Twenty-two years ago, Dr. William M. Bass founded the Body Farm, or, as it's properly known, the University of Tennessee's Forensic Anthropology Center (UTFAC). Today it's a leader in a field populated by programs it inspired, as a newspaper article last week informed me.
At these facilities, donated bodies are placed outdoors, exposed to the elements and to the action of insects. The researchers aim to determine the nature and pace of post-mortem changes. They study how such changes occur in different climates (Tennessee versus Texas, for example) and according to variables of sex, individual developmental history and population history or family ancestry.
Research of this type directly benefits law-enforcement efforts. Bodies are left unburied, partially buried, submerged in water, or inside a car, simulating all sorts of crime scenes.
It's just another specialized way of donating to science.
Body donation to a forensic-anthropology facility won't be everyone's idea of a good choice. But it isn't a macabre choice, either. The bodies are treated with enormous care and respect, judging from everything I've read and heard. Right now, over 2,000 individuals are on the waiting list to enter UTFAC. I'm sure they have no wish to rush their date with the Body Farm — but ending up there is one way to make a positive difference in death, just as we hope to do in life.
Any interested parties?
"There is no god; there is only us. Savage and fragile."
A man builds. A parasite asks 'Where is my share?'
A man creates. A parasite says, 'What will the neighbors think?'
A man invents. A parasite says, 'Watch out, or you might tread on the toes of God... '
I saw something similar to the body farm in one Bones episode. As shocking and mildly gross as the body farm sounds at first (to me), it is an admirable undertaking that will definitely add to our bank of knowledge.
(Of course it may be even better to stop crimes but people would still be dying of natural causes in various environments so..)
Cremation. Definitely the easiest. I've already done a will (my highly conscientious dad got me to do a simple one before I moved to another continent) and it says I want cremation. Also, my funeral is supposed to be back home where I grew up. I suppose I could picture my ashes being scattered in the ocean.
Honestly though I really don't care. I could care less about what happens to my remains, as long as they're not horribly defiled or something. I just want things to be easy and as low-trauma as possible for family members or whoever has to deal with my death.
If I could have it my way, I'd be cremated on a funeral pyre on top of a mountain. But, alas, I don't think that's feasible. So, I suppose I'll have to settle for being cremated in an oven, and then my ashes thrown off a mountain to ride the winds.
Or, if that were also not possible, I could go for the Capsula Mundi thing. I like the idea of my body becoming part of a tree.
"I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference."