How dangerous is pumpkin carving? Science investigates with severed human limbs!

Pumpkin carving can be treacherous business, and not just for pumpkins. In fact, according to a 2004 article published in the journal Preventive Medicine, it's actually easier to cut human flesh than it is to cut a pumpkin.

Over at The Guardian, Marc Abrahams (editor of the Annals of Improbable Research and curator of all things scientifically weird) explains:

Alexander M Marcus, Jason K Green and Frederick W Werner at the State University of New York Upstate Medical University in Syracuse published a study, called The Safety of Pumpkin-Carving Tools, in the journal Preventive Medicine.

"Pumpkin-carving accidents", they inform their peers who read the report, "may leave people with compromised hand function".

There are several kinds of lacerations and puncture wounds that can lead to this hand-compromisation. Lacerations occur "when the knife blade travels across the surface of the hand" or "when the knife is accidentally pushed too far forward and cuts the opposite hand stabilising the pumpkin", or "when the cutting hand slips forward off the handle and on to the blade", in which case "injury occurs across zone 2 of the volar surface [the palm] of the hand, while the flexor tendons are taut from gripping the knife".

Marcus, Green and Werner then went on to measure how much force was required to make a cut with four different knives (two "official" pumpkin cutting knives, one serrated kitchen knife, and one plain-edge) — first on pumpkins, and then on "six cadaver forearms... harvested at the elbow."

Real, actual cadaver forearms! Getting gored with pumpkin-carving tools! Scientists always get to have all the fun. Read more details over at The Guardian.

[The Guardian via Jennifer Oullette]

AWESOME Cylon pumpkin via oskay