OK, who will be first in this experiment?
British and U.S. scientists have launched a three-year project examining whether people who are clinically dead can have an out-of-body experience.
Out-of-body experiences, also known as near-death experiences, usually involve a person reporting to have witnessed events around them despite being considered unconscious or even technically dead by doctors around them.
Earlier in September, a collaboration of scientists with the Human Consciousness Project (HCP) announced a study that aims to determine whether heart attack patients had out-of-body experiences while they had no heartbeat or brain activity, the Western Mail reports.
The study, the group's first major undertaking, is expected to shed light on the relationship between mind and brain during clinical death.
Other scientific studies by independent researches have found that around 10 to 20 percent of people who go through cardiac arrest and clinical death report lucid, well structured thought processes, reasoning, memories, and sometimes detailed recall of events during their encounter with death, according to HCP.
So how exactly do the scientists plan to verify out-of-body experiences?
Dr. Sam Parnia, a fellow at New York's Weill Cornell Medical Center who is leading the study, proposed a simple method.
"So the only way to tell is to have pictures only visible from the ceiling and nowhere else, because they claim they can see everything from the ceiling," explained Parnia in an interview with TIME.
If they "were clinically dead, and yet they're able to come back and tell us what we were doing and were able see those pictures, that confirms consciousness really was continuing even though the brain wasn't functioning."
Clinical death is when the "heart stops beating, the lungs stop working, and as a consequence the brain itself stops working," noted Parnia, an expert in the study of the human mind and consciousness during clinical death.
After listening to hundreds of stories from people who claim an out-of-body experience, Parnia documented them in a book, What Happens When We Die. The book also provides the viewpoint of doctors who witness clinical deaths but hear their patients report the mysterious occurrence after being resuscitated.
"There was a cardiologist that I spoke with who said he hasn't told anyone else about it because he has no explanation for how this patient could have been able to describe in detail what he had said and done. He was so freaked out by it that he just decided not to think about it anymore," said Parnia to Time magazine.
The AWARE study will involve 25 major medical centers through Europe, Canada and the U.S., and will examine some 1,500 survivors of cardiac arrest.
"The study aims to settle this debate once and for all," said Parnia, according to The Independent. "It may be that out-of-body experiences are false memories but until that has been scientifically tested we can't say for sure
"I am enclosing two tickets to the first night of my new play; bring a friend, if you have one
- George Bernard Shaw to Winston Churchill.
"Cannot possibly attend first night, will attend second ... if there is one
- Winston Churchill, in response.