Whether the person dies as soon as he cut his head off?

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Article from the Danish science website Videnskab. Translations into Russian prepared by the new York times.

If the brain continues to live and perceive the world a few minutes after the head instantly flies off his shoulders, like the guillotine?

Wednesday marks 125 years since the last execution by chopping off the head in Denmark, and in this regard, the reader did a terrible question: do people Die instantly when he cut his head off?

«I just heard once that brain dies from blood loss a few minutes after cutting off the head, then have people executed, for example, on the guillotine, in principle, could «see» and «hear» their environment, although already was dead. Is it true?» — asks Annette.

The idea of being able to see my own headless body in anyone will cause shuddering, and in fact this question has arisen a few hundred years ago, when as a humane method of execution since the French revolution began to apply the guillotine.

Still from the TV series The Walking Dead

Умирает ли человек сразу, как только ему отрубают голову?

Severed head blushed

Revolution was a real bloodbath, in which from March 1793 to August 1794 chopped off about 14 thousand heads.

And it was the first time the question was raised, that interest our readers — this was in connection with the execution by guillotine sentenced to death Charlotte Corday (Charlotte Cordy), women who killed the leader of the revolutionary Jean-Paul Marat.

After the execution there were rumors that when one of the revolutionaries pulled her severed head from the basket and slapped her a slap, the face distorted from anger. There were those who claimed to have seen how she blushed from the humiliation. But could this happen in reality?

The brain can be a little live

«Red it is in any case could not, because you blood pressure,» says Professor Tobias Wang zoophysiology (Tobias Wang) from Aarhus University, where he, among other things, studying the circulation and metabolism.

However, he cannot firmly exclude that after amputation of the head she for some time was conscious.

«Our brain is the fact that its mass is only 2% of the whole body, while the power consumption is about 20%. The brain has no glycogen stores (energy depot — approx. Videnskab), so as soon as the blood supply is terminated, he is immediately in the Lord’s hands, so to speak».

In other words, the question is, how long the brain lacks energy, and the Professor would not be surprised if it was enough at least for a couple of seconds.

If we refer to his birthplace — Zoology, there is at least one kind of animal about which it is known that their head can continue to live without a body: that of a reptile.

Severed heads of turtles can live a few more days

On YouTube, for example, you can find awesome videos, where the snakes ‘ heads without a body quickly snap jaws, ready to sink into the victim with his long poisonous teeth.

This is because reptiles have a very slow metabolism, so if the head is not damaged, the brain may continue to live.

«The turtles stand out,» says Tobias Wang and talks about a colleague who had to use the brains of the turtles to experiment and put the severed head in the fridge, assuming of course, they die there.

«But they lived for another two or three days,» says Tobias Wang and adds that it, as well as the question about the guillotine, creates an ethical dilemma.

«From the point of view of the ethical treatment of animals, the heads of the turtles do not die immediately after being separated from the body, can be a problem.»

«When we need a brain of a turtle, and thus it should not contain any anesthetics, we omit the head in liquid nitrogen, and then she dies instantly,» explains the scientist.

Lavoisier wink from the recycle bin

Returning to us, to people, Tobias Wang told the famous story about the great chemist Antoine Lavoisier, who was guillotined on 8 may 1794.

«As one of the greatest scientists in history, he asked his good friend, the mathematician Lagrange, count, how many times did he wink after his head is severed».

Thus Lavoisier was going to make his last contribution to science, trying to help to answer the question, remains in the consciousness after the amputation of the head.

He was going to blink once per second, and, according to some stories, blinked 10 times, others 30 times, but all this, says Tobias Vand, unfortunately, is still a myth.

In the words of historian of science William Jensen (William B. Jensen) from the University of Cincinnati in the US, the wink is not mentioned in any of the recognized biographies of Lavoisier, which, however, says that Lagrange was present at the execution, but was in the corner of the square is too far to fulfill its part of the experiment.

Умирает ли человек сразу, как только ему отрубают голову?

The severed head looked at the doctor

The guillotine was introduced as a symbol of a new, humanistic social order. So the rumors about Charlotte Corday and the other was completely inappropriate and gave rise to a lively academic debate among the doctors of France, England and Germany.

