Dr. Duncan MacDougall was a highly respected physician hailing from Haverhill. He was also the head of the Research Society that was conducting several experiments to find answers to certain spiritual aspects of the human beings. Dr. MacDougall conducted a strange experiment on 10 April, 1901 in his laboratory at Dorchester, Massachusetts. He tried to prove that the human soul has a mass and it was easily measurable.
The experiment was conducted by Dr. MacDougall upon six patients. These patients were in their last stage and just about to die. There was special Fairbanks weight scales arranged. The idea was to lay the patients while alive on the weighing instruments and take a note of their weight. The patients would be kept on the weighing machine until they died. Once the patient died another weight will be taken. If there was a difference in the body weight then the theory of Dr. MacDougall that soul has a weight will be established.
Out of these six patients, two were suffering from Tuberculosis. Five of the patients were men while one was a woman. First patient was laid on the Fairbanks weight and his original weight (prior to death) was noted. But after the patient died a strange thing happened. The beam end dropped suddenly. There was a loss of three-fourths of an ounce in weight. The experiment was conducted upon other patients too with varying results. The decrease in body weight was different for different patients.
One of the patients showed a strange symptom. The body weight of this patient did not decrease after death. All the physicians were astounded. But one minute after death the body mass started decreasing. Dr. MacDougall explained this phenomenon. He felt that the phlegmatic man was slow, he had been immobile for many years prior to his death, thus there was time taken for his soul to be release.
There was a lot of writing in the newspapers after the success of this experiment. But the news of this experiment was soon suppressed by the religious fanatics. Moreover, all the experiments conducted by Dr. Duncan MacDougall at a later date were failure. He tried to capture the image of the soul leaving human body, in which he failed.