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A High-Res 3D Video of the Embryonic Heartbeat

timothy posted more than 4 years ago | from the cool-imaging-tech dept.

Biotech 207

An anonymous reader writes "Researchers at the University of Houston, TX, adapted an imaging technique called optical coherence tomography to capture 3D video of the mammalian heart as it forms. They used the method to image a mouse embryo just 8.5 days past conception and about a day after it starts to form. In the remarkable video a normal heartbeat is visible. Normally optical coherence tomography is used for clinical imaging of the retina. Having such a high-resolution, non-invasive way to image the developing heart could perhaps help doctors treat congenital heart disorders in human babies."

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Cool tech. (-1, Troll)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 4 years ago | (#29867657)

Impressive for noninvasive imagery. It'll probably end up having all sorts of high-end surgical uses.

The only real problem(beyond the usual high start up costs of new technology) will be the inevitable co-opting of this imagery for a new round of weepy anti-abortion ads. "Oh Noes!, Lookat the wittle heart..."

Re:Cool tech. (1)

wizardforce (1005805) | more than 4 years ago | (#29867737)

It looks like the technology isn't capable of imaging anything too deeply embedded in tissue which is why it worked on a mouse but is unlikely to work in humans.

Re:Cool tech. (1)

sumdumass (711423) | more than 4 years ago | (#29868591)

Nah, they can use an laparoscope or something similar to place the sensors inside the vaginal womb and image though the placenta more directly. If they can't do it now, that's the next logical approach. Anyways, it will likely be used on artificial inseminated eggs first so there wouldn't be any need for a host carrier outside of removing a few eggs to get the anti abortion images.

Re:Cool tech. (0, Offtopic)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 4 years ago | (#29868717)

Forget your high-definition 3-D tomography machine.

Help me find my keys and we'll drive out of here.

Re:Cool tech. (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29867769)

a new round of weepy pro-life ads

FTFY

Re:Cool tech. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29867933)

a new round of weepy pro-birth ads

FTFY

FTFY

Re:Cool tech. (2, Insightful)

mi (197448) | more than 4 years ago | (#29867813)

The only real problem [...] will be the inevitable co-opting of this imagery for a new round of weepy anti-abortion ads.

I can think of quite a few more problems — such as subjecting the newly-forming tissue to the high amounts of whatever energy is used in this particular kind of tomography. Getting close enough to the heart of a human embryo may also prove more problematic, than in the case of mice.

But hey, nothing like getting an "insightful" moderation for your off-topic frosty piss, is there?

"Oh Noes!, Lookat the wittle heart..."

Have you ever seen such language in an ad? Do you really think, no people with clean English think of embryos as humans?

Re:Cool tech. (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29867919)

...think of embryos as humans?

No, they are embryos. They don't become human until they're around 18 years old. Until then, we should be allowed to terminate them. With a note from their mother, of course.

Re:Cool tech. (1)

mi (197448) | more than 4 years ago | (#29868583)

No, they are embryos. They don't become human until they're around 18 years old. Until then, we should be allowed to terminate them.

Actually, I think, parents (not "we" — only the parents) should have the life-and-death control over their offspring forever — as was the case in the Roman Empire. ("Parental abuse" may remain wrong, but should not be illegal.)

But my point was different from and not even related to the strawman you knocked down — I do not think, the fellow Americans, who view embryos as humans fully deserving of the society's protection, as unable to express their point using well-articulated (even if still wrong) arguments and in clean English.

Re:Cool tech. (0, Troll)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 4 years ago | (#29868337)

If you don't think the first thing people think about when they see a headline with the words "human embryo" is the abortion debate, then you must not live in the middle of the US.

Right now, in any town between the Adirondacks and the Rockies, you can find people with poster-sized photos of bloody fetuses standing around in front of Womens' Health Clinics waiting to show their compassion by hassling young women trying to get a pap smear. And those are the ones not busy cutting crosses into their wadcutters hoping to get a shot at the doctor who would perform that pap smear.

This is a Christian Country after all.

Re:Cool tech. (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29868531)

Right now, in any town between the Adirondacks and the Rockies, you can find people with poster-sized photos of bloody fetuses standing around in front of Womens' Health Clinics waiting to show their compassion by hassling young women trying to get a pap smear. And those are the ones not busy cutting crosses into their wadcutters hoping to get a shot at the doctor who would perform that pap smear.

As evidenced by the overwhelming number of five abortion doctors killed since 1993!

Re:Cool tech. (2, Insightful)

mi (197448) | more than 4 years ago | (#29868625)

If you don't think the first thing people think about when they see a headline with the words "human embryo" is the abortion debate

People do think of that, and these people are wrong. That was the point of my response...

And those are the ones not busy cutting crosses into their wadcutters hoping to get a shot at the doctor who would perform that pap smear.

As evidenced by, what, a whopping five abortion-providers killed since 1993? Although each death is one too many, you are still overly concerned with this particular injustice [anncoulter.com] .

Re:Cool tech. (1, Flamebait)

amilo100 (1345883) | more than 4 years ago | (#29867909)

It is funny that your post is modded as insightful. I think you and I both know what this technology will be used for.

This is just a screening process. So foetuses that will have any sign of cardiovascular abnormalities will be aborted. It will become just another in a round of tests that determine if a foetus will be aborted or get to live.

Yet somehow you pre-emptively blame people who are opposed to abortion (because you imagine that it is they who will use this technology).

Re:Cool tech. (3, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 4 years ago | (#29867957)

Given that foetuses are already routinely screened for cardiovascular abnormalities, with the intention of repairing them as soon as practical, I'd say that you are either ignorant or paranoid.

