Dave Andrusko

'Pretty spectacular' images of fetal development now available as iBook

Dave Andrusko
By Dave Andrusko
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WASHINGTON, D.C., October 18, 2012, (LifeSiteNews.com) – Both NRLC Director of Education Dr. Randall K. O’Bannon and myself have written glowing reviews of a book that transformed the way we understand fetal development, From Conception to Birth: a Life Unfolds. The author is Alexander Tsiaras.

His work is amazing, but it is hard to give a name to what Tsiaras does. He describes himself a scientist, an artist, and a journalist, but what he has done is to develop scanning and visualization software that enables him to develop rich, 4-D animations of different human body parts, organs, and processes.

Some of his most stunning work has been with fetal development.  He catalogued his work in “Conception to Birth: a Life Unfolds” (published in 2002)  and then animated this in a series of 40 videos – one for each week – on his website.

Just yesterday morning I received an alert from VisualMD.com that they were was launching a new iBook from Tsiaras: Conception to Birth: The Visual Guide to Your Pregnancy now available in the Apple iTunes Bookstore.

Granted this is a promotional blurb, but the description of the original book happens to be true. We read:

Ten years ago, with the publication of his book From Conception to Birth: A Life Unfolds, Alexander Tsiaras changed forever the way we perceive life inside the womb. Remarkable innovations in medical imaging technology allowed us to see, in stunning detail, the awe-inspiring process of life unfolding. The book’s vivid images revealed the many miracles of development: the heart’s first beats at 21 days, the tentative movements of minuscule arms and legs, the complexity of the brain’s growth throughout the 9 months.

We’re told that Tsiaras continued to look for ways to make the data more accessible, more interactive, and more usable than allowed by the printed page. Conception to Birth: The Visual Guide to Your Pregnancy has just been published as an iBook and in it “those amazing images” from the book “have been translated into a totally interactive format. Developed specifically for the iPad.” Meaning what?

At the touch of a fingertip, videos can be viewed and 3D images rotated and examined in close-up detail. Text pops up to explain the causes of pregnancy symptoms. Deeper and deeper layers of embryonic and fetal anatomy can be peeled away. … In-depth, thoroughly researched text provides an enriching accompaniment to the visual imagery.

I’m really excited about this, and my guess is many of our readers will be too. I’ve attached below a portion of Dr. O’Bannon’s original review of a video that was (and is) circulating on the Ted.com website features a fascinating talk by Tsiaras discussing his work with the fetal images at an INK conference in Lavasa, India, in December of 2010. (You can find it here.)

“Looking at these two simple cells that have this kind of unbelievable machinery that will become the magic of you”

by Randall K. O’Bannon, Ph.D., NRL-ETF Director of Education & Research

The short fetal development video is stunning, as always, offering a shortened version of the series Tsiaras has on his visualMD.com website.  However his remarks add another level of interest as the scientist/artist/journalist offers his personal assessment of what he has seen.

Before showing the video, he mentions collagen.

[Y]our entire body, everything –your hair, skin, bone, nails –everything is made of collagen. And it’s a kind of rope-like structure that twirls and swirls like this.  And the only place that collagen changes its structure is in the cornea of your eye. In your eye, it becomes a grid formation, and therefore, it becomes transparent, as opposed to opaque. So perfectly organized a structure, it was hard not to attribute divinity to it.  Because we kept on seeing this over and over and over again in different parts of the body.

The video excerpt that Tsiaras shares shows fertilization, the cell division that occurs every few hours thereafter, the development of the heart within the first month, the arms and hands and vertebrae early in the second month, the developing retina, nose and fingers before the month is over, and finally, even what birth looks like for the baby!

Once the video has run, Tsiaras comments, “as you can see, when you actually start working on this data, it’s pretty spectacular.”

[A]s we kept on scanning more and more, working on this project, looking at these two simple cells that have this kind of unbelievable machinery that will become the magic of you.  And as we kept on working on this data, looking at small clusters of the body, these little pieces of tissue that were a trophoblast coming off of a blastocyst, all of a sudden burrowing itself into the side of the uterus, saying, “I’m here to stay.” All of a sudden having conversation and communications with the estrogens, the progesterones, saying, “I’m here to stay, plant me,” building this incredible trilinear fetus that becomes, within 44 days, something that you can recognize, and then at nine weeks is really kind of a little human being. The marvel of this information: How do we actually have this biological mechanism inside our body to actually see this information?

