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Not for the Faint of Heart: How the Human Body Decays

Researchers at the Anthropological Research Facility at the University of Tennessee (the Body Farm) are charged with studying how the process of decay on human bodies takes place.

There, donated cadavers are observed and examined outdoors under various conditions to determine just what happens at specific times to a body in the process of decaying.

Among other uses this information is invaluable in helping law enforcement officials accurately determine time of death in criminal cases. While the process is not for the squeamish it provides a interesting glimpse into how our bodies are reclaimed by the earth.

Death and Rigor Mortis

The moment a person dies their body begins to cool at the rate of about 1.5 degrees Fahrenheit per hour. This cooling process continues until the cadaver reaches the same temperature as the air around it.

Rigor mortis, the stiffening of the bodies muscles due to a lack of ATP (adenosine triphosphate), begins within 2 to 4 hours after death at the head and neck. The process proceeds down the entire length of the body until finally disappearing within 10 to 48 hours.

Flies and other insects quickly arrive at a cadaver and lay larvae at bodily orifices where the maggots can most easily gain entry to the body’s interior. These entry points include the eyes, mouth, genitalia, and any open sores. The goal for the insect larvae is the fat that lies just under the skin which they can then feed and grow on.

Autolysis, The Body Eats Itself

In a living human body enzymes within cells metabolize various substances which are then used to fuel the body. When a person dies the cells no longer have the ability to control these enzymes and they begin to break down the cell walls with the interior fluid leaking out.

The liquid from the eyes is one of the first things to go in a cadaver, spilling out of the eye sockets. “Skin slip”, or “gloving”, occurs as this cellular fluid leaks between layers of skin and loosens them. Entire sections of skin can then slough off a cadaver.

Autolysis is the process of self-digestion that occurs within a cadaver as all this leaking fluid provides food for bacteria located throughout the body; in the lungs, the intestines, and on the skin for example.

Feasting on all this food, bacteria migrate throughout the body causing it to bloat as it fills with gasses that the bacteria expel as waste. A living human being expels this gas on their own, but with no working digestive system a cadaver just fills up with gas.

The most bloating takes place where the largest colonies of bacteria live, typically in the stomach, the mouth (making the lips and tongue bloat), and the genitals.

Bloating continues for about a week until some part of the cadaver gives way, usually the intestines or the torso itself splitting open releasing the pent-up gas. During all this autolysis and bloating the insects have been busy feeding with larvae continually growing larger and more numerous.

Putrefaction and Decay

Putrefaction is the dissolving of the body’s organs that takes place as bacteria continue to eat fluids that have leaked out of the cells. Because of their high concentrations of bacteria, the lungs and digestive organs liquefy first. The brain goes quickly also, as the bacteria in the mouth work through the soft upper palate, feeding on the organ from below.

Eventually the organs in the torso have all dissolved into an unrecognizable, soupy mixture. Meat-eating insects along with bacteria will also attack the muscles for food.

Depending on the environment and weather conditions the skin may or may not be consumed. With this the process is nearly complete and the body has quietly returned back to the earth from where it came.

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Science & Technology

Watch the First Video of a Virus Growing in Real-Time

For the first time, researchers have captured the formation of individual viruses on camera in real-time — and the footage could yield new insights into how best to fight the bugs.

In a paper published recently in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the team from Harvard’s John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences details how it obtained the footage using a highly specialized microscope and a technique called “interferometric scattering microscopy.”

“Our technique gives the first window into how viruses assemble,” researcher Vinothan Manoharan said in a press release, “and reveals the kinetics and pathways in quantitative detail.”

The team focused its study on the RNA virus, the most common type of virus on Earth and the kind responsible for the common cold, polio, and a host of other diseases.

The dark spots in the video are, in fact, soccer-ball type structures of hexagonal and pentagonal rings of proteins that encase the RNA virus. The resulting shell around the virus is called a “capsid.”

According to Manoharan, the pattern in which these spots appear as the virus assembles is already uncovering clues as to how to fight some types of viruses.

“If nuclei form too quickly, complete capsids can’t grow,” he said in the press release. “That observation might give us some insights into how to derail the assembly of pathogenic viruses.”

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Watch Russia’s Combat Drone Fly Next to a Fighter Jet

Heavy Strike Drone

Russia’s secretive uncrewed combat air vehicle, the S-70 Okhotnik-B just took to the skies accompanied by a fighter jet for the first time, according to a statement by Russian news agency TASS. The footage is pretty incredible.

The video, uploaded by the Russian Defense Ministry, shows the unusual aircraft take off next to a Russian S-57 advanced combat jet, in a flight that lasted for more than 30 minutes.

Hunter-B

The stealthy drone, also known as the Hunter-B, could offer the Russian military a way to penetrate air spaces without being detected. The video could also herald a future in which fighter jet pilots could be accompanied by one or more of these stealth drones to improve their view of the battlefield, The Drive suggests.

“As part of the ongoing test program, the Okhotnik drone performed a flight in the automated mode in its full configuration, entering the airborne alert area,” the ministry said in the statement.

Jet Accompaniment

The top secret heavy strike stealth drone has been in development for an unknown number of years. Back in August, Russia’s Ministry of Defense released footage of the drone taking off for the first time.

The ministry is hoping to start deliveries of the S-70 in 2025, according to the statement. Heavily armed tests will take place as soon as 2023.

READ MORE: Watch Russia’s S-70 Unmanned Combat Air Vehicle Fly With An Su-57 For The First Time [The Drive]

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Fans Update Sci-Fi Classic Metropolis with New Color and Sound

Metropolis Remix breathes new life into the pioneering classic 1927 silent film.

Metropolis was a groundbreaking work of science fiction and German expressionism when it was released in 1927. Now, this painstaking modernization created by Garrett Guynn & Andrew John Holt brings new sound and color to the classic film with the help of many contributors. Metropolis Remix includes a new title sequence, new voices, and original music created by Andrew John Holt.

On Youtube, Holt writes:

“I am so excited to have been a part of this awesome project. Garrett and I worked very closely over Skype and file sharing over many months to produce the film enhancements you see now. Garrett initially seeked help through the “Reddit Voice Acting Sub” for one of the voices on his project that he had already been working on an off with over the past five years. I voiced Josephat the assistant to the Great Mr Fredersen Senior. Once I had finished the collaboration with Garrett the project blossomed with my words “Perhaps we could do more with this”. Garrett was based in Hawaii and i am based in Sydney which made for some interesting time difference work sessions. I would be on my computer after dinner and he would be feeding breakfast to his child and juggling manuscripts. We agonised for so long on inventing dialogue that matched the lips and was relevant to the scene in some way. My favourite scene is where Freda embraces one of his floozies in front of the fountain. The dialogue was seamless with the lips saying “Kiss Me”. We also agonised about the ending and the dialogue between Grot the worker, Maria, Freda Junior and Fredersen Senior. It all came out seamlessly in the end. Garrett and I mused about doing another project together, perhaps an old Charlie Chaplin film, but we are still in dialogue as they say in Hollywood…hahaha….”

Metropolis Remix

Metropolis with new sound and color

Metropolis Remix

Metropolis Remix

Metropolis Remix

Metropolis Remix

Metropolis Remix

Metropolis Remix

Metropolis Remix

Metropolis Remix

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