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Hum

Like many mothers, Rajeshwari Karnan was delighted when she gave birth to a son. The 23-year-old farm labourer and her husband, Karnan Perumal, 26, already had a two-year-old daughter, but like many in the state of Tamil Nadu, they considered a boy a particular blessing.

So when Rahul arrived in May, they were especially delighted.

However, just over a week later, their joy turned to misery.

One afternoon, says Rajeshwari, she was washing her daughter when she suddenly heard Rahul screaming from inside the hut. She ran towards him, but before she could get there, a neighbour shouted to her the words she will never forget: ?Your baby is on fire!?

?There was a flame on his belly and his right knee,? Rajeshwari told the New York Times last week, ?and my husband rushed with a towel to put it off [sic]. I got very scared.?

The couple immediately took their son to hospital, but the doctors were mystified.

Later, the parents returned home, hoping this bizarre and disturbing occurrence would not repeat itself.

But it has done so ? three more times, according to the couple. The last incident took place one afternoon last month, with their little boy suffering first and second-degree burns. As a result, the family have now been forced to move from their village, due to their neighbours? fears that the baby could cause a serious fire.

This month, the couple took the child to be examined at a hospital in the city of Chennai, where the doctors are equally baffled.

Foul play appears to have been ruled out, with Karnan Perumal saying that he and his wife would never be ?crazy [enough] to burn our own baby?.

Some people are saying the flames must be the work of a deity, while others suspect the use of combustible phosphorous in the  materials used to build the couple?s home.

But the doctors are now considering whether baby Rahul is a victim of one of the strangest and most mysterious of phenomena said to affect the body ? spontaneous human combustion.

?We are in a dilemma and haven?t come to any conclusion,? says Dr Narayan Babu. ?The parents have held that the baby burned instantaneously without any provocation. We are carrying out numerous tests. We are not saying it is SHC (spontaneous human  combustion) until all the investigations  are complete.?

Is it really possible for a baby to burst suddenly into flames? And if so, how on earth does it happen ? and could other infants elsewhere in the world fall victim to the same extraordinary circumstances?

Although spontaneous combustion has been written about for centuries, there are many who are sceptical about its existence. All too often, when presented with the grisly image of a pile of human ash with only the legs remaining, the doubters will insist that the victim probably died from falling asleep with a cigarette, or was sitting too near a fire.

Such explanations may seem reasonable, but they ignore the fact that human bodies are extremely hard to burn. We are composed largely of water. And the bits of us that aren?t damp ? especially our bones ? require a huge and  sustained amount of heat to reduce to ash.

Crematoriums use at least 30 cubic metres of gas, along with 600 cubic metres of pre-heated air, to incinerate a corpse. If it only required a small log fire or a cigarette to burn a body, then such places would be put out of business.

In fact, it is more absurd to  suggest these mysterious fires are caused by an external heat source rather than some as-yet- unexplained bodily function.

Human combustion has been gaining acceptance. In 2010, a coroner in Galway in Ireland recorded it as the cause of death in the case of 76-year-old Michael Faherty, whose charred corpse had been found lying on the floor of his living-room.

So, if we acknowledge that the phenomenon does exist ? how does it happen?

 

 British research biologist Brian J. Ford has shed new light on the mystery. In two recent articles, one of which appeared in the New Scientist, Professor Ford explains that spontaneous human combustion may be caused by a chemical called acetone that is produced naturally in the body.

Many women will recognise the smell of acetone, because it is often used as a solvent in nail-varnish removers. In healthy humans, acetone is normally disposed of through urine, but when people suffer from certain illnesses, acetone levels can build up in the body, and can even be smelled on the breath ? which is another way in which the chemical leaves us.

Indeed, the subject has been discussed on the popular website Mumsnet, where one poster wrote that her young daughter had ?acetone breath?, and that ?apparently children have higher than normal acetone levels?.

Professor Ford has noted that many of the people who have combusted spontaneously were unwell at the time, and as a result, may have developed a condition called ketosis, in which acetone in the body increases.

Ketosis can have a range of causes, including alcoholism, diabetes, a high-fat diet, and even, in babies, teething.

Furthermore, acetone infuses itself well into human fat. And ? this is crucial ? it is also  extremely flammable.

 

His theory certainly looks convincing ? though last week the doctors in India released the test results on poor little Rahul. They showed that the levels of acetone in his blood were not high. :iiam:


full story & video

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Growled

But the doctors are now considering whether baby Rahul is a victim of one of the strangest and most mysterious of phenomena said to affect the body ? spontaneous human combustion.

 

I've heard of it but was never sure I believed in it.

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freak180

Flame on!!! Its a hidden gift the parents dont know about...

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Lingwo

I don't know if the Mythbusters could air that episode.

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Hum

I can't wait until the kooky science-skeptics come out and claim the baby was smoking in bed after a night of drinking. :laugh: :rofl:

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MikeChipshop

At title i was ... lolssssssss

At story i was like... Ohhhhh

At picture i wa slike... "poor little sh**"

 

There's not been a modern day report of spontaneous human combustion and you know why? Because it's to hard to fake in modern times. Far more than it was back when it was 'fashionable'.

