This week’s snapshot or sneak peak at the collection of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History is of Soapman: a mummified Philadelphia man who is thought to have been buried around 1800 and who now has turned to soap.
According to the museum, Soapman’s remains turned to soap because alkaline water from the soil leaked into his casket and combined with his body fat, preserving his mummified corpse. Soapman’s casket was discovered in 1875 near a Philadelphia train station.
Now Soapman is kept in the National Museum of Natural History’s Dry Environment room, where Smithsonian scientists can research how the body is preserved through chemical changes.
An informal office poll, taken here at EarthSky earlier today, was unanimous regarding the Smithsonian’s Soapman. The result was … “Ew.”
In his years with EarthSky, Jorge Salazar conducted thousands of in-depth interviews with scientists. He knows a lot about as diverse as nanotechnology, ecosystem-based management, climate change, global health, international environmental treaties, astrophysics and cosmology, and environmental security. Jorge currently works as a Technical Writer/Editor for the Texas Advanced Computing Center, which designs and deploys powerful advanced computing technologies and innovative software solutions for scientific researchers.