Mary Shelley's Frankenstein was originally published back in 1818, so everyone's had ample time to get up to speed on the basics: A scientist named Victor Frankenstein fills a shopping cart with corpse parts and, after a little stitching and genetic tinkering, harnesses a lightning strike. Then, ushered by his creator's pride that curdles to mortal terror, a monster lumbers into the world. It's a story not entirely dissimilar to the origin of hot dogs.
But as humanity has worn its collective butt prints into settees and davenports, then La-Z-Boys and raggedy futons, the horrific science fiction of Frankenstein has become the life-giving science fact of today's modern medicine. Here are five ways real Franken-science rearranges, reanimates, and restores.
5 Blood Transfusions
The University of North Carolina estimates that 41 to 71 percent of the population (plus Keith Richards) will need a blood transfusion at some point in their lives. So unless you're some freak who's immune to disease and injury or never needs surgery, get ready for a couple pints.
The practice of transfusion predates Frankenstein by 150 years. Attempted in France using sheep's blood, initial efforts were actually successful, likely owing to the small amount of blood used. But eventually a guy died. That's what happens when you try to transfuse too much sheep blood.
Unfortunately, a big stink over one dead guy in France = no more transfusions for a century and a half.
Things improved with the identification of distinct human blood types, and by 1840 the first full transfusion was performed. Around 1910, anticoagulants were added to blood, and we figured out that popping it into the fridge was a good idea. That set the stage for blood banks and donations, which have been giving some people a cookie and a pat on the back -- and others the opportunity to make some cash to pay the cable bill -- ever since.
"Hey, is there a way to speed this up? I need to get HBO back on before Game of Thrones starts."
The blood for today's transfusions is rigorously tested for infection and diseases like HIV and syphilis, but that doesn't mean the procedure is without peril. The process of transfusing blood adds up to $17 billion annually in additional medical costs due to complications. Getting new life juice can still be plenty tricky.