3 Hours of Tongue-Pulling Was a Real Option to Check Mortality in 1848

Courtesy of the wonderful QI Elves on Twitter, here's a graphic showing real entries in an 1848 contest for the best way to determine if someone was really dead or not. It's so good that they had the competition, how would anyone have come up with "check for heartbeat with a stethoscope" otherwise? » 10/31/14 5:00am 10/31/14 5:00am

Awareness Can Continue For Several Minutes After Clinical Death

The biggest ever scientific study of near-death experiences shows that awareness can continue for a surprisingly long duration after the brain has shut down completely. The finding suggests that these experiences are more than just hallucinations — and that our definition of clinical death should probably be revised. » 10/08/14 12:40pm 10/08/14 12:40pm

The Woods Around Chernobyl Aren't Decaying

Like a landscape of the undead, the woods outside Chernobyl are having trouble decomposing. The catastrophic meltdown and ensuing radiation blast of April 1986 has had long-term effects on the very soil and ground cover of the forested region, essentially leaving the dead trees and leaf litter unable to decompose. The… » 3/17/14 1:50pm 3/17/14 1:50pm

Should We Be Teaching Kids They Never Have to Die?

I first discovered death when I was four years old. My mother was going through my clothes, deciding what could be passed down to my brother and what could be given away. She did the same with my brother's clothes and when she went to put the items she'd decided to get rid of in a bag, my brother told her to keep them… » 3/15/14 6:06pm 3/15/14 6:06pm

Read E.B. White's poignant explanation for writing Charlotte's Web

One of the greatest children's books ever written, E.B. White's Charlotte's Web is notable not just for its lovely prose but for its masterful handling of themes on death and dying. In a letter written to his editor a few weeks before the book's publication, White explains why a peculiar truth about farms makes them… » 3/08/14 11:55am 3/08/14 11:55am

Will Smallpox Reemerge in Siberia as Corpses Thaw from Climate Change?

In an article primarily about the potential folly of holding onto stockpiles of smallpox virus for research purposes—a now-eradicated plague that humans no longer have natural immunity to and that would very likely cause a worldwide catastrophe should it escape from the lab—the BBC includes one awesomely horrible… » 2/03/14 4:07pm 2/03/14 4:07pm

How Corpses Helped Shape the London Underground

As Mexico City archaeologists sort through the surreal array of Aztec sacrificial skulls recently uncovered while excavating their city's subway system, it's worth remembering that parts of the London Underground were also tunneled, blasted, picked, and drilled through a labyrinth of plague pits and cemeteries. » 1/02/14 7:19pm 1/02/14 7:19pm

Peter O'Toole Dies at Age 81

Peter O'Toole, one of the best stage and screen actors ever, has died at the age of 81, according to his agent. Though he was nominated eight times for an Academy Award, O'Toole never received one, which is so absurd that it deserves its own Monty Python sketch. For some good Sunday reading, check out Gay Talese's … » 12/15/13 2:00pm 12/15/13 2:00pm