Since there seem to be five biological descendants of Albert Einstein, and the original chromosomes of him distributed among them ...

Is it possible to recover enough DNA of an individual from his progeny and proceed to clone him? Any information would be helpful

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    $\begingroup$ I've edited the first part of your Question because what to do there seemed obvious. However, I would rather leave the remainder for Biology SE to address. $\endgroup$
    – PolyGeo
    Jun 26, 2014 at 7:33
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    $\begingroup$ Technically I think not even if his own children were alive but I am very interested in an answer. $\endgroup$ Jun 26, 2014 at 18:21
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    $\begingroup$ A large chunk of Einstein still exists (pickled brain) and protocols exist to recover DNA from formalin fixed tissues. It wouldn't be easy, but in theory, you could derive its full sequence and synthesize artificial chromosomes for cloning. $\endgroup$
    – PlaysDice
    Jun 26, 2014 at 18:39

1 Answer 1


During the generation of gametes (sperm, eggs), chromosomes can cross-over - this swaps paternal and maternally-derived genetic material. So none of the descendant's chromosomes would be a direct copy of Einstein's, and furthermore, each offspring receives half of its genetic complement from each parent. This means that if you pool the DNA data from small number of offspring you may not obtain all the elements of one parent's DNA or be able to assign that data back to a specific 'original' chromosome. (On top of this you would have to determine which sequences in the offspring came from the other parent).

If I was cloning Einstein, I'd use his DNA. Is his comb in a museum ? A tooth? A letter he licked? A large chunk of Einstein still exists (formalin fixed brain) and lab protocols can recover DNA from formalin fixed tissues. It wouldn't be easy, but in theory, you could: i) derive its full sequence and ii) synthesize artificial chromosomes with suitable epigenetic modifications, and iii) inject those into enucleated eggs for human cloning or iv) transfect them into enucleated cells from a cell line, make iPSCs and then fuse those with ~8-cell fertilized embryos.

(Spoiler - not technically do-able today and almost certainly illegal in most states/countries).
For a related movie treatment, the Boys from Brazil tells a good story - warning Nazi content.

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    $\begingroup$ thanks a lot for your attention to my question , and the illegality of this work is amazing ! $\endgroup$ Jun 26, 2014 at 19:24
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    $\begingroup$ i) and ii) will probably never be impossible due to genomic regions that cannot be sequenced, un-resolvable epigenetic statuses and the major difficulties in synthesising ekaryotic chromosomes. Nice thought experiment, though. $\endgroup$ May 13, 2017 at 11:05

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