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Helium taxidermy

A lighthearted idea
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(+12, -2)
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There's this bloke, i think he's Dutch but i may be wrong, who uses this technique called plastination after death to arrange bodies artistically. His methods and sources of corpses are rather controversial. Similarly, other species and occasionally humans are stuffed and mounted after death. There is also the age-old dream of human flight.

Well, now you can have it all, after death. Some people are buried, others cremated, others picked clean by vultures, embalmed and, very occasionally, stuffed. I present you with a new option: helium.

Take a corpse, either of a pet or a human, remove the viscera as you would before stuffing, then plastinate it without hardening it. Then, plug the holes you don't want and fill it with helium, either to return it to lifelike size and shape, or inflate it and turn it into a balloon. Proceed to tether it or just let it drift gently about the house. In the case of larger animals such as elephants or whales, use them as balloons for transport. In the case of the rather streamlined whale or shark, attach a motor to it and use it as an airship. Use smaller animals as sofas, floatation devices or other furniture.

That way, you can always play with Fido.

[Xydexx] would be proud, and he is here.

nineteenthly, Feb 14 2009

Lighter-than-Air Whale http://en.wikipedia...html?curid=15169023
[Wily Peyote, Feb 15 2009]

These guys would probably be inclined to bake this http://www.instruct...s.com/id/Taxidermy/
[Spacecoyote, Feb 17 2009]

Le travestie http://www.youtube....watch?v=N-OiCkB8v2g
You can't just fall in to taxidermy, you gotta WANT to fill animals with sand... [theleopard, Feb 17 2009]

Homo jihadi http://www.orionsar...al/Homo_Jihadi.html
It's not just here, [21_Quest]. [nineteenthly, Feb 17 2009]

Jeremy Bentham http://en.wikipedia...y_Bentham#Auto-icon
"Auto-icon" [nineteenthly, Feb 18 2009]

Gunther Von Hagens http://www.bodyworl...ife_in_science.html
[po, Feb 18 2009]

[link]






       I'd quite like a fleet of airborne goldfish, neutrally bouyant. [+]
MaxwellBuchanan, Feb 14 2009
  

       Sounds very Stephan King-ish to me. +
blissmiss, Feb 14 2009
  

       I think it will be a more romantic idea if you let the body float to space, and just let it see it go to heaven.. cons: birds could pick on them while flying. some airplanes would sometime crash against dead bodies. and i don't know if helium would deliver them right into space.. they could get tangle in the satellites tho. if they get there without problems, there's plenty of room in space for the bodies of all humanity. is a good idea, it's half baked, but its an interesting option. things to fix: what if the body with time get a hole in it and deflate.. would deliver some kind of a stink.. if that can be fixed, (I'm sure it can), it would be a completely baked idea. It's so fresh to receive alternatives to explore of an old slowly evolved way to do things.
canoro, Feb 14 2009
  

       Gonflabledermy.
skinflaps, Feb 14 2009
  

       How are you going to seal this against the vapor pressure of the second smallest element (helium)? What evidence do you have that this whole contraption has a density less than, or even equal to, air? (Ala: [MaxwellBuchanan]'s notion of neutrally bouyant goldfish - as COOL as that is...)
Wily Peyote, Feb 14 2009
  

       I was envisaging some kind of liner on the inside of the skin, or a sealant on the outside. Silicone is involved in the plastination process, but i don't know how well that would seal.
Concerning the weight issue, i've got your calculations right here. The density of the human body is supposed to be an average of ninety percent that of water, and animals with more fat would be lighter. This may mean whales are the least dense mammals, and also means small rodents are probably less dense than average and terrestrial carnivores more so because they're more muscular. For a seventy-five kilo human, the volume is therefore about eighty litres, at an overestimate of their density. Air has a density one eight hundredth that of water. Since it's four fifths nitrogen (molecular weight twenty-eight) and one fifth oxygen (molecular weight thirty-two), that gives it a density of twenty-eight point eight to helium's four. Therefore, helium is five thousand seven hundred and sixty times lighter than water and eighty litres of helium would weigh around fourteen grammes compared to a hundred grammes for the same volume of air. For this to work, the remains of the body of human size would have to weigh less than eighty-six grammes. You would need to ensure that the thickness of the plastinated skin plus the liner or sealant, if necessary, weighed less than that, and the problem then becomes one of making it sufficiently impervious. It would therefore seem that the larger the animal, the easier it would be to make it float.
Since eighty-six grammes is really not very much, i suggest that the skin be considerably inflated first, then fixed in position, emptied and refilled with helium. Given about nine times the volume, the problem is somewhat lessened, since not only would the skin be thinner but also the density of the whole object would be a lot lower. I suspect, however, that i could still have my cetacean dirigible, even if the others are impossible, and certainly an elephantine bouncy castle would be feasible. If you just want pneumatic corpses, you only need to worry about leakage and a puncture repair kit.
[blissmiss], so i'm not the only person in the world who has read 'The Blue Air Compressor' then?
nineteenthly, Feb 14 2009
  

       An adult's skin weighs 8-10 pounds. Take out 90% for water, and you still have a pound of skin. Add in sealants and plastic stuff, and you have 2 or 3 pounds, probably.   

       Let's be generous and say it's 2.2, for an even kilo. You'd have to completely clean out everything else, and then increase the human's volume by a factor of 12 to get it neutral.   

       Skin wouldn't be anywhere near that elastic, no matter how you treat it. So I think what you'd basically have to end up doing is just make a completely synthetic balloon, and glue skin onto the outside in roughly the right places, with gaps in between. Or something very gruesome like that, and not quite as whimsical.   

