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The Bodies Left Behind is the first episode of season one of Life After People: The Series. It originally aired on April 21, 2009.

Synopsis

This episode looks at the future of cities like Boston and Houston and their static structures after the disappearance of man and what will happen to the human bodies that are buried, embalmed, and mummified, as well as the fate of the Immortality Drive inside the International Space Stationcryonically frozen bodies and human embryos, and parrots. This episode also examines the fate of the Astrodome, the Bunker Hill Bridge, the John Hancock Tower, the JPMorgan Chase Tower, the Sistine Chapel and the Statue of Liberty. The episode also explores Hashima Island in Japan, which was abandoned by people in 1974.

Plot

1 Day After People

It's been one day after people, power plants around the world begins to shut down. Mummies of the many of Egypt's pharaohs lie in the plexiglass of modern museums instead of the tombs deep inside the pyramids. Without power, the electric temperature and humidity controls shut down. Dr. Howard Oliver tells the story of the Egyptian Mummies, and how the condition may soon affect the mummies in the Life After People.

1 Month After People

One month after people, more than 100 bodies are kept in a suspended animation in deep freeze at cryonic facilities. According to experts, these cryonic can't be thaw even a month long blackout, and these cryonic are kept at a temperature of -320 degrees Fahrenheit by liquid nitrogen. But there's a problem, the liquid nitrogen boils off slowly, which is a reason why in the time of humans, the supply had to be replenished every few weeks. Dr. Howard Oliver suggest that enzymes and fluid can break down quickly, suggesting that the enzymes can break down the cell wall, and can accelerate the decomposition. Now, just a few months, the bodies begins to heat up, and once they reach -184 degrees Fahrenheit, the chemical reactions resume and the decomposition takes over. There are 400,000 human embryos currently frozen in clinics in the United States alone, but without man in the laboratories, they along with all the egg and sperms quickly decay, as their liquid nitrogen supplies run out.

However, DNA still has a chance of survival, just 200 miles above the Earth, the Immortality Drive sits in the International Space Station. It was first delivered in October of 2008, and it contains the DNA of highly eclectic group, this include Stephen Hawking, Stephen Colbert, and Jo Garcia. Richard Garriott thinks that alien beings may one day use the DNA of the Immortality Drive to reconstruct the extinct human species.

3 Months After People

3 months after people, Art has achieved immortality but many of them required protection from the controlled environment. The most famous is the frescoes of the Vatican Sistine Chapel, painted by Michelangelo, it was protected by 20 miles of pumps and wiring. Air humidity was kept at 50% to 60% to prevent the frescoes to absorbed by water from air, all of it controlled by the computer. Since power went out long ago, these protective system are useless. But without people, it actually helps preserve the frescoes. Without the annual 2 million tourists, there is no ascending current of body heat, the paintings are at least safe for now.

6 Months After People

Nature can also preserve some of mankind structures, like the infamous Ross Island Huts in Antarctica. First built by the explorers Robert Hut and Ernest Shackleton in the 20th century. An average temperature in the island just only 3 below 0, and decay is drastically slow, it is in frozen in time. Meat has been hanging for a century, and some last for a thousand years like the frozen mastodon.

Cities of Boston and Houston are facing a much harsher fate. In Boston, sitting in the Boston Harbour is one of the most famous ships in American history, the USS Constitution. It was first launched in 1797 and it is the world's oldest commissioned warship that still afloat. It gained a nickname "Old Ironsides" when cannonballs were seen bouncing off the ship's 25 inch thick wooden hull during the War of 1812. But without humans, the USS Constitution is defenseless in the race of survival without human care.

9 Months After People

Boston is being ravaged by a winter storm just 9 months after people, and the USS Constitution is losing in a battle. In the time of humans, 900 gallons of water a day was drained from the ship made by the automatic bilge pumps. But the pumps have already stopped months ago, and the flooding is not enough to drag the ship underwater, as it was partnered with the Boston Winter itself. Waves wash over the deck, forcing it further under, till it takes for the entire warship to sinks unlike most enemy warships that never could.

3 Years After People

The International Space Station still orbits the Earth after 3 years, but without constant re-calibration or boosts from space shuttles, it loses 2 miles of altitude each month. Without people to begin the emergency, the Space Station drop below 160 miles, causing the orbital decline accelerates. It re-enter the Earth atmosphere where air and friction meets gravity. The Space Station incinerated, and crashes into a nearby city, destroying the Immortality Drive in the process.

5 Years After People

Weeds have transformed Boston, including its historic streets. Plant root takes over the cracks of brick and mortal. Boston's Old North Church is under attack by nature, this is the location where Paul Revere warned the British Invasion in 1775. Pigeons enter the interior, and signs of vines starts to grow, and maple trees sprout up in the rotting wood. Nature have invaded and conquered as it won the Battle of Boston.

20 Years After People

JPMorganChaseTowerTemplate.png

Houston is being conquered by nature. The JPMorgan Chase Tower now looms over the city which is slowly reverting into the swamp. Houston Astrodome, once kept at 72 degrees, are now swelter to 125 degrees in the Summer, turning into a bat cave. The artificial grass known as Astroturf, trademarked by the Astrodome, is swallowed up by seeds and muck. Guano has a lot of nutrients, and once they start to grow, insects begins to feast in inside the Astrodome, thus bringing in the predators.

25 Years After People

Without people to regulate the heat and humidity, the Egyptian mummies are about to be struck by mold then insects. The bodies of Ramesses II and Tutankhamun, which their bodies have lasted for thousands of years under the pyramids, have been reduced to bear bones in the abandoned museums.

