Rigor Mortis: How Sloppy Science Creates Worthless Cures, Crushes Hope, and Wastes Billions by Richard F. HarrisThe title of this book Rigor Mortis is not about the death of humans, but is about the death of rigor in science, specifically, medical science and biochemistry. This book goes into considerable detail, about why so many research studies are not reproducible.
According to the book, the wasteful use of money to generate useless, incorrect, unreproducible research is a major contributor to the problem. The reasons are varied. One is that academia encourages publication of incremental, insignificant advances rather than significant increases in understanding. Quantity is encouraged, not quality.
Also, even after a publication has been retracted, it can be cited in the literature hundreds of times, and even assumed to be correct. Researchers are sometimes intellectually lazy, unwilling to accept that a hypothesis is wrong, even after it has been proven to be incorrect.
Then, there are the great technical difficulties in doing some of this research. Sometimes, the results of an experiment can depend on how a test tube is cleaned, how briskly a chemical is stirred, or how similar or different the genetics are of a set of mice.
Sometimes, the lack of money can be an issue, for example, not being able to afford a verification of the type of cell that has been purchased from a biochemical company, or using a sample of animals that is too small to have any statistical significance.
And, sometimes, experiments are simply designed poorly. The use of the p-value of statistical significance is often misused, and intellectually lazy researchers sometimes formulate their hypotheses after performing an experiment. This problem is reminiscent of a famous quote by Richard Feynman:
You know, the most amazing thing happened to me tonight... I saw a car with the license plate ARW 357. Can you imagine? Of all the millions of license plates in the state, what was the chance that I would see that particular one tonight? Amazing!
Rigor mortis Latin : rigor "stiffness", mortis "of death" , or postmortem rigidity , is the third stage of death. It is one of the recognizable signs of death , characterized by stiffening of the limbs of the corpse caused by chemical changes in the muscles postmortem. After death, respiration in an organism ceases, depleting the source of oxygen used in the making of adenosine triphosphate ATP. ATP is required to cause separation of the actin-myosin cross-bridges during relaxation of muscle. When the body's glycogen is depleted, the ATP concentration diminishes, and the body enters rigor mortis because it is unable to break those bridges.
The process in which the human body decomposes starts just minutes after death. When the heart stops beating, we experience algor mortis , or the "death chill," when the temperature of the body falls about 1. Almost immediately, the blood becomes more acidic as carbon dioxide builds up. This causes cells to split open, emptying enzymes into the tissues, which start to digest themselves from within. Gravity makes its mark on the human body in the first moments after death. While the rest of your body turns deathly pale, heavy red blood cells move to the parts of your body that are closest to the ground. This is because circulation has stopped.
Once the heart stops beating, blood collects in the most dependent parts of the body livor mortis , the body stiffens rigor mortis , and the body begins to cool algor mortis. The blood begins to settle in the parts of the body that are the closest to the ground, usually the buttocks and back when a corpse is supine. The skin, normally pink-colored because of the oxygen-laden blood in the capillaries, becomes pale as the blood drains into the larger veins. Within minutes to hours after death, the skin is discolored by livor mortis, or what embalmers call "postmortem stain," the purple-red discoloration from blood accumulating in the lowermost dependent blood vessels. Immediately after death, the blood is "unfixed" and will move to other body parts if the body's position is changed. After a few hours, the pooled blood becomes "fixed" and will not move. Pressing on an area of discoloration can determine this; if it blanches turns white easily, then the blood remains unfixed.
Causes of Rigor Mortis
We can take steps to prevent it but eventually we all have to take our last breath. The body is remarkable during life but you may not realize just how many amazing things it continues to do even after our hearts stop beating. Take a look at these rigor mortis facts to learn how the body changes after death. Once a person has passed on, the muscles in their body instantly become soft and flaccid. The body then begins to go through the stages of death, with the third stage being rigor mortis.
Rigor Mortis and Lividity are two natural occurrences within the human body after death that can be used as a means of determining - or at least estimating - when the deceased died. What is Rigor Mortis? Rigor Mortis is the stiffening of the body after death because of a loss of Adenosine Triphosphate ATP from the body's muscles. ATP is the substance that allows energy to flow to the muscles and help them work and without this the muscles become stiff and inflexible. Rigor Mortis begins throughout the body at the same time but the body's smaller muscles - such as those in the face, neck, arms and shoulders - are affected first and then the subsequent muscles throughout the rest of the body; those which are larger in size, are affected later.