The Museum of Hoaxes
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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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The Isolated Head of a Dog
imageEver since the carnage of the French Revolution, when the guillotine sent thousands of severed heads tumbling into baskets, scientists had wondered whether it would be possible to keep a head alive apart from its body, but it wasn't until the late 1920s that someone managed to pull off this feat.

Soviet physician Sergei Brukhonenko developed a primitive heart-lung machine he called an "autojector," and with this device he succeeded in keeping the severed head of a dog alive. He displayed one of his living dog heads in 1928 before an international audience of scientists at the Third Congress of Physiologists of the USSR. To prove that the head lying on the table really was alive, he showed that it reacted to stimuli. Brukhonenko banged a hammer on the table, and the head flinched. He shone light in its eyes, and the eyes blinked. He even fed the head a piece of cheese, which promptly popped out the esophageal tube on the other end.

Brukhonenko's severed dog head became the talk of Europe and inspired the playwright George Bernard Shaw to muse, "I am even tempted to have my own head cut off so that I can continue to dictate plays and books without being bothered by illness, without having to dress and undress, without having to eat, without having anything else to do other than to produce masterpieces of dramatic art and literature."

External Link: Experiments in the revival of organisms (youtube).
References
  • Brukhonenko, S.S., & S. Tchetchuline (1929). Expériences avec la tête isolée du chien. Journal de physiologie et de pathologie générale. 27(1): 31-45.
Posted By: alex | Date: Mon Aug 01, 2011
Category: Animals, Cats & Dogs, Physiology, 1900-1949, Russia, Surgery,
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