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  1. 1. Shubhi,XII-B 2015 Tostudythecause,mechanismand historyofExplodingManSyndrome (SpontaneousHumanCombustion) The picture above shows baby Rahul, a three month old boy, from Villupuram district of Tamil Nadu, who spontaneously busted into flames for the fourth time in august 2013, without any source of ignition! He was said to be suffering from spontaneous human combustion (SHC) - one of the rarest diseases in the whole world. With mere 200 cases in the last 300 years, all round the world; it hasnt been much researched on. I came through his case in 2013, and didnt pay much attention. But recently, in January 2015, I came through another similar case in Times of India (I didnt get the clipping here), where a 10 day old newborn was diagnosed with same syndrome. Surprisingly, this 10 day old child was baby Rahuls sibling. Now, the news caught my attention and I researched on it to bring this disease, one of the worlds rarest syndromes, in your knowledge. Flip over the pages to know more about this syndrome. The sole reason of this investigatory project is the aim of bringing this rarest disease to peoples general view so that there be some researches to further explain this- unexplained natural phenomena. Biology investigatory project Kendriya Vidyalaya Janakpuri New Delhi
  2. 2. 2 Certificate This is to certify that this project work is submitted by SHUBHI, XII-B, Kendriya Vidyalaya Janakpuri, New Delhi. The aforesaid project was originally carried out by her under the guidance & supervision of MR. ANWAR AHMAD, P.G.T. (Biology) during academic year 2014-15. Principal Teacher MR. V.K.YADAV MR. ANWAR AHMAD Kendriya Vidyalaya Janakpuri P.G.T. (Biology) New Delhi
  3. 3. 3 Acknowledgement I wish to express my deep gratitude and sincere thanks to Principal, Mr. V.K. YADAV, Kendriya Vidyalaya Janakpuri, New Delhi for his encouragement and for all the facilities provided to me by the school management for this project. I am thankful to him for his unstinting cooperation towards the completion of this project. I extend my hearty thanks to MRANWAR AHMAD, P.G.T. (Biology) and my biology teacher, who guided me to the successful completion of this project. I take this opportunity to express my deep sense of gratitude for his invaluable guidance, constant encouragement, constructive comments, sympathetic attitude and immense motivation, which has sustained my efforts at all stages of this project work. I cant forget to offer my sincere thanks to my classmates who helped me to carry out this project work successfully. I am thankful to their valuable advice and support which I received from them, time-to-time. -SHUBHI
  4. 4. 4 Spontaneous human combustion (shc) INTRODUCTION Spontaneous human combustion (SHC) is a term encompassing reported cases of the burning of a living (or very recently deceased) human body without an apparent external source of ignition. In addition to reported cases, examples of SHC appear in literature, and both types have been observed to share common characteristics regarding circumstances and remains of the victim. Forensic investigations have attempted to analyze reported instances of SHC and have resulted in hypotheses regarding potential causes and mechanisms, including victim behaviour and habits, alcohol consumption and proximity to potential sources of ignition, as well as the behaviour of fires that consume melted fats. Natural explanations, as well as unverified natural phenomena, have been proposed to explain reports of SHC. OVERVIEW Spontaneous human combustion refers to the death from a fire originating without an apparent external source of ignition. Writing in the British Medical Journal, Gavin Thurston describes the phenomenon as having attracted the attention not only of the medical profession but of the laity as early as 1834 (more than one hundred years prior to Thurstons 1938 article). In his 1995 book Ablaze!, Larry E. Arnold wrote that there had been about 200 cited reports of spontaneous human combustion worldwide over a period of around 300 years. The topic received coverage in the British Medical Journal in 1938. An article by L. A. Parry cited an 1823- published paper, Medical Jurisprudence, which stated that commonalities among recorded cases of spontaneous human combustion included the following characteristics: 1. the victims are chronic alcoholics 2. they are usually elderly females 3. the body has not burned spontaneously, But some lighted substance has come into contact with it. Alcoholism is a common theme in early SHC literary references, In part because some Victorian era physicians and writers believed spontaneous human combustion was the result of alcoholism.
