On last night’s Chuck (which, may I say, was one of the best this season so far), Morgan finally admits to Casey that he’s dating and holding hands with the agent’s daughter Alex. Oh, yeah, and then there’s the bit about Casey’s mutinous ex-teammates, which forces the team to create an elaborate fake funeral for the NSA agent in order to capture the rogue teammates and question them for the whereabouts of Chuck’s mother.
In order to convince everyone that Casey is really dead, the agent is forced to take a modified form of tetradotoxin, a powerful neurotoxin that on top of having no antidote tends to kill people as soon as they ingest it. (It’s that nasty stuff in pufferfish that makes the creature so dangerous to eat if not prepared properly.) By taking a dose of this poison, Casey’s heart rate and breathing supposedly will slow down to virtually nothing, making people believe he is actually dead.
While it worked in Chuck, Dr. William Browne said tetradotoxin wouldn’t work that way in the real world. The assistant professor of biology at the University of Miami said that no known drug will let you fake your death, at least in the manner that spy shows and movies tell you it can.
The rumors about tetradotoxin’s breathtaking powers actually stems from Haiti, according to Browne. According to legend, the powerful toxin was used in potions in voodoo rituals, allowing people to appear dead. Since then it has been used in numerous spy movies and television shows, but you can’t believe everything you see on TV.
“I don’t think it’s scientifically valid,” Browne said. “What it will do, because it’s a neurotoxin, is it will permit your diaphragm from functioning. You stop breathing and your heart stops beating.”
The only way to come back from the dead is to actually die, Brown added. If you happen to fall somewhere with an extremely cold temperature (around 4 degrees Celsius), your cells don’t require the same metabolic rate so they don’t break down as fast. It helps if your smaller because you can become colder in the core of your body quicker than a larger person. “That’s why you can pull people who fallen through ice 20 minutes later and revive them in some cases,” he said.
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