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Showing posts from September, 2017

Electric Chair

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Execution via electric chair is believed to be a humane and painless method. However, it does not look as such from an onlooker's perspective, as the prisoner often appears to be thrashing, their eyeballs often melt and/or pop out of their skull, involuntary bowel movement occurs, and the smell of burning skin is prevalent. Autopsies of convicts executed in this way often showed that the brain had literally been cooked inside the skull. Thus, the question arises, how is that a humane and painless execution?

Death by electrocution is caused by high voltage electricity resulting in rapid and irregular contractions of the heart, thus causing cardiac arrest. For the execution in an electric chair, the prisoner's hair is removed from one of their legs and their head in order to connect electrodes to the skin.  They are strapped to the chair. Then, an initial high voltage (usually around 2000 V) alternating current is applied for about 30 seconds, which makes the convict lose consci…

Decapitation

Decapitation for the purpose of execution goes back a long way in history. It was a method used in the Greek and Roman empires. The method was popular in Britain up to 1747. Beheadings were typically carried out using swords and axes, until the guillotine was invented in 1792 in France.

Decapitation by means of a sword usually involved the prisoner being made to kneel down as low as they could, and a long sword (about 0.9 -1.2 m long) weighing about 2 kg would be used to sever the head. Using an axe would usually require implementing a wooden block, often cut at an angle which would allow an easier job for the executioner, where the prisoner would place their neck. Ideally, the head would be severed off with a single swing of the axe. However, in some cases, the angle of the axe to the neck would make it difficult to sever the head with a single blow, thus requiring several attempts, causing pain to the prisoner. For example, during the beheading of Mary, the Queen of Scots in 1587, i…

Decomposition

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The process of bio decomposition is essential for the maintenance of natural cycles. Decomposition begins from the moment of death, being caused by and autolysis (when the body breaks down its own tissues, usually starting with the liver due to enzymes present, and in the brain due to its high water content), later followed by putrefaction (breakdown of body tissues via bacteria). Prime decomposers are bacteria and fungi but larger organisms also play a role in the process. These range from arthropods such as beetles and flies to larger birds and mammals, such as vultures, dogs and wolves.

During the first few hours following death no signs of corpse decomposition are yet visible. However, the body cools down, usually its temperature dropping by 2 degrees per hour. This is known as algor mortis. Due to gravity blood settles in those parts of the body which are closest to the ground. This is known as livor mortis and it occurs for up to 8 hours following death. Moreover, muscles stiff…

Eco-friendly Funerals

From the viewpoint of an engineer, sustainability via fuel conservation and preserving natural resources are significant matters at the end of life of all machines. So why do human burials tend to be treated so differently?  A single cremation uses as much fuel as a car driving for 4800 miles, and releases polluting chemicals into the atmosphere, including Carbon Dioxide, mercury and dioxin. Typical burials use up plenty of wood, concrete and plastic only for the sake of shielding a body from the surrounding ground, attempting to slow down the natural cycle of decay. Such materials take many years to decay and can leave behind toxic residue. A body drained of blood is typically filled with environmentally harmful chemicals, including formaldehyde and phenol for preservation purposes.

The above practices are unlikely to stop any time soon as cultural beliefs prevail over environmental concerns. However, with time, perhaps more eco-friendly methods of corpse disposal will become more p…

Introduction

People tend to make countless plans for their future, often without considering the possibility of their life ending. However, death affects everyone sooner or later, and it cannot be ignored. In the end, who you truly are, and how people will perceive and remember you are determined in that one final moment. I decided to focus this blog on the topic of death because it is something that always interested me since the passing away of my grandmother, and the key purpose is to be informative.

Perhaps my morbid curiosity is not normal, but who can really judge? Everyone has their own hobbies, some weirder than others. Mine just happens to be researching various topics and implications of the inevitable. I want to show that it is nothing to be afraid of, but rather, something that can be fascinating, and I believe that remembering our mortality and fragility of life may encourage personal growth and help us become better people as a result.