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Author Topic: Keeping a severed head alive?
black roses
The Red and the Green Stamps


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Reading the News of the World’s Sunday supplement today, I came across this gem:

quote:
Can you keep a severed head alive?
Yes! In 1998, the US government granted a patent for a device that could keep a severed head alive after it was surgically removed from the body. According to the patent holder, a severed human head could be kept alive indefinitely, with the device and drugs. It must be severed from the body at the top of the neck, mounted upright, and attached to a mass of plastic tubes.

I think the key phrase here is “according to the patent holder”.

What exactly counts as ‘alive’ anyway? If blood, nutrients, oxygen etc are pumped through a severed head can it be said to be technically alive, or does there have to be brain function?

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abigsmurf
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the only things stopping heads from being kept alive is the central nervous system (which could theoretically be simulated) and the fact you'd have about 20 seconds to connect each vein and artery to a machine that feeds the blood with nutrients and oxygen otherwise the brain would run out of 02 and die.

We're quite a bit off of being able to do this at the moment.

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Troodon
It Came Upon a Midnight Clearance


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Couldn't you do it little by litte, switching blood vessels from the body to a machine one by one?

Honestly, I'm surprised how little research has been done into things like this, since I think there are many people out there who would pay any price to prolong their lives.

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Pork Chop
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they do it in Futurama.

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LittleDuck
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How did they test this? Did they get a living volunteer?

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Mad Jay
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I remember a post that had links to some videos that showed a couple of scientists doing experiments on a dog. They managed to keep his head alive, in the sense that the dog would salivate when they brought some food. Does anyone remember that video? I don't know whether this patent is along those lines or not

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Nico Sasha
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Ebony Silence
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quote:
Originally posted by Mad Jay:
I remember a post that had links to some videos that showed a couple of scientists doing experiments on a dog. They managed to keep his head alive, in the sense that the dog would salivate when they brought some food. Does anyone remember that video? I don't know whether this patent is along those lines or not

How did they get ethical approval for that? Talk about cruelty to animals.

I would not want to go through this myself. Think of the pain you would be in. Just let me die instead.

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KennRice
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I never heard about that 1998 patent. Did the article give the patent number. There was a patent issued in 1987, patent number 4,666,425, titled "Device For Perfusing An Animal Head" which issued to Chet Fleming. The assignee is The Dis Corporation. At the time the patent issued, it was generally accepted among the examiners at the Patent Office that it was done as a prank.

Ken

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Bonnie
The Red and the Green Stamps


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quote:
I remember a post that had links to some videos that showed a couple of scientists doing experiments on a dog.
Severed-dog-head-a-chow.

Bonnie "bow ow" Taylor

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Se non è vero, è ben trovato.

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black roses
The Red and the Green Stamps


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KennRice, the quote in the OP is all the info that was given. The News of the World isn't exactly renowned for it's fact-checking, I wouldn't be surprised if the 1998 patent didn't exist.
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DeathLord
Baby 100 Grand


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quote:
Originally posted by Bonnie:
quote:
I remember a post that had links to some videos that showed a couple of scientists doing experiments on a dog.
Severed-dog-head-a-chow.

Bonnie "bow ow" Taylor

I've read that's was just a propaganda video. Nothing real, as you can see looking how the severed dog head moves in the bowl.
But it's true that a russian surgeon attached a dog head (well, upper torso) on another bigger dog , and they survive for a couple of weeks. (I have a photo of this lesser Cerbero somewhere in my hard disk.)

quote:
Se non è vero, è ben trovato.
Bonnie, can you explain the source of this tagline to me? I'm italian and sound quite meaningless...

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Elwood
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Se non è vero, è ben trovato.
English translation: Even if it's not true, it makes a good story.

Source: about.com

Apologies to Bonnie for answering for her.

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"If I didn't see it and didn't know it was a real news report, I wouldn't believe it. I mean, how nutty can you get?"-Pat Robertson Oct 26, 2006.

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DeathLord
Baby 100 Grand


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quote:
Originally posted by Elwood:
Se non è vero, è ben trovato.
English translation: Even if it's not true, it makes a good story.

Source: about.com

Apologies to Bonnie for answering for her.

Well... It look likes a quote from Giordano Bruno. But it's the first time I ear this. Literal translation is "If it's not true, it's well found" so there must be some kind of story behind. I will investigate! [Smile]
Sorry for the OT. Thanks Elwood!

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KennRice
I'll Be Home for After Christmas Sales


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quote:
Originally posted by black roses:
KennRice, the quote in the OP is all the info that was given. The News of the World isn't exactly renowned for it's fact-checking, I wouldn't be surprised if the 1998 patent didn't exist.

It might be they saw the 1987 patent and reported the wrong date. Or decided a more recent date made better "news."

Ken

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poutyangel
I'm Dreaming of a White Sale


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i think someones seen reanimator one too many times.

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beaver_slayer
Deck the Malls


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OK. let's put it this way: Serge Bryukhonenko really existed. He actually constructed the first "artificial heart", at least AFAIK, in 1928 (picture here: http://www.bakulev.ru/structure/history/img/mus02.jpg), and was working closely on reanimation. Actually, the experiment has probably been made as a part of Bryuknonenko's research on reanimation, which was pretty successful (his technique was used from late 40es to mid50es at least in USSR). His research also made first heart transplants possible.

