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Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Why Hearts Continue to Beat after Death

       If you've ever dissected a fish, frog, snake, or turtle, you may have noticed a peculiar phenomenon.  Often times their hearts will continue to beat after being removed from the body.  


Check out this video of a turtle's heart beating outside the body:




       Most muscles contract via electrical impulses from the brain. Then obviously they would cease to function if they were disconnected from the brain.


       However, the heart follows a pattern different than most muscles in the body.  The beating of the heart itself is not regulated by the brain, but actually within the heart itself. The only function of the brain is tell the heart how fast it needs to beat.  Nerve cells within the heart continue firing for an extended period of time, promoting the process of beating.


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       For this reason, a heart that is removed from the body doesn't stop beating instantly.  As long as it has enough ATP to provide energy and exposure to oxygen, it can beat without any regulation from a brain.


       Believe it or not, human hearts continue to beat after removal from the body for a short period.  A turtle's heart can last much longer after removal, easily up to several hours.



Interesting fact: Doctors define death as the point where the heart stops beating.  If you were a turtle you could have your head cut off, be drained of blood, completely dissected, and eaten, but still be considered alive since the heart can continue to beat for many hours after removal.

118 comments:

  1. I was actually curious about this. Thanks for sharing.

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  2. Your interesting fact is incorrect. Death is defined by by brain death. Resuscitation is common, as well as defibrilation..

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    1. No, you're actually wrong. Clinical death is when there is no longer any blood circulation. Conciousness is lost within three seconds, and brain activity within 20-40. Resuscitation is indeed common, however doctors consider you to come back from a clinical death (without suffering ischemia), not that it never happened in the first place.

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    2. There are 2 types of death. One IS clinical and the other one is the brain death thingy.

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    3. God made cells do cells have souls but they aren't temporal cause the body is made of 20% holy water. Idiots.

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    4. Brain death is the legal definition for actual death. 'K', you're right in that doctors consider patients to have been 'clinically dead' for however many minutes before resuscitation, but clinical death is NOT actual death. US law indicates that the whole brain must have suffered from irreversible loss of function (brain death), while UK law specifies the brain stem (brain stem death).

      Either way, Aaron was correct. Brain death is death. Clinical death is not.

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  3. Good catch. I meant to say in addition to ceased brain function. It's actually defined as all vital activity stopping (heart beat AND brain function). The main idea is the same though, but you're right, that is written incorrectly.

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    1. thanks for posting...helped me on my pre lab for AP

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  4. Death is when the soul leaves the body, or in the case of animals, when it ceases to exist (human souls eternal; animal souls are temporal).

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    1. That's the most retarded thing I've ever heard in my entire life.

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    2. YOU! stop fucking up science! -_-

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    3. dude, in case you haven't noticed... religion has NO place here...

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    4. david murray... i now pronounce you. AMERICAN!

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    5. Lol at kids mad. Whenever someone mentions science in a religious environment, they don't get this kind of reaction, at least most of the times.
      Now that someone came to state their point of view in a civil manner, that's how you creeps react?
      Now, tell me scientifically: Why do souls not exist?
      If one can't prove they exist, the other one must be able to prove it doesn't exist.

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    6. First of all we're not in religeon retard. Second of all "animal soul temporal " you fucking bastard what are you fucking smoking lol

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    7. Although this has nothing to do with religion, but he has the right to share whats on his mind. At least he was being polite and civilised enough. You people here are cursing and trying to be cool? If there's no soul, prove it. If you can't then why not just keep quiet.

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    8. Your argumentum ad ignorantium will not work here. If I cannot "prove" souls do not exist doesn't automatically mean that souls must therefore exist. Likewise, because I cannot "prove" souls exist doesn't automatically mean that souls must therefore not exist.

      I don't fault anyone for wanting to have religion as a part of their life; transcendence, believing that there is something out there that is greater than ourselves (such as the universe at large, or if you prefer, God) is an important part of the human condition.

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    9. Animal souls are temporal... WE ARE ANIMALS David.

