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Soul Weight Detection

How about looking for when that weight is added?
  (+3, -7)
(+3, -7)
  [vote for,

See the links for background information. This Idea attempts to extend something that was mentioned in an annotation to the Idea (first link), and the thing mentioned was linked there, also (see second link).

Now that you may be confused, here's the gist. The second link below describes experiments that have been done with dying people, noting that at the moment of death a small amount of weight disappears. AS IF that person's soul had just left the body.

I mentioned that more experiments needed to be done. This is a proposal for one of them. See, in the Idea linked first below, it was indicated that there exist claims that the soul begins to exist at conception.

Well, these days we have lots of Petri Dishes in special Fertility Clinics, where "in-vitro fertilization" is done almost routinely. It should be a simple matter to put such a dish on a nice sensitive scale, and see if there is a sudden weight gain when the egg gets fertilized.

If not, then one must assume the soul becomes part of the body later on in the development process. That will be a much more complicated thing, to test. You basically have to isolate the pregnant woman for 9 months in a special room on a whole set of special scales, with EVERYTHING entering or leaving that room getting carefully weighed.

Worse, if the soul waits til after birth occurs, then you have to put the entire delivery room on a special scale, tough enough to withstand the weights of doctor(s), nurse(s), and whoever else needs to be there, yet sensitive enough to measure milligrams or less....

Vernon, Jul 24 2011

An Idea involving souls and conception and... Birth_20Control_20Via_20Arrogance
As mentioned in the main text. [Vernon, Jul 24 2011]

http://www.snopes.c...gion/soulweight.asp [rcarty, Jul 24 2011]

His Holiness refutes you thus: http://www.catholic...ia/view.php?id=7718
[mouseposture, Jul 27 2011]

SoulStuff http://www.holistic...cles/SoulStuff.html
As mentioned in an annotation [Vernon, Jul 27 2011]

Good or bad ideas? http://www.linkedin...ODV/857340-16284758
It's pretty much summed up here [Ling, Jul 29 2011]


       A fertilized egg does not weigh 21 grams.
rcarty, Jul 24 2011

       Unthinking extended versus thinking unextended. Extension presumably includes the dimension of mass.
nineteenthly, Jul 24 2011

       There is the POSSIBILITY that the soul also grows, even as a baby-under-construction grows. I don't know why that needs to happen, though; if God makes souls, God can certainly make one that doesn't need to grow in an equivalent-to-physical-growth way. But, should a sort of "soul seed" begin to exist along with the fertilized egg, that's why we need to use a very sensitive scale for that Petri dish. To find out!
Vernon, Jul 24 2011

       //There is the POSSIBILITY that the soul also grows// No there is not.
pocmloc, Jul 24 2011

       we are really screwed.
WcW, Jul 24 2011

       Why not just measure the change in mass of a sample of average humans as they expire, and then kill some lawyers (who have no souls) and weigh them too ?   

       Or maybe just kill the lawyers anyway ...
8th of 7, Jul 24 2011

       The ancient Egyptians already baked this, using a balance scale, the feather of a goose, and a guy with a crocodile on his head.   

       I mean the head of a crocdile. Close enough.
Alterother, Jul 24 2011

       MFD - Bad science.   

       To accurately measure the supposed phenomenon, you would need to isolate the sample from it's environment. Life doesn't do well when prevented from exchanging matter (i.e. mass) with it's environment.   

       I foresee believers claiming that we can't measure it, so we can't disprove it, so it must be true.   

Twizz, Jul 26 2011

       [Twizz], see that second link. People are saying they CAN measure a weight-change that happens at death. I know full well that that experiment needs more replication.   

       However, if it has anything to do with the soul (as claimed), then it logically follows that there must be a weight-increase at some other time during a human life. This experiment is merely about looking for when it happens.   

