Dr. Duncan MacDougall believed that if there's a soul that exists separately from our brains and bodies, then it has to take up physical space and have weight, and this can be measured. The way to find out is to weigh a person shortly before and after death. According science, space-occupying material can be classified into solids, liquids or gases, which are all affected by gravity. MacDougall thought the soul may belong to a new category?one which we're not aware of.
He began testing his theory in 1907. He said, "My first subject was a man dying of tuberculosis?The patient was under observation for three hours and forty minutes before death, lying on a bed arranged on a light framework built upon very delicately balanced platform beam scales.
"The patient's comfort was looked after in every way, although he was practically moribund when placed upon the bed. 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 three hours and forty minutes he expired and suddenly coincident with death the beam end 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.
"This loss of weight could not be due to evaporation of respiratory moisture and sweat, because that had already been determined to go on, in his case, at the rate of one sixtieth of an ounce per minute, whereas this loss was sudden and large, three-fourths of an ounce in a few seconds.
"?My second patient was a man moribund from tuberculosis. He was on the bed about four hours and fifteen minutes under observation before death?The weight lost was found to be half an ounce?My third case, a man dying of tuberculosis, showed a weight of half an ounce lost, coincident with death, and an additional loss of one ounce a few minutes later." In his next case, "A man dying of tuberculosis showed a distinct drop in the beam requiring about three-eighths of an ounce which could not be accounted for."
When he did the same experiments with dying dogs, he found no weight loss. MacDougall said, "The net result of the experiments conducted on human beings, is that a loss of substance occurs at death not accounted for by known channels of loss. Is it the soul substance? It would seem to me to be so?We have experimental demonstration that a substance capable of being weighed does leave the human body at death."
Can we communicate with the dead? Some scientists think we can.
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