Tuesday, August 29, 2006

The science faction of re-animation

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

At a loose end I found myself watching a schlocky gore-fest of a horror film called Re-Animator. It features a goofball scientist who capitulates to his unhealthy obsession with reviving the dead by injecting them with what looks like a radioactive magic serum. Of course this being a comedy-horror, his hapless subjects aren't returned to the land of the living in prime mental or physical condition; they are transformed into zombiefied, slathering imbeciles. They develop super-human strength and plunge headlong into murderous rampages - some even do so without their heads!

Aside from wishing I could have the 90 minutes I invested watching this trashy nonsense refunded, the film got me wondering if the events portrayed really are as far-fetched as they first appear. No, bear with me. We know doctors are able to defibrillate patients back to life shortly after their heart has stopped, so the real brain-teasers are:-

What is the shelf life of a human or animal corpse? If they're brought back after, say, 10 minutes, will they continue to function normally? What is the cutoff point?

Can internal organs be substituted for man-made contraptions in order to keep an organism alive? If so, which ones are viable?

Is it possible for a decapitated brain to retain consciousness? How long for, and under what conditions?

The following research aims to answer some of these questions:-

As far back as 1940 the Russians were killing and resurrecting dogs in the name of science. This video demonstrates the artificial sustenance of a heart and lung when isolated from the body, the mechanical resuscitation of a dog whose blood has been drained to bring about the cessation of heart, lung and brain activity, and the reactions to various stimuli of a dog's dismembered head! The ill-fated canines weren't the only sick puppies in this scenario! As a dog lover it turns my stomach just thinking about it. A Wikipedia article on the experiments can be found here.

More recently a US scientist claims to have yanked a three-hour-dead dog back from the other side. The procedure entailed draining the dog's blood thereby forcing the heart to shut down. A cold saline solution was then pumped into its blood vessels effectively lowering its metabolism to bring about a state of 'suspended animation'. After three hours had elapsed blood was pumped back into the dog and its heart was defibrillated.

Again in the US, a similar method has been used to save pigs from - artificially induced - certain death. The doctors are now seeking approval to trial the technique using human car crash and gunshot victims. Let's hope if they get the go-ahead they'll let their wounds occur naturally.

The freaky case of Mike the Headless Chicken goes some way towards explaining how the body of a bird adapts to life without a head.

For some truly disturbing human examples refer to this article.

You won't be laughing when your pickled undead head is languishing in a jar on the mantelpiece... [Dr Evil little finger to the corner of the mouth thing] or will you?

3 comments:

wodge

There was a documentary on c4 a while back about this sort of thing. They talked about the Russian scientist who transplanted a dog's head onto another dog! It was icky beyond belief!

dreamkatcha

Just when you thought it was to safe to eat your dinner, eh!

Damn, I missed it. I would have 'enjoyed' that. :|

According to this page researchers have been monkeying with primates too.

Anonymous

i've randomly become interested in this ust tonight XD i don't see why it wouldn't be possible, time and money would prove me right but noone is going to spend heavily in it so we're just gunna have to spend more time lol.

 
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