Ever consider donating your body to science? Your sad little meat suit could advance the cause of human knowledge! Sure, maybe you were a "callow reprobate" in life (the judge's words, not ours), but in death you serve a higher function. Well, unless science decides to use your carcass for one of these things ...
WARNING: The following images will disturb you. (Unless you're a hardcore Slayer fan.)
Our fancy fingers and opposable thumbs are one of the advantages that separate us humans from the lower beasts. Well, that and flamethrowers. Once the wolves develop flamethrower technology, it's all over. But there's at least one man -- David Carrier, a biology professor at the University of Utah -- who doesn't completely buy into the whole "civilized dexterity" thing. He poses another theory: Our hands evolved as they did so that we could more effectively punch each other in the face.
So he gathered up some dismembered arms and started figuring out how to make them deliver haymakers. You know, as one does.
David Carrier/University of Utah
Dead men tell no tales, but they sometimes knock your ass out cold.
Researchers attached the arms to a pendulum and tied fishing line to the tendons of the forearm muscles, allowing them to be controlled by guitar tuners like marionettes straight out of a Hellraiser puppet show.
Which line do we pull to flip our sanity the bird?
Carrier and Co. then forced the severed arms to slug a force-measuring dumbbell using three hand positions: a clenched fist, a loose fist, and an open-palm slap. Results confirmed that the clenched fist -- a configuration unique to our human dickbeaters -- is not only capable of dealing out more forceful blows but also causes less damage to the bones of the punching hand. And then every boxer who's ever lived breathed out a collective, "No shit. You needed to collect and automate corpse arms to figure that out?"
Imagine you're an Army captain tasked with determining the best service pistol to issue to your men. How would you go about making that decision? If your immediate and enthusiastic answer was "prop up corpses and go to town on history's weirdest shooting gallery," then you are fucked in the head. And your name is Luis LaGarde.
"Well, you guys threw a shit-fit when I wanted to use homeless people!"
In 1899, LaGarde and Colonel John T. Thompson (who would later go on to invent the Thompson submachine gun made famous by Al Capone and the like), hung an unspecified number of cadavers from the ceiling and took turns shooting them with .38 and .45 caliber revolvers. Dozens of rounds were fired into each corpse and, based entirely on how much each shot made the body swing, LaGarde and Thompson "calculated" the relative stopping power of the various gun models. Their findings influenced military policies, specifically those dictating that service pistols should be of no less than .45 caliber. Such experiments were finally abandoned completely in the 1920s, when they were condemned for being "scientifically unsound." That's science speak for "a sane person finally stumbled into the House of the Dead and screamed, 'What in the actual fuck are you doing?!'"
While you'd probably entrust Jimmy the Intern with the task of, say, removing your appendix -- really, it's the fifth wheel of organs -- there's no way in hell you'd let an inexperienced surgeon anywhere near your pretty, pretty face. Luckily, there's an effective way for med students to hone their skills without damaging the ol' moneymaker.
Yep! Plastic surgeons practice on dead folks.
The above footage is from a "cadaver workshop," which sounds like something Pinhead has in his basement.
Countless courses allow surgeons to practice procedures like nose jobs on honest-to-goodness decapitated heads. Why decapitated? Because the rest of the body can be put to better use elsewhere (punching shit, for example), and the scientific community is anything but wasteful. Horrific, disturbing, nightmare-inducing -- never wasteful, though.
University of Michigan
"So what do you do for a living?"
"I chop heads off cadavers for medical students."
We might need one of those doctors to take a look at our sprained diaphragms after all the screaming we just did. Luckily they trained on only the finest of corpses.
Blinking is one of those important things you don't even think about until you can't do it, at which point you either seek medical attention or join the Church of Scientology. That's why science is hard at work developing artificial eyelid muscles to step in for those that no longer function due to facial paralysis. Naturally, these are tested on cadavers first. Naturally, we're going to show you what that looks like:
"How you doin'?"
By screwing one end of a sling into the bone at the corner of the eye and fastening the other end to a pacemaker-like contraption hidden in the natural hollow of the temple, the paralyzed (but now bionic!) eyelid can be made to blink in tandem with the other, healthy eye. That is, if the patient is still alive. When testing the system on a cadaver, the result is one working eyelid and the heavy psychological trauma of having just been hit on by a zombie.
University of California Regents
"Hey baby, wanna get assimilated?"
Disturbing new fetishes aside, this procedure holds considerable promise: Eyelid transplants, for example, have the inherent fault of leaving some other part of the body weakened, while gravity-based systems tend to malfunction as the patient is trying to sleep. Of course, you could always just show said patient these GIFs of suave corpses, thereby thoroughly erasing their desire to ever sleep again. Problem solved!
How do you think researchers determine how safe you'll be during a crash? Crash test dummies, right? Even the most technologically advanced dummy can tell you only so much. To get the truest possible picture, sometimes you've got to smash some poor, dead bastard into a brick wall.
driver deceased on a closed course."
Though, officially speaking, car manufacturers will deny it to hell and back, cadaver testing is still alive and well. Because the best way to see how well a new safety feature will protect the human body is to destroy a few human bodies.
Using chimps just made the testers sad.
That's a cause you can no doubt get behind -- tens of thousands of people die in car crashes each year -- but what if the safety testing being performed was less dire? Would you, for instance, be willing to toss your earthly remains toward the selfless purpose of keeping the kiddies' fingers safe while carving pumpkins this Halloween? Because scientists used actual human hands to test just that.
Preventive Medicine via Smithsonian Magazine
Someone really needs to teach that corpse how to hold a knife properly.
In another example, researchers used actual human legs to test which type of terrain is most likely to cause ligament tears in athletes. (It's AstroTurf.)
It's good to know that the researchers have the same facial expression we do on seeing that.
So while you may have highfalutin ideas of what it means to donate your body to science -- picturing your corpse being rocketed into space to become the first corpse on Mars, perhaps -- the likelihood is that you'll just wind up slapping at walls and tripping on fake grass like an undead spaz. Well, at least you're the same in death as in life.
Deep inside us all -- behind our political leanings, moral codes, and private biases -- there is a cause so colossally stupid that we surprise ourselves with how much we care. Whether it's toilet paper position, fedoras on men, or Oxford commas, we each harbor a preference so powerful that we can't help but proselytize about it to the world. In the next live episode of the Cracked podcast, guest host Soren Bowie is joined by Cody Johnston, Michael Swaim, and comedian Annie Lederman to discuss the most trivial things we will argue about until the day we die. Get your tickets here!
For more ways science got a little weird, check out The 10 Craziest Scientific Experiments Ever Conducted and 23 Real-Life Mad Scientists Deleted From Your History Books.
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