       IF it happens, then it corroborates the explanation for the original experiments. If it doesn't happen, then a different interpretation of the original experiment is needed, obviously. So, where in here is "bad science"?
Vernon, Jul 26 2011

       // So, where in here is "bad science"? // Maybe the part where you talked about looking for evidence of a soul.
tatterdemalion, Jul 26 2011

       Also it's bad science to not really know what you're measuring. As souls, like god, gods, goddesses, and Eskimos, do not actually have a phenomenological component and are essentially completely imagined to exist, there is nothing to make observations about. even if there is sudden weight gain when the egg is fertilized why would the existence of a soul be the only possible explanation? Surely there are much more probable or equally improbable things that could be imagined that make just as much sense as an immortal soul entering the body. Further, as there is no evidence that souls exist, nor has there ever been and the whole notion is completely imaginary, how can anything be assumed about it? Maybe a soul is like a lighter than air gas that will lift the embryo off the scale making it lighter, and thus heavier when it finally departs in laughter at the inane cruelty of the world to begin an eternity, a billion trillion years and more, of living it up in heaven doing the bible study thing probably still, and just loving knowing there are billions suffering the hell fire because all the charitable deeds on earth to help the suffering was just a robotic religious act, and just loving it.
rcarty, Jul 26 2011

       You might as well try to measure [The Alterother].
Alterother, Jul 26 2011

       [tatterdemalion] and [rcarty], a lot of Science is about investigating CLAIMS. Remember that the results of every original experiment needs to be replicated --the replication experiment is therefore an investigation of claims made about the original experiment.   

       In this case, regardless of whether or not souls are totally nonphysical and in theory should be weightless (but those are also CLAIMS, see?), someone decided to look to find out about one aspect of what happens at death (by doing weight measurements).   

       Regardless of how controversial are the results of that experiment, the results nevertheless constitute CLAIMS that can be put to the replication test. I have not here in this Idea Page indicated what I think about the validity of those claims. I merely described some relevant logic, and suggested another Test.   

       It might be noted that in terms of purely physical biochemistry, the process of egg-fertilization should result in a tiny weight LOSS (on the order of picograms, perhaps), because after a sponteous chemical reaction happens, the resulting compounds usually weigh less than the reactants, and some energy is released, so, in accordance with Einstein's famous equation, a tiny amount of mass needs to be converted to the energy that got released. I think we don't have sensitive-enough scales to measure that, though!   

       Nevertheless, I posted this Idea because, if the CLAIM made earlier on this page by [pocmloc] is true, and if the CLAIM made by various religions is true, about souls beginning to exist at conception, then THAT should be easily Testable --and, yes, I do expect one of those two claims to be falsified, although likely more Tests would be needed to ultimately determine which.
Vernon, Jul 26 2011

       That's fine I don't think the idea should be deleted. And I voted in favor of it. However, my point is that since there is absolutely no phenomena to provide even the slightest indication what the soul might be, testing for it by weight will not prove or disprove its existence. Science is best at explaining some sort of phenomena, not finding phenomena to prove claims. That's absolutely absurd. If I say something called a unomen is only around when nobody is looking because it is repelled by detection, you can try to prove or disprove the claim by trying to catch one in a box by not looking at it then measuring the difference after you look into it, but because I completely made unomen up right now and there is no actual phenomena to explain to begin with the test isn't actually for unomen. Even if you detected a change in the box this still couldn't be attributed to unomen, but what you would have is an unexplained phenomenon. Eventually by studying the phenomena, adjusting variables and that sort of thing, something can be said about its nature. Remember the oldest mistake people made was to attribute phenomena to the work of spirits. This experiment starts with the claim that there are spirits, and then tries to find a new phenomena to prove that there are spirits.
rcarty, Jul 26 2011

       You could almost call this wight-weight detection; presumably, possession of a soul is a necessary and sufficient condition for being a wight.
spidermother, Jul 27 2011

       Attempts to replicate this particular claim have determined that the human body loses approximately 21 grams at death...   

       In the form of urine and feces that is released when the bowel muscles relax.   

       I trust that even the most casually spiritual individuals will find it somewhat offensive if you claim that the soul is composed of a human's last crap.   

       Even assuming that such a logical jump is correct, you will find yourself somewhat hard pressed to determine WHAT mass increase represents the original point at which a human body takes in the mass of it's last crap.
ye_river_xiv, Jul 27 2011

       The tests in the link took crap and the evaporation from crap into account.   

       If you die in space is your soul unable to leave?   

       Objects with no mass travel at the velocity of light. The soul travels at the velocity of a camel. Therefore the soul has a mass or is not an object.
nineteenthly, Jul 27 2011

       [Vernon] Could you be more clear re: who or what is the target of this reductio ad absurdum? It seems a bit of a straw man. Does any religion include souls, yet adopt a philosophical position of materialism? Apparently, some religious apologists around the turn of the last century attempted to do so, but their ideas don't seem to have gained much traction with either theologians or physicists.   

mouseposture, Jul 27 2011

       //one must assume the soul becomes part of the body later on//

Well quite. I acquired my soul not long after I ate a particularly delicious cream cake. There can be no other reason for my subsequent weight gain...surely?
DrBob, Jul 27 2011

       Praise the Lard !
8th of 7, Jul 27 2011

       [mouseposture], a number of years ago I posted a speculation here about the nature of souls, and it was deleted from the HalfBakery for being too theoretical. However, I managed to save it elsewhere (see SoulStuff link) and you are welcome to read it.   

