Tuesday, October 07, 2008

What happens if you swallow molten metals?

In case you ever wondered about that, the journal of clinical pathology investigates death by swallowing molten gold and if it results in bursting of the internal organs. For this purpose they poured molten lead into a bovine larynx and watched what happened:

"Based on these findings, we suggest that the development of steam with increasing pressure might result in both heat induced and mechanical damage to distal organs, possibly leading to over inflation and rupture of these organs. Direct thermal injury to the lungs may lead to instantaneous death, as a result of acute pulmonary dysfunction and shock, as shown by Brinkmann and Puschel.4 Even if this is not the case, the development of a “cast” (once the metal congeals again) would completely block the airways, thus suffocating the victim.

In conclusion, we have shown that in the execution method of pouring hot liquefied metals into the throat of a victim, death is probably mediated by the development of steam and consequent thermal injury to the airways."


6 comments:

Anonymous said...

Is this type of study ethical?

Ben said...

Whew. Glad that one's solved. I've been sitting here for years, carrying around this molten lead, just about to drink it. I've been holding off, though, just in case it wasn't safe, and the jury was definitely out until now. Case closed.

Anonymous Coward said...

Just to reassure you, the bovine larynx wasn't attached to anything... The authors got it from the butcher...

Anonymous Coward said...

@Ben: Yeah I'm surprised the authors don't comment on the possibility of lead poisoning... ;)

Max said...

that's how the eight-richest person in the history of the world (marcus licinius crassus) was killed... maybe. wikipedia it.

Anonymous said...

JUST SO HAPPENED I FOUND THIS POT OF MOLTEN GOLD AT THE END OF A RAINBOW. OF COURSE, I TRIED TO DRINK IT!!!