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Science Investigates at the Edge

Is a acupuncture just a placebo? Scientists think it may convince people that it's making them better?so it does. They can't figure out how else it could work. In the recent movie "21 Grams," a narrator says that people who have been weighed just before and after death have been found to have lost 21 grams (less than an ounce), so that must be the weight of the soul. Where did this idea come from?and is it true?

Researcher Peter White has found that acupuncture works better if there?s a good relationship between the patient and the practitioner, and this may help effect a cure. He says, "To some extent, modern based medicine has failed to value this individual and very personal interaction between patient and therapist. Perhaps complementary and alternative medicine treatments can present a valuable model design through which we may understand this process."

According to ancient Chinese medicine, acupuncture works by diverting energy channels that flow through the body, but White says there's no evidence to support this theory. However, there is evidence that it releases serotonin in the body, which regulates moods, and endorphins, which are the body's natural painkillers. This means it may be able to cure the symptoms, although maybe not the disease.

Erika Niedowski writes in the Baltimore Sun that the concept of soul weight was first put forth in 1907 by Dr. Duncan MacDougall, who believed that if there is a soul, it must be possible to measure it. He put six terminally-ill patients on a specially designed bed that was built on a scale and weighed them as they died. "The patient's comfort was looked after in every way, although he was practically moribund when placed upon the bed," MacDougall wrote. "He lost weight slowly at the rate of one ounce per hour due to evaporation of moisture in respiration and evaporation of sweat. "?At the end of the three hours and forty minutes, he expired and suddenly coincident with death the beam end [of the scale] dropped with an audible stroke, hitting against the lower limiting bar and remaining there with no rebound. The loss was ascertained to be three-fourths of an ounce."

MacDougall said there wasn't time for the weight loss to come from evaporating moisture from sweat or urine, and it didn't come from the loss of air in the lungs, because he tested exhaling and inhaling while lying on the bed and this didn't affect the scale. He wrote, "Is it the soul substance? How other shall we explain [the weight loss]?" But he added, "I am aware that a large number of experiments would require to be made before the matter can be proved beyond any possibility of error."

Ronn Wade, of the Maryland Anatomy Board, says, "It's one of those metaphysical questions that hard science doesn't have an answer to." Although MacDougall's tests have never been repeated, Wade questions how he could determine the exact moment of death, because doctors now acknowledge several different kinds: physical death, brain death, cellular death and legal death, and these definitions vary from state to state. This is a special concern for Wade, who oversees organ donations.

Is contacting the dead real? And if some people really are mediums, can you learn how to do it?

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