  5. 5. 5 An extensive two-year research project, involving thirty historical cases of alleged SHC, was conducted in 1984 by science investigator Joe Nickell and forensic analyst John F. Fischer. Their lengthy, two- part report was published in the journal of the International Association of Arson Investigators. Nickell has written frequently on the subject, appeared on television documentaries, conducted additional research, and lectured at the New York State Academy of Fire Science at Montour Falls, NY, as a guest instructor. Nickell and Fischers investigation, which looked at Cases in the eighteenth, nineteenth, and twentieth century, showed that the burned bodies were near plausible sources for the ignition: candles, lamps, fireplaces, and so on. Sometimes these sources were left out of popular accounts of the alleged phenomenon while they were hyped as mysterious. The investigations also found that there was a correlation between alleged SHC deaths and victims drunkenness or other incapacitation that could have caused them to be careless with fire and less able to respond properly to an accident. Where the destruction of the body was not extensive, the significant fuel source was the victims clothing. However, where the destruction was extensive, additional fuel sources were involved, such as chair stuffing, floor coverings, the flooring itself, and the like. The investigators described how such materials helped retain melted fat to burn and destroy more of the body, yielding still more liquefied fat, in a cyclic process known as the "wick effect" (or candle effect). According to Nickell and Fischers investigation, nearby objects often went undamaged because fire tends to burn upward, and it burns laterally with some difficulty. The fires in question are relatively small, achieving considerable destruction by the wick effect, and relatively nearby objects may not be close enough to catch fire themselves (much as one can get rather close to a modest campfire without burning). As with other mysteries, Nickell and Fischer cautioned against single, simplistic explanation for all unusual burning deaths but rather urged investigating on an individual basis. EXPLANATION Some hypothetical, scientific explanations:- Some hypotheses attempt to explain how SHC might occur without an external flame source, while other hypotheses suggest incidents that might appear as spontaneous combustion actually had an external source of ignition and that the likelihood of spontaneous human
  6. 6. 6 Combustion without an external ignition source is quite low. Benjamin Radford, science writer and deputy editor of the science magazine Sceptical Inquirer, casts doubt on the plausibility of spontaneous human combustion, If SHC is a real phenomenon (and not the result of an elderly or infirm person being too close to a flame source), why Doesnt it happen more often? There are 5 billion (editors note: quoted in 2011-albeit world actually population reached 5 billion in 1987, right now, 7.5 billion- as per 2013 census) people in the world, and yet we dont see reports of people bursting into flame while walking down the street, attending football games, or sipping a coffee at a local Starbucks. Paranormal researcher Brian Dunning states that SHC stories are simply the rare cases where a natural death in isolation has been followed by a slow combustion from some nearby source of ignition. He further suggested that reports of people suddenly aflame should be called Unsolved deaths by fire, stating that the cause being unknown did not necessarily imply that it had not resulted from an external ignition source. Explanation on the basis of natural phenomena 1. Almost all cases of SHC involve persons with low mobility, due to advanced age or obesity, along with poor health. Victims show a high likelihood of having died in their sleep, or of being unable to move once they had caught fire. 2. Cigarettes are often seen as the source of fire, as the improper disposal of smoking materials causes one of every four fire deaths in the USA. Natural causes such as heart attacks may lead to the victim dying, subsequently dropping the cigarette, which after a period of smouldering can ignite the victims clothes. 3. The "wick effect" hypothesis suggests that a small external flame source, such as a burning cigarette, chars the clothing of the victim at a location, splitting the skin and releasing subcutaneous fat, which is in turn absorbed into the burned clothing, acting as a wick. This combustion can continue for as long as the fuel is available. This hypothesis has been successfully tested with animal tissue (pig) and is consistent with evidence recovered from cases of human combustion. The human body typically has enough stored energy in fat and other chemical stores to fully combust the body; even lean people have several pounds of fat in their tissues. This fat, once heated by
  7. 7. 7 the burning clothing, wicks into the clothing much as candle wax (which typically was originally made of animal fat) wicks into a lit candle wick to provide the fuel needed to keep the wick burning. The protein in the body also burns, but provides less energy than fat, with the water in the body being the

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