Donating your body to medical science is one way to make yourself useful after death. But what if you want to do something that’s not so ‘run of the mill’?
Car manufacturers like to demonstrate the efficacy of their vehicles’ safety features by showing you slow-motion video of dummies getting thrown about during a collision. What they’re less keen to publicise is that they’ve probably put dead bodies through the same tests to see how the impacts affect their internal organs.
Body Worlds exhibitions feature real corpses and organs that have been preserved through plastination, a technique invented by German doctor Gunther von Hagens. If you’re willing to go on display after your bodily fluids and soluble fat have been replaced by liquid plastic, you could donate your body to the Institute for Plastination.
You can still make yourself useful after you’ve been cremated, depending on what happens to your ashes. Scattered on soil, they’ll act as a general fertiliser but if you want something more specific you can have them added to a Bios Urn, a biodegradable container that’s packed with soil and used for tree seed germination.
An audio recording of your voice or music that held a special meaning for you is one way that loved ones can treasure your memory. If, however, you’d like the keepsake to bear slightly more of your physical presence you can get andvinyly.com to press your ashes into the vinyl on which your voice and music is printed.
Corpses can tell you a lot – if you know how to read them. And just like language, decomposition is dependent on location. Which is why some researchers say we need to start studying the dialect of decay in the UK.
Before going freelance, Rob spent almost four years on staff at BBC Science Focus magazine subediting news, features and reviews. He's now a freelance journalist and has written about everything from electric cars to decomposing bodies… although space and speed are what fascinate him most.