


Zombie Einstein is going to be pissed when he comes back to find his brain gone.

On the other hand, he can never be killed.
posted by bwg at 6:35 AM on April 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


The first image is apparently the only one from this set that saw publication at the time, and I've probably seen it before without paying much attention; but in context it seems almost unbearably sad.

Meanwhile, the third image, featuring the same subject (his desk), has a totally different impact for me. I can't NOT want to lean over and scan everything that's visible, and from there I want to start rifling through stuff.

I shared this on FB yesterday, and the first comment it got was along the lines of "this is why we all need to remember to delete our porn before we go." I guess it would be pretty awkward if image #3 revealed an old copy of Hustler lying wide open on top of everything.

A few clicks away is The Einstein You Never Knew, with some nice shots of the man in life.
posted by unregistered_animagus at 8:27 AM on April 17, 2010


Albert Einstein died 55 years ago, on April 18, 1955, of heart failure...

It is well known that he died of a ruptured abdominal aortic aneurysm.
posted by neuron at 10:24 PM on April 17, 2010


He died, was autopsied, and then cremated all in the same day?

contessa, it's jewish custom to get them buried ASAP.

Mind you, it's not jewish custom to cremate.

[not jewish - just reading wikipedia]
posted by wilful at 7:25 PM on April 18, 2010


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