Tsiaras discusses the development of the human heart, which, through “magnificent origami” of cells developing at a rate of what he says are “one million cells per second” folding in on themselves, goes from what he calls “basically two strands” at 25 days to the ventricles, atria, and valves of that essential marvelous human organ in the matter of a few weeks. Of “The magic of the mechanisms inside each genetic structure saying exactly where that nerve cell should go” Tsiaras gushes, “the complexity of these mathematical models of how these things are indeed done are beyond human comprehension.”

To make his point, Tsiaras shows a photo of human capillaries.

Even though I am a mathematician, I look at this with marvel of how do these instruction sets not make these mistakes as they build what is us? It’s a mystery, it’s magic, it’s divinity. Then you start to take a look at adult life. Take a look at this little tuft of capillaries. It’s just a tiny sub-substructure, microscopic. But basically by the time you’re nine months and you’re given birth, you have almost 60,000 miles of vessels inside your body. I mean, and only one mile is visible.  59,999 miles that are basically bringing nutrients and taking waste away. The complexity of building that within a single system is, again, beyond any comprehension or any existing mathematics today.

Tsiaras is clearly amazed by what he has seen as he has studied and catalogued and analyzed the development of the unborn child.

By all means go to the websites, take a look for yourself and you will be amazed, too.  And share it with anyone struggling to decide whether the life they carry within is worth bearing.

As Tsiaras shows, the development of every single human life is “pretty spectacular.”

Reprinted from National Right to Life News.

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Lisa Bourne

‘You can’t have’ marriage equality ‘without polygamy’

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By Lisa Bourne

July 3, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) – Motivated by the U.S. Supreme Court ruling legalizing homosexual “marriage,” a Montana polygamist has filed for a second marriage license, so he can be legally wed to two women at once.

"It's about marriage equality," said Nathan Collier, using homosexual advocates’ term to support marriage redefinition. "You can't have this without polygamy."

Collier, who has has appeared on the TLC reality show Sister Wives with his legal wife Victoria, and his second wife Christine, said he was inspired by the dissent in the Supreme Court decision.

The minority Supreme Court justices said in Friday’s ruling it would open the door to both polygamy and religious persecution.

“It is striking how much of the majority’s reasoning would apply with equal force to the claim of a fundamental right to plural marriage,” wrote Chief Justice John Roberts.

Collier and his wives applied for a second marriage license earlier this week at the Yellowstone County Courthouse in Billings, a report from the Salt Lake Tribune said.

Collier, who was excommunicated from the Mormon Church for polygamy, married Victoria in 2000 and had a religious wedding ceremony with Christine in 2007. The three have seven children between them and from previous relationships.

"My second wife Christine, who I'm not legally married to, she's put up with my crap for a lot of years. She deserves legitimacy," Collier said.

Yellowstone County officials initially denied the application before saying they would consult with the County Attorney and get him a final answer.

Click "like" if you want to defend true marriage.

Bigamy, the holding of multiple marriage licenses, is illegal all 50 states, but Collier plans to sue if his application is denied. Officials expect to have an answer for him next week.

While homosexual “marriage” supporters have long insisted legalization of same-sex unions would not lead to polygamy, pro-life and family advocates have warned all along it would be inevitable with the redefinition of marriage.

“The next court cases coming will push for polygamy, as Chief Justice John Roberts acknowledged in his dissent,” said Penny Nance, president of Concerned Women for America, after the Supreme Court ruling. “The chief justice said “the argument for polygamy is actually stronger than that for ‘gay marriage.’ It’s only a matter of time.”

In a piece from the Washington Times, LifeSiteNews Editor-in-Chief and the co-founder of Voice of the Family John-Henry Westen stated the move toward legal polygamy is “just the next step in unraveling how Americans view marriage.”

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Chris Christie: Clerks must perform same-sex ‘marriages’ regardless of their religious beliefs

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By Ben Johnson

TRENTON, NJ, July 3, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) – Chris Christie is not known for nuance. This time, he has turned his fiery personality loose on county clerks and other officials who have religious objections to performing same-sex “marriages.”

In a tone usually reserved for busting teachers' unions, Christie told clerks who hold traditional values, “You took the job, and you took the oath.” He would offer no exemption for an individual whose conscience would not allow him to participate in a union the vast majority of the world's religions deem sinful.

“When you go back and re-read the oath it doesn’t give you an out. You have to do it,” he said.