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    10. Saying death is when the soul leaves the body is a contradiction our bodies are shells our souls are eternal.
      From birth to 12 weeks babies can leave their shells after that other entities can sneak into the shell.
      My mate and i have seen peoples auras and seen people swap souls and shells.
      I dont knock science but do know there is more than most think..... Keep an open mind

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  5. Ok David. But here we are speaking about biological death. the death of a body defined in medical and scientific terms.

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  6. David Mary is a complete tool. Get your religious nonsense outta here! Death is when all measurable vitals have ceased. There is no way to determine whether the soul has left, or in fact if it ever existed in the first place.

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  7. So with enough ATP you could inject it into a dead person and keep them alive so long as they have energy?

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    Replies
    1. i think it might be possible if u have a succesfull delivery system that can carry the ATP throughout the body to every cell. However the average person uses about 40 kg of ATP a day.
      So u can make IV zombies.

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  8. Replies
    1. Well, I've eaten chicken hearts before, maybe turtle hearts are edible as well.

      -FDOB

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    2. They are usually put in a stew or simmered as they are rather tough. but yes they are edible.

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    3. that would be a fun surprise to whoever got the lucky bowl if you throw a still beating heart in your stew just as you serve dinner.

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  9. Wow that is pretty amazing. Thanks for sharing this.

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  10. pretty nice fact! thanks!

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  11. do you know how i would do a scince fair project on this it is really cool

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  12. Anonymous - the best way to present this in a science fair would be to have a live specimen that you would cut open (either at the fair or just on videotape). A turtle might be hard to get, but you can find or buy frogs. A frogs heart will also continue to beat after death. Then to explain why this happens you would need to just explain that muscles store ATP for energy and how heart cells signal themselves, etc.

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  13. isnt there a way we as humans can benefit from this medically somehow?

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  14. David Mary go back to Buy Bull study

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    Replies
    1. Learn how to spell !

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    2. -Like button needed-

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  15. If there is a possibility of creating artificial brain signals, could we create them to tell the heart to beat faster, pumping more blood, reviving a specimen while giving it oxygen and maybe give the brain a quick jump start uaing the blood to allow it to bring things to normal? I'm just guessing that if we can detect brain signals, it wouldn't be hard to make some, right?

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  16. There IS a measurable difference in the weight of a human being after he/she passes, it's less than an ounce if I remember correctly. THAT could be the scientific PROOF of the existence of a human soul - an electromagnetic reality. If you think the reality we exist in is based on some mere coincidence or chance, you are a naive fool, in this case then, your religion is science.

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    1. Please link the scientific publication with this so called proof.

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    2. Yes, I saw that movie as well (21 Grams), but I checked it out and found that the experiments were done in around 1920 and did not bring any specific results

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    3. lol i saw a re-enactment on what he is talking about and its bs, the results did not conclude anything so saying its the soul leaving the body would just be a bad assumption based on your already built up beliefs

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    4. the weight loss is from the person releasing the bowels after death. Not a Soul. lol

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  17. You'll actually need another form of proof before you can claim that the loss of extra weight after death is the human soul. Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence when facts are made out of theories not the other way around. Plus not all scientists are non-believers of religion, that's probably why the research started in the first place (to prove spirituality).

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  18. Science is not a religion. Science is based on fact. I don't need to get up early every Sunday and worship the Gravity God. Or the Physics God. Or the Biology God.

    Religion was created by man as a way to explain what was unexplainable at the time and thereby control his fellow man with "knowledge" and power. Of all the hundreds of religions that have existed over the last 75,000 years, how do you know you've picked the right one? Why is your religion any more valid than Greek Mythology? Why do a lot of religions collect money? What would a God want with our money?

    The idea that we aren't here by mere coincidence is the real unfathomable idea. Believing that we're special is akin to believing the Solar System revolves around the Earth. We used to believe that, too.

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    Replies
    1. Stop being so scared.

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    2. . ^
      . /|\ He isn't scared,
      . | he has a point there.
      . |

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  19. Science is American and British culture, but still not religion, oh well.

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    Replies
    1. Science would be more European than British actually. Don't forget that Egyptians, Greeks, Mayas etc. had science before too...
      Americans are quite religious for a cultivated people...