On Moscow, In the Lenin Mausoleum, the body of Vladimir Lenin also share the same fate, but on a different history. When Lenin died on 1924, his body was given in the hands of skilled embalmers. The process involved of using repeated bathes formaldehyde, ethanol and methanol and caretakers were always on duty to protect the body. Although his body were treated with makeup to look like he used to appears, the process of decay doesn't stop however, and without people to tend the body, Vladimir Lenin rots away like the pharaohs.

35 Years After People

In the historic district of Boston, the wooden steeple of the 18th century Old North Church is on the verge of collapse. A storm slashes in, and the guiding light of the American Revolution collapsed into the streets below.

A Visit to Hashima Island

Main Article: Hashima Island

Life After People visits the Hashima Island, nicknamed Battleship Island. It was abandoned in 1974 when Japan began favouring the used of petroleum instead of coal forcing Mitsubishi to closed down the mine and relocated the entire population to mainland Japan. Now, nature have conquered the island. The concrete buildings have turned into ruins, and nature have already shown to grow on the roof of the apartments and below. Corrosion has taken toll on the island.

50 Years After People

Domestic Parrots that escaped into the wilds still retain the words and phrases taught to them by their former owners, but some parrots have learnt several hundred words and will keep the vocabulary even without humans. These parrots have a lifespan of 60 years, and it is still plausible to be heard just 50 years in the wild.

75 Years After People

In Boston, the Leonard P. Zakim Bunker Hill Memorial Bridge is wearing away by time and nature. It was held up by 116 cables, strung from 2 towers, and was built in steel and concrete span. Even though cables are coated in plastic piping, they are also keeps them safe from another source of corrosion, bird droppings. Bird droppings were created by pigeons and starlings which contain high levels of ammonia and salt, but mixing it with rainwater triggers a lethal electrochemical reaction. It contribute the collapse of the steel eight-lane 35W bridge in Minneapolis.

100 Years After People

After just a century, the protective plastic coatings of the Leonard P. Zakim Bunker Hill Memorial Bridge have been cracked by weather. Storm water mixed with acidic pigeon dropping has penetrated to corrode the steel, causing the cables to snap. When half of the cables are gone, those that remain cannot support the weight of the roadway.

In New York City, the Statue of Liberty is still holding her torch high. It was gifted by the French as friendship to the people of America more than 200 years ago, and it was original replaced in the 1980's. Now, the copper skin which only a few millimeters thick is beginning to disintegrate.

In Houston, the Astrodome have spent the last century as a sub-tropical paradise. But the stadium is being neglected, as the entire structure is cracking and crumbling, thus in the time of humans, it cost an estimated half a million dollars a year to maintain the Astrodome, the world first dome-based stadium. Without maintenance, the Astrodome crumbles down in great chunks of 9000 tonne of steel and lucite materials, and raining down into the interior below.

150 Years After People

Boston is now an overgrown urban jungle. The John Hancock Tower, the tallest building in Massachusetts and New England, is losing its battle with nature. Its outer skin have been destroyed by the weather, but it wont last for long. The steel columns have been corroding for many years, thus causing the John Hancock Tower to collapse in a pancake effect.

Meanwhile, these parrots have never interacted with humans, but their ancestors did and some remnants of human speech have been passed down. However, the language is not immortal after all. Since parrots can passed down the words to their predecessors, this does not contribute and value to the survival of the parrots.

200 Years After People

Over a period of 200 years, the windows of the JPMorgan Chase Tower have been blown out by hurricanes, and the interior is being corroded by rain. But nature has turned most of the structure into its steel bones. Even the steel frame being exposed to the environment, it will eventually corrode causing the building to lean and collapse. The JPMorgan Chase Tower is no longer the tallest building in Houston.

300 Years After People

In Liberty Island, the Statue of Liberty suffers from galvanic corrosion. The weight of the torch bearing right arm became the first to fall. Other parts of the statue quickly follows, including its face. The shattered pieces lies on the ocean floor, becoming the fossils of the future.

500 Years After People

In the Vatican, the frescoes created by Michelangelo is still looking down from the Sistine ceiling. While all the frescoes have faded and cracked from the changing temperature and humidity, "The Last Judgement" faded faster than most others. It was painted from Lapis Lazuli located in Tunisia and it is the most precious and the most delicate colour in the Renaissance Art. Now, high humidity breaks apart the atomic structure, allowing sulfur to mix with oxygen turning the blue to a yellowish-grey. While people tried to clean the frescoes and the maintain the chapel itself, nature is about to crack up the Chapel. Its exterior bracing buttresses fail, initiating a chain reaction around the chapel. Causing the ceiling to crack and crumbles, causing the entire Sistine Chapel to collapse.

10,000 Years After People

The planet is becoming warmer, including in Antarctica. John Anderson analyzed that plant life starts to increase in Ross Island, insects and organism will starts to live and begin to decay anything that left in Antarctica. Shackleton's Hut decayed and disappeared without a trace, even in the coldest area in the world.

100 Million Years After People

The dreams of immortality that man tried to make his mark on the world have been erased. In the end, it is not what people made, but the simple mineral compounds that made people. Bones are now the fossils of time, and these bones are now immortal to the dreams of once man tried to left a permanent mark.

Epilogue

Bones are the final fate of human bodies. Bridges that stretched across rivers and buildings that piled up to the sky, art and architecture, aspiration and achievement, are all just fragments into vegetation.

Transcripts

Life After People Wiki has a transcript for this episode. To see it, click here.

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