Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers

Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers - Mary Roach If I die in a combat zone....Freeze-dry me and send me home?Believe it or not, being freeze-dried is now an option, but only if you want to serve as human compost. One would hope, of course, that you'd be used to fertilize the flowers and not the vegetable garden.There are a lot of good things in your life for which you can thank the people who have donated their bodies to research. I had no idea they used cadavers for tests to improve automobile safety. I thought they used those crash test dummies you see in the ads. But only a real body will do if you want to know what will actually happen to a human body upon impact. There are a lot of other studies requiring real bodies, so you might consider just saying no to cremation and donating your remains instead. If you donate your body for medical study, you even get to include a biographical note in your file for the students who dissect you. If your brain wasn't good enough to get you into Harvard when you were alive, they'll accept it after you die. I had a hard time with this concept. I could just see my brain on a shelf in a jar marked "Abby Normal," with Marty Feldman dancing around it singing "Ain't got no bah-dee!"For this book, it's a good idea to suspend the habit of reading while you eat, especially for the chapters about historical practices involving cadavers. Mary Roach is not squeamish, and she doesn't tiptoe around the grisly and grotesque details. If you can set aside your discomfort about the topic, it's a fascinating read. The only parts I struggled with were where she described the things they did to live animals in the name of research.