Human bodies keep moving for more than a year after death, researcher finds - Montreal Gazette - Canadanewsmedia
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Human bodies keep moving for more than a year after death, researcher finds – Montreal Gazette

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The finding could ‘significantly’ change how post-mortem investigations are carried out, especially in cases of unexplained deaths


A cadaver lies in an open locker. Researchers have found that that human bodies can move for more than a year after death.


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The zombies from ‘Walking Dead’ may be frighteningly closer to reality than you’d like to imagine. 

Australian researchers have observed human bodies moving for more than a year after death, a finding that can greatly change how post-mortem investigations are conducted, they say. 

Researchers at the Australian Facility for Taphonomic Experimental Research (AFTER), informally known as a body farm, used a time-lapse camera to take overhead pictures of a corpse every 30 minutes during daylight hours for 17 months. 

“What we found was that the arms were significantly moving, so that arms that started off down beside the body ended up out to the side of the body,” medical scientist Alyson Wilson told ABC Australia.   

While the team expected some post-mortem movement in the early stages of decomposition, the length at which they observed the body moving was a surprising find. 

These findings could “significantly” impact unexplained death investigations she added. Previously, forensic scientists assumed that the position of a discovered body was the position at time of death — if there was no evidence proving that the body was moved. 

“We think the movements relate to the process of decomposition, as the body mummifies and the ligaments dry out,” she explained. 

Wilson could not immediately be reached for comment.

However, Shari Forbes, director of Canada’s first body farm — and former director of AFTER — said the finding isn’t all that uncommon. “It’s well-known to researchers but not conveyed to police investigators,” she said, namely due to the lack of facilities around the world, outside of the U.S.

The reasons for prolonged movement aren’t all that mystifying either, she added. It could be a number of things — insect larvae, shrinkage of body tissue, scavenging.

Wilson also found, over the course of three years, that corpses left outdoors would mummify — the process by which the skin and flesh of a corpse is preserved — under the right circumstances.

“We used to think it could only happen in a hot-and-dry environment or cold-and-dry — the key word being dry,” explained Forbes. However, the research reveals that natural mummification isn’t necessarily dependent on environmental factors and could be due to anything drawing moisture out from the body such as insects, dry soil, solar radiation.

It would differ around the world, added Forbes. For example, the process of mummification in Canada could result in two extreme scenarios — the body would freeze during winter leading to some degree of mummification or rapidly decompose during the warm summers.

Wilson’s research also confirmed the value of a time-lapse camera to study the decomposition rate of a human body in any environment. In a study published last month, she used the camera to test whether a scientific equation used to estimate a body’s decomposition in the northern hemisphere could apply to an Australian environment.

“Until we had AFTER, most of the science on how bodies decomposed was based on the northern hemisphere, where the climate is different, the weather is different and even the insects can be different,” she said.

This is the “first time” such photos have been recorded, according to Dr. Xanthe Mallett, a forensic anthropologist and criminologist at the University of Newcastle. 

“Previously, if the police had asked me if a set of human remains were found and they were mummified, I would have said it’s likely that that person was left outside in autumn and winter,” added Mallett. The new data “opens up the entire year for mummification in the correct circumstances, and it stops us from going down the wrong path.”

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Billionaire Bezos unveils plans to land humans on Moon, with a little help from some old friends – The Register

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Blue Origin and industry vets eye a slice of NASA’s lunar lander largesse

Richest person in the world, Jeff Bezos, yesterday pitched NASA a team mostly made up of the usual suspects to build a lunar lander for the agency’s ambitious 2024 boots-on-Moon goal.

Speaking at the International Astronautical Congress in Washington, Bezos announced the “national team”, of which his Blue Origin would be the prime contractor (naturally). The members consist of Lockheed Martin for the Ascent Stage, Northrop Grumman for the Transfer Element and Draper providing the guidance and navigation systems.

“We could not ask for better partners,” intoned the billionaire, which is fair enough. After all, elements of all the companies in the team-up worked on the Apollo program back in the day (although those engineers will have long been put out to pasture.)

The Transfer Element will guide the stack from lunar orbit to close to the Moon, from whence the Descent Element will conduct a powered descent. Lockheed Martin’s ascent module will then send the freshly minted Moonwalkers back into space.

