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Heslington Brain (wikipedia.org)
114 points by Hooke 7 months ago | hide | past | favorite | 41 comments

I have fantasies about extracting data out of this brain and recreating this man as a simulation. Could it somehow be possible?

It would make a good story. I imagine if someone did pull that one off they'd have to blend in data from other people and maybe even what they knew historically about the time to make up for information that is degraded and lost.

Some of the better sci-fi books that have ressurection as a theme are




I second Accelerando, especially for its weirdness.

As the blurb on the front cover says, it's "a bit flawed and a lot of fun".

The cells have been dead for 2500 years, it’s incomplete, and then there’s the bit in the article about foreign organic compounds having substituted part of the mass. So my money is on: no way.

I don’t disagree. Then again, 100 years ago we wouldn’t dream about extracting text from a charred, wrapped scroll – and yet it’s been done[1]. Maybe we will be able to extract something from this kind of findings in future.

[1]: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/En-Gedi_Scroll

This needs the ancient Herculaneum scroll treatment.

Even though cells and extracellular mass die, bleb, apoptose, desiccate, etc., there should still be an overwhelming amount of signal there for future societies to unpack. We shouldn't limit ourselves to our current understanding and techniques.

As impossible as it sounds, I'm still fond of the fanciful idea that a super sentience will capture all of the light emitted within our light cone and simulate everything that ever happened.

That would be incredible. My intuition is that at this point it's probably so degraded that's not possible since the neurons would have shrunk along with the rest of the brain and are likely so thin and brittle they aren't reliable anymore.

That said, I'm just a developer sitting here at my desk not a brain scientist so that's probably not a very useful guess lol

We would already need Clarketech to revive any dead brain.

If we are entertaining theoretically possible future tech: Provided there are enough neurons and it would be possible to reconstruct their connections, we could scan them, create a custom built model for the rest of the brain (the part that is missing/unrecoverable), plug it in and simulate it.

Consciousness debate aside, we might be able to recover some memories from it and talk to it.

But my guess is that all the data is lost already.

It’s not currently possible with fresh corpse’s brains’, so it’s definitely not an option for this one.

Nanomachines son. Seriously though if they could do that, then sprinkle them everywhere in the brain to record the signals/assign the blocks per neuron to model... that would be cool to do. I currently think it is hard for me to orchestrate those firework drones as nodes translate to neurons/comms.

Unless consciousness is a quantum phenomenon, and then all our digital immortality plans are screwed ;)

Is the brain the source or is it just a relay? Hard to tell.

Occam suggests the prior. But by that logic there are little people living inside my tv.

Could be the relay for collapsing probabilities from some external source of larger probabilities.

Psh... we can't do it with a worm

Cool idea

Why does every find like this always seem to imply human sacrifice and ritual killings? Isn’t it more likely it was just some person that was executed and his head was thrown in a pit? I don’t consider the presence of a deer’s body and some antlers in another pit that compelling.

How is ritual sacrifice different than execution for crimes other than ruling body? We did some pretty ritualistic stuff to criminals in 1600s england: hanged until half-dead, then drawn and quartered.

If it's an execution why hang and decapitate? Also, why the careful removal of the head from the body? Executed folks don't tend to get treated carefully, whereas sacrifice and ritual needs to be done just right - or how can you expect it to work? In particular if it doesn't work (when?) then who is going to get the blame - best do it really carefully !

> Also, why the careful removal of the head from the body?

Both public display of an executed person, and mutilation of the corpse, have a history in several cultures. For example, in the case of the Ancient Egyptians, integrity of the body was important even after death. Destroying the remains of a person was highly symbolic, a kind of erasing them in the afterlife as well.

Much more recently, the early modern English often performed executions in public, with disfigurement either during or after the execution. In the most important cases - traitors and such - they carefully removed the heads, gave them a preservative treatment, and put them on a spike for public display. They actually dug up Oliver Cromwell after he had been buried, just so they could mutilate his corpse. The early modern Chinese also did things like that. Probably other cultures too.

I guess my point is that a great deal of care might have gone into the spectacle of a public execution.

A public execution is ritual human sacrifice, the only difference is the label that Western cultures apply to it.

Some good points - but "carefully removed the heads".. fella, they used an axe...

If you chop the head, there's no way to identify the body, so when you loot it, you can just say it was a random passerby who was already dead, instead of getting the tribe the person belonged to to attack you. Hang to kill. Chop the head off to get the body down, toss the head, loot the body. That's my guess.

they didn't chop the head though - they carefully removed it with a thin knife.

Maybe they thought he was a vampire.

As long as we are sharing brains:


> Widely regarded as the worst episode of the series

It might be the worst in all of Trek, not just the original series. Which is really saying something.

Yes, even worse than the series finale of Enterprise.

It's Star Wars Holiday Special levels of torture to watch—but, mercifully, much shorter.

Cat's Paw (another TOS episode) is also in the running.

That's a good one. Sadly, I have nothing to share.

"Jim cleaned it up and recorded it but had a dentist's appointment that afternoon (for a filling) [...]" Sometimes Wikipedia really tries to relay all of the most important information.

I enjoyed "The precise mechanism by which the Heslington brain was preserved is unclear, however; in a bid to shed light on this question, researchers buried a number of pigs' heads in and around the campus to see what happened to them[needs update].[7]"

...and am looking forward to an update in which we learn the name and then age of the undergraduates that dug them up and what pranks they played with them.

The writing style is surprisingly enjoyable in several history-related articles. I really appreciate the effort some contributors seem to put into not only the research but also the actual writing. I've definitely found myself reading a big article top-to-bottom like it's a magazine article.

And I'm interested in understanding the subtle difference between "human sacrifice" and "ritual murder".

It's like rectangles and squares.

Ritual murder = we kill because it's our custom; e.g. captured warriors could get killed to celebrate victory.

Human sacrifice (a form of ritual murder) = we make an offering and we expect certain rewards. E.g. we sacrifice 100 citizens because we believe we need to meet a quota and otherwise the sun won't go up.

I'm pretty sure in a Venn diagram the "ritual killing" circle would include human sacrifices.

Ritual killings have elements not related to the act of killing, serial ritual killings demonstrate a repeated pattern of ritual .. it's killing with obsessive complusive and|or psycho sexual flourishes.

I would guess that a sacrifice is made to please some Other with powers mere mortals don't possess, like a deity or a spirit, and a ritual would be a more general term for a spiritual tradition without necessarily pleading to a higher power. But what do I know.


I hope they can revive it somehow and we can get a glimpse of what the history might look like from the eyes of someone who experienced it first hand. Interesting stuff.

Can we please add to the title that the linked page has a large picture of a human brain? I made the mistake of clicking on this thinking it was about a psychological or neurological phenomenon but nope.

LOL how do you survive internet in general?

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