A New Kind of Autopsy Could Mean Far Fewer Dissections


It's hard to lose someone you love. It's even harder to think about the procedures a loved one's body might undergo to determine cause of death. But autopsies in the future may be less gruesome than they are today. Researchers say a combination of CT scans and X-rays can successfully identify the cause of natural death, eliminating the need for dissection. They published their findings in the medical journal The Lancet.

Lead researchers Guy Rutty and Bruno Morgan of the University of Leicester set out to solve a problem: reducing the need for the messy, almost primitive process of dissecting cadavers to determine cause of death. (The focus was natural death, though a small number of unnatural deaths were included in the study as well.) They aren’t the first; previous studies found some success with postmortem computed tomography (PMCT).

Speaking in a statement, Morgan explained that the technique works similar to CT scanning of living people. But PMCT has one major drawback: It can’t get a good picture of the heart or blood vessels.

“In clinical CT scanning, a contrast agent is injected into a vein and circulation delivers it around the body,” he said. “This allows the CT scan to show the state of blood vessels anywhere in the body. However, the lack of circulation in cadavers means these techniques cannot be used."

This is a pretty glaring issue, as coronary artery disease is currently the number one cause of natural death worldwide.

The team’s solution: adapting existing angiography (X-ray heart imaging) techniques to suit a body with no pulse. They discovered that injecting a combination of contrast fluid and air through a catheter into the coronary artery could create a clear picture—and it didn’t require opening the body up. "The insertion techniques are like those we use on patients every day in our clinics, with just the use of local anaesthetic to numb the skin," Morgan said.

Researchers perform a new imaging technique.
The University of Leicester

The researchers combined this new minimally invasive angiography with PMCT and tested the new method—called PMCTA—on 240 cases of natural death.

Researchers perform a new imaging technique.
The University of Leicester

The images produced were strong, clear, and clinically meaningful. In 92 percent of cases, PMCTA results were able to identify the cause of death, with diagnoses as accurate as those made by a coroner. Each method had its strengths and weaknesses; PMCTA was better at spotting trauma and hemorrhage, while dissection more easily identified pulmonary thromboembolisms. For difficult cases or those requiring a higher burden of proof, the paper's authors suggest using both methods.

They concluded by paying their respects to the participants who made their study possible. “We dedicate the success of our research to the families of Leicestershire,” they wrote, “who have consented for their loved ones to be involved in these studies, despite being in a period of bereavement."

The ChopBox Smart Cutting Board Has a Food Scale, Timer, and Knife Sharper Built Right Into It


When it comes to furnishing your kitchen with all of the appliances necessary to cook night in and night out, you’ll probably find yourself running out of counter space in a hurry. The ChopBox, which is available on Indiegogo and dubs itself “The World’s First Smart Cutting Board,” looks to fix that by cramming a bunch of kitchen necessities right into one cutting board.

In addition to giving you a knife-resistant bamboo surface to slice and dice on, the ChopBox features a built-in digital scale that weighs up to 6.6 pounds of food, a nine-hour kitchen timer, and two knife sharpeners. It also sports a groove on its surface to catch any liquid runoff that may be produced by the food and has a second pull-out cutting board that doubles as a serving tray.

There’s a 254nm UVC light featured on the board, which the company says “is guaranteed to kill 99.99% of germs and bacteria" after a minute of exposure. If you’re more of a traditionalist when it comes to cleanliness, the ChopBox is completely waterproof (but not dishwasher-safe) so you can wash and scrub to your heart’s content without worry. 

According to the company, a single one-hour charge will give you 30 days of battery life, and can be recharged through a Micro USB port.

The ChopBox reached its $10,000 crowdfunding goal just 10 minutes after launching its campaign, but you can still contribute at different tiers. Once it’s officially released, the ChopBox will retail for $200, but you can get one for $100 if you pledge now. You can purchase the ChopBox on Indiegogo here.

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How to Watch SpaceX’s Historic Astronaut Launch Live

NASA astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken make their way to the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket with the Crew Dragon spacecraft on launch pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center on May 30, 2020 in Cape Canaveral, Florida.
NASA astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken make their way to the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket with the Crew Dragon spacecraft on launch pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center on May 30, 2020 in Cape Canaveral, Florida.
Joe Raedle/Getty Images

After scrubbing its original launch on May 27 due to bad weather, SpaceX will attempt to make history yet again today (May 30) when it launches its first crewed spacecraft from Cape Canaveral, Florida, at 3:22 p.m. EDT. Powered by a Falcon 9 rocket, the Crew Dragon spacecraft will transport NASA astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken to the International Space Station, marking the company's first-ever crewed mission and the first crewed launch from the U.S. since 2011. If you want to watch the momentous event from home, there are plenty of ways to stream it live online.

Both SpaceX and NASA will be hosting livestreams of the May 30 launch. NASA's webcast kicks off at 11 a.m. EDT today with live looks at the Crew Dragon and Falcon 9 rocket at the Kennedy Space Center. The feed will continue streaming until the afternoon of Sunday, May 31, with the spacecraft set to dock at the International Space Station at 10:29 a.m. EDT. You can catch the coverage on NASA's website, its social media channels (including YouTube), or on the NASA TV channel through cable or satellite. SpaceX's stream will be broadcast on the company's YouTube channel. (You can watch the video below).

Several television networks will be covering the event (check your local listings), and ABC News Live will partner with National Geographic to air "Launch America: Mission to Space Live" at 3 p.m. EDT.

The launch has been scheduled down to the minute, but SpaceX still has time to change that depending on the weather. Wednesday's launch was canceled less than 17 minutes before liftoff, and SpaceX founder Elon Musk has already tweeted that there's a 50 percent chance that weather could prove problematic once again. If today's launch doesn't happen according to plan, there is another window set aside for a third attempt tomorrow, Sunday, May 31, at 3 p.m. EDT, with CNN reporting that the odds of cooperative weather being slightly higher—about 60 percent—for tomorrow.

This story has been updated.