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The Curious Science of Warfare

Full episode of NPR's 'Fresh Air' featuring author Mary Roach

Science By
January 9, 2013 - Security force team members for Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) Farah wait for a UH-60 Blackhawk medevac helicopter to land before moving a simulated casualty during medical evacuation training on FOB Farah, Afghanistan. http://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2016/05/31/480146514/from-medical-maggots-to-stench-soup-grunt-explores-the-science-of-warfare
(Stocktrek Images)

In her book Grunt, on the stranger side of science that helps keep our soldiers alive on the battlefield, author Mary Roach delves into a world that would make most of us squeamish. Here’s her discussing maggots in World War I:

“Initially there was that revulsion of, ‘Oh my God we’ve got to clean [the maggots] out [of the wounds].’ And they did clean them out, and then what he saw was this beautiful pink, new, fresh tissue that had grown in.

The maggots had been impressively effective at debriding the wound—that is, eating the dead tissue—which is important in wound healing. You want to let the fresh tissue have a chance to grow. The dead tissue doesn’t get blood, it doesn’t heal. It stands in the way of healing.”

Listen to the full conversation below: