Alexander Tsiaras: Conception to Birth — Visualized [VIDEO]

Image-maker Alexander Tsiaras shares a powerful medical visualization, showing human development from conception to birth and beyond. (Some graphic images.)

TEDTalks is a daily video podcast of the best talks and performances from the TED Conference, where the world’s leading thinkers and doers give the talk of their lives in 18 minutes.

Alexander Tsiaras is president and CEO of Anatomical Travelogue, Inc. and has more than 20 years of experience in the worlds of medicine, research and art. Much of the work for his book, “From Conception to Birth: a Life Unfolds,” 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. Tsiaras is a regular keynote speaker at medical conventions worldwide, including the Visible Human Conference sponsored by the National Library of Medicine at the National Institutes of Health, and by Medicine Meets Virtual Reality. He has also lectured with Stephen Hawking at the MIT Media Lab.


  1. This talk made be wonder about what took place at the recent OCAMPR Conference. The theme of the conference was on the science and technology of conception and it took place around November 5th. However, I have been unable to find any of the proceedings on the OCAMPR’s website. I do wonder how these folks tackled these questions as I have had my doubts in the past as to whether or not they are devoted to teaching what the Church teaches.

  2. Sexual slavery in the United States occurs in multiple forms and in multiple venues. Popular forms of sex trafficking in the United States are Asian massage parlors, Mexican cantina bars, residential brothels, and street-based pimp-controlled prostitution. There is currently a divide among the anti-trafficking community in the United States over the extent of sexual slavery. Some groups view all prostitution as abusive and coerced, arguing that the exploitation is inherent in the act of commercial sex. Other groups take looser approaches to defining prostitution and sex slavery, considering the elements of force, fraud, and coercion to be necessary for sex slavery to exist.
    The prostitutes are forced to work out of apartment complexes for many hours a day.[90] Many men do not know that the women that work in illegal massage sex parlors are actually slaves.[90] The women start out being lured into the States with false pretenses and in huge debt to their owners, and then eventually earn enough to buy their freedom.[90] Also, they often have to undergo plastic surgery and forced abortions.[91] Human Trafficking and sexual enslavement are not limited to any specific location or social class. This means that there is a strong reliance on individuals to report suspicious behavior, because the psychological and physical abuse can often leave a victim unable to escape. [92] This is another reason for a lot ot abortions in the world is forced sex.

  3. While I reject the notion that the right to “privacy” trumps the right to life of the unborn in all of its developmental stages, I’m not sure there’s a sound legal or even theological case for suggesting that this right extends to recently fertilized eggs (a notion recently rejected in Mississippi). About 2/3 of fertilized eggs never end up developing: are we to believe that Heaven is predominantly populated by the souls of these fertilized ovum?

    While I’d like to see greater legal restrictions on abortion, I think moving the goalposts to fertilization is overshooting it a bit. I realize there’s no scientific definition of a soul, but Christianity has generally considered the properties of a soul to include the capacity for consciousness and self-awareness (although self-awareness may be absent in cases of coma or PVS). Plato believed it was formed by “the intellect (noûs), the nobler affections (thumós), and the appetites or passions (epithumetikón).”. IOW: the soul develops in union with the mind/brain. This puts us between 4-7 weeks of development.

  4. janet brunermer AKA SteelCityMom :

    Thanks for this, Father Jacobse! Fascinating!

    I came across TEDtalks when my husband and I ditched cable and satellite TV and
    got a ROKU. I am addicted!

    I purposely didn't watch this talk on ROKU because I quickly realized that for
    the most part TEDtalks are progressive and left-wing. In this case, I didn't
    want a bunch of gory images floating around in my head. When I saw this on your
    site, with no graphic warnings, I trusted it would be a must see.

    When I was 18, a bunch of friends and I went to the Chicago Museum of Art (I was
    stationed at the then Fort Sheridan near Chicago, Illinois). At one point we
    came across a display of very large, cylinder-like chambers housing babies in
    some kind of fluid at the different stages of life. I asked the security guard
    who made them. She just shrugged her shoulders and looked away. One of my
    friends said whoever made them did a great job. I got as close to the glass as I
    could without pressing my face against the glass. Every last detail was PERFECT!
    I told my friends that whoever made them would rival G-d…they were THAT
    perfect in every way. Later that evening, the news reported that a bunch of
    protesters that were against the display had been arrested. It turns out the
    'art babies' were in fact real, aborted babies. My heart sank, and I puked for
    an hour.
    This was a much better way of seeing life stages in the womb. Having four boys
    (my biggest was 10 and a half pounds), I always wondered how my big, burly
    babies made it through the birth canal. I mean, I knew, but this really brings
    the whole process home. It also showed me what a miracle ALL of life is….from
    the moment of conception up to birth (and to our last dying breath)…just WOW!!


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