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“From Conception to Birth”: Must be seen to be believed

by | Dec 1, 2011

By Dave Andrusko
National Right to Life News Today

Although we post between 9 and eleven stories each day, typically readers select one that they overwhelmingly like best. On Tuesday that honor went to “Pretty Spectacular Images of Fetal Development,” by Dr. Randall K. O’Bannon, NRLC’s Director of Education.

If you haven’t already taken the time, stop reading and go to www.ted.com/talks/alexander_tsiaras_conception_to_birth_visualized.html#.TsKzeXrIOpU.facebook.  Once you finish that very revealing talk, your appetite will be whetted to watch Alexander Tsiaras’ incredible animated version of fetal development from conception through birth at www.thevisualmd.com/health_centers/obstetrics_and_gynecology/weekly_pregnancy_calendar/pregnancy_video.

I have attached Dr. O’Bannon’s full story below. Allow me to add a few details about Tsiaras, CEO of the health portal “The Visual MD,” and author of several books, most notably from our perspective, “From Conception to Birth: a Life Unfolds” which was done in conjunction with the National Institutes of Health, the National Museum of Health and Medicine of the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology, and the New York University School of Medicine.

Here’s the first paragraph of his online biography:

“Alexander Tsiaras is Founder and CEO of Anatomical Travelogue LLC. Mr. Tsiaras is recognized internationally as a scientist, artist and journalist. As a technological innovator he has participated in the development of the lens which enabled the first photographs of human fertilization and the recording of the development of the fetus. As an artist and technologist, he has participating in developing scientific visualization software to enable him to ‘paint’ the anatomy using volume data.”

But as Dr. O’Bannon explains in his opening paragraph, none of this does justice to what  Tsiaras produces. You just have to see it to believe it.

Part of Tsiaras’ considerable charm (beyond his enthusiasm and casual comments about his remarkable background) is that he is genuinely awed by what he sees. When you go to the site to watch his speech, you are also provided with a transcript.

Among the reams of fascinating comments is this:

“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.”

Dr. O’Bannon’s story is reproduced below.

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“Pretty Spectacular” Images of Fetal Development

His work is amazing, but it is hard to give a name to what Alexander 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 has catalogued his work in a 2002 book called from Conception to Birth: a Life Unfolds and then has animated this in a series of 40 videos – one for each week – on his website at www.thevisualmd.com/health_centers/obstetrics_and_gynecology/weekly_pregnancy_calendar/pregnancy_video

A video now 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 at www.ted.com/talks/alexander_tsiaras_conception_to_birth_visualized.html#.TsKzeXrIOpU.facebook.)

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.  

… your 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 cells 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.” 

… as 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.”

That address again is www.thevisualmd.com/health_centers/obstetrics_and_gynecology/weekly_pregnancy_calendar/pregnancy_video

Your feedback is very important to improving National Right to Life News Today. Please send your comments to daveandrusko@gmail.com. If you like, join those who are following me on Twitter at http://twitter.com/daveha

Categories: Unborn Children