Researchers in the US and UK have devised a devilishly simple plan for putting claims of out-of-body experiences to the test. Since patients who knock on death’s door often report watching themselves being resuscitated from above, researchers have taken the step of hanging images face-up from the ceilings in the emergency care areas of 18 hospitals. Patients shouldn’t be able to see the images—unless they really are floating ghost-like above it all, the Wall Street Journal explains. Researchers plan to release preliminary results next year.
It’s not the only investigation into such phenomena either. No hanging picture can test the famous white-light stories, but skeptical scientists say there are neurological explanations for them. One study this year found that patients who reported near-death experiences had high blood levels of carbon dioxide, which has been associated with visions and bright lights. Another found that, in dying patients, the brain showed a brief spurt of electrical activity just before winking out for good. Click here for more on near-death experiences.