"acetone infuses itself well into human fat. And ? this is crucial ? it is also extremely flammable" This has already been proven false and even if it was true, it's also been proven that the amount of Oxygen in tissues and fat isn't enough to allow for combustion.

This is a pure accident.

 

I don't know if the Mythbusters could air that episode.

 

:rofl:

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Bryan R.

At title i was ... lolssssssss

At story i was like... Ohhhhh

At picture i wa slike... "poor little sh**"

 

There's not been a modern day report of spontaneous human combustion and you know why? Because it's to hard to fake in modern times. Far more than it was back when it was 'fashionable'.

"acetone infuses itself well into human fat. And ? this is crucial ? it is also extremely flammable" This has already been proven false and even if it was true, it's also been proven that the amount of Oxygen in tissues and fat isn't enough to allow for combustion.

This is a pure accident.

 

 

:rofl:

I'm not convinced it's completely natural either but there have been reports in recent years. I've read them here on Neowin most likely from Hum.

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_dandy_

> Is it really possible for a baby to burst suddenly into flames? And if so, how on earth does it happen ? and could other infants elsewhere in the world fall victim to the same extraordinary circumstances?

 

Won't somebody PLEASE think of the children?

 

No, seriously, I'm not aware that age has ever been singled out in any spontaneous human combustion case discussion.  "Could other infants [...]" reads like something you'll hear from an announcer on CNN.  What, the rest of the population is irrelevant?

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HawkMan

S they ruled out the parents faking it because no parents would be crazy enough to set their child on fire...

Errr yeah... Except crazy people aren't only that crazy they can beat lot more crazy than that.

This could be anything from Munchausen to psycho paranoid parents.

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MikeChipshop
 

 

I'm not convinced it's completely natural either but there have been reports in recent years. I've read them here on Neowin most likely from Hum.

Well **** me i am worng.

Cheers chaps.

It's always fascinated me, i just didn't realise there was any modern day examples.

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+Dick Montage

It's always fascinated me, i just didn't realise there was any modern day examples.

 

 

I watched a documentary (BBC show called QED) as a kid, it explained some possible reasons and then debunked them.  One being ball lightning.  Scared the living hell outta me ;)

 

Edit:

 

Believe this is it:

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MikeChipshop

I watched a documentary (BBC show called QED) as a kid, it explained some possible reasons and then debunked them.  One being ball lightning.  Scared the living hell outta me ;)

 

Edit:

 

Believe this is it:

Oh jesus i remember that program!

I was a kid at the time and freaked me the hell out. I was adamant it was going to happen to me in my sleep lol

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yakumo

keep the kid in hospital for its own safety, with full time camera observation, then we'll see it's unaided.

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Hum

I watched a documentary (BBC show called QED) as a kid, it explained some possible reasons and then debunked them.  One being ball lightning.  Scared the living hell outta me ;)

 

Cool video.

 

Apparently that is the same narrator as in A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Moon documentary. (also on YouTube)

 

Arthur C. Clarke covered many of the same stories on his Mysterious World.

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majortom1981

what did they use to have light in their hut? what do they use to cook ? I think the explanation is probably easier then people think.

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Slugsie

SHC has been examined many many times, and pretty much always demonstrated as something like a 'human candle' type effect. It's a telling fact that in almost every circumstance there is an open flame/source of ignition of some sort in the room. That has in fact been demonstrated under controlled circumstances with pig carcasses. That is not to say that that explanation is the only one however. But no-one has ever explained how a body can just ignite by itself - not saying it can't, just saying that to my knowledge no-one has demonstrated it can.

 

Unfortunately, in this instance however, I'm going to plump for the simpler explanation. Munchausen's Syndrome by Proxy. It's much more likely that the parents are abusing their child to get attention than the child is just bursting into flames. 

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FloatingFatMan

Unfortunately, in this instance however, I'm going to plump for the simpler explanation. Munchausen's Syndrome by Proxy. It's much more likely that the parents are abusing their child to get attention than the child is just bursting into flames. 

 

Exactly what I was thinking when I read the article.  That child needs to be urgently removed from his parents "care" before they kill him.

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M_Lyons10

Wow.  I've never heard of such a thing (And I'm really not sure I believe in it)...

 

I'm not sure what to think...

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Growled

Exactly what I was thinking when I read the article.  That child needs to be urgently removed from his parents "care" before they kill him.

Even by some weird happen chance that the parents aren't abusing him, he needs to be removed to figure what exactly what is happening.

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Hum

 I think the explanation is probably easier then people think.

If it was, this would have never made the News. ;)

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HawkMan

If it was, this would have never made the News. ;)

 

Hi, welcome, you must be new to the world. 

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The_Decryptor

The fact that the doctors are considering SHC, shows that the kid needs better doctors as well.

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cork1958

Exactly what I was thinking when I read the article.  That child needs to be urgently removed from his parents "care" before they kill him.

 

No doubt about it!!

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