NCBI ROFL: Molten gold was poured down his throat until his bowels burst.

By ncbi rofl | November 5, 2009 4:00 pm

“Pouring hot liquids or metals, such as lead or gold, into the mouth of a victim was a practice used on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean, by the Romans and the Spanish. Several sources mention the bursting of internal organs. The question remains whether this is actually the case and, also, what the cause of death would be. To investigate this, we obtained a bovine larynx from a local slaughter house (no animal was harmed or killed specifically for this purpose). After fixing the larynx in a horizontal position to a piece of wood and closing the distal end using tissue paper, 750 g of pure lead (around 450°C) was heated until melting and then poured into the larynx. Immediately, large amounts of steam appeared at both ends of the specimen, and the clot of tissue paper was expelled with force by the steam. Within 10 seconds, the lead had congealed again, completely filling the larynx… …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… …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.”

  • MM

    SCIENCE!

  • Deray

    Someone had a lot of time in their hands. Also, they totally disregarded the effect of the heat on the membranes of the larynx!

  • Anonymous

    I didn't realize the guys from Myth Busters had started publishing in academic journals.

  • Anonymous

    …and again the question is: What exactly did this "experiment" demonstrate that was not obvious in the first place? Molten metal in your guts is hot, causes tissue damage and produces steam – yeah, what a surprise!

NEW ON DISCOVER
OPEN
CITIZEN SCIENCE
ADVERTISEMENT

Discover's Newsletter

Sign up to get the latest science news delivered weekly right to your inbox!

Discoblog

Quirky, funny, and surprising science news from the edge of the known universe.

About ncbi rofl

NCBI ROFL is the brainchild of two Molecular and Cell Biology graduate students at UC Berkeley and features real research articles from the PubMed database (which is housed by the National Center for Biotechnology information, aka NCBI) that they find amusing (ROFL is a commonly-used internet acronym for "rolling on the floor, laughing"). Follow us on twitter: @ncbirofl

ADVERTISEMENT

See More

ADVERTISEMENT
Collapse bottom bar
+

Login to your Account

X
E-mail address:
Password:
Remember me
Forgot your password?
No problem. Click here to have it e-mailed to you.

Not Registered Yet?

Register now for FREE. Registration only takes a few minutes to complete. Register now »