It sounds like one of the worst fates imaginable, but it turns out the dangers of falling into quicksand have been greatly exaggerated.
Most people assume that being sucked into this dangerous substance would result in a slow, lingering death.
But it’s actually highly unlikely that plunging into quicksand would kill you directly, according to a new book called ‘And Then You’re Dead: A Scientific Exploration Of The World’s Most Interesting Way to Die‘ by Cody Cassidy and Paul Doherty.
This cheery little tome features 45 short chapters which discuss various ways to die, ranging from being eaten by a whale to getting fired from a cannon – which both sound like nasty ways to go.
Quicksand, on the other hand, isn’t anywhere near as bad as you’d think.
This unique type of sand forms when sand mixes with water to form a very fine material which looks solid but collapses if you step on it.
However, anyone who plunges into quicksand will probably only be covered up to their waist, because the sand is actually denser than the human body.
Once half your body has been sucked in, you will start to float.
You may sink if you become too agitated and start moving about quickly or frantically.
Yet if you remain perfectly still, the sand won’t kill you, although you might end up dying of exposure or could even end up being eaten by an animal.
It’s not clear whether you’d prefer ending up as a landlubbing creature’s dinner or going full Jonah and being swallowed by a whale.
Sadly, people don’t actually end up living a life of ease within a whale’s tummy.
If you get swallowed by one of these marine giants, you will be squished by the movements of its stomach muscles and sizzled by acid – which is certainly not a very pleasant way to go.
The book also debunks the idea that a penny dropped from a tall building will leave a gigantic hole in your head, which isn’t true.
If you’re hit by a falling one pence piece, you’d feel a slight sting but that’s about it.
Being fired from a cannon, on the other hand, is much nastier. If you were to be blasted out of a military gun the process of accelerating from 0 to 3,800 mph in just 1/100th of a second would turn you into ‘a small cylinder of reddish water with a thin scum of crushed bone and flesh’.
The book also tells the fascinating story of a man who decided to find out which parts of body are the worst places to be stung by a bee – by letting himself get stung in some pretty nasty places.
He said the inside of the nose was the most painful, followed by the upper lip and genitals.
Frankly, getting high by a mile-wide asteroid sounds much more pleasant, because the pressure and heat generated by the space rock would turn you into a lump of coal long before it smashed into you.
So what does the book teach you about the various ways of ending your existence?
Spoiler: it’s definitely best to avoid dying if you can possibly manage it.