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This came to my mind after reading this fascinating question and excellent answers to it - how would aliens derive energy from souls of living beings after they die? For the purpose of this speculation, lets define soul as collection of lifetime's brain wave activity.

The implication being earth is a soul producing factory and once we die our body decays and gets recycled by the factory while the soul gets consumed by aliens. One benefit of such a system being - because consumption happens after beings die, no body can find out about it and hence zero fight/flight risk.

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closed as too broad by Mołot, dot_Sp0T, Xandar The Zenon, Zxyrra, Hohmannfan Dec 23 '16 at 22:55

Please edit the question to limit it to a specific problem with enough detail to identify an adequate answer. Avoid asking multiple distinct questions at once. See the How to Ask page for help clarifying this question. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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    $\begingroup$ Hello and welcome to WB.Se; Your question shows you've put some thought into what you're asking. Sadly as of now it can basically be answered by: "Yes, because everything is possible". Please put some time into defining what exactly a soul is in your context (e.g. is it a collection of the energy making up brainwaves?), and maybe ask about something specific, e.g. How do aliens process the souls of dead humans in order to harness their energy?; Oh, and if you find you have any difficulty, why not check out the Tour? - Cheers :) $\endgroup$ – dot_Sp0T Dec 23 '16 at 18:46
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    $\begingroup$ @dot_Sp0T Thank you for pointing that out. I have updated the question. Though I'm still struggling to be more precise on the definition of soul, I will update that bit as soon as I have more clarity. $\endgroup$ – user2696565 Dec 23 '16 at 19:00
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    $\begingroup$ The concept is neat but it's going to be tricky to answer without hand-waving some big stuff. Such a process would essentially violate thermodynamics unless the energy to create souls were somehow being pumped into the earth. Otherwise you'd be getting more energy out of a system than is put into it. Perhaps sunlight is involved in soul creation somehow? But then again, why not just collect that energy directly from the sun? You'd need some unique reason not to shortcut it. $\endgroup$ – thanby Dec 23 '16 at 19:15
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    $\begingroup$ @thanby Fully agree. I think I need a more precise definition of soul. Or would you suggest that instead of focusing on energy I change the question to something like- 'what utility could soul serve to alens'. $\endgroup$ – user2696565 Dec 23 '16 at 19:25
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    $\begingroup$ Since souls are fictional constructs, you need to at least define what a soul is in the context of the question. $\endgroup$ – Feyre Dec 23 '16 at 19:37
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The actual energy of brainwaves is far too small to be an option. However, given that science doesn't really have a good grasp on what a soul might be, we may have some fun directions we could take it.

The body is amazingly efficient as far as organics go, but it still wastes about 75% of its energy as heat. Or does it? The characteristic of "heat" energy is that it is well described as random thermal noise -- Brownian motion. As long as nobody can find an order to it, nobody can extract energy from that waste heat except through the usual heat engines.

What if it isn't all random? What if there's an order to it, but science just hasn't been able to put together the experiments to identify any patterns in it yet. What if the "soul" was something (like a collection of brainwaves) which held onto a pattern in this randomness and stored energy that way. What if a portion of our "waste heat" was actually carefully structured energy and nobody knew it?

If so, an alien with their advanced technology may be able to recognize this ethereal source of energy and leverage it. If they capture the "soul" of a creature, they might be able to harness all of the energy that person emitted as waste heat through their life. That's quite a lot of energy!

This would also suggest there would be different values of souls. Some weak souled people may store very little energy and indeed have generated a lot of waste heat in their existence. Perhaps a strong soul may store most of their "waste heat," making it not waste at all, giving them something to draw on in tough times. Perhaps a good soul might be given permission to tap into the energy of nearby good souls, forming a fabric of souls to resist the dark. To capture such a good soul would give access to the energy of many!

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Ok, so basically uou are asking about a sort of Matrix style "human battery" I'm assuming, with your definition of the "soul" being a collection of a lifetime's brain wave activity.

First point - Brains do not work like that. Obviously if you have not done any specific research into brain anatomy, you may not know this, however brains do not use "waves" as such, rather they use impulses. If you do a little more research into this, you'll see what I mean, but the basic rundown is that your brain is made of millions (the average for an adult human being about 100 billion) of nerves or synapses. These transmit and use impulses that travel along them in order to make decisions and thoughts. You brain is doing millions of actions per second, all of them fuelled by the food you consume, and carried out by sending these impulses down the "wires" of your brain. A good analogy for a human brain is like a computer processor, only a LOT more complicated.

So, these impulses are not stored in any way, after they serve their purpose (consisting generally of fractions of milliseconds of moving an electrical impulse from one synapse to another) they simply vanish and never reappear. This is not to say that there is no debris, there is always some form of waste produced, but is of no use.

So in your definition, the "soul" of a human would be useless after they die, as no more impulses take place and the brain is totally inactive. There is no "soul" as in a ghost, these have no scientific grounding currently and are generally considered to not exist.

Tl:dr is this - They wouldn't be able to, a human body is useless after death, they would need them to be alive. Don't worry, no aliens are harvesting us.

Just as a quick afterthought on this - even if the human was alive and thinking at maximum capacity, and the aliens could harvest this electricity, it would be of little use, the actual current made by a synapse going off is miniscule, and very little electricity is produced over hours of brain use.

Hope this helped!

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  • $\begingroup$ On the most basic level you might be right about it being difficult as we know it to harvest brain energy, obviously something else would be at play here. The problem is that we need a better definition of what a "soul" is. It doesn't fit any modern scientific methods, so what else could it represent? $\endgroup$ – thanby Dec 24 '16 at 4:29
  • $\begingroup$ As I am an athiest and don't believe in an afterlife, I believe a "soul" would be represented more by our memories and by the impulses in our brains. I consider our brain itself to contain the "soul", and it cannot be replicated or removed and used elsewhere. In this sense, I don't think it is viable to harvest the energy of the soul, however if the soul was of a different nature, one that does actually store useful energy, then it may be entirely possible. $\endgroup$ – HyperdriveMacGee Dec 24 '16 at 9:06

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