The idea for An Audience for Einstein first occurred to me several years ago. While there have been plenty of stories about memory transfer in science fiction almost from its inception, rather than focus exclusively on how such a transfer could be achieved I knew I wanted to focus instead on the human drama and ethical dilemmas of such an experiment, particularly one carried out in secret. Besides, we still don't know how memory works exactly so any "explanation" remains well within the realm of science fiction.
That said, the novel had to at least present a working hypothesis of memory transfer- however speculative- to be credible. I turned to the intriguing theory that memories are created as complex structures of cellular proteins called "Hebbosomes" after psychologist Donald Hebb, who first theorized that links between nerve cells in the brain (the synapses) are responsible for memories being "set." This raises the enticing possibility that those proteins- if removed intact and still viable- could be transferred to a suitable recipient and continue to function. Presumably, the recipient would have to be someone whose brain is still actively developing to readily allow all of the donor Hebbosomes to take up residence, so to speak. In other words, someone young. It was this idea of transferable memory proteins that made An Audience for Einstein possible.
Here's a video that explains the theory of Hebbosomes:
The main trigger for the reawakening of Percival Marlowe in Miguel's body is a certain smell familiar to the professor. Even before Remembrance of Things Past by Marcel Proust it was generally accepted knowledge that specific smells could bring forth a veritable flood of childhood memories. Coincidentally, a Nobel Prize for Medicine went to Professors Richard Axel and Linda Buck in 2004 for their research into how smells create memories. You can read more about their discoveries here:
For more information about smell and memory creation go to:
- Mark Wakely
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