SCIENCE

9 Ways You May Not Realize Dead Bodies Help Make Our Lives Better

Make sure to thank the dead this Halloween.

With Halloween around the corner, you're likely to see many zombies, mummies and ghosts walking around. But the dead don't just serve as costume inspiration for Allhallows Eve. In fact, they help to make life better for us all year round.

When people die and leave their bodies to science, it can result in much more than a simple organ donation. Keep reading for some of the helpful and little-known ways that the dead keep on interacting with the living.

Doctors "harvest" all sorts of fully functioning organs and tissues from the deceased that can be used to save the lives of patients in need of organ transplants. Head transplants might even be possible in the near future. 

 

The best way to learn how something works is to take it apart -- and the human body is no exception. Medical students often examine dead bodies to learn how to operate on the living.

 

And yes, after students take dead bodies apart, they learn how to put them back together. Sometimes, when the real thing is unavailable, synthetic cadavers are used in the classroom.

 

Although dummies are mostly used for crash testing, human bodies have been used to get specific data on the ways that car crashes can damage organs.

 

Ballistics researchers have used cadavers to test the non-lethality of rubber bullets, as well as the side effects of being shot while wearing bulletproof vests and other protective clothing.   

 

Early in their careers, crime scene investigators need to learn how to deduce the time and nature of a victim's death. Often, they receive their training at research facilities known as "body farms," where they can examine bodies that have been left to decay in various conditions.

 

NASA has used corpses in tests to determine the risks that astronauts face when they use tricky maneuvers to return to Earth from the International Space Station. 

 

Museums and other public exhibits around the world have showcased preserved organs, bodily systems and entire human bodies for education and entertainment.

Researchers are using the arms of cadavers to punch and slap padded dumbbells in the hopes of learning more about the evolution of the human hand. They argue that the hand evolved not just for dexterity but for fisticuffs, too. 

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