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  20. Old religions existed to explain what science couldn't, but no mainstream modern religions exist as "why does this happen" religions. Granted, there are fools like Bill O'Reilley who say "tide exists because God made it," but anyone who looks to people like him as religious experts are looking in the wrong place.

    Buddhism, Christianity, Judaism, etc aren't religions of "how do magnets work? god did it let's move on with our lives." This is evidenced by the existence of religious scientists who may instead say "how do magnets work? god did it, but let's find out how it works anyway." Modern religions are more about philosophy, self-betterment and whatnot. Science and modern religion can easily coexist, but the same may not be the case for, say, some religions and existentialism or nihilism.

    Also, to the Anonymous poster who suggested that "God wants money," I'm honestly confused how anyone could believe that. Do you think temples just take all the money, tie it to a balloon and let it sail off into the sky? A quick internet search can tell you that religious people donate more to charity than non-religious people - perhaps the churches use the money they receive to give back to their communities? If you want to just assume they burn it all while chanting around a bonfire and sacrificing virgins, though, you can do that, too.

    I hate to derail the science discussion, but it seems as though it was already derailed by irrelevant science vs religious posts.

    More on topic: I'm interested in what the other Anonymous poster said about creating artificial brain waves. Any thoughts, TheScienceBehind?

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    1. For the most Part I agree with you but to the part of burning money, The crooked warden, asks a death offering when someone important to you dies, usuelly money because it's the easiest thing to steal, The more you offer, the more he'll do to help them when Aza Guilla meets them. Just so everyone knows, these ARE religious beliafs that many people, myself Included, follow. Science has a part in religion. Mostly, religion was used to explain anything that wasn't understood, but as we learned more about this world, religion took up a smaller and smaller part in our lives but some still cling to it as an answer to their every problems.

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  21. This science lesson turned into a religious debate lol. Firstly, this is pretty cool, I never knew a heart could last that long after being removed.

    I really think when it comes to belief, that the true art is what an individual believes for him/her self, not others. What you believe in, what you live for, what you try to achieve, should be for you, not to follow or try to prove a point to another individual.

    For example, my belief is that everything happens for a reason. I have been living my young life with this theory, and I have been living a fairly good life. This doesn't mean I want everyone to believe this to be the "right way" to think of things, it is what I believe in, and what I follow, along with good morals.

    I don't need to read/follow a book, go to church, etc, but that is me. Some people find this as their guidance, that is fine and shouldn't be contradicted. Everyone is different, that is the amazing thing about Human Life. So instead of trying to prove someone wrong about what they believe in, believe in yourself a little bit.

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    1. Lol this was a blog about turtle hearts now its about science Vs Religion

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  22. dath is when someone have nothing to do but lie.
    hahah XD

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  23. This has been a great help for my science project!!! :D Thanks for sharing!

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  24. Has anyone noticed a problem with these claims:

    " a) Nerve cells within the heart continue firing for an extended period of time, promoting the process of beating.

    b) For this reason, a heart that is removed from the body doesn't stop beating instantly."

    -------A--------
    I wasn't aware there was a pathway through which electric stimuli originating in the myocardium can propagate to the respiratory muscles in the diaphragm. Please elaborate ...

    -------B--------
    The causal mechanism by which the second claim becomes validated by the first (a) is not at all clear to me, or any one else who actually pays attention to what they read.


    Aside from this critique, good job ...

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  25. @ Anonomous

    Anonymous said...

    Has anyone noticed a problem with these claims:

    " a) Nerve cells within the heart continue firing for an extended period of time, promoting the process of beating.

    b) For this reason, a heart that is removed from the body doesn't stop beating instantly."

    -------A--------
    I wasn't aware there was a pathway through which electric stimuli originating in the myocardium can propagate to the respiratory muscles in the diaphragm. Please elaborate ...

    -------B--------
    The causal mechanism by which the second claim becomes validated by the first (a) is not at all clear to me, or any one else who actually pays attention to what they read.


    Why are you going on about the diaphagm I think it's YOU who doesn't pay attention to what you read you can't tell the difference between the word BEATING and the word BREATHING

    Aside from this critique, good job ..

