Death is not an end – it's a new beginning. After death, all of the molecules that came together to form the living "you" become nutrients for millions of creatures, large and small. Your body becomes the hub of a complex ecosystem of microbes, insects, worms, plants and more. Cheer up! Life After Death shows how you are going to live forever – as components of so many other wonderful creatures. It describes the science behind the remarkable recycling of your body. We begin with lessons about how your body functions, is a collection of valuable nutrients and is a home to millions of microbes. The book goes on to describe the various stages the body passes through as it decomposes following death. The microbes and insects that make use of your tissues are then introduced. Finally, you will learn about the enduring effects that your body will have on the wider biosphere. We are rich in valuable resources that will end up feeding an immense number and variety of other creatures. Inevitably, your body will support the continuation of life on our beautiful planet – this book describes how all this happens.
Chapter 1. It comes to us all
Chapter 2. A rich bag of goodies - the human body as a source of nutrients
Chapter 3. Our life-long microbial companions - who are they and what do they get up to while we're alive?
Chapter 4. Not a pretty picture - our appearance after death
Chapter 5. The great betrayal - our own cells and our symbionts turn against us
Chapter 6. From the micro to the macro - now the big guys move in
Chapter 7. And what about the rest of the big, wide world? Corpse decomposition and the environment
Appendix I. Glossary
Appendix II. Brief descriptions of microbes mentioned in the book
Appendix III. Images of corpses
Michael Wilson is an Emeritus Professor of Microbiology at University College London where he was based for more than 30 years. He has published 337 scientific papers, holds 13 patents and in 1991 was awarded the “Inventor of the Year” prize by Toshiba for inventing a device that produces pure drinking water from contaminated water sources. In 2011 he was appointed Chevalier dans l’Ordre des Palmes Académiques by the President of France for his services to French culture. He has produced a number of exhibitions for the general public about his research and was Senior Scientific Advisor to the Eden Project for their Invisible You: The Human Microbiome exhibition which opened in 2015. He has published 14 books, mainly in the fields of Microbiology and Infectious Diseases. His most recent books are Into the Labyrinth; In Search of Daidalos (2020) and Close Encounters of the Microbial Kind: Everything You Need to Know About Common Infections (2021).