Re:Cool tech. (3, Informative)

amilo100 (1345883) | more than 4 years ago | (#29868035)

This paper:

http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/252560-overview [medscape.com]

states: Fetal indications for abortion

... The most common fetal anomalies encountered in abortion counseling include most **fetal cardiac anomalies**; trisomy 21; open and closed neural tube defects; limb, face, or cleft abnormalities; esophageal

Re:Cool tech. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29868089)

Yes, it's far better to let them come to term and die within hours of birth so some fucking crackhead has time to throw water and weep Jesusy words on them so that they won't go to baby hell where their merciful creator sets them up to go from the moment the torpedos fire.

Re:Cool tech. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29868133)

if I could mod you down I would. 'baby hell' wtf is that?

Re:Cool tech. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29868179)

Until Pope Palpatine revised things, 'Baby hell' was "Limbo" [associatedcontent.com] .

Re:Cool tech. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29868365)

You see this is shows how ignorant you are. If you make an argument at least

a) have respect for the other side (not calling a priest a crack head). You may not agree with them and that is your choice, but posting that only makes you stupid

b) Understand the other side. All human babies (including fetuses) go to Heaven (or what we call heaven (you know the crack heads)) because God is a merciful one. He knows that they had no chance to know the truth and therefore have not sinned (you need to have knowledge and freedom (this is in varying degrees.))

anyways the baby will go to heaven. Also you may say that my God is not merciful because he sends people to Hell. No he does not, they choose to go to Hell and he allows them to choose, they could have gone to Heaven they chose not to. So he lets them go to Hell, why would he want them too he is separating his creations. Basically he gave you and me free will and will not interfere with that.

Re:Cool tech. (1)

sadness203 (1539377) | more than 4 years ago | (#29868967)

By imposing your view (baby WILL go to heaven), you disrespect is belief. Not everyone think heaven exist.

Re:Cool tech. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29868395)

Unfortunately they can't yet test for "belief in angry invisible man in the sky", or that'd be a nice addition to the list.

Re:Cool tech. (0, Troll)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 4 years ago | (#29868199)

I never understood the "pro-life" (actually more like anti-health) movement. A fetus is nothing special. Because a human is nothing special. It is very arrogant to think that we're oh-so-special. We're not. Life in itself is nothing special. It's just a state of the machine of the class "lifeform". You can make a new fetus in what? Weeks? And this time a healthy one. One that is more likely to create healthy offspring. Or even offspring at all.

The numbers of people who have a very hard time making children grows like crazy. With the current trend, in 3 generations, there will be no human left in the western world, who can reproduce without advanced medical help. A few generations later we're done. At least if we continue to go that way.

Re:Cool tech. (5, Insightful)

amilo100 (1345883) | more than 4 years ago | (#29868249)

A fetus is nothing special. Because a human is nothing special. It is very arrogant to think that we're oh-so-special. We're not. Life in itself is nothing special.

I see human life as special. This may be because I am human and therefore extremely subjective.

I am sure that when an alien race lands on earth they will be a lot more objective than us.

Re:Cool tech. (0, Flamebait)

ChromeAeonium (1026952) | more than 4 years ago | (#29868257)

And that is why atheists are the least liked group on the religious spectrum. People don't think of the wonder and beauty and magnificence that people like Carl Sagan or Richard Dawkins see in life, or the value that must be placed on all human life because it only comes once, despite the fact that we're all just blobs of carbon based machines and no special soul has ever been discovered. No, they instead think of nihilistic twats like the parent. Sad.

Re:Cool tech. (0, Redundant)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 4 years ago | (#29868363)

And that is why atheists are the least liked group on the religious spectrum.

You haven't met any evangelicals, have you?

Re:Cool tech. (1)

sumdumass (711423) | more than 4 years ago | (#29868655)

Evangelical atheist or evangelical Christians. Both are known to exist and I would say the first clearly is worse then the later. At least with evangelical Christians, they believe they are doing you good. With evangelical atheist, they are just trying to troll and be an ass.

Re:Cool tech. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29868425)

So wait I can kill you? Ok, I mean after all your nothing special. Wait you mean your not perfect in every way... lets just kill you, I mean we can just make more. Oh you have mental issues, lets just kill you. Oh your paralyzed lets kill you. Heck if we kill people with problems we wouldn't have so many great people, like Steven Hawking, not every person is smart or athletic but that doesn't mean we should kill them.

Re:Cool tech. (4, Insightful)

ChromeAeonium (1026952) | more than 4 years ago | (#29868173)

The only real problem(beyond the usual high start up costs of new technology) will be the inevitable co-opting of this imagery for a new round of weepy anti-abortion ads. "Oh Noes!, Lookat the wittle heart..."

Yes. Showing people biological facts with new technology. How terrible pro-lifers must be.

I want to build a pyramid... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29868237)

I want to build a pyramid. Does anyone here have any Jews for sale?

Re:I want to build a pyramid... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29868959)

I want to build a pyramid. Does anyone here have any Jews for sale?

Oy vey. Just hire some Mexicans, you schmuck.

Here goes... (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29867669)

Hijacked by anti-abortion kooks in 3... 2... 1...

Re:Here goes... (1)

danknight (570145) | more than 4 years ago | (#29867709)

BOOM?

Re:Here goes... (2, Insightful)

pohl (872) | more than 4 years ago | (#29867807)

Feel free to steal my sig. It's apropos.

High Res? (1, Offtopic)

Loomismeister (1589505) | more than 4 years ago | (#29867725)

This is a grainy 2D film, not a high res 3D film!

six micrometer is pretty high resolution for this (1)

J_Omega (709711) | more than 4 years ago | (#29867799)

and 3d has nothing to do with it

Re:six micrometer is pretty high resolution for th (1)

Loomismeister (1589505) | more than 4 years ago | (#29868069)

I'm sorry but how does "3d has nothing to do with it" mean anything. The title of the story is that it is in 3d, so I'd say it's pretty relevant no matter how you cut it.

