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Researchers ponder life after death in UC Riverside 'Immortality Project'

Is there life after death?

Theologians, philosophers and scientists have pondered the question for ages. And now, with help from the UC Riverside’s “Immortality Project,” they may be a a little closer to some answers.

The $5 million three-year project is funded by the John Templeton Foundation in Philadephia, started 18 months ago with the goal of applying rigorous scientific research to questions surrounding the afterlife, says UC Riverside philosopher and lead investigator, John Martin Fischer.

"What I hope to achieve would be a greater understanding and greater illumination about various issues having to do with death and immortality," Fischer says.

And Friday and Saturday, Fischer says, researchers from ten scientific teams who have received a total of $2.5 million in funding will gather at UC Riverside share some of their findings at the halfway point of their work. 

Among the topics the scientists are studying is whether patients who die and then are resuscitated actually have verifiable out-of-body experiences.

Fischer says the team pondering that question is placing special computers that flash colors and numbers – out of patient view - in a cardiac care unit. The researchers plan to interview patients who flat line and then are revived.

"They will be asked whether they saw the flashing colors or numbers and remember they won’t be visible – those computers – from the patients beds so that will be a very interesting test to see if they have out of body experiences," Fischer says.

The Immortality Project is also providing $1.5 million to about 20 studies into the theological and philosophical study of various afterlife issues.

The remaining $1 million will fund research by post-doctoral and graduate students.