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What Happens to Your Body After You Die?

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    Death sucks.
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    [Bus honking]
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    But what happens to your body after you die
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    is fascinating.
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    So we're going to show you.
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    Don't worry. It won't be gross.
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    Much.
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    Once a person's breathing stops,
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    the cells in their body stop receiving oxygen.
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    But the cells continue to live
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    for several minutes,
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    generating carbon dioxide.
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    Carbon dioxide is acidic
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    and it builds up,
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    rupturing sacs inside the cells.
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    These sacs contain enzymes
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    that begin to digest the cells
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    from the inside out.
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    This creates a blister-like fluid
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    rich in nutrients.
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    After about a week, those nutrients
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    fuel an army of bacteria
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    and fungi that further
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    liquefy organs and muscles.
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    The microbes that attack the tissue
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    produce a bewildering array
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    of more than 400 chemicals and gasses.
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    They include:
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    Freon: that's right, the coolant found in refrigerators.
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    Benzene: a powerful component in gasoline.
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    Sulfur: which smells of swamps
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    and rotten eggs.
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    And a molecule known as Carbon Tetrachloride
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    which was used in fire extringuishers
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    and dry cleaning, until scientists
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    discovered it's highly toxic.
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    At this point, there's very little flesh left
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    and it's consumed by – here it comes –
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    maggots and beetles.
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    Insects leave only bones behind.
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    Over time, the protein in bone decomposes, too.
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    Leaving just the bone mineral called
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    Hydroxyapatite
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    which eventually turns to dust.
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    We can take some solace in the fact
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    that all those nutrients and chemicals,
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    even the dust,
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    provide vital substances that
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    make soils fertile,
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    sprouting plants and other new life
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    after our lives have ended.
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    Ashes to ashes, dust to dust.
Title:
What Happens to Your Body After You Die?
Description:

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Video Language:
English
Team:
Scientific American
Project:
Instant Egghead
Duration:
02:11

English, British subtitles

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