Blue Origin will also be building the descent element of the lander, which uses the company’s BE-7 engine. The powerplant, Bezos said, is fuelled by liquid hydrogen and oxygen and as well being “highly throttleable” and developing 10,000 pounds of thrust.

The BE-7, of course, has yet to actually leave the test stand. Bezos told the audience that to date, the company had managed 13 minutes of test time, including a three-minute continuous firing.

That same engine, Bezos added, would be used by Northrop Grumman in the transfer element of the lunar lander stack.

Bezos unveiled the Blue Moon lander back in May and the announcement of the National Team is an indicator that it will take more than one company to meet the 2024 goal. It will also reassure those within NASA nervous about flinging cash at a company that has yet to even make Earth orbit, let alone do anything in deep space.

And NASA has lots of experience in giving money to Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman after all.

Grumman, of course, built the original Apollo Lunar Module back in NASA’s glory days while Draper provided the guidance systems for the Moon missions.

These days, Northrop Grumman provides NASA with ISS cargo services and is working on both the boosters for the eternally-delayed Space Launch System and the habitat for the agency’s Lunar Gateway.

Draper has continued to work on precision guidance, although there is a delightful hole to tumble down in researching the Apollo guidance units, particularly efforts to fire up the old things once more. Naturally, the hand-woven circuitry of the Apollo era won’t feature this time around.

NASA is due to select two contractor teams in late 2020 to actually build the lander, having asked for proposals (and deleted certain reusability requirements in the rush to 2024). ®

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Bezos's Blue Origin partners with Lockheed, others on moon lander – Financial Post

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WASHINGTON — U.S. billionaire Jeff Bezos said on Tuesday his space company Blue Origin has signed agreements with Lockheed Martin Corp, Northrop Grumman Corp and research and development organization Draper for development of its lunar lander designed to help NASA put humans on the moon by 2024.

Blue Origin’s so-called Blue Moon lunar lander, unveiled by Bezos in May, is in development and sits at the center of the space company’s ambition to ferry humans into deep space and land key contracts from the U.S. space agency for space exploration.

“I’m excited to announce that we put together a national team to go back to the moon,” Bezos, founder and CEO of online retail giant Amazon, said at the International Astronautical Congress.

The four companies, with Blue Origin as the lead contractor, plan to submit a proposal for the lander to NASA under its Artemis lunar program, an accelerated mission to the moon kickstarted in March by U.S. Vice President Mike Pence.

Bezos called the partnerships a “national team” whose history in space exploration fits the Blue Moon’s mission. Lockheed is separately developing the moon-bound astronaut capsule named Orion. Northrop helped NASA build the Apollo lunar landers in the 1960s. Draper, a not-for-profit research and development organization, built NASA’s navigation computers for Apollo lunar landers. (Reporting by Joey Roulette; Editing by Sandra Maler)

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A giant full beaver moon set to dazzle Metro Vancouver skies – Vancouver Courier

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While it is getting darker earlier in Metro Vancouver, this month’s full beaver moon promises to illuminate the night sky.

The November full moon is thought to have derived its funny name because it occurred during the optimal time to trap the furry creatures. In fact, both colonial Americans as well as the Algonquin tribes referred to it as such.

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“Why this name? Back then, this was the month to set beaver traps before the swamps froze, to ensure a supply of warm winter furs,” reports Farmer’s Almanac.

While it is commonly known as the beaver moon, it was also called the Full Frost Moon by other North American Tribes.

According to the Old Farmer’s Almanac, the moon will be fullest during the day on Tuesday, Nov. 12. However, Vancouver stargazers will still be able to see the nearly-full moon in all her celestial glory the night before (Nov. 11) as well as later that night (Nov. 12).

What’s more, this full moon casts long, hauntingly beautiful shadows in the Northern Hemisphere. They are similar to those cast by the midday summer sun, as the moon is extremely high in the sky during this time.

Stargazers should opt to travel as far away from city lights as possible in order to avoid light pollution that will obscure the clarity of heavenly bodies. While this works best the in more remote places, anywhere that has a higher elevation will also provide more ideal viewing conditions.

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