Wednesday, July 28, 2010
Yuks And Yuck!
Sounds like a good thing to do. Donate your body to science. Maybe your corpse will help train a young surgeon so when he's working on a living body he will have the practical experience not to cut the wrong part.
Crash test dummies don't provide the same information as a human body. OK, I won't feel the impact, so let my corpse test the limits of new safety restraints in a vehicle.
But leaving my fresh (i.e. unembalmed) cadaver out in a fenced-in grove and let nature run its course to see what happens -- well, let me think about that one. I sunburn so easily. (And I'm already too bloated now as it is.)
And using my lifeless flesh for vain cosmetic reasons, to "aggrandize penises" -- to use Mary Roach's phrase -- I think I'm ending up on the short end of the donation deal.
The nonfiction book, Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers, is a blend of gags (author Mary Roach's snarky comments and puns) and gags (referring to the reader's physical reactions to gross -- and I do mean gross -- anatomy). She mentions how people who conduct scientific research or investigate fatal disasters have to objectify human remains, pretend that they're made of wax, for example. Her humor is her objectification, especially when she sees a bloated body that's been in a left outside as part of research into criminal forensics.
In Chapter 5, Beyond the Black Box, she discusses how corpses can provide additional clues to the cause of an airplane crash. She interviews an injury analyst who investigated the TWA Flight 800 disaster, a plane that exploded over the Atlantic in July 1996 while en route from the US to Europe. Flight 800 is a favorite among conspiracy theorists who believe nothing happens by accident. What appears to be accidental was actually planned, they believe, the result of machinations being executed by a shadowy Mega-Conspiracy.
The argument is that some witnesses noticed a streak of light going up towards the doomed plane, indicating a missile was fired at it. One theory has the plane being shot down by an US submarine that was in the area at the time.
Others argue that the streak of light was only flame shooting out from Flight 800 after vapors in a fuel tank were ignited by frayed wiring. Because of the viewing conditions, an illusion was created that the light streak was traveling upward.
Chapter 5 lays out all the details how the injury analyst determined that it was an exploding fuel tank, not a missile, that caused the crash. Of course Mary holds back on her jokes during this part of the book, showing how bodies retrieved from the ocean provided clues to what happened.
If you're someone disturbed by corpses being classified by a damage rating system -- from Green (body intact) to Red (loss of three or more extremities or complete transection of the body) -- then you won't be able to handle much of this book.
Posted by Ray Palm (Ray X) at 1:26 AM