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Science

The Science of Hugo Chavez's Long Term Embalming 215

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the beyond-the-grave dept.
Hugh Pickens writes writes "Discover Magazine reports that Hugo Chavez will apparently get an embalming job designed to keep him looking alive for decades similar to that of Russia's Vladimir Lenin, whose body still lies in a mausoleum in Moscow's Red Square, nearly 90 years after his death. So how do you preserve a human body for decades without it turning into a pile of melted tissue? First, get to work quickly. Upon death, the human body starts decomposing immediately. The way to stop it is with formaldehyde, a preservative used for the past century, which inhibits the enzyme decomposition as well as killing bacteria. 'You pump the chemical in, and as the formaldehyde hits the cells of the body, it firms up the protein of the cell, or fixates it,' says Vernie Fountain, head of the Fountain National Academy of Professional Embalming Skills in Springfield, Mo. 'That's what makes them stiff.' With a body that will have to be on display for years, it's likely to require a top-shelf, super-strong solution. 'If I were doing Hugo Chavez, I would strengthen the solution and use more preservative product,' says Fountain. Next, get a good moisturizer. Formaldehyde preserves, but it also dries out the body. Vaseline or other moisturizers can preserve the look of skin, according to Melissa Johnson Williams, executive director of the American Society of Embalmers. Finally keep cool. Heat decomposes a body so for long term preservation, the body has to be kept at the temperature of a standard kitchen refrigerator, somewhere in the mid-40s. Lastly, if Venezuelans really want to keep Hugo Chavez around forever, like many other world figures, there's only one solution that works, according to Fountain. 'The best form of preservation is mummification.'"
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The Science of Hugo Chavez's Long Term Embalming

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  • Super Cooling (Score:5, Informative)

    by pubwvj (1045960) on Saturday March 09, 2013 @06:23PM (#43127875) Homepage

    "the body has to be kept at the temperature of a standard kitchen refrigerator, somewhere in the mid-40s."

    No, store it at 27 degrees F which is -2.78 degrees C if you want to keep the meat fresh, not frozen and stop microbial action.

    This is the temperature that we store fresh meat at. It is below standard refrigerator temperatures. Meat freezes at 25ÂF which is below the freezing point of water because of the salts in the blood and cellular fluid. A lot of research has been done on this - initially regarding the storage of fish for Norway's trawlers and later for the storage of pork.

    For the absolute best results adjust this freezing temperature to account for the preservative solution which will likely change the freeze point downward - then stay just above that point of freezing for the meat.

    There is a lot of science behind this in the meat industry that could be applied to Hugo.

  • Re:uh oh (Score:5, Informative)

    by SwedishPenguin (1035756) on Saturday March 09, 2013 @06:35PM (#43127939)

    That word [wikipedia.org], I don't think it means what you think it means...

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 09, 2013 @09:35PM (#43128545)

    The first election he won, the opposition did not participate at all. They left because it was a joke and because Chavez assassinated opposition leaders. It was an election of Chavez versus nobody.

    In the second election, he rigged the votes so that the ones coming from his supporters counted double or even triple in the final tally. I mean, the last election he won, he got about 35-45% of the votes while the "opposition" (all other parties merged in one single party) had 55-65%.

    So stating that Chavez won elections is misinformation, the "red gorilla" or "hugolini" was a fascist that previously participated in a violent revolution to access the power through force. When in power he banned all media and tv that he didn't like, and he had his own tv channel in which he talked for hours and could have sudden urges to "expropiate" or "expulsate" whatever crossed his mind.

  • Umh...

    However, Venezuela doesn't have freedom of speech.

    Others have already questioned your saying. Yes, some years ago he cancelled a critical TV chain's title of concession (permit to transmit on air). That is, however, within his legal power, and at least in many other countries, I know of similar facts. But printed media, radio and TV can (and do) strongly oppose the government.

    Remember even the Soviet Union had elections

    There are several differences and important points:

    • The USSR had *single party* elections, while Venezuela has multi-party elections. When they have held referendums, of course, the options were "yes" and "no" - But when they voted for president, governors and congress, they had many parties to choose from. Last year he won by almost 60% to 40%, and they had only two running candidates.
    • The USSR was (and Cuba is) in many senses more democratic than the USA is now. Think of the system: It is a pyramid of indirect elections. Exemplifying quite simplisticly: Anybody in your block could run for, say, representing the block in the city council. The city governor is elected in the city council, from within the city council members. The provincial government is elected among city governments. The country is elected from within the provincial governments.
      That means that, yes, you have to be aligned with The Party (as in the USA you need to be aligned with Either of The Two Parties), and if you want to go up, you have to be a great politician (just as it stands in our current pseudo-democracies).
      Yes, for the people at large, getting an issue pushed up to the President was incredibly hard. But it is not perfect (although much better, yes) for us today.

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