First high resolution image of portal to the afterlife. Credit: Harvard-Smithsonian center for AssTrophysics
At a late September press conference, a group of M.I.T. and Harvard astrophysicists announced a startling discovery that pushes the boundaries of the once taboo field of afterlife research. After years of searching for the explanation behind the so called white light at the end of the tunnel, an almost universally common feature reported by patients after surviving near death experiences, it appears that science has finally solved the puzzle, although not without some controversy. According to Dr. Mara Chen, lead scientist for the project, "After detailed spectral analysis, and sophisticated computer modeling of the data, we've come to the preliminary, but firm conclusion that, the light is due to a fairly common, but unexpected, terrestrial source. It appears that the so-called white light is just from the extremely pale ass of an unidentified, naked Scandinavian man."
After consulting the Department of Homeland Security's comprehensive global ass database, the man was identified as Oslo native Jan Thorstengard, a 37 year old computer programmer, unmarried, but "definitely on the market", according to friends and coworkers. When pressed, Thorstengard could offer no explanation as to why he was there in the tunnel, how long he had been there, where his clothes were, or why the only women he ever met were 96 year old cancer patients or teenagers who had been in recent car accidents. According to independent measurements obtained from a network of space satellites, the albedo, or reflectivity, of Thorstengard's buttocks was measured to be nearly 98%, far surpassing any gluteal properties yet recorded by science. After seeing it with her own eyes, Chen also told HSP, "That's the whitest tush I've ever seen. I haven't seen that much male ass since I watched Y Tu Mama Tambien with my cousin last week."
"All these years," noted Mass General Hospital ER doctor Andrew Nelson, "we've been convinced it was merely oxygen deprivation of the brain combined with social and religious pre-conditioning, but it turns out we were way off. Who the hell could have known it was some dude's extremely un- tanned buttocks."
But not everyone was fully satisfied. Reverend James Watson of Buffalo, NY claimed that not enough had been done to correct for potential systematic errors that could confound the measurement, such as gravitational lensing of heaven based photons around Mr. Thorstengard's gluteal region. "Until that man gets himself down from there, and we actually measure the gravitational properties of his...well, you know...then we have no chance of obtaining a reliable spectrum of the afterlife. For all we know, Mr. Thorstengard could be directly in the optical path of an obvious spectrum of St. Peter himself."
Until such confirmation is achieved, scientists ask that people near death examine the scene carefully, and make a reasonable attempt to remember what happened, provided they are able to find a way to not die. Added Chen, "Now that we know what to look for - and believe me people, that thing is hard to miss - it shouldn't be too difficult to resolve one of the most profound questions of existence once and for all. I don't know about you, but I sleep better at night knowing what to expect when I pass from this world."