Re:High Res? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29867899)

Two of the dimensions are spatial and the third is temporal, so it is 3d, just not what we were all expecting from the headline.

Re:High Res? (1)

JackCroww (733340) | more than 4 years ago | (#29868019)

Video implies temporal, so yes, having 3D in the description implies all four dimensions.

I don't think so... (0, Offtopic)

bradbury (33372) | more than 4 years ago | (#29867735)

A mouse at 8.5 days out of a 19-21 day gestational cycle is about equal to a human at 3-4 months (out of 9 months). I'm not sure but I doubt physicians would be willing to operate on an unborn 3-4 month (12-16 week) old human. However there seems to be a presumption that one would want to invest such time and expense in that potential individual to repair such a congenital defect when it is accepted (at least by my myself) that it might be better to simply abort such a potentially problem prone potential individual and start over.

It is worth noting that 60-70% of conceptions end in "natural" terminations (presumably due to a self-error detection and correction process). Most likely heart defects may make it past or around such self-regulatory screening processes.

And yes, for the anti-abortion readers, I'm a cold heartless SOB who will take any "MOD -" points and stick them in the cookie jar on my desk -- and -- FYI, you most probably have no idea what is coming and I am simply going to sit back behind my cookie jar and chuckle when it gets here. For the people who don't know what this really means there are tools that might help called Google and Wikipedia.

Re:I don't think so... (0, Offtopic)

wizardforce (1005805) | more than 4 years ago | (#29867787)

There's bound to be some moms out there that would consider aborting *their own* child to be immoral so technology like this isn't worthless just because some other people would choose to just abort and try again.

Re:I don't think so... (2, Insightful)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 4 years ago | (#29868373)

What good is having religious beliefs if you can't force them on other people?

Re:I don't think so... (3, Informative)

sonnejw0 (1114901) | more than 4 years ago | (#29867789)

I am a PhD student of Neurobiology and I consider abortion murder. Who cares about a heart beat when the embryo's circulation is directly linked to that of the mother? On the contrary, the nervous system is formed in humans within three days, before any woman would even notice being pregnant. In fact, the ectodermal cells that are the undifferentiated neurons destined to become the nervous system are in place and begin their morphological formation before implantation into the uterine wall. All of this talk of trimesters and trigger points like the first heart beat in development are not reflected by biological development, rather they are simple terms we use for convenience.

I don't even understand why people feel there is a need for abortion. There are condoms and pills, plan B/morning after pill, and many other old fashion ways to not get pregnant. What purpose does abortion serve?

Re:I don't think so... (3, Insightful)

wizardforce (1005805) | more than 4 years ago | (#29867857)

I don't even understand why people feel there is a need for abortion. There are condoms and pills, plan B/morning after pill, and many other old fashion ways to not get pregnant. What purpose does abortion serve?

You forgot rape... And endangerment of the mother's life. Not every unwanted pregnancy can be prevented nor safely carried to term. I don't think anyone has the moral authority to force a woman to die as a consequence of trying to bring a dangerous pregnancy to term. Nor do I believe that unwanted pregnancies are solely the fault of the mother.

Re:I don't think so... (0, Troll)

Tomfrh (719891) | more than 4 years ago | (#29867895)

You forgot rape

For real. It is a scientific fact that rape babies are devil spawn. As such they must be terminated with extreme prejudice. Anyone who doesn't believe this needs to watch the Nightmare on Elm Street series. This documents fully the dangers that can arise when rape babies are allowed to come to term.

Re:I don't think so... (1)

wizardforce (1005805) | more than 4 years ago | (#29867915)

not what I meant... I meant that rape can cause an unwanted pregnancy through no fault of the mother.

Re:I don't think so... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29868015)

Oh!! is THAT what rape means? gosh. i'm glad you are here to clarify that rape is no fault of the mother. i suppose all the pro-lifers should now go rethink the entire basis of our position now since this has never occurred to us. :eyeroll:

Re:I don't think so... (2, Insightful)

wizardforce (1005805) | more than 4 years ago | (#29868111)

No. There are some pro-lifers who base their position partly on the idea that an unwanted pregnancy is the result of immoral behavior on the mother's part. It's that level of idiocy that I am opposed to, not the general concept of the pro-life movement.

Re:I don't think so... (4, Informative)

ChromeAeonium (1026952) | more than 4 years ago | (#29868203)

Statistically, [johnstonsarchive.net] rape is a minority case, so in the vast majority of cases, they are correct. I mean, whether or not the behavior was moral of course can be debated, but the point is it was still the parents' conscious willing decisions.

Re:I don't think so... (1)

ChromeAeonium (1026952) | more than 4 years ago | (#29868359)

it was still the parents' conscious willing decisions.

and of course, either way, not the baby's fault or choice. (my bad, forgot to add that part)

Re:I don't think so... (1)

Animaether (411575) | more than 4 years ago | (#29869089)

I'd imagine the conscious willing decision is to have sex. That does not imply that they were consciously willing to get (the girl) pregnant.

Let's say they're even having 'safe sex'. I.e. they make the decision to be on the pill / wear a condom, and thus similarly in the vast majority of cases the decision that they do -not- want to get (the girl) pregnant.

But the effectivity of both combined is still not 100%, so in this hypothetical case the girl does get pregnant.
She had no particular reason to take a morning-after pill, or go to a doc, or etc. so a few weeks later.. 'oops'.

Does this 'oops' somehow constitute a willing decision to get pregnant, despite the above, based merely on the fact that when people decide to have sex with a 100% contraceptive method they 'accept' that tiny percentage chance that they -do- get (the girl) pregnant?

I'm not particularly pro-abortion, nor do I find all abortion to be murder.
I've previously commented that I imagine 'life' to begin when the fruit - whatever stage it's in - is viable outside of the womb. Technology pushes this further and further toward the date of conception.

