How Heavy is Your Soul?

Sean Penn starred in the 2003 mystery/thriller 21 Grams – the measure of a  man’s soul.  Netflix calls it “gritty, dark, emotional.”

Wonder how they came up with the title?

Mary Roach – not a scientist – explores the idea of soul in  Spook: Science Tackles the Afterlife from reincarnation theories to telecommunication – all in the name of scientific studies.

Chapter 3 explains how an early 1900s Massachusetts physician, Dr. MacDougall,  experimented with the idea that if the soul exists, it must have mass.  He thought it would follow that when someone dies, the dead body should weigh less – when the soul leaves the body.

Sure enough, he was able to show that one body – placed on a scale – did lose 21 grams at the moment of death.  His colleagues didn’t give much credibility to the experiment, since only one out of six bodies measured the loss. But the “gram” of an idea started – and the movie got a title.

Roach’s newest book should be just as irreverent and  fun to read – this time exploring Packing for Mars.

Check out her interview with John Stewart…

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