He told a reporter that there “might” be “individual circumstances” that “merit some examination, but none that come immediately to mind for me.”

“I think for folks who are in the government world, they kind of have to do their job, whether you agree with the law or you don’t,” the pugnacious governor said.

Since the Supreme Court voted 5-4 to legalize homosexual “marriage” last Friday, elected officials have grappled with how to safeguard the rights of those who have deeply held religious beliefs that would not allow them to participate in such a ceremony.

Christie's response differs markedly from other GOP hopefuls' responses to the Supreme Court ruling. Mike Huckabee, for instance, has specifically said that clerks should have conscience rights. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal signed an executive order granting such rights and ordered clerks to wait until a pending court case was fully adjudicated before any clerk issues a marriage license to a homosexual couple.

Christie gave up a legal appeal after a superior court judge struck down his state's voter-approved constitutional marriage protection amendment. New Jersey is the only state where such a low court overturned the will of the voters.

The decision to ignore conscience rights adds to the growing number of Christie's positions that give conservatives pause.

The natural locus of support for a Christie 2016 presidential run is the Republican's socially liberal donor class, for personal as well as political reasons. His wife works on Wall Street, and some of the GOP's high-dollar donors – including Paul Singer – have courted Christie for years.

However, this year Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, and to a lesser degree Scott Walker have eclipsed Christie as the preferred candidates of the boardroom donors – who sometimes prefer Democrats to Republicans.

Christie also used language during a speech before the Republican Jewish Coalition last year, which concerned some major GOP donors.

Christie is reportedly spending this weekend with Mitt Romney and his family at Romney's New Hampshire home. Romney declined to enter the 2016 race himself and may be able to open his donor list to Christie's struggling campaign.

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After having a girl with Down syndrome, this couple adopted two more

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By Ben Johnson

LINO LAKE, MN, July 3, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) – For most people, having five biological children would have been enough. In fact, for many Americans, large families are treated as a scandal or a burden.

But one family made the decision, not just to have a large family, but to give a home to some of the most vulnerable children in the world: Girls born overseas with Down syndrome.

Lee and Karen Shervheim love all seven of their children, biological or otherwise. Undeterred by having twin boys – Daniel and Andrew, 18 – they had Sam four years later.

They now have three daughters who are all 11 years old. All three have Down syndrome.

And two of them are adopted.

About the time their eight-year-old son, David, was born, Lee and Karen decided to adopt a child with Down syndrome to be a companion to their daughter, Annie.

They made the further unexpected choice to adopt a child from Eastern Europe with the help of Reece's Rainbow, which helps parents adopt children with Down syndrome.

“Between my wife and I, we couldn’t get it out of our heads,” Lee told the Quad City Press. “So many children need families and we knew we could potentially do something about it.”

After originally deciding to adopt Katie, they spent six weeks in Kiev, visiting an orphanage in nearby Kharkov. While there, they decided they may have room in their heart, and their home, for another child.

When they saw a picture of Emie striking the same pose as their biological daughter in one of their photographs, they knew they would come home with two children.

Both girls were the same age as their Annie. She would not lack for companionship, as they worried.

Lee said after the Ukrainian government – finally – completed the paperwork, they returned to the United States, when the real challenges began.

“The unvarnished truth,” Lee told the Press, is that adopting the Russian-speaking special needs children “was really disruptive to our family. They came with so many issues that we had not anticipated.”

After teaching them sign language and appropriate behavior, they moved to Lino Lake, Minnesota and found a new support group in Eagle Brook Church. There they found personal assistance and spiritual solace.

Every year in the past seven years has been better and better, they say.

“I think my girls can do almost anything they want to do,” he said, “and that’s what I want to help them become.”

The family's devotion is fueled by their faith, and it informs the sense of humor Lee showed in a tweet during the 2014 midterm elections:

It takes a special person to believe in the potential of the “mentally retarded,” as they were once labeled. Today, 90 percent of all babies diagnosed with Down syndrome in the womb will be aborted. The percentage is higher in some countries. Some have even spoken of "a world without people with Down syndrome."

Their God, and their experience, tell them that every child has infinite worth and potential, Lee told local media, and he would encourage anyone to follow his footsteps and adopt a Down syndrome child – or two.

“The message is that it really doesn’t matter where you started or where you came from,” Lee said. “There are endless opportunities for everyone, whether they have disabilities or not. They deserve a shot.”

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