This is, of course, also a catch-22. The further it gets pushed forward to the date of conception, the more likely it is that eventually the IVF petri dishes/tubes would be viable outside of a womb and inside a technological creation of man as well. That's when we'll have some -really- interesting debates.

Re:I don't think so... (1)

Tomfrh (719891) | more than 4 years ago | (#29868305)

The morality of the parents is irrelevant. Whether the father was a rapist or the mother a whore makes no difference to whether abortion is ok.

Admittedly both sides are guilty of resorting to crude moral rhetoric in justifying their positions.

Re:I don't think so... (-1, Troll)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 4 years ago | (#29868381)

Oh!! is THAT what rape means? gosh. i'm glad you are here to clarify that rape is no fault of the mother. i suppose all the pro-lifers should now go rethink the entire basis of our position now since this has never occurred to us. :eyeroll:

Take note of what having certain religious beliefs can do to one's social skills.

Re:I don't think so... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29868887)

I agree. +1 internets for you.

Re:I don't think so... (3, Insightful)

schnikies79 (788746) | more than 4 years ago | (#29867867)

Because with all those options to not get pregnant, accidents still happen. I'm not going to even touch the issue of health reasons, rape, etc.

Re:I don't think so... (2, Interesting)

maxume (22995) | more than 4 years ago | (#29867989)

They spoke well of the morning after pill. That does a decent job of dealing with rape (though it doesn't give the woman in question a great deal of time to consider the issue).

Re:I don't think so... (3, Informative)

Mr2001 (90979) | more than 4 years ago | (#29868191)

Emergency contraception is only 75-89% effective [plannedparenthood.org] . That still leaves a lot of unwanted pregnancies.

Re:I don't think so... (1)

smaddox (928261) | more than 4 years ago | (#29868341)

Not to mention all the adverse side-effects that taking a massive dose of hormones can cause.

Re:I don't think so... (-1, Flamebait)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 4 years ago | (#29868393)

What I don't get is how anything growing inside your body and living off your tissue can NOT be considered to belong to you in the sense of it being your choice what to do with it.

Unless you bring God into the equation, and I'm guessing He'd rather stay out of it, thank you very much.

Re:I don't think so... (4, Insightful)

rantingkitten (938138) | more than 4 years ago | (#29868845)

I am a PhD student of Neurobiology and I consider abortion murder.

Since you think abortion is murder because the fetus has a nervous system, you must consider killing anything else with a nervous system -- including worms and insects -- to be morally equivalent to the killing of a human. Is that a stance you're willing to take, or would you like to adjust your criteria?

Maybe you should find a more compelling reason to call something "murder".
  • "Murder" is specifically the taking of a human life -- not an animal life, a plant life, the life of a fungus, or anything else. It must be human. Merely "being alive" affords you no special status on this planet, as we're perfectly content to slaughter all kinds of life wholesale. But we draw the line at humans.
  • There is only one thing that distinguishes humans from any other life form. Most of them are far superior to us in physical abilities; they can run faster, jump higher, shred with claws, cut with teeth, fly, breathe underwater, have a variety of senses and appendages we don't have, and so forth. But we have one thing no other life form seems to have -- our ability to rationalise, abstract, conceptualise.. in short, our ability to think. Other forms of life can certainly think to some degree but there is something unique about our abilities.
  • This one important, uniquely human feature requires a functional human brain.
  • If it does not have a functional human brain, whatever else it might be, it is not human.
  • A human brain requires billions or trillions of interconnected neurons in order to function.
  • Large-scale neuron linkup does not occur in humans until the sixth or seventh month of gestation.

A "nervous system" is utterly irrelevent -- we kill millions of living things with nervous systems daily, and whatever else that may be, we do not consider it to be murder. The hamburger you had for lunch came from an animal that had a nervous system, and one quite a bit more advanced than any week-old fetus anyway.

Nervous systems, heartbeats, lungs -- these things do not make one human. There is one, and only one thing that humans have that no other animal has. How can you consider a fetus to be fully human when it lacks the one basic characteristic of humanity?

Re:I don't think so... (1, Insightful)

wizardforce (1005805) | more than 4 years ago | (#29869011)

"Murder" is specifically the taking of a human life -- not an animal life, a plant life, the life of a fungus, or anything else. It must be human. Merely "being alive" affords you no special status on this planet, as we're perfectly content to slaughter all kinds of life wholesale. But we draw the line at humans.

Provide evidence that indicates that an unborn child is not human.

There is only one thing that distinguishes humans from any other life form. Most of them are far superior to us in physical abilities; they can run faster, jump higher, shred with claws, cut with teeth, fly, breathe underwater, have a variety of senses and appendages we don't have, and so forth. But we have one thing no other life form seems to have -- our ability to rationalise, abstract, conceptualise.. in short, our ability to think. Other forms of life can certainly think to some degree but there is something unique about our abilities.

Does that mean that persons with mental defects are somehow not human?
How about people with alzheimer's and very young born children? Are they inhuman because they lack some of these qualities you speak of? No sir... you are unequivocally wrong. A dog has the mental capacity of a 2 year old child yet you would not say that the line was drawn at that point; the dog is thought of being less than the human despite similar mental capacity. You value human life on a fairly arbitrary scale that favors your opinion but has little to do with reality.

Re:I don't think so... (3, Insightful)

khayman80 (824400) | more than 4 years ago | (#29869117)

Provide evidence that indicates that an unborn child is not human.

Individual rights aren't directly linked to genetics. Otherwise it would be perfectly moral to kill a sapient alien. He's not trying to say fetuses aren't human in a biological sense, but rather that mere human DNA doesn't necessarily confer individual rights.

