Thursday, November 6, 2008
Anoher Look At Spontaneous Human Combustion
It is a strange and frightening mystery that with all the technological advances there not only is no cure for the Common Cold or a definite known cause of SHC..
One of the most popular proposes that the fire is sparked when methane (a flammable gas produced when plants decompose) builds up in the intestines and is ignited by enzymes (proteins in the body that act as catalysts to induce and speed up chemical reactions).
Yet most victims of spontaneous human combustion suffer greater damage to the outside of their body than to their internal organs, which seems to go against this theory.
Other theories speculate that the fire begins as a result of a buildup of static electricity inside the body or from an external geomagnetic force exerted on the body. A self-proclaimed expert on spontaneous human combustion, Larry Arnold, has suggested that the phenomenon is the work of a new subatomic particle called a pyroton, which he says interacts with cells to create a mini-explosion. But no scientific evidence proves the existence of this particle.
In 1938, a 22-year-old woman named Phyllis Newcombe was leaving a dance at the Shire Hall in Chelmsford, England. As she descended the staircase of the hall, her dress suddenly caught fire with no apparent cause. She ran back into the ballroom, where she collapsed. Several people rushed to her aid, but she later died in the hospital. Although the theory was that Newcombe's dress had been ignited by a cigarette or a lit match thrown from the stairwell, no evidence of either was ever found. Coroner L.F. Beccles commented on the incident, "From all my experience I have never come across a case so very mysterious as this."
In 1951, a 67-year-old widow named Mary Reeser was at home in St. Petersburg, Florida. On the morning of July 2, a neighbor discovered that Mary's front door was hot. When she broke into the apartment with the help of two workmen, they found Mary in an easy chair with a black circle around her. Her head had been burned down to the size of a teacup. The only other parts of her that remained were part of her backbone and part of her left foot. Other than Mary's charred remains, there was very little evidence of fire in her apartment. A forensic pathologist, Dr. Wilton Krogman, said of the incident, "[It's] the most amazing thing I have ever seen. As I review it, the short hairs on my neck bristle with vague fear. Were I living in the Middle Ages I'd mutter something about black magic." But the police report cited a far less supernatural explanation for the cause of death: a dropped cigarette, which ignited Mrs. Reeser's highly flammable rayon-acetate nightgown.
(Dr.Krogman wa the father of one of my Emory University classmates way back when.)
In 1982, a mentally handicapped woman named Jean Lucille "Jeannie" Saffin was sitting with her 82-year-old father at their home in Edmonton, in northern London. According to her father, a flash of light caught his eye. When he turned to his daughter, he saw that her upper body was enveloped in flames. Mr. Saffin and his son-in-law, Donald Carroll, managed to put out the blaze, but Jeannie died of her third-degree burns about a week after entering the hospital. According to Carroll, "the flames were coming from her mouth like a dragon and they were making a roaring noise." There was no smoke or fire damage in the room. Some have wondered if an ember from her father's pipe ignited Jeannie's clothing.
http://skepdic.com/shc.html "A more economical and reasonable theory of how human bodies burn in rooms without having the entire room engulfed in flames is the idea of the wick effect. The ignition point of human fat is low and to get the fire going would require an external source. Once ignited, however, a "wick effect" from the body's fat would burn hot enough in certain places to destroy even bones. To prove that a human being might burn like a candle, Dr. John de Haan of the California Criminalistic Institute wrapped a dead pig in a blanket, poured a small amount of gasoline on the blanket, and ignited it. Even the bones were destroyed after five hours of continuous burning. The fat content of a pig is very similar to the fat content of a human being. The damage to the pig, according to Dr. De Haan "is exactly the same as that from supposed spontaneous human combustion." A National Geographic special on SHC showed a failed attempt to duplicate the burning pig experiment." However, it is noted this burning takes far longer than the quick short duration of SHC.
The Mystery remains but don't sleep or leave home with your Christmas Tree plugged in.On second thought maybe not sitting beside it is a good idea....Just in case.Also a good idea mot to smoke.