The question never answered satisfactorily, and he was raised again and again until 1905, when it was held one of the most convincing experiments with human heads. Describe this experiment by the French Dr. Borje (Beaurieux), which held him sentenced to death Langila Henri (Henri Languille).

As described by Borje, immediately after gelatinizare he noted that lips and eyes Langila spasmodically moving for 5-6 seconds, then stopped moving. And when Dr. Borje after a few seconds shouted «Langill!», then his eyes opened, the pupils focused and stared at the doctor as if he woke up the person from sleep.

«I saw no doubt live eyes that looked at me,» says Borje.

Then the eyelids fell, but the doctor once again managed to Wake up the head of the convict, shouting his name, and only at the third attempt nothing happened.

Not minutes, but seconds

This story is not a scientific report in the modern sense, and Tobias Wang doubts that people can really be awake for so long.

«I believe that a couple seconds is really possible,» he says, and says that there can be reflexes and muscle contraction, but the brain suffers from a tremendous loss of blood and in a coma so that the person quickly loses consciousness.

This assessment supports the tried-and-tested rule, known to the cardiologists, which States that during cardiac arrest the brain remains conscious for up to four seconds if the person is standing, up to eight seconds if he sits, and 12 seconds in the supine position.

As a result, we never really clarified whether the head retain consciousness after the amputation from the body: minutes, of course, excluded, but the version on seconds looks incredible. And if you count: one, two, three — you can easily make sure that this is enough to understand their environment, and so this method of execution is irrelevant to humanity has not.

The guillotine became the symbol of a new, humane society

The French guillotine was of great symbolic importance in the new Republic after the revolution, where it was introduced as a new, humane method of execution of death sentence.

According to Danish historian Inga Vlotho (Inga Floto), wrote the book «History of the death penalty in the culture» (2001), the guillotine became a tool, which is shown «as the humane treatment of the new regime to death contrasts with the barbarity of the old regime».

Not accidentally, the guillotine appears as a formidable mechanism with clear and simple geometry, from which and breathes rationality and efficiency.

The guillotine got its name in honour of doctor Joseph Guillotin (J. I. Guillotin), which after the French revolution became known and extolled for what he proposed to reform the penal system by making the law equal for all, and criminals to be punished equally regardless of their status.

Severed head of Louis XVI, executed by guillotine. © flickr.com Karl-Ludwig Poggemann

Умирает ли человек сразу, как только ему отрубают голову?

In addition, Guillotin argued that the execution should be done in a humane way for the victim to have experienced minimal pain, unlike the cruel practice of those times, when the executioner with an axe or a sword often had to land a few punches before he was able to separate the head from the body.

When in 1791 the French National Assembly after a long debate about whether to abolish capital punishment at all, instead, decided that «the death penalty must be a deprivation of life without any torture of the condemned», was adopted ideas Guillotin.

This led to the fact that the earlier forms of instruments with the «falling blades» was upgraded to a guillotine, which thus became a significant symbol of a new social order.

The guillotine remained the only instrument of execution in France until the abolition of the death penalty in 1981 (!). Public execution in France was cancelled in 1939.

The last execution in Denmark

In 1882, the employee of one of the farms on the island of Lolland of Anders Nielsen Selander (Anders Nielsen Sjællænder) was sentenced to death for murder. 22 November 1882 the only executioner in the country Seistrup Jens (Jens Sejstrup) swung the ax. The execution caused a great resonance in the press — particularly due to the fact that Castrup had to hit with an axe several times before the head separated from the body.

Anders Selander have been the last person was publicly executed in Denmark. Following the execution took place behind the closed doors of the prison in Horsens. The death penalty in Denmark was abolished in 1933.

Soviet scientists transplanted the head of a dog

If you are able to make some more horrifying and causing a shudder of scientific experiments, view a videothat shows the Soviet experiments simulating the reverse situation: the severed heads of dogs to support life by artificial blood supply.

The video was presented by the British biologist John. B. S. Haldane (Haldane JBS), which told that he himself conducted several such experiments.

There were doubts whether a video propaganda, exaggerating the achievements of Soviet scientists. Nevertheless, the fact that Russian scientists were pioneers in the field of organ transplants including transplanted hair, is a universally acknowledged fact.

These experiences inspired the South African doctor Christian Barnard (Christiaan Barnard), who earned worldwide fame, after the world’s first heart transplant.

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