A phenomenon that can turn you into a 'ball of fire' | Learn about 'SHC'

The term 'Spontaneous Human Combustion' seems like it has been borrowed from Hell and it not only sounds horrible but people who have witnessed such incidents could give you information that can give you chills and nightmares for days.

Saima Siddiqui
Published on: 8 July 2019 11:48 AM GMT
A phenomenon that can turn you into a ball of fire | Learn about SHC
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A phenomenon that can turn you into a 'ball of fire' | Learn about 'SHC'
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Lucknow: Its not a superpower but a sudden death that can set you on fire and could char your body into sticky, thick, foul-smelling ashes. Hey don't get anxious! its not what happens to everyone or everyday but yes there are hundreds of records available, claiming such a horrific silent death that has engulfed its victims into its blazing flames, literally out of no where!

The term 'Spontaneous Human Combustion' seems like it has been borrowed from Hell and it not only sounds horrible but people who have witnessed such incidents could give you information that can give you chills and nightmares for days.

The first recorded case of spontaneous combustion took place in Milan in the late 1400's, when a knight named Polonus Vorstius allegedly burst into flames in front of his own parents.

What could shock you more is a recorded story of a 40-years-old German woman who reportedly burst into flames while she was silently sitting on a park bench, when her body caught fire. What seems an apparent case of spontaneous human combustion (SHC) left her with severe burns, fighting for her life in the hospital. The incident was reported in the northern town of Flensbug, Germany.

Interestingly, spontaneous combustion finds its root in the 18th century inscripts, where a fellow of London’s Royal Society, Paul Rolli, first used the term in a 1744 article entitled 'Philosophical Transactions'.

Rolli described the term as “a process in which a human body allegedly catches fire as a result of heat generated by internal chemical activity, but without evidence of an external source of ignition.”

According to a claim burning often begin in the chest or stomach area, leaving the grisly remains of legs and hands intact. According to a claim burning often begin in the chest or stomach area, leaving the grisly remains of legs and hands intact.

The term gained popularity, and spontaneous combustion became a reality particularly among alcoholics in the Victorian Era. The popularity of this phenomenon even compelled Charles Dickens to involve it into one of his writing where his novel's, 'Bleak House' (1853), minor character Krook, a cheating merchant with a penchant for gin, spontaneously catches fire and burns to death.

The second most famous theory in favour of spontaneous combustion gives reference to a quite rational effect the 'wick effect'.

As we all know fires do not typically start on their own. In SHC cases the, however, the source of the ignition isn't known (precisely) yet, how it works has been explained by many. What could explain the lack of damage to the surrounding room is the 'wick effect', which gets its name from the way that a candle burns with the help of wax material and its wick. In such cases our body fat works as the flammable substance and clothing or hair as the burning wick.

You must still be wondering how do the fires start? So, scientists have an answer for that too. According to them most of those who died of apparent spontaneous combustion were elderly, alone, and seated or sleeping near an ignition source. Sleeping or in drunken state, as one has less motor response it is possible that they happen to burn fast before they could sit up to run or help themselves thus turning into ashes where they were, ON THE SPOT! without any visible signs of struggle for life and leaving the surroundings undamaged.

However, there is one more theory about the source of ignition? According to that a century ago, it was blamed on intemperance and even God's wrath: most victims were assumed to be drunkards who had saturated their cells with alcohol. Around 1970's, one more quasi-Freudian explanation came into vogue suggesting that a person's depressive emotional states could somehow cause him or her to become enflamed. Whereas, others suggested that sunspots, cosmic storms, gas-producing intestinal bacteria, or even a buildup of the body's supposed "vibrational energy" is likely be to blame for it.

Well, whatever the reality is but it really surrounds many mysteries and leave many questions unanswered like, How does the fire starts? How only people are burnt not their surroundings?, Why the victims don't struggle for their life?, Why they always alone when the SHC happens?, Why it doesn't happen so often?, Why only humans but no animal has ever been recorded being charred to death by SHC?

However, there are many questions but a one explanation can do for those who don't believe in such pseudoscientific phenomenons. And that is, it doesn't happen at all. If it were so frequent we would have seen many people catching fire on the way to their offices, schools, in malls, public but we haven't seen anything like that around us. We just have reports and old records by some people who claim to have witness SHC.

So, think for yourself go and try to find out the truth and drop your comments down below to let us know what you think of it.

Saima Siddiqui

Saima Siddiqui

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