Special Report: DeathLab working to create burials of the future


(CBS/WKRG) — More than 500,000 people are buried in Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn, NY, but it’s reaching capacity.

“Five years ago I said five years but now but now we are really there down to the last three to five years,” said Richard Moylan, president of Green-Wood Cemetery.

Moylan and others who run cemeteries around the country are looking for alternatives to a traditional burial.

Researchers at Columbia University are literally thinking outside the box.  Karla Rothstein, founder of the school’s Death Lab, envisions placing remains in reusable glowing vessels creating a “Constellation Park.” Natural chemical reactions from decomposing remains create energy, powering the glow for up to a year, according to Rothstein.

“The light will slowly brighten and dim at the conclusion of the disposition process, at which point there will be a small amount of inorganic remains. Those remains can be collected and given to the family,” Rothstein told CBS News.

After the light fades, Rothstein says the vessel will stay in place and be reused.  The idea is to install the tributes in parks and other public places, including cemeteries.

The Death Lab has funding behind its project, but researchers admit it could be years before a working prototype is built.

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