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Biotech Medicine News Science

A High-Res 3D Video of the Embryonic Heartbeat 207

Posted by timothy
from the cool-imaging-tech dept.
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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A High-Res 3D Video of the Embryonic Heartbeat

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

    by pohl (872) on Sunday October 25, 2009 @07:32PM (#29867807) Homepage

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

  • Re:Cool tech. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by mi (197448) <slashdot-2012@virtual-estates.net> on Sunday October 25, 2009 @07:33PM (#29867813) Homepage

    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?

  • by wizardforce (1005805) on Sunday October 25, 2009 @07:42PM (#29867857) Journal

    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.

  • by schnikies79 (788746) on Sunday October 25, 2009 @07:45PM (#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:Cool tech. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Sunday October 25, 2009 @08:07PM (#29867957) Journal
    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.
  • by wizardforce (1005805) on Sunday October 25, 2009 @08:37PM (#29868111) Journal

    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:Cool tech. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ChromeAeonium (1026952) on Sunday October 25, 2009 @08:47PM (#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.

  • Re:Cool tech. (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 25, 2009 @08:48PM (#29868179)
    Until Pope Palpatine revised things, 'Baby hell' was "Limbo" [associatedcontent.com].
  • Re:Cool tech. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by amilo100 (1345883) on Sunday October 25, 2009 @09:12PM (#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.
  • by PopeRatzo (965947) * on Sunday October 25, 2009 @09:42PM (#29868373) Homepage Journal

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

  • by smaddox (928261) on Sunday October 25, 2009 @09:46PM (#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.

  • by Mr2001 (90979) on Sunday October 25, 2009 @09:49PM (#29868401) Homepage Journal

    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:Cool tech. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 25, 2009 @10:14PM (#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. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by mi (197448) <slashdot-2012@virtual-estates.net> on Sunday October 25, 2009 @10:31PM (#29868625) Homepage

    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].

  • by rantingkitten (938138) <kitten@mirrors[ ]es.org ['had' in gap]> on Sunday October 25, 2009 @11:25PM (#29868845) Homepage
    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?

  • by wizardforce (1005805) on Monday October 26, 2009 @12:17AM (#29869011) Journal

    "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.

  • by khayman80 (824400) on Monday October 26, 2009 @12:47AM (#29869117) Homepage Journal

    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:Cool tech. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by interkin3tic (1469267) on Monday October 26, 2009 @02:14AM (#29869489)

    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.

    Yes, this is technology that can be used for something some people don't like. That makes it bad.

    Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to use this computer and this internet to hack into a bank and steal someone's life savings, then I'll go to a lab and make a killer virus and clone some serial killers. Then probably come back home and use my stolen money to buy some child porn and upload it with the previously used internet. Then I might take a nap... an EVIL nap.

  • by khayman80 (824400) on Monday October 26, 2009 @03:14AM (#29869761) Homepage Journal

    As an example, I'll use homosexuality. According to Judaism, Islam, and Christianity, it's wrong. But why?

    Because people are fundamentally herd animals, and fear anyone who's different. This prejudice affects everyone, even the people who wrote those "holy books."

    I honestly didn't know the answer. Why would God care if someone found sexual pleasure in a unique way? He wants us to be happy, right? I didn't find out until after I had married and had a child. ... I had *no idea* being a father could be so rewarding. But most homosexuals will never experience this joy, let alone know it exists.

    Neither will single people, couples who can't have kids, or couples who choose not to conceive. But they're not all sinners because of their choices (depending on the religion in question and the method of contraception.) Also, homosexuals can have children through surrogates and should certainly be able to adopt children.

    In a similar manner, someone afflicted with homosexual desires, often simply can't understand why they would resist temptation.

    Because God creates people with homosexual tendencies (even though He wants us to all have children) just to watch them squirm. If they manage to suppress the desires He gave them, they don't burn for all eternity. Hey, this sounds plausible and reasonable. Where do I sign up?

    The first time I met a homosexual, it was immediately apparent to me that they were undergoing an epic internal struggle, the least of which concerned their sexuality. Yet, to them, this condition has persisted for so long it felt "normal" And without the ability to defer judgment to another's experience, they saw no reason to change. Without any understanding that things could be better, they thought of my position as merely trying to take away what little happiness they did posses.

    The first time I met a Christian, it was immediately apparent to me that they were undergoing an epic internal struggle, the least of which concerned their theology. Yet, to them, this condition has persisted for so long it felt "normal" And without the ability to defer judgment to another's experience, they saw no reason to change. Without any understanding that things could be better, they thought of my position as merely trying to take away what little happiness they did posses.

    I'm just kidding. I don't really believe that. But it was silly of me to justify a position with such a subjective anecdote, wasn't it? Maybe calling homosexual desires "afflictions" makes you tend to see more of an internal struggle than can be traced back to the fact that gays live in a world that hates and harms them [wikipedia.org] for no good reason?

    Having actually seen someone die unexpectedly, it is very clear to me that all human life is valued by God. Until that happened, the abortion issue for me had been largely a philosophical exercise. It wasn't until I witnessed the death of a human being that my mind changed dramatically. But I realize that most reading this have not had that experience.

    Maybe it's very clear to you how that conclusion follows from witnessing an unexpected death. And maybe all the atheists in the world just haven't seen anyone die unexpectedly. (I wonder what the odds of this are?)

    Or maybe grief affects everyone differently, and doesn't imply anything about any deity.

    In fact, most of us will never have all of the experiences which shaped the Torah or the Bible. We simply have to trust that these tenets of morality were written down and copied throughout the ages because enough people recognized the value and truth in them.

    You simply have to trust them. I prefer to think for myself [dumbscientist.com].

  • Re:Cool tech. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Aris Katsaris (939578) <katsaris@gmail.com> on Monday October 26, 2009 @07:13AM (#29870737) Homepage

    "The attribution of value to human life is completely arbitrary. "

    It's not arbitrary, it's an consequence of the fact that we're human, and the simple that fact that humans that don't value human life either kill themselves or are psychopaths on which a functioning society cannot be based.

    Attributing value to human life is probably the LEAST arbitrary thing in human civilization.

  • by drsmithy (35869) <drsmithy.gmail@com> on Monday October 26, 2009 @01:50PM (#29874741)

    No, I'm saying that actions have consequences. If you're not prepared to deal with the consequences, then you have no business doing it. It doesn't matter if it's sex, playing the stock market, gambling, racing, skydiving, etc.

    Except your "consequences" are wholly artificial because they only exist if a simple medical procedure is actively denied for the sole reason of them 'learning their lesson'.

    There is no reason why, in today's world, sex must ever result in an unwanted birth unless people like you intervene to try and tell others how they should behave.

    Your argument is nothing more than saying that people should not be held responsible for their actions, which is the main reason that the world is such a shitty place today - people like you making excuses for those who do bad / stupid things instead of holding them accountable for their choices.

    Not in the slightest. My argument is that babies are only a "consequence" of accidental pregnancy if you impose your beliefs on other people.

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