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Tuesday, June 07, 2005
In September 2002, a train operator was killed when his vehicle crashed. Before succumbing to his injuries, he told rescue workers: "I can't see you anymore -- all I see is a brihgt light."

Why do the mortally wounded often report seeing a bright light before dying?

Assuming it's not the Great Beyond, medical science has advanced several theories as to the bright light's physiological roots. Many researchers ascribe the glow to the effects of Anoxia, or Oxygen Deprivation, which can affect the optic nerves. Others suspect that trauma to the right temporal lobe, the area of the brain responsible for perception, can cause the senses to malfunction. Micahel A. Persinger, a neuroscientist at Laurentian University in Sudbury, Ontario, has replicated the bright light phenomenon in test subjects by stimulating their right temporal lobes with mild electromagnetic fields.

A third theory hold that the brain releases massive amounts of endorphins, or natural painkillers, when the body is gravely injured. Those endorphins may override the optic nerves, causing the victim to see a peaceful glow rather than their own mangled body or teams of desperate paramedics scurrying about. This endorphin-induced serenity can be crucial to warding off lethal shock, thus giving the person better odds of survival.

It has also been suggested that some bright light glimpsers neither gaze at eternity nor experience unusual neurological activity. Instead, they may simply mistake the high intensity operating room lights as something a tad more mystical.

In Western societies,the bright lgiht is often accompanied by visions of deceased relatives, idyllic gardens, and a convivial bearded man in flowing white robes-- all standard images of the Christian heaves. Dying Hindus in India, by contrast, typically picture the afterlife as a Kalkaesque bureaucratic office. Fading Micronesian have been known to describe a bustling skyscraper filled metropolis.

(abstracted from the book: "The Explainer" by authors of Slate Magazine)
posted by infraternam meam @ 12:49 AM  
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Name: infraternam meam
Home: Chicago, United States
About Me: I am now at the prime of my life and have been married for the past 25 years. Sickly at times, but wants to see the elixir vita, so that I will be able to see my grandchildren from my two boys.
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