Ah sure, Michael's on fire tonight...

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/ireland/8783929/Irish-pensioner-died-of-spontaneous-human-combustion.html
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http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/ireland/8783929/Irish-pensioner-died-of-spontaneous-human-combustion.html
That's the sort of silly non-science which really gets on my wick [effect].
--
Robin
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Robin wrote:

It is extraordinarily well documented.
Too well documented for it to be passed off as 'pseudo science'
Like ball lightning, it seems to exist, and no one really knows what it means. Generally is held to be massive gas build up in the gut..but no satisfactory explantion is really available. The general symptoms are of an intense fire centred around the gut/torso area, that utterly consume the body often leaving just extremities, with everything else incinerated to a degree that indicates unbelieveably high temperatures.
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On Fri, 23 Sep 2011 16:43:29 +0100, The Natural Philosopher wrote:

Irish-pensioner-died-of-spontaneous-human-combustion.html
Does anyone recall that DREADFUL QED programme, in the late 80s/early 90s, "explaining" SHC. I have never watched such patronising shit in my entire life. It was remade into an episode of "CSI", just to annoy me.
Why can't scientists just say "we don't know" ?
For me, the most interesting thing about SHC is the fact it seems to happen when a person is alone ... there are very few cases of it happening around witnesses. That said, there was a news story a few years back, about a schoolgirl (in the UK) who was walking down the corridor when her back just "burst into flames". ISTR she was badly injured. Loads of witnesses there ... IIRC it was suggested she had come from a cookery lesson, and somehow managed to pocket a few cubic metres of methane in her jumper - as if !
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The Natural Philosopher wrote:

Um, didn't someone do some research burning a pig carcase wrapped in a blanket? I thought that the explanation was that the blanket (or clothes in the case of humans) acted as a wick allowing the body to burn it's own fat and in effect, turn you into a giant candle
It's pretty hard to imagine what kind of chemical reaction could cause spontaneous ignition in a human body. Far easier to believe that someone has passed out after drinking to much (or just died perhaps) whilst smoking and the cigarette end has provided the source of ignition.
Tim
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Yep. I was just trying to find the video on Youtube.

Precisely.
--
Today is Sweetmorn, the 47th day of Bureaucracy in the YOLD 3177
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Huge wrote:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/ireland/8783929/Irish-pensioner-died-of-spontaneous-human-combustion.html
I think 'they' all agree that it isn't 'spontaneous' but that there needs to be an ignition source to start the candle ..
--
Paul - xxx

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On 23/09/2011 17:16, Paul - xxx wrote:

The coroner referred to there almost always being an open fire or chimney near such events. Not sure how a closed chimney could influence events but back in the days when most of us had coal fires rather than central heating use of a fire-guard was recommended to prevent spitting coals setting the living room alight. We had at least one instance of carpet damage back in the 1950s which might have been a good deal worse had no one been in the room at the time it happened.
--
Roger Chapman

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On Fri, 23 Sep 2011 17:06:22 +0100, Tim Downie wrote:

Irish-pensioner-died-of-spontaneous-human-combustion.html
That is a possibility of course - and has been demonstrated. However, one niggle is that in cases of *S*HC (we agree the HC can happen), the *bone* has been burned.
Even after 2 hours in a crematorium, human bones still remain, and need to be crushed mechanically. The pig wick-effect tests quietly forget this.

Again, *possible*. (Although it requires the victim be a smoker - and there are well documented cases where people *weren't*). But likely ? The human body is a smörgåsbord of chemicals reagents ... I find it entirely *possible* that a freak reaction could result in combustion. ISTR the Apollo lunar landers had a fuel mix which would ignite on contact, to avoid the embarrassment of a flat battery stranding the astronauts.
Strange things happen everyday, which we can't explain. I don't see we need to invoke the theme to the Twilight Zone every time though.
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I find it much more likely that you're an ignorant idiot.
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Jethro wrote:

You might find it easy to believe that a freak reaction could cause spontaneous combustion but frankly, I think that falls in with "alien abduction" theories.
Extraordinary claims (spontaneous combustion in the absence of any conventional scientific explanation) require extraordinary proof.
Why should people be the only animals bursting into flames? Why not other animals? Given that we're hugely outnumbered in the animal kingdom I'm sure that if animals were self conflagrating we'd have some evidence for it by now (and more than a few witnesses).
The verdict was a nonsense and is a sad indictment of the poor understanding of the scientific process and standards of proof required to make such a claim.
Just because the cause of fire wasn't determined doesn't provide sufficient excuse to call the combustion "spontaneous". The judge might as well have declared that the fairies did it for all the evidence that he had.
Tim
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Tim Downie wrote:

Very good question.

