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kgould's picture


Trying to learn biochemistry has always been difficult for me. I just can't seem to wrap my mind around it. Or, at least, I couldn't. It seems much more approachable now.

I can appreciate the idea that different assemblies of atoms make for different properties. And I am interested in the idea that there is no one atom that makes "life."

It does make me wonder, however, why humans have always sought for that one ingredient that makes something alive. Why couldn't they accept life as an assembly of different units and properties?

Mary Roach's book, Stiff, discussed Duncan MacDougall and his efforts to find the weight of a human soul. He weighed six terminally ill patients as they died in an attempt to see if they did indeed weigh less, suggesting that their soul had left their lifeless bodies.

His experiment was a little iffy; MacDougall used a very small sample size and had trouble determining the exact time of death (without disturbing the scale), which was imperative to the experiment. Thus the test ended with no satisfactory conclusion (although MacDougall reported that a human soul weighed 21 grams).

It's an interesting experiment, none-the-less.


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