It would take another twenty years to make the connection to the spinal cord work...

I know the meaning of make the connection but I don't understand the exact meaning of the phrase. I think my problem refers to the word "work".

So could you please tell me what "work" means here?

The fuller text is here:

The Catholic doctrine of the soul has helped the surgeon overcome his moral qualms about conducting experiments on primates. In his view, a monkey has ‘nothing in common with man, at least nothing having to do with the brain or soul.’ White’s dream of providing new bodies for people with conditions like Christopher Reeve’s (the late actor who was paralyzed in a riding accident) or Stephen Hawking’s (the physicist suffering from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) was daring in the extreme. ‘What’s the difference whether I implant a liver, replace an arm, or transplant a body?’ White asked me eight years ago. ‘No one would ever think of looking for the soul in the liver or in an arm. The soul is only in the brain.’ The pope presumably sees the matter differently, but he does not have to finance the project. White told me that all he needed was the sum of $4 or $5 million, and he could go to Kiev in Ukraine and carry out his first human head transplantations. He conceded that the ‘greatest operation in the history of mankind’ would have flaws; the patient would not be able to move his arms or legs, nor could he speak, swallow, or digest food. Still, White laughed, he couldn’t really complain. It would take another twenty years to make the connection to the spinal cord work, which would eliminate these drawbacks. I asked White whether he would make his own body available for this procedure. Again, he laughed: ‘Of course – but I’d rather it be my head, which is worth more.’

  • 1
    Did you look up 'work' in a dictionary? Commented Mar 24, 2020 at 20:08
  • @ Michael Harvey Yes I did, and I think it means " to be effective or successful" here but I'm not sure.
    – Peace
    Commented Mar 24, 2020 at 20:18
  • 4
    You're grouping the words incorrectly. It's not [make the connection](work), it's [make...](the connection)[...work]. In other words, you don't want to be thinking about the phrase make the connection, but make it work.
    – Juhasz
    Commented Mar 24, 2020 at 20:20

1 Answer 1


To "make something work" means to make it operate correctly. Like if I said, "My car wouldn't start, but I took it to a mechanic and he made it work again", I would mean that he got it to start and presumably run correctly.

Here he is talking about the connection between the brain and the spinal cord. He's talking about transplanting a person's head onto another body, and saying that if he did this now, he does not yet know how to make this connection -- the connection between brain and spinal cord -- work correctly. I guess he means that he could connect blood vessels and whatever so that the body would keep the head alive, but the head would not be able to control the body.

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