Exactly. It seems to be a purely human thing.

The point is that it does exist as an unexplained phenomenon. I am willing to concede its not as spontaneous as it might be, but people do NOT normally burst into 1000C+ flames from the inside out, either.

Agreed its a bad term, but its the term used when this exact pattern of combustion happens, and pig experiments notwithstanding, no one has managed to replicate the effects fully in a lab.

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On Sun, 25 Sep 2011 17:24:27 +0100, Tim Downie wrote:

I didn't say I found it "easy to believe". I said I believed it "possible". Maybe improbably possible, but possible all the same. As I suggested, there are chemical reactions which can cause combustion - the safe return of the Apollo astronauts was trusted to one. Whether such reactions can occur (a) naturally and (b) in the human body is another question. And one I freely admit I am unqualified to be authoritative about.

True. But absence of proof, is not proof of absence. There are lots of things scientists don't know. Which doesn't make them impossible.
ISTM a lot of people confuse "it could happen" with "believing".

OK, good question - you've got me there. However, strange things can happen. IIRC aren't there cases of tightly packed bales of hay bursting into flames ? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hay#Safety_issues

I agree that it seems that society is becoming less science-aware than more. But sometimes scientists don't help themselves.
I think Arthur C Clarke has it spot on, when he said "if a respected scientist claims something is possible, he is very likely correct. If a respected scientist claims something is impossible, he is very likely wrong."
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Jethro wrote:

And bags of clothes that have been left sealed while damp. The causes for both clothes and hay are known and understood. Spontaneous combustion, certainly, but no mystery.

+1
With the proviso that the learned scientist will normally do his best to find out *why* something impossible just happened.
--
Tciao for Now!

John.

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John Williamson wrote:

there is a shortage of volunteers for lab experiments...
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The Natural Philosopher wrote:

If it involves laying about and just watching Jeremy Kyle et al, then I could think of a few candidates ...
--
Paul - xxx

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Paul - xxx wrote:

If only it happened to everyone who was half pissed, overweight and stretched out watching jeremy Kyle
I was subjected to 30 seconds of horror today post the Rubgy, when two 'unfuckable lard arses*' one of whom seemed to have managed it, because the other blob appeared to be her daughter, were screaming at each other about something or other.
SHC would seem the appropriate solution.
*as Berslusconi referred to Ms Merkel
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The Natural Philosopher wrote:

I have been unfortunate enough to contract 'man-flu' since thursday last week, so have taken today and tomorrow off to recover .. this involved watching JK today. Well, when I say watching, I meant TV was on, but my son who is supposed to be at university is still hanging around and is currently vegetating around anyone's house and scrounging free meals and board and washing and cleaning ... was watching it and i caught it.
I've honestly not seen it before and actually watched a lot of today .. absolutely gob-smacked!
Where do these people come from?
Married less than a year and if the chap didn't pass the lie-detector the young lady (hmm) wanted a divorce, but not reeeeaallllly .... Then another couple where one was checking the others phone and texts and sending texts to some women found on the blokes phone!!!! Do these people not just sit and talk to their partners? Do they not marry for love and trust their partners come what may?
The apparent high levels of morale outrage from them was somewhat outweighed by the utter 'chavishness' (common in my day) of their manners.
Jeez I feel rather proud now, where previously I thought it just natural, to say that on October 1st it'll be my 23rd wedding anniversary and despite the odd flirt when under the influence occasionally (on both our parts) there's never, absolutely never, been a time when she didn't trust me and I didn't trust her! I've never felt the need to play away and I'm damn sure the missus hasn't either!
We actually talk to each other too ... despite letting her map-read occasionally .. ;)
--
Paul - xxx

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On 26/09/2011 12:14, Jethro wrote:

Occam had a more suitable idea for this case.
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yep I remember that programme ... 'wick allowed very slow cold burning, very localized, and it tied in with fact that there was always a source of ignition in these cases .. open fire, cigarette etc.
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