New Zealand’s animal kill-off

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A shark that was 512 years old?

It turns out that Greenland sharks routinely live to be 272 years old.  One was caught recently that may have been 512 years old.  That is to say, she would have been born in 1504.

She had been swimming in the northern sea, starting only 12 years after Columbus discovered America.  She would have been 13 years old when Martin Luther posted his theses.  She could have eaten a Pilgrim.

This would make this species of shark the longest-living vertebrate.  Scientists are trying to figure out how these creatures can live so long, hoping to apply their findings to human beings.

UPDATE:  The shark, whose long life was ignominiously ended when it was caught in a fishing net, was female.  So I have changed the earlier pronoun “he” to “she.”  Also, as the linked story says, the scientists determined that the shark was between 272 and 512 years old, probably more likely 400 than the upper limit.  But still, that’s old.

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A pig with a human brain

The ethical issues involved in combining human DNA with animal DNA are so great–and so obvious–that the federal government at first refused to fund those kinds of experiments.  But now, reports Timothy Willard,  the National Institute for Health has rescinded the ban.

Willard reports on the kind of experimentation your tax dollars will be going towards:  A researcher from the University of California, Davis, that is planning to inject human embryonic stem cells into a pig embryo.  The fetus will then be implanted into the womb of a pig, who will give birth to the human/pig organism (known as a “chimera” for the mythological monsters who are combinations of various animals).

The researcher says he is doing this for the universal excuse of some day curing disease and making more compatible organs to transplant.  But he openly acknowledges what can go wrong.

Since he can’t really control what those human stem cells might turn into, if two adult chimeras mate, the result might be a a human baby with a pig as his or her parents.  Or we might have a pig with a human brain and human consciousness.

But don’t worry, he says.  If anything goes wrong, he will abort the fetus.  This is apparently what convinced the NIH that the experiments can be ethical.

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Pope connects gender ideology to economic exploitation

Pope Francis connected the new gender ideology, according to which children can choose their own gender, to economic exploitation, colonialism, and the destruction of the environment.  What they have in common is the rejection of Creation, both of nature and of human beings made in God’s image. [Read more…]

The first day of summer and God’s promises

In our Bible class on Sunday, in which we studied the flood in Genesis, we read another one of those verses I never noticed before:  “While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall not cease” (Genesis 8:22).

 It isn’t just the rainbow but the ordering of nature in time, the reliability of day following night,  and the cycles of the seasons that are signs of God’s reliability in change, that He keeps His promises.

This is a good verse to contemplate today,  the first day of summer.

 

The brain is NOT a computer

Brain researcher Robert Epstein explains that, contrary to what we keep hearing, the brain is NOT a computer.  We don’t process information, we don’t retrieve memories, and we won’t be able someday to download our minds into the internet. [Read more…]