The latest science suggests that old-timey Europe’s “humane” method of execution, decapitation, is a sham — heads seem remain alive for up to a minute after being disconnected from the lower portions. And theoretically they could survive if quickly reattached to a body. Via the Seattle Post-Intelligencer:
Imagine yourself with your head in the business end of a guillotine. I know, it’s not the most pleasant of thoughts, but the guillotine was once considered a humane way to kill someone: Just a quick slice and you’re flat-out dead. But researchers are finding that neurons, the cells that make up the brain, are active even after their blood supply is suddenly cut off. And they may show activity for longer than a minute. In an arguably not-so-humane study, Dutch scientists measured the brain activity in mice after slicing off the mice’s heads. What they saw was a quick flash of brain activity immediately following decapitation – then, about 50 seconds later, another ripple of activity. So, if you got your head chopped off – since your eyes are connected to your brain, and they’re both inside your head – would you have an “off of body experience”? Nobody (alive) really knows. However, if neurons can’t function normally without a blood supply, those sensory signals probably wouldn’t make it from your eyes to your brain. But you might still be alive. Maybe. And if your head somehow were quickly reconnected to a blood source, you might live to talk about it.
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