Does that mean that persons with mental defects are somehow not human?

Again, they're biologically human. But morally, a person who suffers irreversible brain death is no longer sapient, so our laws (correctly) allow families to "pull the plug." This is the most extreme case, of course, and it's common for this position to be used as a strawman position: "Pro-choice means that anyone with an IQ below X should be killed!"

This couldn't be farther from reality. Most people recognize the need for shades of grey. For instance:

How about people with alzheimer's and very young born children? Are they inhuman because they lack some of these qualities you speak of? No sir... you are unequivocally wrong.

People with alzheimers shouldn't be given driver's licenses, nor should they have access to firearms or heavy machinery. Very young children don't have the right to vote or enter contracts. But only a lunatic would say that they have the same rights as a brain-dead vegetable. Shades of grey are necessary.

A dog has the mental capacity of a 2 year old child yet you would not say that the line was drawn at that point; the dog is thought of being less than the human despite similar mental capacity.

For a very good reason; dogs don't ever progress past that point. Humans do.

You value human life on a fairly arbitrary scale that favors your opinion but has little to do with reality.

All moral decisions seem arbitrary to me, in the sense that they can't be falsified. But I also arbitrarily think that all sapient beings have the right to life. This includes all humans except for those without the capacity for sapience (e.g. fetuses prior to the development of a "reasonably" complicated brain, and people who have suffered irreversible brain death.) It also includes sapient aliens, genuine artificial intelligences, and possibly cetaceans, cephalapods, and some of the other great apes.

I haven't conclusively figured out where to put the boundaries for individual rights. Anyone who thinks these issues are simple is either naive or a genius on a level I'll never be able to reach. Morality in the real world is messy and arbitrary for everyone who hasn't locked himself into a moral system prescribed by an omnipotent, omniscient deity.

Re:I don't think so... (0, Troll)

gillbates (106458) | more than 4 years ago | (#29869133)

There is only one thing that distinguishes humans from any other life form.

Actually, there's quite a bit more, and here are some just off the top of my head:

  • Humans appreciate beauty, and build things for that purpose alone.
  • Humans are capable of self control. (Though, admittedly, liberals - while seemingly human - do not seem to understand the concept of self control. They believe it is impossible for teenagers to abstain from sex, for bums to refrain from alcohol, etc...)
  • Humans are capable of selfless service.
  • Humans are capable of love.
  • Humans have a soul.

But on to the crux of the argument: If a human does not possess rights - specifically, the right to live - simply because they are human, created by God, then no human has any rights at all.

Any other theory of the rights of man can be easily extended to deny *certain people* their rights based on completely arbitrary characteristics. You said, "How can you consider a fetus to be fully human when it lacks the one basic characteristic of humanity?". Let's run with that, shall we:

  1. First, let's define humanity in our own particular way, to exclude the groups we want to oppress:
    • White skin is a basic characteristic of humanity.
    • Being male is a basic characteristic of humanity.
    • Being "civilised" is a basic characteristic of humanity.
    • Being Aryan is a basic characteristic of humanity.
  2. Then, take these definitions, and get the public to agree with them:
  3. Profit!

The notion that a person isn't human because of some arbitrary factor or fine-sounding theory of what-it-means-to-be-human is that these judgments always pave the way for oppression and atrocities whenever there arises social stressors.

Now, these are not hypothetical examples. They actually happened, because someone thought they "Just Knew" their pet theory of what-it-means-to-be-human was correct. And they applied that theory to those "other people" and made fine sounding arguments justifying what were ultimately very oppressive practices.

To make a more salient point, I'd like you to prove, using your definition of what it means to be human, that:

  1. pre-Civil War era Blacks are human. Remember, most can barely speak English, can't read, and would have a difficult time demonstrating what White people of the time would consider intelligence.*
  2. That women of the same time period are human.
  3. That Native Americans are human. They don't even speak English, can't handle liquor*, and can't/don't build dwellings a white man would consider adequate.
  4. That Jews are human.

I think you will have a hard time with at least two of the above, and determined devil's advocate could convincingly argue a third and possibly a forth against your definition. If, OTOH, we argue that a person is a human because they are constructed of and by human DNA, we have no problem at all with the above questions.

* - Yes, you have to take into account the prejudices of the time and the notion of intelligence at this time was not well-developed.

Re:I don't think so... (1)

Animaether (411575) | more than 4 years ago | (#29869123)

On the contrary, the nervous system is formed in humans within three days, before any woman would even notice being pregnant.

So, then... if you hit a person in your car, get slapped with involuntary manslaughter or something of the sort, and the coroner finds a little clump of cells 3 days old.. woop: TWO counts of involuntary manslaughter?

In fact, the ectodermal cells that are the undifferentiated neurons destined to become the nervous system are in place and begin their morphological formation before implantation into the uterine wall.

And what if that implantation fails? It happens, you know. Who do we look to blame then?
Did the mom maybe eat something wrong? Should -she- be accused of involuntary manslaughter (or even murder, depending on the scenario)?

I respect your belief that life starts at 3 days, 2 days, heck, at conception - I may disagree, but I respect it. But only with the added note that ending a life is not necessariy murder (or even (in)voluntary manslaughter); see euthanasia for the other end of what that encompasses.

We're onto a new path now... (2, Interesting)

tjstork (137384) | more than 4 years ago | (#29867817)

And yes, for the anti-abortion readers

Oh, the great irony of politics is that Darwin is firmly on the right wing side. In the end, the earth belongs to those who have the most babies, and, all those things you advocate, undermine your own culture as much as they undermine your genes. A quick spin of the globe shows that religious societies are the ones producing the most children - and secular societies the least. You can condemn Islam's male domination, or the quaint traditions of American Christianity, but, the fact is, they are the ones having the babies while secular people are not.

