Science Café: The Truth About Stiffs: The Straight Dope on Dead Bodies
October 14, 2014
Right away, when I saw this presentation announced by the Omaha Atheists, I knew I had to go! I usually don’t tell people this right away but I have always been very interested in forensic science, along with psychology, criminology, etc.. I am kind of a dork... so I knew this was right up my alley. Here are a few things I took away from tonight's lecture.
The presentation was given by Geoffrey Talmon, M.D., who is an associate professor in the department of pathology and microbiology at UNMC. The Slowdown was packed with a variety of people; lots of med students, atheists, drinkers, and more! Pizza was provided by The Nebraska Coalition for Lifesaving Cures.
Dr. Talmon quoted Woody Allen saying, “I’m not afraid of death; I just don’t want to be there when it happens”.
101 billion people have died, and we are only 6% that are still alive
As someone dies, their sense of hearing is suspected to be the last to go
It is estimated that the brain is conscious 15 to 20 seconds after beheading
After cremation the remains weigh about 4-6 lbs.
USPS will ship ashes of human remains, however FedEx will not
Most autopsies are free at hospitals, or at least at UNMC if you are a patient with them at all
There are several research facilities called body farms where human decomposition can be studied in a variety of environments
Pallor/Livor mortis is the discoloration of the dead
Blood pools in direct response to gravity which happens 1-3 hours after death
Rigor Mortis is the stiffness of the deceased
Starts within 1-2 hours, peaks after 12 hours and goes away within 1-2 days
Algor mortis is the cool of the dead
Change in temperature within the body - Due to environment, physical conditions, etc., it is not consistent in determining the exact time of death
Putrefaction – AKA rotting/decay
Bacteria breaks down cells first, then fat and bone
Within 6 months to 1 year the deceased is a skeleton with very little tissues left
Bio Cremation is now an option that is environmentally friendly and works just like fire
Mummification is pure autolysis without putrefaction
Done so by removing organs, controlling environments, etc.
Embalming is done to slow the putrefaction process for funeral
Cremation is like being burned by a jet engine for 2-3 hours