Unexpectedly Intriguing!
October 3, 2014
Source: Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene - http://dhmh.maryland.gov/laboratories/SitePages/DEC%20Turnaround%20Time.aspx

Having gone inexplicably dark in exploring the white and black markets for cadavers yesterday, we thought it might be a good time to get back on the right side of the law by creating the world's first free app for estimating how long ago a person died from the temperature of their corpse.

The tool below is based on Catherine Lipford's Powerpoint presentation on "The Calculus of CSI", in which we will apply Newton's Law of Cooling to solve the problem of algor mortis: the slow change in temperature that a formerly living, healthy body experiences as it equilibrates with its surrounding environment.

Just enter the indicated information in the tool below to do the math for either our default example or the situation that applies for the corpse under your consideration.... (If you're reading this article on a site that republishes our RSS news feed, click here to access a working version of this tool!

Temperature Data
Input Data Values
Temperature of the Body (degrees Fahrenheit)
Temperature of the Body's Surroundings (degrees Fahrenheit)

Estimated Elapsed Time Since Death
Calculated Results Values
How Long Ago Did Death Occur? [hours]

For CSI wannabes, ideally, these temperatures need to be recorded at the time and place where the body is discovered, taking care to note the time of discovery. Sadly, what you will need to do to take accurate measurements will not be consistent with the glamorous career that television makes this kind of work out to be.

For our default example, it would seem that some 6.06 hours have elapsed since death occurred. Determining the time of death then is as simple as turning the clock back from the time the body's and the ambient temperature was measured by that amount.


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Welcome to the blogosphere's toolchest! Here, unlike other blogs dedicated to analyzing current events, we create easy-to-use, simple tools to do the math related to them so you can get in on the action too! If you would like to learn more about these tools, or if you would like to contribute ideas to develop for this blog, please e-mail us at:

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