Friedrich Karl Wunder, Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain
Friedrich Karl Wunder, Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

Karl Marx's Grave Costs $6 To Visit

Friedrich Karl Wunder, Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain
Friedrich Karl Wunder, Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

Oh the irony! The grave of Karl Marx, the anti-capitalist writer-philosopher best known for The Communist Manifesto, has a £4 (about $6) entrance fee.

Marx, despite being extremely critical of private property, purchased a plot in the privately-owned Highgate Cemetery in London, according to a recent article in The Wall Street Journal.

Though visitors to Marx’s grave are often surprised and upset by the fee—one 24-year-old Marxist told The Wall Street Journal, “There are no depths of irony, or bad taste, to which capitalists won’t sink if they think they can make money out of it”—the charity responsible for the cemetery’s upkeep sees things a little differently. They say the fee helps them maintain the cemetery, which shelters not only Marx’s remains, but those of 170,000 others.

Over the years, Marx’s grave has been the site of a good deal of controversy: Marx supporters, of course, protest the entrance fee, but the charity, called Friends of Highgate Cemetery, seems to welcome the publicity that comes with a bit of outrage. According to The Atlantic, the cemetery’s chapel used to sell mugs and postcards with Marx’s face on them; around two decades ago, the Friends of Highgate also let an Italian fashion brand do a photoshoot on Marx’s grave.

Though some of the actions of the Friends of Highgate have drawn Marxist ire over the years, not all Marx supporters are critical of their entry fee policy. Alex Gordon, chair of trustees of the Marx Memorial Library & Workers School, told The Wall Street Journal, “Marx believed that labor should be rewarded, he didn’t believe that you could achieve a classless society simply by refusing to pay for things.”

[h/t: The Wall Street Journal]

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Big Questions
What Do Morticians Do With the Blood They Take Out of Dead Bodies?
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Zoe-Anne Barcellos:

The blood goes down the sink drain, into the sewer system.

I am not a mortician, but I work for a medical examiner/coroner. During an autopsy, most blood is drained from the decedent. This is not on purpose, but a result of gravity. Later a mortician may or may not embalm, depending on the wishes of the family.

Autopsies are done on a table that has a drain at one end; this drain is placed over a sink—a regular sink, with a garbage disposal in it. The blood and bodily fluids just drain down the table, into the sink, and down the drain. This goes into the sewer, like every other sink and toilet, and (usually) goes to a water treatment plant.

You may be thinking that this is biohazardous waste and needs to be treated differently. [If] we can’t put oil, or chemicals (like formalin) down the drains due to regulations, why is blood not treated similarly? I would assume because it is effectively handled by the water treatment plants. If it wasn’t, I am sure the regulations would be changed.

Now any items that are soiled with blood—those cannot be thrown away in the regular trash. Most clothing worn by the decedent is either retained for evidence or released with the decedent to the funeral home—even if they were bloody.

But any gauze, medical tubing, papers, etc. that have blood or bodily fluids on them must be thrown away into a biohazardous trash. These are lined with bright red trash liners, and these are placed in a specially marked box and taped closed. These boxes are stacked up in the garage until they are picked up by a specialty garbage company. I am not sure, but I am pretty sure they are incinerated.

Additionally anything sharp or pointy—like needles, scalpels, etc.—must go into a rigid “sharps” container. When they are 2/3 full we just toss these into one of the biotrash containers.

The biotrash is treated differently, as, if it went to a landfill, then the blood (and therefore the bloodborne pathogens like Hepatitis and HIV) could be exposed to people or animals. Rain could wash it into untreated water systems.

This post originally appeared on Quora. Click here to view.

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Space
Stephen Hawking’s Memorial Will Beam His Words Toward the Nearest Black Hole
Frederick M. Brown, Getty Images
Frederick M. Brown, Getty Images

An upcoming memorial for Stephen Hawking is going to be out of this world. The late physicist’s words, set to music, will be broadcast by satellite toward the nearest black hole during a June 15 service in the UK, the BBC reports.

During his lifetime, Hawking signed up to travel to space on Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic spaceship, but he died before he ever got the chance. (He passed away in March.) Hawking’s daughter Lucy told the BBC that the memorial's musical tribute is a “beautiful and symbolic gesture that creates a link between our father's presence on this planet, his wish to go into space, and his explorations of the universe in his mind.” She described it as "a message of peace and hope, about unity and the need for us to live together in harmony on this planet."

Titled “The Stephen Hawking Tribute,” the music was written by Greek composer Vangelis, who created the scores for Blade Runner and Chariots of Fire. It will play while Hawking’s ashes are interred at Westminster Abbey, near where Isaac Newton and Charles Darwin are buried, according to Cambridge News. After the service, the piece will be beamed into space from the European Space Agency’s Cebreros Station in Spain. The target is a black hole called 1A 0620-00, “which lives in a binary system with a fairly ordinary orange dwarf star,” according to Lucy Hawking.

Hawking wasn't the first person to predict the existence of black holes (Albert Einstein's general theory of relativity accounted for them back in the early 1900s), but he spoke at length about them throughout his career and devised mathematical theorems that gave credence to their existence in the universe.

Actor Benedict Cumberbatch, a friend of the Hawking family who portrayed the late scientist in the BBC film Hawking, will speak at the service. In addition to Hawking's close friends and family, British astronaut Tim Peake and several local students with disabilities have also been invited to attend.

[h/t BBC]

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