Medicine: What Is Death?

Goings-on that sounded like Frankensteinian attempts to raise the dead were recounted last week to the Massachusetts Medical Society. The narrator, Boston Medical Examiner William Joseph Brickley,* has for many years been trying to determine the precise time of legal death.

Chief difficulty: the different parts of the body do not all die at the same time.

Electrocution. One recent midnight, Dr. Brickley carted away the still warm body of an electrocuted convict from Boston's sooty Charlestown Prison. In Massachusetts General Hospital, half an hour after death was pronounced, the doctor tried to find...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now


Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!