       Actually, if you go that route, then you could probably use a hydrogen impervious material, and you'd only have to increase volume by 6x
Smurfsahoy, Feb 14 2009
  

       It frightens me how much thought you have put into this.
blissmiss, Feb 14 2009
  

       [Smurfs] The lifting power of hydrogen is about 1.08 that of helium, not double. Also you wouldn't need to use the entire thickness of skin, just (say) the epidermis.
spidermother, Feb 15 2009
  

       //Since it's four fifths nitrogen (molecular weight twenty-eight) and one fifth oxygen (molecular weight thirty-two), that gives it a density of twenty-eight point eight to helium's four.// ~ [nineteenthly]   

       This is a non-sequitur. "Elemental" weights (not molecular) of nitrogen (2*14=28), oxygen (2*16=32), and helium (1*4=4), are not proportional to their densities as a gas.   

       I actually like your idea [nineteenthly] - (mostly because noble gases like helium are the ultimate preservative) - but, I'm thinking that you may be right that this is probably only feasible in the largest volume/surface area of animals (whales, etc.), if even them... (=)   

       [spidermother]: about H2 being 1.08X the lifting power of He? True. Do you remember that idea posited by the late Arthur C. Clark, that (by weight) 80% He, and 20% H, used together as an lifting gas wouldn't be flammable in our atmosphere at STP? Using your calculations, I come up with 1.016X (80/20 He/H)/ the lifting power of helium alone. Negligible. BUT, economic (considering the increasing rarity of He). Interesting, eh?
Wily Peyote, Feb 15 2009
  

       Dirge-able?   

       The epidermis is pretty thin and weak, you'd have a hard time extracting it.
Spacecoyote, Feb 15 2009
  

       [Smurfsahoy], it wouldn't have to be what counts anatomically as skin. If you're thinking of the dermis, epidermis and accessory structures, maybe also superficial fascia, it would be the whole skin, but how much of that is actually necessary to keep a structure holding together? How much does the actual epidermis weigh?
However, there is still a problem there because of the silicone, which i suspect is quite dense. I did think of hydrogen but i think it'd be dangerous.
[Wily Peyote], why not? I thought equal volumes of gases at the same temperature and pressure had the same molarity?
[Spacecoyote], the process of plastination is intended to allow exactly that sort of thing. If an individual arteriole can be teased out, surely the skin can.
Regardless of all that, you could still do it with less or no buoyancy and i still maintain, well, that you can have furniture, pool toys, very large floating animals and pool toys this way, plus the likes of beach balls.
nineteenthly, Feb 15 2009
  

       Eddie Izzard made this same taxidermi joke in Glorious I think. He mentions a cat filled with helium and a dog done with custard.   

       He //must// be a halfbaker...
theleopard, Feb 15 2009
  

       Well blow me! A fellow transvestite - where's the link? He also sounds a lot like my brother.   

       Bet he didn't go the whole hog with the whale airship though.
nineteenthly, Feb 15 2009
  

       //[Wily Peyote], why not? I thought equal volumes of gases at the same temperature and pressure had the same molarity?// ~ [nineteenthly]   

       They do, if I understand you correctly: Boyle's Gas Laws. I just mean that you can't surmise - by the atomic weights of the different elements - that they are in the same ratio as their volumes. Let me use [spidermother]'s anno as an example: Helium vs. Hydrogen...   

       The average Hydrogen atom (in the universe) weighs in at one nucleon (one proton); the average Helium atom weighs in at four nucleons (two protons and two neutrons) - 4X heavier. Is Helium's un-ionized volume 4X larger? No, it's only 1.08X larger. All of the different elements are strange this way...
Wily Peyote, Feb 15 2009
  

       Wily, you have missed the point. What's relevant is not the mass-per-unit-volume of the gas, but the difference between the mass of the gas and the mass of the air it displaces. A unit volume (a mole; about 24 litres at stp) of hydrogen weighs two grams; the same volume of helium weighs four grams; the same volume of air weighs about 28 grams or something. Hence, a mole of hydrogen will lift 28-2 = 26 grams; a mole of helium will lift 28-4 = 24 grams. Etc.
MaxwellBuchanan, Feb 16 2009
  

       Yes, i was subtracting the weight of helium from the weight of air.
nineteenthly, Feb 16 2009
  

       Excellent! This would be great for the New York St Patrick's day parade, when the corpses of famous gay people could be carried along with impunity, tethered to sticks using brightly coloured ribbons, above the heads of the homophobic officials gathered below.
xenzag, Feb 17 2009
  

       Oh God, yes, that'd be fantastic! Good call! The question is, though, who would want to carry them more? Gay pride people or homophobes?
I can think of people who would fervently want their corpses disposed of in this manner.
nineteenthly, Feb 17 2009
  

       Ah, that's what you think. There are far more disturbing places to go on ta Intawebz than this one and you can even find them without trying very hard.
[Bigsleep], there's an idea on the Orion's Arm website somewhat like that.
nineteenthly, Feb 17 2009
  

       It's not disrespectful if the person's final wish was to, say, be a part of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. Bun +
Spacecoyote, Feb 18 2009
  

       [21_Quest], it was Jeremy Bentham being stuffed that made me think of this idea. The Body Works exhibition was also partly done as a result of consent, and that's the kind of thing i'm thinking of. I also don't think it applies to other species in the same way. I'm not just talking about humans.
nineteenthly, Feb 18 2009
  
      
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