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Boston Weather: 37.0°F | A Few Clouds

Weather: Unexpected Heat

By Dana Levine
EDITOR IN CHIEF -- There is considerable evidence floating around via the web and word of mouth that implies it is possible for a person to burst into flames for no apparent reason. Spontaneous human combustion, as it is called, was invented in the year 1763, when the Frenchman Jonas Dupont published a collection of “studies” on SHC, appropriately entitled De Incendiis Corporis Humani Spontaneis. Apparently, Dupont was inspired to write this book after he encountered a case in which a man was acquitted of the murder of his wife after convincing the court that she had been killed by spontaneous combustion. Since this time, several authors have written about SHC, most notably Charles Dickens in his novel Bleak House.

Despite the fact that SHC is a great way to scare the pants off your kid brother or sister, there is no definitive evidence that it exists. According to The Skeptic’s Dictionary , the possibility of SHC is remote at best. “If the deceased had recently eaten an enormous amount of hay that was infested with bacteria, enough heat might be generated to ignite the hay, but not much besides the gut and intestines would probably burn.” It might be kind of warm and rainy this weekend.

Weekend Outlook:

Today: Mostly cloudy, 69 F (21 C)

Tonight: Mostly cloudy, 53 F (12 C)

Saturday: Partly cloudy, 67 F (19 C)

Sunday: Partly cloudy, 58 F (14 C)