As the recent earthquakes in China and Italy showed us, tragedy can keep unfolding far beyond those first few seconds of violent shaking. In the China quake alone, vast number of people were either killed or buried, still alive, under mounds of earth, steel and concrete. Locating these bodies can take days, even weeks. With this in mind—and as an occupant of quake-prone Los Angeles—I’m very much encouraged by the progress made in “chemical profiling” which
could eventually lead to a portable device for detecting human bodies at crime scenes and disaster areas. To develop such a device, scientists must identify what gases are released as bodies decompose under a variety of natural environmental conditions. In addition, they must detail the time sequence in which those odorant chemicals are released in the hours and days after death.
How far off is such a death-sniffing device? Well, researcher Dan Sykes is currently affixing sensors to decomposing pigs, “They go through the same phases of decomposition as humans, as well as the same number of stages. And those stages last about as long in pigs as they do in humans before complete decomposition occurs and only the bones remain.”
Via Physorg: New Insights Into The Smell Of Death
The Aftermath: How To Embalm A Body