September 19, 2012

Was Jesus Married?
A historian of early Christianity at Harvard Divinity School has identified a scrap of papyrus that she says was written in Coptic in the fourth century and contains a phrase never seen in any piece of Scripture: “Jesus said to them, ‘My wife …’ ” (Laurie Goodstein, The New York Times)

Sequencing Their Own DNA
Sequencing gives you all 3 billion letters in your genome, but scientists still know so little about how to interpret the data that most people will get little, if any, useful information out of it. That’s one reason some scientists are sequencing themselves—to learn how to use this flood of information. (Rob Stein, Morning Edition, NPR)

Three People and a Baby
Britain launched a public consultation to ask whether controversial “three-parent” fertility treatments should be available to families hoping to avoid passing on incurable diseases. The potential treatments, currently only at the research stage in laboratories in Britain and the United States, would involve implanting genetically modified embryos into women for the first time. The techniques have become known as three-parent in vitro fertilization because the offspring would have genes from a mother, a father, and from a female donor. (Kate Kelland and Rosalind Russell, Reuters)

Ape Researcher Susan Savage-Rumbaugh Suspended
Susan Savage-Rumbaugh, famed primate researcher and executive director of the Great Ape Trust in Des Moines, Iowa, has been suspended in the wake of allegations that she is a danger to the trust’s seven bonobos—including Kanzi, a bonobo genius that has developed his own “words” and mastered the art of making stone tools. (Sara Reardon, New Scientist)

Book Roundup
Although 80 to 90 percent of Americans believe in God, some 25 to 50 percent do not believe in life after death (the numbers depend on the study). So when considering death, many of us turn to less spiritual pursuits. Two recent books attempt exactly that: to explore the nature and meaning of death without religious filters. Shelly Kagan’s Death uses philosophy to define mortality and how best to live with the knowledge of it; Dick Teresi’s The Undead explores how science and technology is changing how we define death—and not for the better. (Gordon Haber, Religion Dispatches)

Q&A
Giuseppe Vatinno

It’s not necessarily a negative thing for us to become less human, says transhumanist politician Giuseppe Vatinno. (Edwin Cartlidge, New Scientist)

Category: Field Notes

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