death

Ohhh, that smell. The smell of death surrounds you. See -- it's coming from that beached whale right over there.

The dearhearts at Weird World mentioned yesterday that over in Goa, India, former home of Jason Bourne and tropical paradise, there something in the air. We call this something the stench of rotting whale flesh. As you may know, once an organism dies its cells undergo a form of cannibalism called autolysis...

This week on Stuff You Should Know Josh and me rounded out our "death suite" with shows on the world ending in 2012 and some truly bizarre ways to die. Talk about an uplifting experience! The good news is that neither one of us, based on our research, believe that the world will end in 2012. The concept of this whole thing is based on the Mayan calendar, but it's really just a bunch of hullabaloo to sell books if you ask us. Not only does the Mayan calendar not call for the world to end in 2012, but the event they are referring to is actually one to be celebrated. So much for that - good podcast though. Josh was on fire and we RETIRED HAIKU THEATER.

Bizarre Ways to Die

When it comes to shucking this mortal coil, no two deaths are exactly alike -- and some are truly bizarre. Tune in to this podcast from HowStuffWorks.com to hear Josh and Chuck discuss some of the strangest deaths imaginable.

"If you're reading this, I've died." Sent via my Deathswitch

Did you know that there's a service called Deathswitch, a posthumous messenger service that sends out e-mails you've created while alive after you're dead? It's true. I read about it in an AP article on a woman named Melissa Spagenberg, who is on a quest to contact all of her father's online World of Warcraft cohorts after he died suddenly. The Deathswitch service lets a user create up to 30 e-mails addressed and ready to go upon exiting this mortal coil. Automated e-mails that require a response with a password within a predetermined time are sent to users to make sure they're still breathing. Should the user not reply, the e-mails are sent -- from beyond the grave. In the event of a premature launch, Deathswitch has a "Wait -- I'm still alive!" button that resets the service. Seems like that could make for an awkward follow-up conversation:

This week on the Stuff You Should Know podcast we discussed a couple of interesting topics. Yesterday's show was about how to stop junk mail, which is something everyone definitely should know. Tuesday's show was a gem called "Can people really die of fright?" It was based on a stellar article by staff writer Molly Edmonds. Josh and I delved a bit into the science of fear and the potential medical issues that could arise if you were really scared -- aka the "Baskerville Effect." We also looked at some interesting studies. One took a look at the death rate of people in China and Japan on the fourth day of the month, four being an unlucky number in much of Asia. They found that there was a 13 percent increase in heart failure on the fourth of each month compared to a Caucasian control group. So there's something to be said for chilling out on the fourth if you're Chinese or Japanese.

Is there a worst way to die?

But there's no consensus among professionals about which method of death is the least desirable. A person's fears may factor into his own personal worst way to die. Check out our HowStuffWorks article to learn more about the worst way to die.