So sure, please, believe it: marriage and having a person stay at home is quaint.... if you get your girlfriend pregnant, its better to get rid of the child than to ruin your lives, believe all of it. If we can then privatize schools and do the other things so that your input to our culture can be blocked, we can exterminate liberalism all the more quickly, simply by out-breeding it. But, at the end of the day, your way of life is doomed, simply because, for better or for worse, our religious culture has been evolved by hundreds of generations of human cultural evolution, and your culture will fall by the wayside as much as your genes will perish forever in the dust.

Re:We're onto a new path now... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29867987)

but, the fact is, they are the ones having the babies while secular people are not.

In a country where abortion is illegal and women who are raped are urged by belief to carry the baby to term, of course that will be the majority of the outcome.

Your observation does not reflect anyones desire, only the will forced upon them by their government.

Re:We're onto a new path now... (1)

tjstork (137384) | more than 4 years ago | (#29868277)

Your observation does not reflect anyones desire, only the will forced upon them by their government

I don't buy that at all, and our collective national experience in our two wars is our best evidence. The fact is, and we're learning this in the countries that we invade, is that the policies you describe actually have a large measure of POPULAR support. If Democracy cannot be imposed by a barrel of a gun, as liberals are fond of saying, than I would argue nothing else can, either.

Re:We're onto a new path now... (1)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 4 years ago | (#29868459)

If Democracy cannot be imposed by a barrel of a gun, as liberals are fond of saying, than I would argue nothing else can, either.

But it doesn't stop you "Center-Right" types from trying.

Re:We're onto a new path now... (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 4 years ago | (#29868009)

If we follow this line of reasoning, the logical conclusion is that an Indian or Chinese person is going to steal the food right out of your mouth.

Re:We're onto a new path now... (1)

wizardforce (1005805) | more than 4 years ago | (#29868141)

You joke but I've got relatives who believe exactly that. The sad part is, they're not uncommon... JUst crazy.

Re:We're onto a new path now... (1)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 4 years ago | (#29868469)

If we follow this line of reasoning, the logical conclusion is that an Indian or Chinese person is going to steal the food right out of your mouth.

They better have some quick hands because I've got some sharp-ass incisors.

Re:We're onto a new path now... (1)

M. Baranczak (726671) | more than 4 years ago | (#29868749)

The Indians will distract you by staging an elaborately choreographed musical number, allowing the Chinese to sneak in and use their ninjitsu powers.

Re:We're onto a new path now... (1)

Mr2001 (90979) | more than 4 years ago | (#29868221)

But, at the end of the day, your way of life is doomed, simply because, for better or for worse, our religious culture has been evolved by hundreds of generations of human cultural evolution

What, you think other cultures just fell from the sky one day?

You're focusing on genetic evolution but ignoring memetic evolution. The beliefs you're promoting were the default for centuries; the ones you're denigrating evolved from your beliefs, because people saw how much squalor and human suffering comes from crapping out kids willy-nilly.

Re:We're onto a new path now... (1)

tjstork (137384) | more than 4 years ago | (#29868307)

You're focusing on genetic evolution but ignoring memetic evolution.

Hmm, I'm really not. The two go hand in hand and you have to see that cultural and physical evolution ultimately go hand in hand. If anything, the biggest values that a kid can get come from the family.

because people saw how much squalor and human suffering comes from crapping out kids willy-nilly.

Except that, this is not true. The USA experienced a huge surge in population and really only ran into fiscal problems when our population growth rate dropped. Old people are expensive to take care of, and the cheapest way to do that is have loads of kids so as to share the costs.

Re:We're onto a new path now... (2, Insightful)

Mr2001 (90979) | more than 4 years ago | (#29868401)

Except that, this is not true. The USA experienced a huge surge in population and really only ran into fiscal problems when our population growth rate dropped.

We experienced a surge in population because of a surge in wealth. Having kids you can't afford is a bad idea.

Old people are expensive to take care of, and the cheapest way to do that is have loads of kids so as to share the costs.

Loads of kids growing up in broken homes with inadequate attention, education, and nutrition aren't going to be supporting anyone. They're more likely to be stripping and robbing convenience stores. Don't ignore quality of life in favor of quantity.

BTW, whatever happened to planning for your own retirement? Raising a child costs $125,000 to $250,000. That could go a long way if you invested it instead.

Re:We're onto a new path now... (2, Funny)

MartinSchou (1360093) | more than 4 years ago | (#29868597)

They're more likely to be stripping and robbing convenience stores.

First of all, if it wasn't for strippers, quite a lot of nerds wouldn't get close to a real life naked woman.

Or do you mean that they strip down, run in and rob convenience stores? That'd be awesome ...

"Give me the money, or I'll do the helicopter!"

Re:We're onto a new path now... (1)

tjstork (137384) | more than 4 years ago | (#29868653)

We experienced a surge in population because of a surge in wealth. Having kids you can't afford is a bad idea.

Put the kids to work for you, kill two birds with one stone.

Loads of kids growing up in broken homes with inadequate attention, education, and nutrition aren't going to be supporting anyone

Today's bottom tier Americans are richer, in terms of energy per capita, transportation, heat, shelter, and clothing, than all but the richest people of 200 years ago. How much wealth do you need?

BTW, whatever happened to planning for your own retirement? Raising a child costs $125,000 to $250,000. That could go a long way if you invested it instead.

Invest in what? Overall, economically, national economic growth is tied to hmmm, population growth. Besides, the cost of putting up an old person in a nursing home could, in the space of two years, put a kid through college. You either have to cut old people off, or have more kids to share the costs to support them. It's simple math.

Re:We're onto a new path now... (1)

Mr2001 (90979) | more than 4 years ago | (#29868757)

Today's bottom tier Americans are richer, in terms of energy per capita, transportation, heat, shelter, and clothing, than all but the richest people of 200 years ago. How much wealth do you need?

