Kicking A Dead Pig

Long-suffering readers of the blog may have noticed that I often use these posts to grapple with subjects of which I don’t yet have a grasp.

Things I don't understand, #94: Bochum's 1997 kit
What can I say? I like a broad palette.

VfL Bochum there, using a pretty broad palette for their 1997 kit.

So, when Long-Suffering Reader Of The Blog Paul asked me if the pig thing [was] lighting up my various comms channels, I was thrilled to discover that The Pig Thing was A Thing that needed both grappling and grasping.

Check out the Apoplexy Newsletter for some light relief
and some tunes to accompany the following…

Mythbusters assured their audience that no pigs were harmed when they looked into catching greased pigs…

So. What’s The Pig Thing?

Scientists restore some brain cell functions in pigs four hours after death

Washington Post, 17 april 2019

Yep, that’s pretty much it. Except, there’s a lot more to it than that. Firstly, and most importantly for apoplectic.me, the team from Yale that were doing this work said the work they had been doing could provide a new way to study the brain, and even help in the development and testing of new therapies for stroke and other conditions in which bloodflow to parts of the brain is blocked, causing cells to die.

How do we even know that's not intestine?
The Work They Had Been Doing

Makes my double trepanation look pretty low-grade, eh?

What we’re looking at there, apparently, is part of a process whereby the scientists used a cocktail of synthetic fluids – BrainEx – designed to halt cellular degeneration and restore cellular functions, such as metabolic activity to restore some cellular function in pig brains from animals decapitated four hours earlier at a local slaughterhouse.

David Cameron beats a hasty retreat to his shed
Live footage after the pigs screwed their heads back on

The pigs’ brains, according to the Washington Post report, remained by any traditional definition, dead.

But the study suggests that brain cells are hardier than previously thought, said study co-author and Yale neuroscientist Nenad Sestan.

Doctor! More BrainEx!!!
Are you quite sure about that?

Notwithstanding all that, the researchers used a chemical blocker to inhibit overall brain activity. The scientists say this helped the brain cells avoid stress.

But the blocker also ensured the pig brain would not have any risk of awareness… [T]he researchers… were prepared to chill the brains and apply anaesthetic if they saw [electrical brain] activity.

A pig goes pfeffeling
‘Don’t worry – we’ve chilled the brain’

Now you realise that Squealer from Animal Farm – a small, white, fat porker who served as minister of propaganda – until recently served as the UK’s Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, Brexit sorry, I mean BrainEx-inspired thoughts may be running through your brain.

As the Post has it

Such a head-snapping experiment inevitably generates nightmarish scenarios involving live brains in vats, brain transplants, the Zombie Apocalypse, and other mad-scientist story lines (brilliantly crafted, somehow, by neurons firing away inside the skulls of conventionally living human beings).

Doesn’t it?! More about that next week, if you can stay away from our new Zombie Pig Overlords…

Hahaha! Look a Gove!

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