By Sumeet Bal
Updated December 05, 2003 at 05:00 AM EST

Q Is it true that a person loses 21 grams — about the weight of four nickels (or, apparently, one’s soul) — upon expiring, as Sean Penn states in Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu’s drama ”21 Grams?”

A ”No way,” says Dr. George Kleinman, director of autopsy service and clinical associate professor of pathology at New York University, who says weight is usually just estimated at the time of death, or measured by scales not calibrated to such a fine degree. ”It’s just a romanticized notion.”