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Is it possible to weigh the human soul ?


Posted on Friday, 6 November, 2015 | Comment icon 110 comments

Do we have a soul that leaves our body upon death ? Image Credit: Louis Janmot
At the beginning of the 20th century a doctor in Massachusetts attempted to weigh patients as they died.
The idea that humans possess a soul and that this spiritual essence leaves the body upon death is something that has remained a major part of spiritual beliefs and practices for thousands of years.

Back in 1907 a doctor by the name of Duncan MacDougall ran a series of unusual experiments in which he attempted to capture actual hard evidence of the human soul leaving the body.

To do this he built a special bed containing a sensitive set of scales and convinced terminally ill patients to lie on it during their final moments of life so that he could measure the loss of weight.

After taking careful measurements and by factoring out explainable changes in weight such as the release of bodily fluids he ultimately concluded that the human soul weighed 21 grams.

He followed this up with a further experiment in 1911 in which he attempted to actually photograph the soul at the moment it left the body. Unsure if it was even possible he persevered and eventually photographed "a light resembling that of the interstellar ether" around several of his patient's heads.

Unsurprisingly MacDougall's work met with a significant degree of criticism from his peers and while he did receive some support he was widely chastised with his work being branded "a farce".

Nowadays his work remains deeply buried within the annals of history, but the question of the soul and what happens to us after death remains just as mysterious now as it was over 100 years ago.

Source: Discovery Magazine | Comments (110)

Tags: Soul, Death

Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #101 Posted by Hawkins on 7 January, 2016, 17:59
We can hardly know the nature of a soul as it doesn't seem to reside in our physical realm. My theory is that it resides in an 'adjacent' space while overlapping with our body in terms of functioning. So when one dies, he will find himself (his soul) in another space automatically. It is a space only one's soul (but not our physical senses) can perceive. Actually one can be put to a status for him to 'see' both realms. That's when one's soul is 'pulled' to a position where you soul is not fully 'combined' well with your body. In a similar status, you may perceive it as 'the heaven being opened... [More]
Comment icon #102 Posted by davros of skaro on 7 January, 2016, 22:50
We can hardly know the nature of a soul as it doesn't seem to reside in our physical realm. My theory is that it resides in an 'adjacent' space while overlapping with our body in terms of functioning. So when one dies, he will find himself (his soul) in another space automatically. It is a space only one's soul (but not our physical senses) can perceive. Actually one can be put to a status for him to 'see' both realms. That's when one's soul is 'pulled' to a position where you soul is not fully 'combined' well with your body. In a similar status, you may perceive it as 'the heaven being opened... [More]
Comment icon #103 Posted by robinrenee on 8 January, 2016, 2:49
Scientists do know where memories are stored. The mouse model is an appropriate model for understanding many issues dealing with human brains. Here are some links to labs and articles from those labs http://memorylab.uch...u/research.html Hwang, D.Y., Gallo, D.A., Ally, B.A., Black, P.M., Schacter, D.L., & Budson, A.E. (2007). Diagnostic retrieval monitoring in patients with frontal lobe lesions: Further exploration of the distinctiveness heuristic. Neuropsychologia, 45, 2543-2552. McDonough, I.M. & Gallo, D.A.(2010). Separating past and future autobiographical events in memory: Eviden... [More]
Comment icon #104 Posted by Darkenpath25 on 22 March, 2016, 20:19
I would hope not at least leave us something that is ours without someone probing taking it apart then announcing it to the world
Comment icon #105 Posted by Gigmaster on 28 March, 2016, 4:17
Possible, but very unlikely, as there is no criteria established as to what would constitute the 'soul'.
Comment icon #106 Posted by psyche101 on 29 March, 2016, 2:10
21...... I am not going to go research again ( anyone can ). A experiment was done, and yes, 21 grahams ( or whatever it was ) happened. But............ Part of this was also done with dogs. There was no difference with dogs. See, Dogs do not perspire, or lose weight from perspiring. People do. Part of death involves this, and it was answered quite well. No, the soul ( if we have one ) does not have a weight. And even the 21 grams result is rather embellished...... But when you look more closely at his scientific work, you see large problems. Firstly, six (as in the six dying patients) is not ... [More]
Comment icon #107 Posted by psyche101 on 29 March, 2016, 2:25
Not so clear as you assume. Your references were psychology. That's not really hard science. The articles that I had in mind were by neuroscientists and surgeons using deep brain stimulation with electrodes. Here's one article for example. They indeed started the probes in the area of the hippocampus, but found the memory pathways going past that region of the brain. http://www.cnn.com/2...mplants-humans/ That's just one instance. I've seen many similar articles in the past few decades since surgeons started probing the brain for memories. The central nervous system and the organic brain are c... [More]
Comment icon #108 Posted by Habitat on 29 March, 2016, 4:41
. By triggering a small cluster of neurons, the researchers were able to force the subject to recall a specific memory. By removing these neurons, the subject would lose that memory. Who needs water-boarding, then !
Comment icon #109 Posted by psyche101 on 29 March, 2016, 4:47
Who needs water-boarding, then ! If a memory can be recalled, it still has to be offered. But otherwise...... Me.
Comment icon #110 Posted by Mr Walker on 29 March, 2016, 6:27
The Bahai Faith is just wrong on that one, like relgion in general. LINK - MIT discovers the location of memories: Individual neurons MIT researchers have shown, for the first time ever, that memories are stored in specific brain cells. By triggering a small cluster of neurons, the researchers were able to force the subject to recall a specific memory. By removing these neurons, the subject would lose that memory. Not only that, they have implanted false memories in chimpanzees. The idea is, particularity, to treat post traumatic stress by identifying and removing the traumatic memories and ev... [More]


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