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A soul of 21 grams?

oonah

oonah

Germany

A soul of 21 grams?


Totally fascinated by the idea people lose 21 grams on their moment of death like in the movie "21 Grams" with Sean Penn (2003), I started researching.

 

I found the following:

The year 1907: Dr. Duncan MacDougall creates a scale with a bed that measures the weight of the person on it. He weighed 6 terminal ill patients who died on the scale-bed. On the moment of their deaths he observed a decrease of weight. The first person lost 21,3 grams. Not every person lost the same amount, there was difference among them. He than took the test with 15 dogs, here he didn't observe any decrease of weight. MacDougal was a very religious man, and for him this proved people have a soul and dogs don't and that the soul leaves the body when someone dies.
There was an article in the "American medicine" and the "New York Times",  but the medical world of those days was already very critical. MacDougall never conducted any further testing. He dies in 1920. (Not on a scale, hehe)

Those are the facts, that's all I could find. Altho I think its fascinating, I'm not overwhelmed by the experiment, 6 persons is not much. But it's a nice riddle and I love riddles.

It is a strange idea to me, that even if I go by the point of view that something like a "soul" exists, that it would have a weight. But ok, let's say there is a soul of +/- 21 grams, would it have mass? If that would be the case I think they would have discovered it a long time ago during some dissection. If you can weigh a soul, can it be measured in any other way? A gas or a fluid would leave an empty space…
21 grams seems a lot… when I'm cooking and I have to add 21 grams of butter…well, that's a big chunk of butter… and that is a very solid mass.

Let me see, it can't be the loss of urine or another fluid because the six people were laying on a bed, so you would still measure that with the scale.
Than I thought, maybe its air, "the last breath" or something like that. But you would need to have 16 Liters air in your longs to lose 21 grams, so can't be that. (air + water vapor weighs +/- 1,3g/L ) It makes a difference of a few grams if the longs are full or empty.

Can you trust a scale from 1907 to be accurate? Did they all have the same posture? Maybe a fat person loses more, or a baby very little, that would indicate a physical cause.
I didn't find what condition the people suffered from, they were all terminal ill, because they die quietly and he didn't want them to move to much, that would influence the measurement. Did they all have the same disease? Would that have anything to do with it?
Strange that no one else did these tests, but I guess it was easier to get test persons those days, I don't know if people now would be happy when you ask if you can weigh their loved one on his deathbed.


Only theory I came up with is the following:

People lose 21 grams, dogs don't. A difference of 21 grams between a man and a dog. Where do men and dogs differ? It's in the brain, right? What is the weight of a brain? For an adult person that is between 1300 and 1400 grams, for a baby that is 350 – 400 grams. Our brain is 2% of our total body weight.

brain of an elephant = 6000 g
brain of a chimpanzee = 420 g
brain of a beagle dog = 72 g
brain of a cat = 30 g
brain of a rat = 2 g

When you die, your braincells die. With dementia a portion of the brain shrinks. With diseases like Alzheimer and Parkinson, parts of the brain die, on picture the brain looks much smaller than, so it has to weigh less I think. It seems not entirely impossible to me, that the 21 grams can be found in the braincells that die. There is such a big difference in size between the brain of a man and the brain of a dog, that it is possible that the decrease in weight of the dog's brain couldn't be measured accurately with the scale of 1907. 21 grams is 1,5% of the human brain. 1,5% of a dog's brain is only 1,08 grams.

I have no idea what so ever on the difference in weight between a living and a dead brain, but this is the only thing I came up with, going to stop too, before I want to weigh dying little animals, LoL.


I always found the idea that humans have a soul but animals do not a bit arrogant btw.

 

01:22 PM Sep 22 2008 |

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mike_gwen

mike_gwen

Indonesia

I think it’s not about the brain or what. It’s a matter of sin. Human commited sins in his life but not dog. So I believe the lost weight is the weight of sin. LoL

03:26 PM Sep 22 2008 |

jean___michel

Brazil

nice topic… I will watch that movie!!!!

I've heard about it, but I need to read more about that to discuss… I like this kind of topic.

Mike, I have a question to u…

If ist he weight of the sin, where is the weight of the good things we do in life?

oonah, do u know if the actual doctors are making this kind of work?

Why is the doctors not doing it in this moment if the tecnology and the knowledgement grew since Duncan macDougall???

See u all!

06:20 PM Sep 22 2008 |

mike_gwen

mike_gwen

Indonesia

Jean, that’s just my wild thought but we can also discuss it down.
Human committed good deeds and sins in his life. There’s just only weight of sin left because the number of his sins is greater than his good deeds. I don’t know. But if I reflected to myself, I’d commited lots of sins than good deeds. So then I come up with that concept.

06:49 PM Sep 22 2008 |

oonah

oonah

Germany

oonah, do u know if the actual doctors are making this kind of work? Why is the doctors not doing it in this moment if the tecnology and the knowledgement grew since Duncan macDougall???

I don't know, I couldn't find any more on this subject than I already wrote in my post. But since the test has to be done at the moment of death, maybe its an ethical problem?

 

I got this one theory of the braincells dying, I'd like to see if anyone else comes up with an idea.

:)

08:50 PM Sep 22 2008 |

oonah

oonah

Germany

I think it’s not about the brain or what. It’s a matter of sin. Human commited sins in his life but not dog. So I believe the lost weight is the weight of sin. LoL

I'm sure all your sins can weigh havely on your shoulders but I doubt they weigh 21 grams. :)

08:52 PM Sep 22 2008 |

tomjan

tomjan

Poland

>Totally fascinated by the idea people lose 21 grams

>The year 1907: Dr. Duncan MacDougall creates a scale

 

hymmm…. , the thought which my mind brings me in this matter is: "big hoax".

 

 (But I need to emphasise that my mind is under huge intoxication (i'm opening another bottle of wine) and is not as clever as usually (today is my name-day. In that day (after kids get sleep) I release my 'leash' and drink a lot as I did it in bad old times…) )

 

 >It’s a matter of sin

 Cool

 

 >If ist he weight of the sin, where is the weight

>of the good things we do in life?

CoolCoolCool

 

I will back soon here,

today 'foggy' tom 

 

09:05 PM Sep 22 2008 |

worldmikel

worldmikel

United States

The concept of someone losing weight when they die is counter-intuitive. They always speak of things being heavier when they are "dead weight". 

09:16 PM Sep 22 2008 |

gkisseberth

Colombia

MacDougal was a very religious man, and for him this proved people have a soul and dogs don't and that the soul leaves the body when someone dies.

 

I bolded the bit that I think is very important, here. Not to mention that his methodology was suspect, his measuring tools inadequate and his sample size too small to be of any usefulness (of the 6 samples, 2 had to be discarded. The experiment has never been recreated or tested and I personally feel confident he was maybe, just maybe a little biased towards finding the confirmation he sought. 

 

Did you know that when you open a Coke Zero (12 ounce can—that's what Jesus drinks) it becomes exactly 21 micrograms lighter. That's not CO2 gas, it's the Holy Spirit.

 

 

11:54 PM Sep 22 2008 |

tomjan

tomjan

Poland

Hello I'm back (detoxicated today = with 'fresh' mind)

>his methodology was suspect, his measuring tools
>inadequate and his sample size too small
>to be of any usefulness (of the 6 samples

I don't agree with that.
When we deal with quantitative traits like for example: "leaf or tail length" (when we must measure mean & standard deviation in population & construct statistical hypotheses) the size of sample equal 6 is really too small. But I think in this case we deal with qualitative trait which we measure like 0 or 1. I mean there is soul or there is no soul. In such case, sample of 6 is enough.

(but maybe there is some statistician here?he could help explain.)

because I don't like when someone only criticize research, I have propositions: let's all together determine assumptions & conditions for this experiment. It helps do not repeat faults which Dr. Duncan MacDougall did one hundred years ago.

hypotheses:

1. there is soul

assumptions:

1. sample of 6 is enough
2. not each one human creature has soul
3. animals also could have soul

conditions:
1. use very precise scales.
2. use at least 6 person : one man, one woman, one Christian, one Muslim, one Hindu (feel free to use another religions), one criminal , one saint (feel free to use another type of character), one white, one black, one yellow, one red, (if you have possibility use one green too – I mean alien)

3. use animals also: one gorilla, one orangutan, one dolphin, one dog, one mouse (use also one reptile, amphibian, bird & insect – but it is not necessary.)
4. use huge glass box. put dying individual into box and close it tightly.
5. repeat measurements many times before and after death.

tom

06:42 AM Sep 23 2008 |

oonah

oonah

Germany

he was maybe, just maybe a little biased towards finding the confirmation he sought. 

 

yes, of course he was, religion tends to do that with people.
I don't think we have souls but maybe we do lose weight for some physical reason when we die. We lose gas and fluids to. Its strange nobody performed more tests. 

I'm curious… Maybe I can catch some frogs…

 

I was hoping there were some medical people here that knew if we lose weight or not. :)

 

06:54 AM Sep 23 2008 |