IN 1907, NIKOLA TESLA CONSIDERED THE STATEMENT MADE BY MACDOUGALL AND FIVE BOSTON PHYSICIANS TOO ABSURD FOR DISCUSSION:
“That an aggregation of impressions, thoughts and feelings having no materiality, and vaguely designated as mind, or soul, should be substance susceptible of quantitative determination is altogether too absurd for discussion.
“The change however, which takes place in the human body during its awful transition from life to death is a great subject for scientific investigation which may possibly lead to important results. If the experiments of Massachusetts physicians are to be at all seriously considered, it is only in this respect.
“I could not help being struck by the fact that men of a scientific caliber sufficiently large to undertake measurements requiring the greatest delicacy and skill, should not be correspondingly resourceful in devising the apparatus for the purpose. A scale responding to the weight of one tenth of an ounce is not a fit instrument for weighing the human soul.
“It is not less astonishing that such trained observer should have overlooked a trivial cause responsible for the seeming lightening of the body. I use this term designedly, for accepting the exudations which have been taken into consideration there was no loss of substance in death.
“When the rigor mortis sets in there is an increase of volume for various reasons. Just to give a rough idea I shall assume that the living body, weighing a hundred and sixty pounds, had filled a space of three cubic feet. The air in a sick room may weigh about fourteen ounces per cubic feet. Half an ounce of the air would consequently occupy a space of sixty-two cubic inches, and that would be only one percent of the original volume of three cubic feet. As will readily be seen, a very slight general deformation of the body, scarcely perceptible, is adequate to explain the puzzling observation. The sudden tipping of the scale demonstrates nothing except the coarseness of the instrument. Had the balance been very sensitive, owing to the resistance of the air, the platform would have ascended slowly.“
“Scientists Doubt The Human Soul Was Weighed.” New York World, March 17, 1907.