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  26. I have a question, if the heart of the turtle was bigger, it could resist more?
    or, it has an average of any kind of size

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  27. Thanks for sharing. I come from your you tube video. Good to know.

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  28. okay, you guy are all right.
    good information in different view :)

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  29. Does making of Jesus heart from body beat for eternal? Is that the writtings of these postings? That you make a Jesus heart and make it keep pump pump pump? Why is turtle come into Jesus discussions?

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  30. Silly religion... Air has mass. Mass, when acted upon by gravity, has weight. Therefor, air has weight. When you stop breathing, your diaphragm returns to a state of equilibrium, the rest of your muscles relax, and the weight of your internal organs, bones, fat, and muscle press on your lungs expelling most of the air. Since air has weight and you now contain less air upon death, you weigh slightly less.

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    Replies
    1. If you use science, you can calculate that the mass of the air expired after death is around 2-3 grams, which is nothing.

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  31. @Eric
    I was going to say the same thing as I was reading these comments but you beat me to it, haha. As far as the whole keeping a heart beating forever, I used to have a video of a 1940's Russian experiment but I think I could only find the one where they kept the dogs severed head alive. Anywho, here you are: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jq06D0xRWmc

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    1. Wow! Thank you for sharing!

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  32. Nature, you scary

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  33. Comment @ David Mary


    ....prove it....

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  34. this thread is now about goats

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  35. DAMN NATURE,YOUR SCARY

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  36. Why are you all trying to create the T-Virus? Good god. As prepared as I am for the Zombie Apocalypse, at least let me learn some martial arts, and a few more languages before it starts, Sheesh....

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  37. lol
    I love how atheists are always so offended by religion that they actually bother to insult people talking about religion by calling them "tools"... Science is also based on faith because it's ceaselessly changing, you can never be 100% certain of anything in science at any given point, derp. Also, your opinions on religion are subjective, no need to force it on others because you arrogantly believe yourself to be right no matter what. I'm not going to argue.

    That was a pretty interesting video btw

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  38. ^are you serious? the whole idea of science and atheism is that you believe what has fact, logic and reasoning behind it. what your saying is basically 'the sky sure looks blue but i'm going to say its ultraviolet cause there's always the possibility that everyone on the damn planet is colour blind.' and we dont believe were right no matter what (unlike you), were just going off the fact that the sky is blue, if you have any single shred of evidence to say otherwise, we'll go with that.

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  39. If someone has a heart transplant then they are considered dead? (their original heart stopped beating)

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    1. Their original heart doesn't stop beating. The donor heart does. Also, perfusion is maintained by a cardiopulmonary bypass machine while the original heart is removed.

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  40. I once had a chemistry teacher that said, science and religion are great on their own but do not belong together. In other words don't go after a scientific theory religiously, but rather with the expectation of anything to happen. Its hilarious how atheists religiously follow so-called "scientific fact", when in actuality they are less backed by evidence than creation. My strongest field of academics is science and I'm a creationist, but science is based on absolutes, it is not abstract like literature, yet scientific theory is commonly mislabeled as fact by so called "logical" atheists.

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  41. So, that's cool. Now will somebody explain how this is possible? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PGBvxUABH3Y&feature=related

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  42. that is fuking creapy

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  43. You do not weigh less when you die. That is a load of shit and made up by some god loving fuktard

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  44. I fully respect religous belif but I don't like it when people go on sites dedicated to science and try to proove it all wrong with religion. Just please keep it to yourself, I'm sure not many people go on sites that are dedicated to religion and then try to proove it all wrong with science. Science is allways right by the way but just let other people belive what they want to belive.

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  45. "Science is allways right"

    - Silly.

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  46. trust me, actually science is always right because it fully explains what could not be explained, like Nuclear Physics.

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  47. If you wish to debate science, always site sources. Regarding post-mortem weight, Dr. Duncan MacDougall carried out experiments whose results were reported on between 1907 and 1911. However, the experiments had many flaws, chiefly that the difference in weight was less than the experimental error, so the results weren't statistically significant. Thus, there is no scientific evidence of a decrease in body weight upon death.

    As this article suggests, even defining the moment of death is problematic. The radiolab show "After Life" is dedicated to this very topic.