There exists footage (I've seen it on the TV, no record, sorry) that actually shows two-headed dog with one head reattached. This research is closely tied to Bryukhonenko, but made by his collegue, Demekhov. As the lab report claims, the reattached head retained the character of the dog, although it was unclear how much damage the brain sustained in process.

Although I've never seen this particular movie before, there is nothing in its footage that would be out-of-date to my eye as far as Russian part goes. I believe animal cruelty laws were not an issue in USSR in mid-40es; in fact, I don't remember hearing anything about animal cruelty laws in late 80es, although I might have been too young.

A well-known Russian science fiction novel, "Head of professor Dowel" (mid-1930es) by Alexander Belyaev, shares the same plot of keeping the head alive for some time after the death of a person, reattached to artificial air flow and circulation. The novel has been set in USA. It has been made into movies at least twice. I believe this might have started a rumor of "fake propaganda film". It is alleged that the novel is based on actual demonstration of Bryukhonenko's artificial heart on dog's head in 1925.

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Bonnie
The Red and the Green Stamps


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quote:
Honestly, I'm surprised how little research has been done into things like this, since I think there are many people out there who would pay any price to prolong their lives.
Actually, U.S. neurosurgeon Robert White did a lot of research into (non-human) head transplantation (or, as he might prefer to call it, "body transplantation") and conducted experiments involving the placement of the body of one monkey onto the head of another.

I suspect that current stringent federal and institutional oversight into the humane use of animals in research and bioethical concerns about the implications of this research as it pertains to future use in humans are huge obstacles to continuing this line of research, at least in the United States.

quote:
OK. let's put it this way: Serge Bryukhonenko really existed.
Along that line, then, you might be interested in a previous thread on Brukhonenko’s and coworkers’ research into the reanimation of bodiless dogs.

Bonnie "the ones without the waggly tails" Taylor

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Se non è vero, è ben trovato.

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Bonnie
The Red and the Green Stamps


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quote:
There exists footage (I've seen it on the TV, no record, sorry) that actually shows two-headed dog with one head reattached. This research is closely tied to Bryukhonenko, but made by his collegue, Demekhov.
Those of somewhat delicate sensibilities, particularly when it comes to research involving animals, are forewarned . . .

http://www.tvdata.ru/catalog.php?dir=11&did=365&lang=eng

-- Bonnie

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Se non è vero, è ben trovato.

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Hooverville
The Red and the Green Stamps


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HP Lovecraft wrote some good stories about this stuff, in particular the Herbert West series.

Who would have thought that anything that man wrote down would come true. I hope you've all paid your dues to Cthulhu.

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Cuervorose
I Saw Three Shipments


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John Saul also wrote a book along these lines..."Shadows"....but they didn't keep the whole head, just the brain in a virtual reality type situation....

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First Amongst Daves
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There is a rather sobering story on decapitated heads at Straight Dope.

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Evil Ducky08
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My brother told me about dogs that are having their blood being replaced by antifreeze, being frozen, having their blood being put back in, and then being shocked back into life. i dont know where he heard this, but i know that this is highly unlikely, due to animal right's laws. plus, how in the world would you be able to replace all of someone's blood like that?

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Joe Bentley
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quote:
Originally posted by black roses:
I think the key phrase here is “according to the patent holder”.

Bingo. You don't have to prove effectivness to be awarded a patent. They are still patents on the books for perpetual motion machines.

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"Existence has no pattern save what we imagine after staring at it for too long." - Rorschach, The Watchmen

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Jay Tea
The "Was on Sale" Song


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Hellboy fans will recall Herman Von Klempt, mad Nazi scientist who kept his head and consciousnes alive by sustaining himself in a jar (complete with sundry wires and apparatus).

When confronted with aforementioned 'jarred' evil-doer, Hellboy asks in disgust:

"How often do you change the water in that thing?"

[lol]

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This is where I come up with something right? Something really clever...

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Liza
What's My Lime?


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quote:
Originally posted by Evil Ducky08:
My brother told me about dogs that are having their blood being replaced by antifreeze, being frozen, having their blood being put back in, and then being shocked back into life. i dont know where he heard this, but i know that this is highly unlikely, due to animal right's laws. plus, how in the world would you be able to replace all of someone's blood like that?

Place that does it.

There's a news article and a link to a tv news story about three links down from the top.


They anesthitize the animal first. Then they flush out all of it's blood. They pump cold saline into the animal's veins, which lowers the core temperature to around 50 degrees. Up to three hours later, they drain the saline and replace the blood, while gradually warming the animal. They gently shock the heart, which restarts it. Then they wake it up.

All of this is done following strict animal vivisection and research laws. If you look that up, you'll find that the researchers are required to treat animals better than anyone else, including pet owners.

Liza

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You come into this world screaming, naked, and covered with blood. With any luck, things get better.

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KennRice
I'll Be Home for After Christmas Sales


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quote:
Originally posted by Joe Bentley:
quote:
Originally posted by black roses:
I think the key phrase here is “according to the patent holder”.

Bingo. You don't have to prove effectivness to be awarded a patent. They are still patents on the books for perpetual motion machines.
In the US Patent Office, the policy on patent applications for perpetual motion devices is that an operating model is to be required by the patent examiner. The failure to submit a working model when so requested results in the application becoming abandoned. This policy has been in place for around 100 years. Unfortunately, a few applicants for these have been tenacious and received their patents as a result of court decisions which reversed the positions of the patent examiner and the Patent Office.

In general, if the examiner has any doubt as to whether the invention will work, in any subject area, they are to resolve that matter before passing the application to issue.

Ken

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