Xenophilia (True Strange Stuff)

Blog of the real Xenophilius Lovegood, a slightly mad scientist

Archive for December 28th, 2011

7.5 foot tall Irish giant, diplayed against his wishes, ‘should finally be buried at sea’

Posted by Anonymous on December 28, 2011

The skeleton of the Irish giant, who was almost 8ft tall, has been the subject of medical research and has been on display at the Royal College of Surgeons for almost two centuries.

Byrne, who was born in County Derry in 1761, suffered from acromegaly, or an excess of growth hormone. He died aged 22 after travelling to London in 1780.

Knowing his body would be of interest after his death, Byrne asked that he be buried at sea, sealed in a lead coffin.

But surgeon John Hunter, who used grave robbers to collect unusual specimens, bribed one of Byrne’s friends and took the body, boiling it down to his skeleton before displaying it in his museum.

Writing in the British Medical Journal, Thomas Muinzer and Professor Len Doyal have said his dying wishes should now be met.

They write: “The fact is that Hunter knew of Byrne’s terror of him and ignored his wishes for the disposal of his body. What has been done cannot be undone but it can be morally rectified. Surely it is time to respect the memory and reputation of Byrne: the narrative of his life, including the circumstances surrounding his death.”

Talking to the BBC’s Today programme, Mr Muinzer, from the school of law at Queen’s University Belfast, said: “We understand Byrne’s wishes as regards burial. Professor [Len] Doyal and I would like to see a due respect accorded those wishes.

“We have now a full DNA record of Byrne’s DNA and we also have numerous examinations of the skeleton. We have reached the limit of what that skeleton can teach us.

“With burial law, when you or I stipulate burial wishes in life, we rely on those wishes to be respected. Those wishes don’t have legal force, they have moral force. So even when we look back 200 years ago, we find the same drivers operate on Byrne as operate on us.”

Mr Muinzer described the exhibition of Byrne’s skeleton as “sad, tragic and morbid”.

via The Irish giant ‘should finally be buried at sea’ – Telegraph.

In April 1782 a real, live giant appeared in London. Charles Byrne was said to be a majestic 2.54m in height and able to light his pipe on street lamps.

Now, the macabre events that took place after his death have finally allowed modern genetics to deliver a new twist to the story of the “Irish Giant” — and could change the lives of patients today.

From double-headed cows to eight-legged pigs, the Georgians paid handsomely to gawp at all manner of wondrous creatures and also at people afflicted by rare conditions: bearded women, dwarves and giants. After death, many found their way to John Hunter, the anatomist and founder of modern surgery, who was an obsessive collector of anatomical curiosities.

It is almost certain that he met Byrne — perhaps one of the tallest men to have lived — and decided that he had to have his skeleton. But Byrne had other ideas. He not only refused Hunter’s requests for his body but asked to be buried at sea to make it an impossibility. Hunter was undeterred and, as Byrne’s health deteriorated, had the young man followed.

In 1783, aged just 22, Byrne died and, according to his wishes, his coffin was taken to the coast by friends. Hunter’s agents then sprung into action, getting the friends drunk before switching the body for stones. Hunter then boiled the corpse for 24 hours to procure the bones and hid the skeleton, not daring to show it for many years. . link

Posted in Biology, History | Leave a Comment »

Federal experts to investigate double-tire blowout at Sacramento International Airport

Posted by Anonymous on December 28, 2011

Federal inspectors are en route this morning to Sacramento International Airport to investigate the cause of an unusual double-tire blowout on a Southwest Airlines jet Tuesday night.

Flight 2287 to Seattle with 130 passengers aborted take-off at about 6:15 p.m. Tuesday, airline officials said, after two tires blew on the runway. No injuries were reported.

The Boeing 737 has been towed from the taxi-way. Airport officials say they’ve inspected the runway and found no debris or other potential cause for the blowout.

Federal Aviation Administration officials said blowouts are rare, but not unheard of.

“They can result from mechanical problems in the wheels, structural failure of the tires themselves or debris on the runway,” the FAA’s Ian Gregor said. “Tires can also blow if a pilot applies the brakes hard. At this point, we don’t know if the blown tires were the reason for the aborted takeoff or the result of a takeoff that was aborted for other reasons.

“We’ll work with the airline to determine what happened and to ensure the problem is corrected before the plane is returned to service,” Gregor said.

Airport spokeswoman Laurie Slothower said the National Transportation Safety Board has been notified. Southwest Airlines is also expected to conduct an investigation.

It was the second tire blowout at the airport in a little more than a year. In August 2010, four tires popped and the brakes caught fire on a JetBlue flight from Long Beach during a hard landing. …

via Federal experts to investigate double-tire blowout at Sacramento International Airport – Sacramento News – Local and Breaking Sacramento News | Sacramento Bee.

None of the 9 million passengers per year using the Sacramento Airport were injured due to tire blowouts.  On the other hand, if a pilot can cause tires to blow out by hitting the brakes too hard, that seems like a design flaw.  Perhaps flat tires slow you down more, but if that was the intent, a separate “Blow out the tires” button would make more sense.

Posted in Travel | Leave a Comment »

SF turns Christmas trees into energy source

Posted by Anonymous on December 28, 2011

San Francisco officials are encouraging residents to put their old Christmas trees out with the trash, so they can be recycled and turned into an energy source.

Department of Environment spokesman Kevin Danaher says the trees will be ground into wood chips that will be sent to power facilities in Woodland and Tracy.

The trees can be left out on regular trash collection days in the two weeks after New Year’s Day. They should be stripped of all decorations, stands and wires and set outside, not placed in the regular trash bins.

Officials say the city last year turned Christmas trees into 514 tons of wood chips. The chips are sold by Recology, the city’s trash provider, which uses the money to offset the costs of collecting the trees.

via SF turns Christmas trees into energy source – Sacramento News – Local and Breaking Sacramento News | Sacramento Bee.

Posted in Alt Energy, Earth | Leave a Comment »


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