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  48. You people are stupid, its a common known fact among Satanists (my specific group anyway) if you sell a part of your soul it helps extend your life beyond physical death. kinda like being an undead, but slightly different. That turtle just did the same, that's why his heart continued to beat, Devil magic.
    Also not all Satanists believe in the same thing, so you would probably wanna look up the different branches before you make a stupid and ignorant reply.
    Just like Christianity branched off into several different religious believes so did Satanism.

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  49. WHY DO PEOPLE ALWAYS BRING RELIGION INTO DEBATES/ARGUMENTS.. I don't get it.

    Is it that hard to resist the urge to attach every single thing you do to religion?

    It's almost as ridiculous as me saying.. I'm constipated right now and I can't defecate because god is mad at me and wants me to suffer.. like WTF. Keep religion and science separate.

    I'm not saying you can't believe in both religion and science, but when making an argument or trying to provide evidence to support an argument, please do not cite "god".

    Thanks.

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  50. what the shell?

    (i had to make the turtle joke)

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  51. I find the atheists to be complete tools. They think that because something hasn't been proven that it can't be proven. This is just plain dumb. Science can only define things that it can detect and very little of that. And when they, meaning the high priests of modern idolatry the scientists, don't understand something they say it doesn't matter. A good example of this is the genome. Large sections of the genome were not understood so they were called junk genes. Now these sections are well understood to be very important and not "junk" at all. The reason that this could be done is the genome is finite. When science tries to look at the infinite they are lost. A very good example of this is life. Science can't even come up with a definition of life. All they can do is show the processes of life. The actual nature of life is beyond the ability of science to define. Now I am sure there will be some person that says something about DNA. But remember a dead cell has exactly the same amount of DNA it had when it was alive. DNA has nothing to do with life it only has to do with the processes of life.

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  52. @twas_brillig you do realize when a person dies anything inside of them that is held in by a muscle is released. this includes, poop and pee.

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  53. This is for the idiot who commented on why do religions collect money.....what does god need with money.....first off I am not a super religious freak by any means, but have some common sense you moron. They take that money to do good deeds for the poor and downtrodden. They also pay the clergy a small salary and provide them with all they need to have a modest living. They also collect that money to build and maintain the buildings of worship. The money is also used to donate to tragedy and victims of all sorts of things, from violence to natural disasters. You cannot deny any of these things as they are FACTS whether you or I like it. My question is this: how do you not have enough common sense to know what religious organizations do with the money they collect? where would they get the money from??? God? Government?? They therefore have to get their income from their followers.

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  54. the human brain can still work for a few seconds after it its removed from the body. chickens still run around for a few seconds after the head is severed.

    evidently a turtles heart still works for a long time after its removed. gross yet highly fascinating. could well be part of the puzzle to immortality, like them little fish that can repair their hearts, or them squid things or whatever they are that can turn into a polyp when threatened.

    whoever posted about the zombie apocalypse, i believe it would be possible to use a virus to replicate the electrical impulses required to reanimate a body's muscles, but once a brain shuts down it cannot restart so youd probably need to replace it with some sort of computer/chip and circuitry. would be easier to build a robot with a speaker whispering braiiiinnnnz urrrrg cofffffeeeeee.

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  55. Oh my god the amount of ignorance in this thread is insulting.

    Studying Biology at AS level and I know more than literally everyone in this thread, as far as I can see, because quite a few of you seem to be talking about shit you simply don't understand.

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  56. The one who doesn't give a flying shitNovember 22, 2011 at 3:58 PM

    why don't you all just shut the fuck up and stop arguing about something as pitiful as religion.
    I fucking swear your people are like 40 year olds stuck in a 2 year old's body. fucking get a life and get over it.

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  57. The one who who doesn't give a flying shitNovember 22, 2011 at 3:59 PM

    and to you all who are actually talking about the heart and stuff thank you

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  58. Well David Mary, are you happy?

    This blog post was about something interesting, but you had to bring religion into this. Look at all this shit slinging.

    I hope youre pleased with yourself *slow sarcastic clap*

    To all you bible pushers, religion is like a big meaty cock. Yes, youre proud of it, we can see that. But we dont want it shoved down our throats.

