NRL News

The Beautiful, Elegant Story of Fetal Development

by | Jan 21, 2013

By Dave Andrusko

Today is 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade minus one. NRL News Today will run five different stories related to the tragedy that unleashed a slaughter that already claimed over 55 million lives. This is one of those stories which comes at the abortion issue, so to speak, through the back door.

Ironically, when I went to my AOL account over the weekend, underneath a link to an 40th anniversary summary piece that essentially bemoaned the fact that pro-lifers haven’t rolled over and accepted Roe was a link to a piece written by Alexander Tsiaras.

To those who’ve been reading NRL News Today for a while that name will ring a bell.

Tsiaras is the author of “From Conception to Birth: a Life Unfolds,” a 2002 book which he then animated in a series of 40 videos  (one for each week) on his website. It is no exaggeration to say it transformed the way we understand fetal development. (A new iBook, “Conception to Birth: The Visual Guide to Your Pregnancy” is now available in the Apple iTunes Book.)

I first ran across Tsiaras’ work online. It was a talk he delivered at a Technology, Entertainment and Design (TED) conference. I cannot begin to convey how fascinating his talk is.

As we’ve explained before it is hard to give a name to what Tsiaras does.   He describes himself a scientist, an artist, and a journalist, but what he’s 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.

The story that was linked over the weekend at AOL was a piece that Tsiaras wrote under the headline “The Beautiful and Efficient Anatomy of Pregnancy.”

The brief narrative apparently was written specifically for this post. You come away marveling at how riveting is the narrative, how enthusiasticTsiaras is about his work, and how all this furthers the “humanization” of the unborn child.

That is captured in the opening paragraph:

“I have spent most of the last decade focusing on the marvels of developmental biology – ‘the study of how multicellular organisms develop from immature forms into an adult.’ I study this using scientific visualization technologies that my team at TheVisualMD have developed. It’s almost impossible to express how privileged I’ve felt to watch the process of conception to birth, as genetic mechanisms dynamically instruct each fetal cell of where to go and what to become.”

Let me conclude with a few paragraphs from Dr. Randall K. O’Bannon’s review. Dr. O’Bannon, NRLC Director of Education, is/was as taken with this narrative as I was/am.

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 his website, 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.”

Categories: Fetal Development