Autopsies, for all the useful information they provide, have significant downsides. They are often upsetting to the deceased's family, they prevent people from receiving certain kinds of religious burials, and they leave a bit of a mess. To correct for those problems and more, a team at the University of Bern, Switzerland, has developed a robot that can perform virtual autopsies.
Whether it's the blue, ragged fingernails of a heroin-overdose victim or the scaly skin of someone poisoned by arsenic, a corpse bears signs that unveil the secrets behind its life and death. Right now, 40,000 John and Jane Does wait in morgues. Although accident and murder victims are 15 to 30 times as likely to be autopsied as those who die of natural causes, even run-of-the-mill autopsies can yield important information on how a person died. This data has important implications for public health and safety and the legislation that governs those areas of interest.