Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach

stiffHave you heard someone say that they were going to donate their body to science when they die? It’s true. People do donate their body for scientific experiments. When I first read this book, I knew that bodies were donated to medical schools so that future doctors could study human anatomy.
But here are a few things I found out when I read Stiff:

Teachers at private medical schools in England during the 16th and 17th centuries were only allowed to use the cadavers of executed murders. A lot of people didn’t want their body used after death because they believed their whole bodies went to heaven. So the teachers hired grave robbers to steal fresh cadavers from graves.

Dead bodies have been used in government experiments to determine the effects of bullets and landmines on the body. They have also used them to figure out how the impact of plane and car crashes on human bodies.

Cadavers have been used in a number of bizarre experiments throughout history. Human head transplants, blood transfusions from cadavers a few hours of death. A French scientist tried to recreate the crucifixion of Jesus. Another scientist tried to determine the existence of the soul by weighing people right before and after death.

Body parts have also been used in medicine, food and even as garden compost.

Curious to learn more? Check out Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach.



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