Exploding People

See the main article on the Byford Dolphin Diving bell accident

While a large reduction in atmospheric pressure on a human usually only causes decompression sickness, there is one case of a sudden massive pressure drop causing a human to explode. In 1983, four divers were in a decompression chamber aboard the Byford Dolphin oil rig. The chamber explosively decompressed from 9 atm to 1 atm following the improper opening of a pressure clamp. The sudden decompression killed all four divers, with the diver nearest the open clamp literally exploding. The rapid expansion of dissolved gases in his body caused the ejection of his internal organs, with one part of his body found 10 m above the chamber.

Human corpses can explode from natural causes. One famous example is that of William the Conqueror. King William I of England was very heavy-set, and at age 60 he was injured when his horse jostled, walking on a hot coal left after burning a town during a siege. William's intestines were ruptured, and he suffered a slow, painful death from peritonitis. It was at the end of a hot summer, there was no refrigeration, and the funeral had to wait until nobles and luminaries had traveled to the church for the funeral. And so his body swelled beyond the size of the coffin that had been made. According to the Oxford Illustrated History of Britain:

On 9 September 1087, William I died. His body was carried to his great church of St. Stephen at Caen. Towards the end of his life he had grown very fat, and when the attendants tried to force the body into the stone sarcophagus, it burst, filling the church with a foul smell. It was an unfortunate ending to the career of an unusually fortunate and competent king.[9]

A slightly more detailed account from Panati (1999) includes:

From postmortem decay the abscess had turgidly putrefied, bloating the corpse and expanding its girth. A group of bishops applied pressure on the king's abdomen to force the body downward (in the coffin) but it moved only inches; the lid still would not shut. Again they pushed, and the abdominal wall, already under intense internal pressure, burst. Pus and putrefaction drenched the king's death garb and seeped throughout the coffin. The stench so overpowered chapel mourners that, hands to noses, many raced for the doors.[10]

thx agf :P

No comments: