• An American Doctor Conducts Experiments  in 1901 to find out if there exists, a ‘Soul’
  • He figured that the only way to find out if they exist was to be able to weigh them.
  • The only way he thought he could do so was by closely watching people dying.
  • Doctor claims that the Human soul weighs 21 grams.
  • The Question was, did his experiment actually prove the existence of the Soul?


What is the Soul?

What is the Soul? The Oxford dictionary describes the ‘Soul’ as, ‘The spiritual or immaterial part of a human being or animal, regarded as immortal.’ Soul, though called by different names in different languages and by different religions, the concept remains the same to all.

What do some religions define the Soul as?

The Holy bible describes the Soul as the breath of God that makes the lifeless dust a “living being” person.

Islam describes Soul (spirit) or Ruh as immortal and eternal, and that what a person does is recorded and will be judged at the final court of God.

Atman in Hinduism is a Sanskrit word that means the inner self which is the true self of an individual beyond identification with phenomena, the essence of an individual.

Most of us believe in the idea of the Soul and want to believe that there is something more than just our body and mind that connects us to the higher divinity of God. Though most people differ on what happens to the Soul after a person dies, the common thread of agreement amongst everyone is the very existence of the Soul itself.

The Soul is defined by almost all religions as an immortal entity that cannot be seen by us lesser mortals nor be destroyed. So, what is the soul and what is it made of?

The Doctors experiment to measure the soul

This question troubled an American doctor, Dr. Duncan MacDougall, who in the year 1901 conducted certain experiments to find out if souls exist. The experiments were unorthodox in nature and invited a lot of criticisms from fellow doctors, scientists as well as the general public.

The method used by the doctor to measure the soul

The American doctor conducted experiments to measure the weight lost by a human when the soul left the body at death. As part of this experiment, he attempted to measure the weight change of six patients at the moment of their death.

The six patients that Dr. Duncan MacDougall chose to experiment on were in their last stages of life, dying from tuberculosis at an old age home. Since it was easy for him to determine death as the forgone conclusion for these patients, and that it was just a matter of time, he placed their beds on giant industrial weighing scales that gave sensitive readings to the nearest grams.

He then weighed the six patients when they were alive and then just waited, waited till they died. He then weighed the dead patients again and discovered that in four of the six cases there was unaccounted loss of weight amounting to ’21 grams’ at the time of their death. He thus concluded that the Human soul weighed 21 grams and furthermore, the very existence of the human soul.

But were his results and claims true?

A physician named Augustus P. Clark called out on Dr. Duncan MacDougall flawed experiment pointing out that at the moment of the patient’s death, their lungs stopped cooling their blood, causing their body’s temperature to rise a bit, which in turn made their skin sweat, thus accounting for the missing 21 grams.

The doctor even experimented this on dogs

The American doctor tried the same experiments with 15 dogs and found no change in their weight at the time of their death. He thus concluded that dogs do not have a soul. The controversy erupted when the doctor happened to mention that it was difficult for him to find dogs that were dying of natural causes thus triggering suspicions and charges against him for killing the dogs just for his experiments.

Photographing the soul

The furore and din soon died down for a while with the doctor managing to get a few supporters to his theory. All remained quite till he announced that he will next photograph the soul as it leaves the body. Though he did expressed concerns about the souls getting agitated if photographed, he none the less still went ahead with his experiment.

He did claim of photographing some sort of Light resembling that of the ‘interstellar ether’ (matter like dust and cosmic rays) leaving the skulls at the moment of death but there were no takers for this theory of his. The doctor himself died in 1920 leaving behind as his legacy, the only instance in the history of Modern science of attempting to weigh the soul.

Now whether the soul does have shape or weight is a topic for the twilight zone but it does make one curious of what exactly is the soul beyond what our religious texts tell us. Can we scientifically prove the existence of the soul?