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Energy contained within Humans and what happens to it after death?

  1. Apr 17, 2012 #1
    I'm always trying to understand how things work. I find it hard to accept things that lack fact, proof, and reasoning.

    After losing my 21 month old son on Feb. 8th, 2012 to SPNET Brain Cancer I am trying to make peace with the situation on terms I can accept, and that means trying to understand all aspects involved.

    I find religion to be a joke and I prefer the truth. I mean no offense, I am just laying out my view of things to weed out unnecessary replies.


    You hear people say all the time that there is enough energy in the human body to light a light bulb. Some refer to it as Chi. When a human dies does the energy still exist in any form, or is it an energy that dies with the body?
    Last edited: Apr 17, 2012
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 17, 2012 #2


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    I just wanted to say how sorry I am for your loss, I can't imagine anything worse than losing a child.
  4. Apr 17, 2012 #3


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    I am incredibly sorry for your loss pajaro, like evo I can't imagine anything worse. I hope the best for you and your family in future.

    Regarding your question the human body constantly uses energy to stay alive, 100 watts is roughly near the correct figure. A human male needs 2500kcal per day which translates to roughly 10,000kj. Dividing that by the number of seconds in the day works out to ~120 watts. That assumes no weight gain and no energy lost in waste but it's a good approximation. When a human dies it stops respiring and the energy in it radiates as heat and is consumed by other organisms (and eventually radiated as heat).

    Rather than looking at it in terms of energy in a human body it's best to think of it as how much energy a human body needs, it's roughly the same as a standard US lightbulb. Chi is something different and is a factor of eastern religion rather than modern definitions of energy.
  5. Apr 17, 2012 #4
    "Rather than looking at it in terms of energy in a human body it's best to think of it as how much energy a human body needs, it's roughly the same as a standard US lightbulb. Chi is something different and is a factor of eastern religion rather than modern definitions of energy."

    So is it safe to think of the energy contained in a human only exist because it is constantly refueled be eating.

    similar to the way a automobile only produces energy by refueling.

    Basically I am hearing we are only consumers of energy that power our bodies, and not a embodiment of self contained energy, more so a tool of potential energy if provided a fuel source.

    My ultimate desire is to reason and explore the idea of a so called "Soul" existing after death in the form of energy, but this would appear unlikely if our energy is only derived through consumption of fuel.

    The thought was jarred after watching an episode of "Through the Worm Hole" on the SCI Channel.

    Thank you for your reply.
  6. Apr 17, 2012 #5


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    Most of the energy disperses into the rest of the universe.

    The energy doesn't retain any structure though, so it wouldn't make much sense to consider it the same as when it is structurally arranged in the human body as a series of signaling cascades.
  7. Apr 17, 2012 #6
    I'm with pajaro90, the energy itself isn't what's important, but the pattern that's created from the combination of matter and energy, is what creates life. I suggest reading the book The Elegant Universe: Superstrings, Hidden Dimensions, and the Quest for the Ultimate Theory by Brian Green. That part about how, when you get down to the plank length scale, everything is basically made of up the same stuff just in different 10 dimensional patterns, blew me away. These patterns and the interactions b/t these patterns are what gives rise to everything in the universe. This has changed my view of death as simply another change in the pattern vs. the end of anything. Similar to a drop going into the ocean. That combined with reading a lot of Rumi's poetry has made feel a lot better about the f'ed things that have happened to my loved ones through my life.

    Given your stance on religion, I bet you'll find Mark Twain's last book Letters from Earth entertaining. He goes off on christianity and it's hilarious. It wasn't edited though, so some of his rants are a bit long winded.

    I'm sorry for you loss and I wish you luck on your search for answers.
  8. Apr 18, 2012 #7
    the body itself is just like any other matter, its gonna decompose and be consumed by other life forms... the matter is gonna continue being part of many other living systems for an unknown, possibly infinite amount of time. Just like when you eat a rice plant or chicken, it "died" but continues to live, reconfigured into "your" body.

    They psychological effects are different, in that respect my dead grandmother is still alive and well in the heart and minds of my father and I, and all our family that knew/cared about her. The characteristics of my grandmother will continue to live, as I teach my children about her life and how she influenced mine.
  9. Apr 23, 2012 #8


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    I think we've said all we need to say here.
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