That's a very simplistic way to look at it. Being able to provide for kids isn't just about staving off starvation and hypothermia. It's also about having free time to spend with them; skills and knowledge to pass on; enough comfort and security that you aren't constantly stressing out or fighting in front of them; etc. Buying a car or a flat screen doesn't turn a bad home into a good home.

Invest in what? Overall, economically, national economic growth is tied to hmmm, population growth.

Again, that's a very simplistic way of looking at it. Our GDP is 425% of China's, yet we have only 23% of their population. We grew our economy by becoming more productive per capita.

You either have to cut old people off, or have more kids to share the costs to support them. It's simple math.

This is an odd stance for a conservative to take. Why don't you think people should be supporting themselves by planning ahead? Why is it up to the rest of us to crank out enough kids at our expense to support you in your old age?

Re:We're onto a new path now... (1)

wizardforce (1005805) | more than 4 years ago | (#29869043)

Take a look at the world sir. The richest countries in the world also tend to have the lowest birth rates. That is not a coincidence. Fewer children to raise means more resources devoted to more productive uses such as taking care of the few children they already have or starting a business or a multitude of other things you did not consider.

Re:We're onto a new path now... (1)

rock_climbing_guy (630276) | more than 4 years ago | (#29869007)

You're focusing on genetic evolution but ignoring memetic evolution. The beliefs you're promoting were the default for centuries; the ones you're denigrating evolved from your beliefs, because people saw how much squalor and human suffering comes from crapping out kids willy-nilly.

My name is Charles Darwin, and I want you to know that I said that natural selection does not necessarily favor those who are the strongest or the smartest ( or for that matter, those who avoid squalor and suffering ). It favors those who survive and reproduce.

Thank you.

Re:We're onto a new path now... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29868279)

I completely agree. If you can discount life at 8 days, you can discount it at any point. Life is life.

Re:We're onto a new path now... (1)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 4 years ago | (#29868497)

Life is life.

Unless they happen to have been born on the other side of some border, or believe differently, or act differently, or look differently, or happen to have oil under their ground.

Then, all bets are off.

But a dividing cell a few hours old must be granted full human rights, at least until they get old enough to go to school. They're not so cute when they get to the age where you have to feed them, or educate them, or take care of them.

Re:We're onto a new path now... (2, Insightful)

smaddox (928261) | more than 4 years ago | (#29868391)

In the end, the earth belongs to those who have the most babies, and, all those things you advocate, undermine your own culture as much as they undermine your genes.

Survival of the fittest is about adaptation, not about who can have the most babies. When resources start to run out it is the species that is ready to change and adapt that wins out. I don't think anyone will disagree with me when I say religions aren't exactly proponents of change.

So sure, please, believe it: marriage and having a person stay at home is quaint.... if you get your girlfriend pregnant, its better to get rid of the child than to ruin your lives, believe all of it. If we can then privati[s]e schools and do the other things so that your input to our culture can be blocked, we can exterminate liberalism all the more quickly, simply by out-breeding it.

Privatising schools won't do much to shield children from alternate viewpoints in the age of the Internet.

Re:We're onto a new path now... (1)

selven (1556643) | more than 4 years ago | (#29868407)

Unfortunately, the entire world of genetics will turn itself upside down in the next 30-100 years as we gain the ability to understand genes and modify them at will, so we'll at most have 2 more generations where that sort of thing matters.

Re:We're onto a new path now... (1)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 4 years ago | (#29868453)

religious societies are the ones producing the most children

But their children grow up to hate their parents and become either secular libertines or suicide bombers.

I'm telling you, we should all just get along to go along and start going to megachurches, since their ownership of the world is inevitable.

However, it's interesting that in such a devoutly "Christian" country like the USA, a majority of the population favors legal abortions (though regulated). Less than 35 percent believe that abortion should be illegal. I guess there's a practical side to even a very pious folk.

Re:We're onto a new path now... (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29868537)

So sure, please, believe it: marriage and having a person stay at home is quaint.... if you get your girlfriend pregnant, its better to get rid of the child than to ruin your lives, believe all of it. If we can then privatize schools and do the other things so that your input to our culture can be blocked, we can exterminate liberalism all the more quickly, simply by out-breeding it. But, at the end of the day, your way of life is doomed, simply because, for better or for worse, our religious culture has been evolved by hundreds of generations of human cultural evolution, and your culture will fall by the wayside as much as your genes will perish forever in the dust.

From the sound of it, you think the ultimate purpose of conservativism is to exterminate all liberals. What ever happened to preserving truth, order, justice and all that stuff I thought conservatives cared about?

Re:We're onto a new path now... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29868739)

In a vacuum, I agree entirely, but if this were the case, wouldn't it already have happened? I mean, how many hundreds of years is it going to take for fundamental religion to take over the planet?

It seems that, even though a lot of religious societies are having a lot of religious babies, many of those babies must be growing up into people who are somewhat more secular.

(I'm not sure if you were trying to be neutral, but I am.)

Re:We're onto a new path now... (1)

mi (197448) | more than 4 years ago | (#29868769)

If we can then privatize schools and do the other things so that your input to our culture can be blocked

This will be much harder to do, than to simply have children... Your opponents have recognized this attack vector long ago — and spared no effort to entrench themselves at the "public" education front. (Their strong positions in popular culture is, likely, natural — having fewer children leads one more time to pursue other interests.)

But, at the end of the day, your way of life is doomed, simply because, for better or for worse, our religious culture has been evolved by hundreds of generations of human cultural evolution, and your culture will fall by the wayside as much as your genes will perish forever in the dust.

