Science File Information:
At the beginning of this episode, deathrow inmate Napolean "Neech" Manley is being
executed by electric chair. The electric chair is a chair that electrocutes its occupant
with alternating current. (I know, I'm a master of stating the obvious.) I could talk
about the science of electrocution here, but that's already been covered in
D.P.O. Don't worry, the fun stuff comes soon...
To see a schematic of an electric chair, brought to you by the
Florida Corrections Commission,
visit http://www.dos.state.fl.us/fgils/agencies/fcc/ reports/methods/emappc.html.
As it turns out, Manley was a devout believer in reincarnation, a concept which is found
in various forms in religions around the globe. It is mentioned in the episode that he
was particularly fond of Zoroastrian literature, which preaches one of the first
monotheistic religions in history. Zoroastrians flourished in the region that is now Iran
and upper India, but one thing they didn't do was believe in reincarnation (they actually
believed in an afterlife dictated by one's morality in life). I guess even
the most astute television anthropologists can make mistakes.
To find out what Zoroastrians actually believe, and to learn a little bit about a lesser-known
world religion, read the Zoroastrian FAQ at
The decomposing victims of the supposedly reincarnated Manley are crawling with maggots
and flies; one victim's lungs are filled with green bottle flies. Bottle flies and blow
flies (common flies that are attracted to dead bodies) are often studied by forensic
scientists to gather information in homicide cases. In fact, there's an entire field
called forensic entomology that involves the study of insects, in the various
stages of their life cycles, to determine such things as the amount of time that has
elapsed since the victim died and whether the body has been moved to another location
since the moment of death.
For more information on the field of forensic entomology, check out Morten St rkeby's
fantastic page on the subject at
There's also a wealth of information, including case studies from an FBI agent, at the
official page of the American Board of Forensic Entomology site at
Believe it or not, maggot infestation, or myiasis as it's called, isn't always a bad thing.
Some scientists are testing a treatment called "maggot therapy," in which maggots are used
to clean gangrenous wounds that might usually cause the victim to lose a limb. The results
are actually promising. I wouldn't try this at home, but it definitely makes for
To learn about maggot therapy and the life cycle of the blow fly, go to