    To all you science lovers, dont bait the biblefag trolls. Theyre set in their ways. Arguing with them will get you no ground.


    On a more relevant note, yes, isnt the machine that is a living body a truly awesome thing?

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  59. Positive Thoughts to Produce Positive LivesJanuary 28, 2012 at 10:36 PM

    People are so mean.
    If he believes the body weighs less because of the soul escaping, let him believe that.
    Cutting down one religion, or all religions.. Saying that they are wrong and "stupid", "tools", "morons" is as bad as religious folk pushing their religions down our throats. Why can't we all believe in what we want to believe in without any one persons cutting it down, or making fun of us. This wouldn't of turned into a religious debate if everyone would of just let everyone speak and share their beliefs. Whether it is science or religion..
    I am not religious in the slightest, I am an evolutionist. I do believe in souls. I do not stand up for either side of the argument being had.. But everyone is entitled to their opinion. Allow David Mary to his, without judgment.
    I have seen religion change life's incredibly for the better. Whether they are right or wrong, it is all just a belief.
    As for science.. It is not always right, and for lots of scientific discoveries and facts, there is something that contradicts its theories.
    Debates are wonderful, they are a fantastic way to learn more about yourself and other topics, but do we all have to be so cruel and mean and profane?

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  60. david mary has a turtle head pokin out his bible!!

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  61. ...it's just a theory.

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  62. So what has everyone learnt?

    I've learnt, that a lot of people are closed minded. No matter their belief or study.


    I found the YouTube video fascinating but could not help feel sad for the turtle.

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  63. "just because you can' prove something doesn't mean its not true"

    Really? That's awesome. I say: "your god is dead, and has been for many years"

    You cannot prove it false, so it must be possible? Right?

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  65. "Doctors define death as the point where the heart stops beating" as a DOCTOR I need to clarify this, when the heart stops beating it is only defined as Clinical death, only when the brain no longer shows any activity a person is really dead, several criteria have to be met before pronouncing a person dead, and please stop writing false allegation about doctors, as you seem to not have a clue

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    1. You are a dumbass. Go find some other internet article to troll you clueless bastard.

      Delete
  66. Faith is common to both science and religion.The scientist believes "after" he sees proof. And conversely, religiously minded people start from believing to seeing a net result. True either way. A common thread. The doctor sets the broken bone but who or what heals it ? 2 people are treated for the same disease, same treatment, and only 1 lives; why ? People survive only because of their inherent belief system, whether genetic or acquired through faith. Conseqently, science and NOT religiion, but the belief system utilized are but the 2 sides of the same coin. The intelligence that created miracle drugs and scalpels is the same intelligence that performed the healing. Religion and science are coming together in their finest hour. Placebos ? You know the story. Thanks for listening. I have to go boost my immune system with some affirmative thought and belief. Whether you think you can or you can't, either way you're right.

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  68. That is why I couldn't get myself to eat turtle on a trip to the amazon, the meat seemed to be alive still, even after it was cooked! Now, try to sprinkle salt on it, somehow it makes the muscles more active, I am sorry but I don't know the scientific explanation for this, but if you get fresh frog legs and sprinkle salt you will see some show that last a while.

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  69. You guys really are kinda stupid... Stop arguing. -.-

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  70. and the Egyptians believe all you need is your heart for heaven.

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  71. so y0u can put the turtle heart int0 a b0dy and *FUNCI0NING*<--- great spelling

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  72. that is some crazy shit right there, but very interesting

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  73. Wait, how can it continue without an oxygen supply from the bloodstream? Do cardiac cells need much less oxygen or something? Or is oxygen from the air enough to supply cardiac cells' oxygen needs?

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  74. The salt creates a electromagnetic pulses that bring out the ATP/acetylcholine, this is the same reason you can put salt on frog legs and they'll dance....which is so horrid. They call it the dance of death, which is also a political technique where they lop of the head of a insurgent or enemy and immediately pour a special oil down the neck, effectively turning the dead body back on and in some cases it has been seen to make bodys walk(in a erie life like manner) for a timespan of 10 or less seconds

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