Afterlife Defying Death

Research of Near Death Experiences May Improve Resuscitation

Questions and Answers about Moment of Death: AWARE Project Uses Technology to Investigate “Out-of-Body Experiences”
Today &#8211 (September 28, 2009)

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According to the Today show’s Q&A, the Awareness During Resuscitation study — AWARE for short — is investigating “what happens to the human mind and consciousness during clinical death and the relationship between consciousness and the brain.” The hope is improved research will inform better resuscitation practices — though I suspect it’s also attempting to lasso the afterlife moon. As the video shows, part of the experiment involves putting a sign on a shelf high above hospital beds with the idea that astral travelers will see it and be able to relay messages once resuscitated. Shout backs, anyone?

Though I find this less than rigorous, the research protocol has been peer reviewed, as will be the results, and the study also uses technology to measure the flow of blood to the brain for a more technical analysis of what the heck is going on during and after death.

…And I suppose it would be pretty cool if someone, floating above his or her dead body and the heads of the doctors and nurses as is often reported, reads and relays the message of the sign. But assuming this study will not prove the existence of an afterlife, I’m just as jazzed to know we have such amazing, imaginative, immersive-experience minds.

We at DeathRef will keep our eyes skinned on this one.


“Dead Spiritualist Silent”

Radiolab: Proof
originally aired August 10, 2009.

It appears Radiolab had more great death meditations than they knew what to do with. Following up on their July 27 episode, “After Life,” all this week they will be releasing short podcasts with additional thoughts on death.

Monday’s segment features Mary Roach, author of Stiff and Spook, discussing spiritualist Thomas Lynn Bradford’s quest for proof of an afterlife in 1921. His scheme involved committing suicide then shouting back to a psychic, who would then relay to the world the good news that death does not exist, only Summerland — the Spiritualist post-life realm of lush rolling hills, beauty and peace. But, as the New York Times reported, “Dead Spiritualist silent.” Alas.

(We won’t be posting all of Radiolab’s death segments this week — we just wanted to get the word out. In case you’re wondering, yes, DeathRef has a crush on Radiolab.)


Radiolab: After Life… Now with John Troyer!

Radiolab: After Life
originally aired July 27, 2009.

So somehow John got on Radiolab. Sure, it’s only a few seconds, but MAN this guy gets around. In addition to our own professor of death, Radiolab serves up an author, a biologist, a neurological psychologist, a geologist and a paleontologist to pontificate in short vignettes about what happens when we die. Educational, quirky, evocative — you know the Radiolab drill.

(And if you don’t, do yourself a favor and give it a listen — Radiolab is consistently stellar.)