Stiff Chapter Summary

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Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach is a fascinating and compelling novel that explores the lives of human bodies after we have left them. In Stiff, Mary Roach discusses the major biological concepts of human cadavers and reveals that there are more to human cadavers than just being “dead.” The author entices the reader throughout the novel from the beneficial but strange uses of human cadavers to the history of body snatching and crucifixion experiments. In the beginning of the book, Roach observes a facial anatomy and face-lift refresher course in which surgeons practice their surgical technique on human cadaver heads. Roach explains how the human cadaver heads are from people who died in the past few days, so embalming …show more content…

Roach lists strange but helpful uses of human cadavers that benefit humankind in the long run. In the first chapter, as previously stated, Roach observes a face anatomy and face lift refresher course, in which surgeons use cadaver heads. This is an example of how cadavers are often used to practice different types of surgical operations, even cosmetic surgery (Roach 24). Cadavers also benefit the science of criminal forensics, in which their decay process is studied and used for different components of analyzing a crime, such as time of death. Researches place cadavers in different environments and observe the stages of biological and chemical decay and how different environments affect the decay process (Roach 61). To pinpoint the time of death, researchers analyze the body temperature, smell, the potassium level of the gel inside the eyes, insect infestation, and other entomological factors (Roach 62). Another beneficial use for human cadavers includes impact studies, such as a car crash. For the past sixty years, human cadavers have helped scientists understand and study human tolerance limits for violent injuries a human body can get from car crashes, such as skull slammings and chest skewerings. These studies and experiments allow automobile manufacturers design cars that, in the event of a crash, protect the person as much as possible and keep them safe (Roach 87). This results in safer windshields and steering wheels that aim to protect the chest and brain, the main culprits of car crash fatalities (Roach 89). One of the most extraordinary concept that Roach investigates is the live (beating heart) cadaver. Beating heart cadavers are alive by every means except the brain. The cadaver has perfectly functioning organs and a pulse, but is ultimately brain dead. Doctors utilize the cadaver’s functioning organs, such as the kidneys,

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