       A peculiarity of that hypothesis is that souls could be sort of semi-physical, not entirely non-physical, that is. Which COULD perhaps be associated with some measure-able mass.
Vernon, Jul 27 2011

       Neutrinos ?
8th of 7, Jul 27 2011

       Dark matter?
RayfordSteele, Jul 27 2011

       Anything with density has mass.
Wrongfellow, Jul 27 2011

       Some dense people are not religious at all.
pocmloc, Jul 27 2011

       //Dark matter// Gene Wolfe wrote a rather somber short story on that very hypothesis. Come to think of it, he may be an example of a Catholic Materialist.   

       //Anything with density has mass// Many lightweight intellects are extremely dense.
mouseposture, Jul 27 2011

       The "material" I proposed for souls is a strange thing from Quantum Mechanics known as "virtual particles in the vacuum". These particle pop into TEMPORARY existence and quickly vanish again, from and back-into sheer Nothingness. However, WHILE they exist they are fully equivalent to ordinary particles such as electrons, protons, etcetera, AND they are able to interact with each other.   

       It is that last thing which opens the possibility for a strange kind of "dynamic stability", a kind of "organization" of virtual particles in which, as any one of them vanishes, a new one appears to take its place. If such an organization could exist at all, then Evolution can operate on it, over the long long term, leading eventually to complex organisms such as souls.   

       Well, while every single particle in such an organism is not allowed to be detected even in theory by the rules of Quantum Mechanics, the OVERALL organization will have something that might be called "binding energy", and THAT should be be associated with some measurable mass.....
Vernon, Jul 28 2011

       // I don't think the idea should be deleted //   

       With rare exception, I don't think any ideas should be deleted. Even bad ideas can have unexpected worth.   

       Kind of like souls...
Alterother, Jul 28 2011

       no, lets let the bad ideas laze about, making your brain late for work, eating all the good junk food, distracting your kids from learning, selling you shit you don't need, hurting you without apology, yeah, lets let them stay! bad ideas deserve to stay, but not in the homes of good ideas. they deserve to live as transients until they can prove their worth in some way. bad people can change, bad ideas cannot.
WcW, Jul 28 2011

       ...bad ideas have a soul, too!
xandram, Jul 28 2011

       I kind of meant that sometimes good ideas spring from the discussion of bad ideas, both here and elsewhere. Also, some bad ideas, like National Socialism, should never be forgotten, lest somebody try them again.
Alterother, Jul 28 2011

       [WcW], a bad Idea can have educational value in the sense of, "that was thought of and it didn't work out" --meaning nobody need waste time on re-developing that Idea (if it was deleted) or further-extending that Idea. All existing Ideas can be catogorized, whether they are good or bad.   

       The proved-bad Ideas can be categorized as "Ignore", see? But first, of course, they should be actually proved bad. Some, such as Cold Fusion, need to stay in the "needs more experimental testing" category, until the final conclusion can be reached.
Vernon, Jul 28 2011

       I'm simply suggesting that we apply judgment to what ideas are good and bad. We needn't do any harm to bad ideas, only that we should always pressure them to show some usefulness. A worthless bad idea deserves to be flogged every time we see it.
WcW, Jul 29 2011

       Soul is what makes people strap explosives to themselves and set them off.   

       The people who postulate the existence of the soul would have said somewhere that it is intangible, ie, without any property that can be physically measured.
neelandan, Jul 29 2011

       // we should always pressure them to show some usefulness //   

       On this I absolutely concur. A bad idea should always be taken just as far as it can go.
Alterother, Jul 29 2011

       The Democratic Party has had that as its guiding principle since its inception.
8th of 7, Jul 29 2011

       I think there's an argument for viewing the soul as a linguistic construct towards an abstract entity like a Platonic form rather than something dualistic.
nineteenthly, Jul 29 2011

       After nearly a decade in this place, and despite much lurking these days, I love how it is still easy to identify a [Vernon] idea after reading the first sentence.
kaz, Jul 29 2011


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