Last week, I touched a nerve with a post
discussing whether one could retain consciousness, even briefly, after decapitation. A heady conversation ensued. (Sorry.) Cultural critic Mark Dery
then pointed me to a feature he wrote in 2003 for Cabinet Magazine. Mark would seem to be the perfect writer to delve into decapitation and, as usual, he does not disappoint. (Seen here, "the severed heads of convicted armed robbers and twin brothers Auguste and Abel Pollet, guillotined on 11 January 1909.") From Dery's Cabinet article, titled "Thirteen Ways of Looking at Decapitation":
The evidence for the survival of awareness (as opposed to brain activity) after decapitation remains inconclusive. According to Dr. Ron Wright, a forensic pathologist and former chief medical examiner of Broward County Florida, "After your head is cut off by a guillotine, you have 13 seconds of consciousness (+/- 1 or 2). [...] The 13 seconds is the amount of high energy phosphates that the cytochromes in the brain have to keep going without new oxygen and glucose."4 Naturally, electrochemical activity is no guarantor of conscious thought, although as Wright notes, there are alleged instances of disembodied heads blinking in response to questions, "two for yes and one for no."
Thirteen Ways of Looking at Decapitation
If bodiless heads can think, what about headless bodies? Mike the Headless Wonder Chicken springs immediately to mind. On September 10, 1945, Fruita, Colorado resident Lloyd Olsen sent–or attempted to send–Mike the way of all fryers with a well-aimed whack. Amazingly, the rooster survived his beheading; the next morning, Olsen discovered him pecking and preening (phantom head syndrome?), his reflex actions intact, thanks to a brainstem that had miraculously escaped the vorpal blade. Sustained by grain and water dripped into his exposed esophagus, Mike went on to sideshow fame. He lived for another 18 months before succumbing, at last, to decapitation-related complications.
Previously on BB:
• Conscious after decapitation?
• HOWTO do a movie decapitation
You’d be forgiven for thinking the videocassette format long-dead, but it turns out that Betamax is still around. Sony is finally going to withdraw tapes from sale, bringing a 40-year story to an end. The last recorders were sold in 2002. ベータビデオカセットおよびマイクロMVカセットテープ出荷終了のお知らせ [Sony; via The Verge]
A leaked Comcast memo discloses that the company’s consumer data caps have nothing to do with network congestion, contrary to its public claims. The internet service provider has often complained (such as when lobbying against net neutrality) that it must impose limits on service to prevent network congestion. The argument suggests that these measures are […]
LA Makerspace co-founder Tara Tiger Brown shares a project that her kid-friendly maker workshop is trying to make a reality.
This minimalist multi-tool will see to it that instead of rocking a tool belt, you’ll carry just one. It’s shaped slightly like a key and weighs less than an ounce, so it plays nice with your keychain. The strong surgical-grade stainless steel blade will last, and is handy for everyday tasks like opening boxes and […]
The Code Black is our top-selling drone of all time—and for good reason. This powerful, palm-size drone is not only insanely fun to fly, but can capture some serious video footage from up above. With a flight time of about 10 minutes and an ultra-smooth ride, it’s a great introductory drone for anyone looking to […]
Don’t get handcuffed by Apple’s standard 3-foot Lightning cord (that you’ve most likely already lost), treat yourself to 10 feet of luxurious charging convenience. The Colossal is certified by Apple for its high-end quality, and designed to support full use of your phone while you power up. You can also get it in a 2-pack […]