The Museum of Hoaxes

About the Mad Science Museum

A collection of strange and curious science miscellanea brought to you by the author of Elephants on Acid and Electrified Sheep
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Nicolae Minovici (1868-1941), The Doctor Who Hanged Himself For Science
During the first decade of the twentieth century, while employed as a professor of forensic science at the State School of Science in Bucharest, Nicolae Minovici undertook a comprehensive study of death by hanging. Inspired by his research, he decided to find out, first-hand, what it would feel like to die in this way.

Minovici began his self-hanging experiments by constructing an auto-asphyxiation device — a hangman's knot tied in a rope that ran through a pulley attached to the ceiling. He lay down on a cot, placed his head through the noose, and firmly tugged the other end of the rope. The noose tightened, his face turned a purple-red, his vision blurred, and he heard a whistling. He lasted only six seconds before consciousness began to slip away, forcing him to stop.

Minovici experiments with auto-asphyxiation

For the next stage of his research, Minovici brought in assistants. He placed the noose around his neck, then the assistants pulled the other end of the rope with all their might, lifting him several metres off the ground. Immediately his eyes squeezed shut and his respiratory tract pinched close. He signalled frantically to be let down.

In this first effort, Minovici lasted only a few seconds in the air before having to signal to be let down, but with repeated practice he eventually managed to endure twenty-five seconds of swinging by his neck.

Minovici hangs by his neck

But one final experiment remained — hanging from the ceiling by a constricting hangman's knot. Minovici tied the knot, again placed his head through the noose, and gave his assistants the signal. They pulled. Instantly a burning pain ripped through his neck. The constriction was so intense that he frantically waved the men to stop. He had only endured four seconds, and his feet hadn't even left the ground. Nevertheless, the trauma to his neck made it painful for him to swallow for an entire month.

Minovici shows off his neck bruises

Minovici’s later career wasn’t as masochistic. He developed an interest in Romanian folk art and founded a museum that exists to this day. He was also an active supporter of Romanian medical charities. He established the first Ambulance and emergency medical services in the Balkans, financing the entire cost of these for many years with his own money.

Minovici later in his life
  • Minovici, N.S. (1905), Étude sur la pendaison, Paris: A. Maloine.
  • Nicolae Minovici, The Minovici Foundation.
Posted By: alex | Date: Sun Jul 31, 2011
Category: Forensics, Death, 1900-1949, Eastern Europe, Limits of Endurance, Self-Experiments,
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