Monday, February 20, 2017
Weight of the Human Soul is 21 grams
A rare experiment had been conducted on April 10, 1901 in Dorchester, Massachusetts by Dr Duncan MacDougall to prove that the human soul had mass and hence could be measured. Dr MacDougall a respected physician of Haverhill as well as the head of the Research Society had been performing work in this field for around six years before the experiment.
Though his experiment presently would be taken as unethical, it tends to be a peculiarity with plenty of disapproval ranging from methodology utilised in different religious implication. Dr MacDougall performed this experiment on six dying patients who had been placed on specially provided Fairbanks weight scales just before their death. His purpose was to weigh each body before and after death in order to determine any differences by the delicate scales.
The patients had been selected depending of their looming death. Two of the patients had been suffering from tuberculosis, one was a woman and 5 were men. Together with a team of four doctors, Dr MacDougall measured the weight of his first patient cautiously before his death. When the patient died he noticed an interesting thing. He observed that suddenly, coincident with death, the beam end dropped with an audible stroke hitting against the lower limiting bar and remaining there with no rebound.
Loss – Ascertained to Three-Fourths of an Ounce
The loss had been ascertained to be three-fourths of an ounce. The experiment was also conducted on the next patient with the same results. Dr MacDougall sensed that had struck something strange. The following is a quote from the New York Times articles of 11 March 1907 capturing the historical moment : `The instant life ceased the opposite scale pan fell with a suddenness that was astonishing – as if something had been suddenly lifted from the body.
Immediately all the usual deductions were made for physical loss of weight and it was discovered that there was still a full ounce of weight unaccounted for’.Each of the five doctors had taken their own measurements, comparing their results. Though all the patients had not lost the same weight, they did lose something which could be accounted. The results of only four of the six patients could be accounted for owing to mechanical failures or the patients dying before the test equipment were in place.
Consistent Weight Loss - Query
However the consistent weight loss posed a query. Everything from the air in the lungs to bodily fluids had been taken in consideration but there did not seem to be any explanation to this query. However on the third patient, an interesting variation took place, who had maintained the same weight immediately after his death though one minute thereafter he had lost around an ounce of weight.
Dr MacDougall had clarified this discrepancy as - `I believe that in this case, that a phlegmatic man slow of though and action, that the soul remained suspended in the body after death, during the minute that elapsed before its freedom. There is no other way of accounting for it and it is what might be expected to happen in a man of the subject’s temperament’.
After the experiment and in consultation with the other members of the team, it had been certain that the average weight loss of a person was three-fourth of an ounce and the conclusion drawn by Dr MacDougall was that a human soul weighed 21 grams.
by Rajkumar R