Skip to main content

At what moment are you dead? - Randall Hayes


10,453 Questions Answered

TEDEd Animation

Let’s Begin…

For as far back as we can trace our existence, humans have been fascinated with death and resurrection. But is resurrection really possible? And what is the actual difference between a living creature and a dead body anyway? Randall Hayes delves into the scientific theories that seek to answer these age-old questions.

Additional Resources for you to Explore

Interested in learning more about Descartes and the pineal gland? Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosphy is the place for you to visit! Check out the TED-Ed Lesson on Rene Descartes: How Do You Know You’re Real? Learn more about his beliefs. Read more about Vitalism here. List to a BBC radio show on Vitalism and the quest for the spark of life. Why did scientists reject this theory?

Dr. Duncan MacDougall, the doctor who believed that the human soul had weight, is quite an interesting character. Read more about him here. Read the blog post The 21 Gram Theory and find out the details of his measurements.

Entropy generally means “disorder.” These two blog posts explore entropy more deeply. The first post called The Secret of Deeeeeeath discusses entropy at the chemical level in the form of diffusion. The second pushes on into the effects of entropy at the level of a species or an ecosystem.

Most of us have an intense love/hate relationship with the concept of death. It is both morbidly fascinating and deeply frightening (and possibly disgusting, depending on the cause of death). Most cultures therefore have taboos about discussing death openly. Death Café is an attempt to create safe, structured conversations around the idea of death. In addition to online resources and chats, they meet physically, in the flesh, in public spaces around the world. They also share stories and eat cake.

Resuscitation medicine? Listen to NPR’s Fresh Air interview of Dr. Sam Parnia as he talks about the subject of resuscitation after death has occurred and read an excerpt of his book Erasing Death. Additionally, The ultimate comeback: Bringing the dead back to life by the BBC provides information on several different methods of bringing people back from the brink of death. Can any animals freeze completely through and come back to life? Check out the wood frog. Visit the PBS site Frozen Frogs and read or watch more about this organism. Why would scientists study the wood frog? What relevance would this have to human cryogenics?

Next Section »

About TED-Ed Animations

TED-Ed Animations feature the words and ideas of educators brought to life by professional animators. Are you an educator or animator interested in creating a TED-Ed Animation? Nominate yourself here »

Meet The Creators

  • Educator Randall Hayes
  • Animator Anton Bogaty
  • Script Editor Alex Gendler
  • Narrator Addison Anderson

More from Getting Under Our Skin