Can you keep blinking after your head is cut off? One man sought to answer this very question, but doing so would cost him his life.
This is the story of a French chemist, who during the Reign of Terror in France, following the revolution, was sentenced to the guillotine. As a chemist he was inquisitive by nature. Always wanting to know the answers to unknown questions. One of the questions that he wanted an answer to was can you keep blinking after your head is cut off?
Alrighty then. That’s a question that we all need an answer for. I mean, I might just happen to piss off the wrong person at some time and find myself in the same predicament. I’d sure like to know if I can keep blinking once my head has been removed from my torso. Maybe I could flatter my way out of the awkward situation. But on a more serious note, there was a real scientific reason behind this question.
As we know, the brain is the cpu of the human body. Without it we die. So the question that many people have wondered over the years is will a brain continue to function after it has been severed? Obviously, back in the 18th century they lacked the equipment to scan and monitor a human brain after the head it was in was decapitated. Without any way to vocalize their thoughts, the head could not communicate. Even a moving mouth could be seen only as nerves twitching. So what better way than to arrange someone to watch your eyes and see if you keep blinking after your head has been cut off.
A French chemist, Antoine-Laurent de Lavoisier, in the 18th century promised that he would blink for as long as possible when he was beheaded. In 1794 during the Reign Of Terror following the French Revolution, he was sentenced to death for his discoveries which include Hydrogen and helping to implement the metric system. What a barbaric devil, no punishment was too harsh for such a madman. As a scientist he was naturally curious about what happens to the human head once it was removed from the torso. As an experiment he said that he would try to blink for as long as he could when his head was cut off. There were some reports that he blinked for up to 30 seconds.
This was perhaps the earliest study conducted into the brains independent function. It seemed to give the result that the brain does continue to work even though it is no longer attached to the rest of the body. Antoine-Laurent de Lavoisier would have discovered that in the harshest of ways.
Oddly enough, he was pardoned a little over a year after he was executed. Not that it would have helped him by that stage.