23
$\begingroup$

A very powerful funeral company offers fossilization as burial options to very rich clients.

Of course, no one can check if it would actually work in a few million years, but the company shows great power and influence and has strong arguments that it could actually work.

What would this arguments be, so rich people actually believe it? What would the burial processes and the after funeral precautions would be?

$\endgroup$
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Encase the body in some kind of mold, let it rot away (that's the slow stage unless you introduce something to speed the process up), pour in some saturated solutions and cool them a bit to crystallize, and you've got it. $\endgroup$ – Mary Jul 16 at 13:00
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ A lot of answers are assuming you mean a kind of accelerated fossilisation, so that the relatives can bring the fossil home. But I thought you meant more like natural fossilisation, i.e. you're buried in a place where you'll emerge from the ground as a rock in a few million years or so. Can you clarify which one you meant? $\endgroup$ – Nathaniel Jul 17 at 1:08
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @Nathaniel Actually my answer is a frame challenge because natural fossilisation IS a fast process. It has to be to happen before the organism decomposes enough to lose its shape. Because fossils are so rare, many early writings on the subject assumed they took a long time to form when in reality, the right circumstances to make one are just so rare that is just super unlikely to find a recent one. grisda.org/how-long-do-fossils-take-to-form $\endgroup$ – Nosajimiki Jul 17 at 13:30
  • 5
    $\begingroup$ This is, frankly, not a bad idea for a business. $\endgroup$ – workerjoe Jul 17 at 14:51
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @llama I came across that site too when I was looking things up. It also states "Scientists recognize that fossils can form very quickly, indeed, it's pretty much a requirement." So, both opponents and supporters of the world flood theory agree that rapid fossilization is typical, the only real debate is about whether fossils come from a single catastrophe or multiple ones. I only cited the grisda.org source because it does a much better job of explaining and citing the science of the fossilization process itself than other sources I looked at despite any of the author's other biases. $\endgroup$ – Nosajimiki Jul 18 at 6:16
25
$\begingroup$

Natural Fossilization is not that slow of a process

Okay, so I did a bit of research and as it turns out natural fossils can actually be formed much faster than I previously stated, meaning that quite authentic fossils could be created by a funeral home in a reasonable amount of time. Basically you just need to put the body in a coffin full of finely ground calcium and silicon. As the bacteria in the body decomposes it, the calcium and silicon will react with the body's organic molecules to reform into the calcite and silica which forms the crystalline structure of a typical fossil.

While I can not find any experiments done on human sized fossilization, a shrimp can fossilize in just 4 to 8 weeks using this method. Large animals like humans are believed to take closer to a year. Since there is not much labor involved, this means the cost would come down mostly to materials. Calcium silicate costs about 2.66USD per liter. If we take some calculations I did for this question https://worldbuilding.stackexchange.com/a/175242/57832 a while back, we see that an average person fits into a 143.52 liter box, while himself having a volume of 58.5 liters that means that this whole process will only require a coffin filled with about 226USD worth of minerals.

Just tuck the body into a mausoleum and pop it open after a year has passed and you have a fossil just like mother nature makes to prove it works. Also fossilizing a body means you don't need to embalm it; so, not only is this an option for the very rich, price point wise it would probably be somewhere between embalming and cremation. Especially since you only need to rent the coffin and burial site for a year instead of buying them out right. When you are done, you can take the remains home to be put on display as you would with a cremation.

| improve this answer | |
$\endgroup$
  • $\begingroup$ "Here's my grandfather, you can see by his fossil that he was made of bones" makes for a great conversation piece I suppose. $\endgroup$ – Anoplexian Jul 17 at 21:44
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ I assume not all of the minerals are used up in the process, too, so you can probably reuse the excess, bringing the price down further. $\endgroup$ – user3067860 Jul 18 at 0:40
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ This is actually a pretty cheap way to safely dispose of a body. I wonder why no one has done it? $\endgroup$ – Alex Jul 19 at 7:07
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @Alex If I had to venture a guess, it is because the funeral industry is monopolized by a small handful of conglomerates like Service Corp. International. They make a lot of money off of embalming and lobbying governments around the world to mandate, regulate, and license the embalming process to force people to pay for thier services. This has led to the outlawing of anything other then embalming or cremation in many parts of the world. $\endgroup$ – Nosajimiki Jul 20 at 12:55
23
$\begingroup$

Happily for you, this service already exists!

Fossilisation simply means the replacement of soft body tissues with some kind of mineral, a non-biological substance. Usually the process takes squillions of years and, as you indicate, there's no guarantee it'll happen to you naturally.

So let me introduce you to the concept of body plastination:

enter image description here

Yep, that's a real guy. What's left of a person after undergoing the process of modern fossilisation --- plastination!

Essentially, the body is treated to a four step process of fixation, dehydration, vacuum impregnation of polymers, and hardening. The result is, essentially, a plastic fossil.

As far as credibility goes, you (or rather, your kith and kin) can see the results in a couple months rather than a couple spentillion years!

| improve this answer | |
$\endgroup$
  • $\begingroup$ I was going to suggest some "super-technology" that would do this but with actual minerals for, ya know, authenticity :-) $\endgroup$ – Carl Witthoft Jul 16 at 14:52
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ "... after undergoing the process of modern fossilisation"—and flensing! $\endgroup$ – erickson Jul 16 at 19:44
6
$\begingroup$

What you'd really be selling is the concept of a legacy, and that Fossilization was the way to secure it.

Historically it's been remarkably easy to convince the rich and powerful to spend vast amounts of money on their funeral rites, from the Egyptian Pyramids through to more modern practices like naming civic instutitions (theatres, hospitals, charitable foundations etc.) after their benefactors.

Why specifically fossilization? Certainly it could initially be sold on a novelty appeal: "become the first Human Artwork" and longevity "only fossils can last 100 million years". Once you have a few initial successes it could easily be made into somewhat of a fashion trend "Tragic Hollywood star Tom Rex did it, it's all the rage now". At this stage the high price and exclusivity can start to work in your favour as people clamour to join an incredibly elite fossil club.

| improve this answer | |
$\endgroup$
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ "A fossil is forever! And if you're lucky you might even become a diamond." $\endgroup$ – user253751 Jul 17 at 11:13
0
$\begingroup$

How do you fossilize?

"First, the soft tissue that exists during life decays leaving behind only the "hard parts" (bone, shell, teeth). Second, hard parts may be transported and broken. This causes the fossilized remains to be incomplete representations of the living animal. It is much more common to find a fragment of shell or bone than it is to find a complete skeleton. Third and most important, hard tissues become buried and altered. In most cases this involves destroying the original material from which the hard parts were made as minerals are slowly dissolved and replaced by new ones. Often times a hard part is dissolved without being replaced by new material, leaving behind only an impression or mold of the original animal. If this mold is filled with sediment that is later cemented into rock it will make a cast of the original animal."

Fake fossilization. Use advanced computer modeling to create a virtual mold* of the person and 3D print it. Show the client the simulation of "themselves" and then proceed to bury them as normal once they pass away.

If your company is still around in a few million years**, then they can just show the (suspiciously perfectly preserved, because of course it is not organic) 3D printed model.

*Well, yes, I know this is a microorganism. Doesn't matter and should even be superior preservation with non-organic materials.

**Assuming your company even still cares.

I hope this helps!

| improve this answer | |
$\endgroup$

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.