Einstein's After Life

This is a guest essay from David Salmon. 

Putting Together Some Random Facts

Pulling from different sources, among them Albert Einstein, Raymond Moody, Dr. Duncan MacDougall and the Bible, I propose the following theory about the nature of soul and afterlife.

Assumption one: The soul exists independently of the body and leaves the body at the time of death. This has been proven by any number of medical case examples where people who have no higher brain activity (e.g., no blood in the brain during surgery or spontaneous e. coli bacterial meningitisi), in other words, clinically brain dead, have come back to life and reported things they could only have known through observation. In the substantial body of literature on near death experiences people without brain function recount floating above and seeing their own bodies, accurate observations of events in the room, traveling to see loved ones and accurately describing their behavior at the time, etc.ii Most everyone knows or knows of someone with a near death experience with these characteristics and/or the very common encounters with deceased loved ones, a bright tunnel of light, heaven and God.

Assumption two: The soul has mass. Dr. Duncan MacDougall conducted experiments in 1907 on dying patients indicating they lost an average of 21 grams of weight instantly at the moment of death.iii This experiment is a little hard to reproduce now due to the need for a ready source of imminently dying people willing to be weighed on a precise scale in their closing moments on earth. Perhaps this was something you could procure more easily at the terminal patient ward in 1907 before the concept of patient consent for experiments was fully developed, but not likely now. He repeated his experiment six times. His results, while not numerous or consistent enough to be conclusive, are compelling enough to suggest likelihood that something around three-fourths of an ounce plus or minus suddenly disappears at the time of death. MacDougall was looking for the weight of the soul. No other credible explanation for the sudden weight loss has surfaced in the century that has followed the experiment. (Incidentally dying dogs lost no weight upon death in a parallel experiment of MacDougall’s. My sympathies to those among us who were hoping otherwise.)

Einstein says that mass and energy have an equivalence; that they are two forms of the same thing. On earth things tend to be either all mass or all energy. I conjecture that the soul is matter teetering on the brink of conversion to energy during our earthly life. Burning away like a 21-gram chunk of uranium, tiny amounts of this soul matter radiate amazing energy within the earthly prison of our mind and body during life creating the gift of consciousness. The vast remaining bulk of the matter finishes its earthly work, undergoing a tremendous and spectacular unseen conversion to energy at the moment of death, or shortly thereafter, propelling the soul, ironically, to its place of rest at the speed of light, resulting in the weight loss observed by MacDougall.

For the person with the near death experience, their consciousness seems to retain during this brief time some of the properties of matter, e.g., a sense of location in space, of hanging around earth. Perhaps not fully converted to energy their souls then return to their bodies, the reaction tipping the other way, converting the remaining energy back to matter. A few others die but maybe never get much further than the near death stage; hanging around earth, half-energy, half-matter, reluctant to leave unfinished business, as if it mattered. Ghosts, we call them. But for those who keep going toward the light, and that is by far the preferred path, the soul accelerates on its way through the tunnel of light, to the speed of light in the course of its full and final conversion to energy—an atomic explosion into eternity, if you will.

If true, a couple of interesting things follow. First, we can determine the quantity of energy represented by the human soul through the famous equation e=mc2. Where the mass = 0.021 kilograms and the constant c being roughly 300,000,000 meters/second, the energy of a soul is 1.89 quadrillion kilogram square meters per second squared, or 1.89 x 1015 joules.

This much energy released at once in an uncontrolled manner is equivalent in scale to a small hydrogen bomb. So why doesn’t the room explode when someone dies? Because, rather than sound or heat or microwaves, the kind of energy created during the conversion is that of pure consciousness, or, better stated, love. Perhaps it exists hidden somewhere on the electromagnetic spectrum. If I had to speculate, I would say somewhere close to light. After all, God is light.iv There are numerous reports of people feeling this energy at their loved one’s moment of passage.

Secondly, Einstein’s theory of special relativity holds that space and time are relative to the observer and the thing being observed. As the object accelerates, time, as perceived by the observer, gets slower until, approaching the speed of light, time stops altogether. Another word for stopped time is ‘frozen.’ To we observers departed souls seem to have stopped progressing. We feel no more their energy among us. We have no sense of their continued existence. But the theory of relativity tells us that although this is so for the static observers, it is not so for the travelers. For them time goes on as usual.

Yet another word for stopped time might be ‘eternity.’ If departed souls are consciousness-love-energy traveling near the speed of light then they exist in an eternal realm. And if through some warp in the space/time continuum a.k.a. spiritual experience, we on earth are able to encounter them, so it would appear to us as the observer.

Thirdly, this sudden conversion of matter to energy and light speed travel we’ve been discussing bears a strong resemblance to current understandings of the origin of the universe. Thus, following after the pattern of the birth of the space-time continuum we will all one day have our own big bangs as we are birthed into our eternal destinies. But more likely than copies, the two bangs are one in the same. I have a hunch that mysterious energy emanating from the center of the universe is actually the consciousness of God and humankind. As spiritual beings having a temporary physical experience, we just fail to recognize ourselves.

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