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The recent “brain reanimation” experiment on pigs is fascinating but not for the reason you think

The real issue raised is not about brain transplants or sci-fi fantasies of reanimation of corpses. It is about how we define life and death

By Philip Ball  


Stories about scientists reanimating a brain in a jar, like those prompted by a paper published last week in Nature, have a long pedigree. In 1937 the Sunday Express reported “Lonely island experiments with machine that keeps a brain alive.” It went on: “In a guarded, walled laboratory… a machine is slowly being assembled [that] can even keep a brain alive after the animal it was taken from is dead.” The machine was allegedly being constructed by Nobel laureate surgeon Alexis Carrel (who bought the island retreat of St Gildas, off Brittany, with his prize money) and world-famous…

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