By Belinda McCallum | The Epoch Times
New light has been shed on the phenomenon of Spontaneous Human Combustion (SHC), which was proposed to explain mysterious deaths over the last several centuries when people seemed to have burned to death without an external source of ignition.
Most recently, Irishman Michael Faherty died in his sitting room in 2010, but the only damage to the house were scorch marks on the ceiling above and on the floor below him.
English author and biologist Brian J. Ford described what happens to SHC victims in an article printed in New Scientist on Aug. 23. “One minute they may be relaxing in a chair, the next they erupt into a fireball.”
“Jets of blue fire shoot from their bodies like flames from a blowtorch, and within half an hour they are reduced to a pile of ash,” he wrote. “Typically, the legs remain unscathed sticking out grotesquely from the smoking cinders.”
“Nearby objects–a pile of newspapers on the armrest, for example–are untouched.”
He noted that various reports of SHC linked it with alcoholism but were later disproved. Another theory called the “wick effect” holds that the victim’s clothing is lit by an external source and acts like a wick, setting fire to subcutaneous fat.
Ford put this theory to the test using pork belly marinated in ethanol for a week, but it would not burn even when covered in gauze dampened with alcohol. However, certain medical conditions can cause the body to produce acetone, which is highly flammable.
“A range of conditions can produce ketosis, in which acetone is formed, including alcoholism, fat-free dieting, diabetes, and even teething,” Ford explained. Pork belly was instead marinated in acetone and used to make human-sized models, which were clothed and lit.
“They burned to ash within half an hour,” Ford said. “For the first time a feasible cause of human combustion has been experimentally demonstrated.” Only parts of the dummies’ legs were left, which is typical of SHC. Ford believes this may be because the legs contain less fat and therefore less acetone.
© Copyright 2012 The Epoch Times – Published at Set You Free News with license