I’m not quite sure why anybody would want to become immortal, but according to new scientific research it could soon be a thing.
Yes, in one of the biggest breakthroughs known to man, a scientist, Dr Nenad Sestan, has successfully been able to keep pig brains alive outside of their bodies after death.
In what seems to be quite a macabre but incredible experiment, Dr. Sestan’s researchers decapitated between 100 and 200 pigs and succeeded in keeping their brains functioning for over 36 hours post decapitation.
According to the report in Technology Review, it is thought that the radical experiments could pave the way for human immortality – but not in a particularly nice way. Immortality as in your brain lives on connected to artificial intelligence after your body decays into rotted oblivion.
Dr. Sestan led the team of researchers from Yale University and declared his findings at a meeting National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland.
More specifically, Dr. Sestan’s team removed the heads of way over 100 pigs before resuscitating their brains after death despite being detached entirely from the body.
In a move which reminds me particularly of Frankenstein’s monster, the pig brains were connected to a closed looped system which pumped key areas of the brain full of artificial oxygen rich blood to sustain normal life.
The system itself was named by the scientists as ‘BrainEX’.
Dr. Sestan claimed the findings were ‘unexpected’ and ‘mind-boggling’ before adding that the brain cells were still functioning ‘alive’ and ‘healthy’, however when contacted by Technology Review for comment he declined to elaborate saying he submitted the results of the study for publication in a scholarly journal and did not intend his remarks to go public.
He explained to the NIH that it is not outside the realms of possibility that the brains could be kept alive indefinitely and that further procedures could be developed to restore awareness to the brains.
However they did not attempt to keep the brains alive for all eternity because Dr. Sestan claimed that would be ‘uncharted territory’.
While the brains were still ‘alive’ and ‘healthy’, the brains they tested on ‘were not aware of anything’, and it is thought that we are a long way away from preserving brains which can still ‘think’.
Another issue is the chemicals which are placed onto the brain to prevent swelling when it is removed from the body are thought to prohibit all consciousness.
Earlier this year we reported on the story of billionaire, Sam Altman, who has paid $10,000 to undergo a fatal process which will see him being killed so that his brain can be uploaded online.
Entrepreneur Sam Altman is one of 25 people on a waiting list at startup company Nectome, which is promising to upload its customers’ brains to a cloud.
Altman, 32, who will have his mind ‘eternally preserved’, will have to die in a process ‘similar to physician-assisted suicide’.
Nectome’s co-founders, Robert McIntyre and Michael McCanna aim to preserve human brains in ‘microscopic detail using a high-tech embalming process’.
The process of uploading the mind results in the brain being ‘vitrifixed’ – the company’s term for turning the brain ‘into glass’.
Nectome has already won two prizes from the Brain Preservation Foundation, for preserving a rabbit’s brain in 2016, and a pig’s brain in 2018, writes The Guardian.
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Joseph Loftus is a Gold Standard NCTJ journalist with four years experience working for international and regional press.
As well as working for UNILAD and LADbible, Joseph has worked as Liverpool Correspondent for Unsigned & Independent Magazine, as well as stints with the Liverpool Echo and Warrington Guardian.