Radical Humility: David Gregory on What Makes Pope Francis Extraordinary

Why is the pope's visit to America a big deal? Aside from the sheer number of Catholics in the United States, Pope Francis inspires people the world over with the way he leads the Catholic Church.

David Gregory: Well there’s 70 million Catholics in America so whoever the pope is, is incredibly important. I believe this is the fourth most populous Catholic country in the world. So to have the head of the Catholic Church here is just always so significant to people and their faith journey in America within the Catholic Church. I would say that under normal circumstances, I think Pope Francis is extraordinary. I don’t know anybody who is not moved by his example and his spirit and the way he’s leading the church. There are ideological differences with him I suppose in different areas of the spectrum and I’m not wading into church doctrine here, but I love his spirit and I love his example and I love his humility. And I love his voice of conscience in the world. I’m really moved by the practice of washing someone else’s feet, you know. In the gospel is when Jesus washes Peter’s feet and he looks at him almost with kind of horror and trepidation like, you know, "Why are you doing that?"

And Jesus says to him essentially when you learn the importance of doing this you’ll understand why it’s so important. It is an act of humility and to understand that the basis of humanity is serving each other, having compassion for each other and understanding that we’re all in this together. So I love his spirit and I love his intent.

Why is the pope's visit to America a big deal? After all, he's just an old guy with a fun collection of hats. Why should the layperson care what he says or thinks? As journalist David Gregory notes, the United States is home to one of the largest Catholic populations in the entire world. Just by sheer numbers, Francis' influence is important. But the real heart of the pope's appeal is his demeanor and the approach he has taken in running the Catholic Church. Francis seeks to lead by example by practicing humility. It's this aspect of his character that makes him so inspiring to Gregory and many other Americans.

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Scientists study tattooed corpses, find pigment in lymph nodes

It turns out, that tattoo ink can travel throughout your body and settle in lymph nodes.

17th August 1973: An American tattoo artist working on a client's shoulder. (Photo by F. Roy Kemp/BIPs/Getty Images)
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In the slightly macabre experiment to find out where tattoo ink travels to in the body, French and German researchers recently used synchrotron X-ray fluorescence in four "inked" human cadavers — as well as one without. The results of their 2017 study? Some of the tattoo ink apparently settled in lymph nodes.


Image from the study.

As the authors explain in the study — they hail from Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich, the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility, and the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment — it would have been unethical to test this on live animals since those creatures would not be able to give permission to be tattooed.

Because of the prevalence of tattoos these days, the researchers wanted to find out if the ink could be harmful in some way.

"The increasing prevalence of tattoos provoked safety concerns with respect to particle distribution and effects inside the human body," they write.

It works like this: Since lymph nodes filter lymph, which is the fluid that carries white blood cells throughout the body in an effort to fight infections that are encountered, that is where some of the ink particles collect.

Image by authors of the study.

Titanium dioxide appears to be the thing that travels. It's a white tattoo ink pigment that's mixed with other colors all the time to control shades.

The study's authors will keep working on this in the meantime.

“In future experiments we will also look into the pigment and heavy metal burden of other, more distant internal organs and tissues in order to track any possible bio-distribution of tattoo ink ingredients throughout the body. The outcome of these investigations not only will be helpful in the assessment of the health risks associated with tattooing but also in the judgment of other exposures such as, e.g., the entrance of TiO2 nanoparticles present in cosmetics at the site of damaged skin."

Why are so many objects in space shaped like discs?

It's one of the most consistent patterns in the unviverse. What causes it?

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  • Spinning discs are everywhere – just look at our solar system, the rings of Saturn, and all the spiral galaxies in the universe.
  • Spinning discs are the result of two things: The force of gravity and a phenomenon in physics called the conservation of angular momentum.
  • Gravity brings matter together; the closer the matter gets, the more it accelerates – much like an ice skater who spins faster and faster the closer their arms get to their body. Then, this spinning cloud collapses due to up and down and diagonal collisions that cancel each other out until the only motion they have in common is the spin – and voila: A flat disc.