Re: headless horseman

From: Anders Sandberg (
Date: Sat Jan 06 2001 - 20:46:35 MST

Spike Jones <> writes:

> We have discussed the possibility of keeping a head alive
> without a body, with inconclusive results. But could a
> body theoretically be kept "alive" without a head? If
> for instance a sophisticated medical team wished to keep
> organs for later transplantation, could they whack off the
> head {for freezing purposes} sew the big neck arteries
> into the big neck veins, sew a pipe onto the trachea, force
> air in and out, occasionally insert a smaller tube inside the
> air tube, squirt in premasticated food, etc.
> Would the decapitated heart continue to beat? Would
> the digestive system continue to digest? spike

I think it is doable. The heart can manage on its own fairly well
(people survive having the vagus nerve cut, for example when
undergoing heart transplants), and giving it electrical stimulation is
old hat. The digestive system is equipped with a quite self-sufficient
neural network, and given some extra stimulance it would likely be
possible to keep it running. Muscle control of excretion and
urination might be lacking, but I guess that could be fixed with
electric stimulation or cathethers. If it doesn't work, you could
always use total parentheral nutrition.

The most obvious problem is lack of hormonal control from the
pituitary; while hormones could be supplied with a cathether the
natural hormones follow fairly complex rhythms that can be tricky to
reproduce. I don't think that is a serious problem, but it is yet
another factor that might decrease viability.

I guess that it might be more work than its worth, but maybe body
gardening is a hobby some people might like.

Anders Sandberg                                      Towards Ascension!                  
GCS/M/S/O d++ -p+ c++++ !l u+ e++ m++ s+/+ n--- h+/* f+ g+ w++ t+ r+ !y

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