As long as they can convert your children to their mentality — and they aren't going to stop trying — they don't need to outbreed you. Worse — by seeding your children's minds with their ideas, they make their ideology (if not their genes) come out ahead. You get to go through pain and expense of birth and child-rearing, and then struggle to win your kid's mind from the State's "educators".

This is not meant to discourage you — while this recent immigrant finds both of the main sides of America's culture-wars unpleasant, I'd rather the conservatives win — but to point out, that taking back the schools and the popular culture should be the primary target, rather than a mere afterthought.

That's VERY impressive. (5, Interesting)

jeffb (2.718) (1189693) | more than 4 years ago | (#29867757)

You can get arbitrarily good images of fixed (dead) embryos, but live imaging using any method is damn tough, and live 3D imaging at this resolution is, as far as I know, unprecedented. Motion makes it nearly impossible to do MR or CT 3D imaging. You can gate against the cardiac cycle to image a single animal, but nobody can yet gate against a fetal heartbeat in a mouse. I'm not even sure if that would be enough, because the maternal heartbeat contributes significant motion, too.

One of our doctoral students did a 3D atlas of the embryonic mouse using MR microscopy [duke.edu] . These were fixed specimens, but they're isotropic (the same spatial resolution in all three dimensions), and nobody's come close to matching our resolution as far as I know. Part of her work was looking at cardiac septal defects, which you pretty much have to study in embryos, because they aren't compatible with live birth.

One drawback of OCT is that it fails if you have to go through much tissue. Mice are tiny enough to make this work possible, but I don't think there's any way you could do it in humans, short of inserting a source/detector into the uterus, which kind of spoils the whole "non-invasive" feature.

Re:That's VERY impressive. (1)

von_rick (944421) | more than 4 years ago | (#29867945)

You can go for a 3D video with an ultrasound transducer. That way you have your deep tissue imaging (unfortunately in 2D) coupled with superficial 3D imaging. If you are creative enough you can play around with your ultrasound transducers to get surround sound.

Re:That's VERY impressive. (1)

jeffb (2.718) (1189693) | more than 4 years ago | (#29868063)

Yeah, and if you've got repeating motion, you can sort of patch together a 4D image (3D over time). Alex's atlas is actually 4D, although the different timepoints were necessarily from different specimens. (And obviously not isotropic on time -- to get a true 4D isotropic dataset, our 19.5 micron/voxel spatial resolution would demand 65-femtosecond temporal resolution, which is (a) physically impossible and (b) of no use to an anatomist.)

Re:That's VERY impressive. (0, Offtopic)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 4 years ago | (#29868507)

I don't think there's any way you could do it in humans, short of inserting a source/detector into the uterus

Forget your ultrasound transducers. Help me find my keys and we'll drive out of here.

COMMUNISM NOW (0, Troll)

For a Free Internet (1594621) | more than 4 years ago | (#29867805)

That will solve the problem. Anyone who disagrees with me is a heterosexual straight person who likes dick in pussy fucking.

The video is only 720p in real time, not 4k (0, Redundant)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 4 years ago | (#29868047)

From the camera manufacturers' site [red.com] :

What resolution are the outputs on a RED ONE?

The EVF video output is 1280 x 720 Progressive, the LCD video output is 1024 x 600. 720P can be tapped from the HDMI and HD-SDI ports, while HD-SDI Dual Port and HDMI will provide 1080P output in playback only.

In other words, if you hok up a RED ONE camera to a laprascope, the very best you'll see in real time is 1280x720p, which is pretty crappy - even consumer-grade camcorders can do that.

Call us back in a decade when they really can do 4k surgery.

This story got it so wrong (so what else is new) ...

I'm sorry to tell you this... (1)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 4 years ago | (#29868165)

... but this is stereo(-2D), not (volumetric) 3D. Despite the layman definition.

Slightly misleading time frame? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29868167)

I'm no expert so, please don't take my word for it but...

Don't mice have a gestation of around 21 days like Hamsters?

I mean, "just 8.5" days sounds spectacular but, scaled to the 21 days they usually take to be born, I'd say it's quite long.

I have no idea how hard it is to film a human embryo at around 3.5~4 months, though. Nor if it's at all related to the scale in time.

Human beings seen that can't talk (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29868263)

This kind of evidence hopefully makes it clearer that the beat you are seeing is a human being and the only thing that separates it from a newborn is time and food. The baby's hair color, eye color, etc... are already there, they just haven't had enough time to be expressed.

2D (1)

Swampash (1131503) | more than 4 years ago | (#29868433)

Unless this video comes with some 3D glasses and I missed out on them, this is 2D. The image has height and width, but I can't rotate it around to see the heartbeat from the side or the back or the top or the bottom.

Re:2D (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29868627)

They have this data in 3D video (aka four dimensions). Of course the news article doesn't contain the video only a subset of it.

More please? (1)

fragMasterFlash (989911) | more than 4 years ago | (#29868629)

There are many medical imaging applications which could improve diagnosis without subjecting patients to ionizing radiation, yet very little if any R&D dollars are invested to productize them given that all the major medical imaging vendors are heavily invested in 'big iron' solutions such as CT and digital XRay. As long the current ecosystem is in place these companies will push their multimillion dollar imaging systems while throwing in Ultrasound and laproscopy systems merely to sweeten the deal. This is one area where eastern countries are way ahead of the west in that care providers seek imaging solutions based on utility, not on the reimbursement rates per procedure.

Should read: Low res grainy 2D video (1)

viking80 (697716) | more than 4 years ago | (#29869145)

TFA has a Low res grainy 2D video, and the author readily admits: "Though it looks grainy, this and other video of the developing heart made by the Houston group are some of the best ever taken."

I think, and probably, it is very impressive to make a videothe beating hart of a tiny mouse embryo, even if it is grainy and 2D.

BUT WHERE THE HELL is the H.D. 3D video announced in the headline?

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