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Decapitation

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dr.bob
42979.  Wed Jan 04, 2006 7:04 am Reply with quote

It's often rumoured, but I'd imagine it would be nigh-on impossible to prove this.

 
Flash
42981.  Wed Jan 04, 2006 7:08 am Reply with quote

I've read an account, which I can't find now, by a French doctor who conducted an experiment wherein he shouted the name of the victim of the guillotine at the severed head immediately after it was cut off, and observed that the eyes opened. He did it again a few seconds later and got the same result, but the third time he tried nothing happened. Even he didn't claim that the experiment was conclusive, though.

 
eggshaped
42983.  Wed Jan 04, 2006 7:22 am Reply with quote

Here's your account Flash:

http://www.metaphor.dk/guillotine/Pages/30sec.html

Quote:
"Here, then, is what I was able to note immediately after the decapitation: the eyelids and lips of the guillotined man worked in irregularly rhythmic contractions for about five or six seconds. This phenomenon has been remarked by all those finding themselves in the same conditions as myself for observing what happens after the severing of the neck...

"I waited for several seconds. The spasmodic movements ceased. The face relaxed, the lids half closed on the eyeballs, leaving only the white of the conjunctiva visible, exactly as in the dying whom we have occasion to see every day in the exercise of our profession, or as in those just dead. It was then that I called in a strong, sharp voice: "Languille!" I saw the eyelids slowly lift up, without any spasmodic contractions I insist advisedly on this peculiarity but with an even movement, quite distinct and normal, such as happens in everyday life, with people awakened or torn from their thoughts.
Next Languille's eyes very definitely fixed themselves on mine and the pupils focused themselves. I was not, then, dealing with the sort of vague dull look without any expression, that can be observed any day in dying people to whom one speaks: I was dealing with undeniably living eyes which were looking at me. "After several seconds, the eyelids closed again, slowly and evenly, and the head took on the same appearance as it had had before I called out.

"It was at that point that I called out again and, once more, without any spasm, slowly, the eyelids lifted and undeniably living eyes fixed themselves on mine with perhaps even more penetration than the first time. The there was a further closing of the eyelids, but now less complete. I attempted the effect of a third call; there was no further movement and the eyes took on the glazed look which they have in the dead.

"I have just recounted to you with rigorous exactness what I was able to observe. The whole thing had lasted twenty-five to thirty seconds.

 
gerontius grumpus
43170.  Wed Jan 04, 2006 9:07 pm Reply with quote

Shudder.

 
Frederick The Monk
43189.  Thu Jan 05, 2006 4:13 am Reply with quote

<spasmodic contraction>

 
grizzly
43195.  Thu Jan 05, 2006 5:29 am Reply with quote

Psychosis_Safari wrote:
Does anyone know if it's true that a decapitated head can stay concious for a few seconds...?


I doubt this has been scientifically proved (nor could it ever be, afterall no one has placed a severed head in an MRI scanner within seconds of its severing. Conducting an execution within an MRI scanner would of course be cruel and unusual punishment, unconstitutional in all Western democracies), however, the brain can continue to be active for up to 3 minutes without a supply of oxygen (longer when the brain is kept cold), although this figure varies when no oxygen is supplied to the brain in blood that is pumped by the heart. Now sudden falls in blood pressure will cause a person to go unconcious rather quickly so severing of the head will cause a person to go unconcious rather rapidly. However, basic functions of the brain will probably continue for a short time whilst oxygen remains in the brain tissues. It would be likely that a head could remain concious for several seconds, possibly as long as 30 seconds in rare cases. Basic functions of the brain (such as regulating the heart beat, although there is obviously no heart to beat) could continue for a little longer until it becomes brain dead. Whether or not this could be displayed is a different matter. However, nerves that control the eyes are not part of the spinal column so it is possible that the severed head could continue to see and blink for a few seconds.

This is rather theoretical though, there isn't much experimentation that could go to prove this.

 
Mostly Harmless
43196.  Thu Jan 05, 2006 5:31 am Reply with quote

..


Last edited by Mostly Harmless on Sun Jan 08, 2006 3:08 pm; edited 1 time in total

 
gerontius grumpus
43371.  Thu Jan 05, 2006 5:10 pm Reply with quote

grizzly wrote:
Psychosis_Safari wrote:
Does anyone know if it's true that a decapitated head can stay concious for a few seconds...?


I doubt this has been scientifically proved (nor could it ever be, afterall no one has placed a severed head in an MRI scanner within seconds of its severing.



It would probably be best to sever the head with a bronze blade to avoid problems with the powerful magnetic field.

 
mckeonj
43388.  Thu Jan 05, 2006 5:51 pm Reply with quote

gerontius grumpus wrote:
grizzly wrote:
Psychosis_Safari wrote:
Does anyone know if it's true that a decapitated head can stay concious for a few seconds...?


I doubt this has been scientifically proved (nor could it ever be, afterall no one has placed a severed head in an MRI scanner within seconds of its severing.


It would probably be best to sever the head with a bronze blade to avoid problems with the powerful magnetic field.


As a skilled instrument maker and microscopist, I think that a broken glass knife (microtome) would be even better. The best surgical scalpels are made of glass, obsidian (volcanic glass), or flint (fossilised sponge).

 
Natalie
43389.  Thu Jan 05, 2006 5:55 pm Reply with quote

Wow, really an instrument maker?

What do you make?

 
mckeonj
43396.  Thu Jan 05, 2006 6:19 pm Reply with quote

When I was working, I made and repaired scientific instruments, now retired, I'm having a go at making a violin. I can't play the violin, though, so I don't quite understand why.

 
Jenny
43420.  Thu Jan 05, 2006 11:56 pm Reply with quote

Quote:
That headless chicken story is heartbreaking; very cruel to let it live in that condition.


If the chicken was headless, it wouldn't be able to feel pain, would it?

 
violetriga
43650.  Fri Jan 06, 2006 3:55 pm Reply with quote

Jenny wrote:
Quote:
That headless chicken story is heartbreaking; very cruel to let it live in that condition.


If the chicken was headless, it wouldn't be able to feel pain, would it?


If it can walk around and do other such things then I'd think it would be able to, if there is enough going on in the nervous system of the neck.

 
Jenny
43677.  Fri Jan 06, 2006 5:02 pm Reply with quote

violetriga wrote:

If it can walk around and do other such things then I'd think it would be able to, if there is enough going on in the nervous system of the neck.


You might think so, but apparently not, according to the article about pain in Wikipedia, which says:

Quote:
The perception of pain occurs when the nociceptors are stimulated and transmit signals through sensory neurons in the spinal cord. These neurons release glutamate, a major exicitory neurotransmitter that relays signals from one neuron to another. The signals are sent to the thalamus, in which pain perception occurs. From the thalamus, the signal travels to the somatosensory cortex in the cerebrum, at which point the individual becomes fully aware of the pain.


No head = no thalamus so nowhere for pain perception to occur, and no cerebrum so nowhere for the creature to become aware of the pain.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Discomfort

(Edit) - just realised this comes under D for Discomfort.

 
DELETED
46017.  Mon Jan 16, 2006 12:47 pm Reply with quote

DELETED

 

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