Yesterday's airplane crash in Toronto reminded me of something I read on a web a few months back: according to some expert or other, five-point harnesses in airplanes wouldn't do much good very often, since many plane crashes occur at such speed that even if the harness decelerates you safely, the inertia acting upon your internal organs could rip your heart, lungs, etc. out of place, ripping your insides loose from their moorings.
What a ghastly thought. I'd never considered it before, but of course it makes sense. Human beings are not solid masses of undifferentiated tissue, but interlocking systems of bone, muscle and other gooey bits.
When I was a teenager, I came up with an idea I thought was really cool: a big rubber ball, solid except for a crawlspace and just enough room for a person to stand up inside, completely engulfed by rubber. (I hadn't considered the problem of how to breathe.) I reasoned that a person inside a solid rubber ball could be rolled off a cliff of any height and be just fine, bouncing off the bottom gleefully, completely safe from harm. But I guess if the impact speed was high enough, you could wind up smashing your heart against your ribcage.