clivia

Happy Easter!

Just in time for Easter, we have a new Pope. Chosen on 3-13-13.  All year round we’ll have to cope with a 13 in the date, so the only way to be safe is by declaring 13 as lucky.  I had been hoping for a younger pope, one who could help the church for once be ahead of the times.  This year alone, there are so many new developments discussed regarding the origin of the world – from Big Bang or the origin of individual life on the basis of DNA*.  With all these questions still unanswerable, it would be nice for the Pope to offer an inspiring spiritual explanation.

Pope Francis

One can hope, however, that the modesty of the new Pope sets standards that allow Catholicism to compete with the rapid expansion of Islam (Rome vs Mecca) and the widening popularity of Protestantism in the USA as well.  It’s reminiscent of the Pilgrims who built the foundation of North America on the principles of modesty and self-sufficiency 400 years ago, to create a new country to serve God in purer and less political ways.  Self-sufficiency also implied the ability to bear arms for both hunting, and self-defense. 150 years after the Pilgrims landed, the colonists took up arms against the

Armed Pilgrims in New England on their way to church

injustice imposed by British tax authorities.  The right to bear arms is enshrined in the U.S. Constitution’s second amendment.  The German constitution’s first article states, “the government derives it’s power from the people”, but the US government knows it must answer to the people, or it will find itself facing into the barrels of its citizens.

*A younger Pope might have taken the opportunity offered by the mystery of heredity to interpret a divine component, rather than struggling to hold onto old doctrines like the flat earth theory too long.  Since scientists say the “Big Bang” created the universe 13 billion years ago, yet they still can’t account for how it could have happened in a vacuum, why not offer a religious explanation and propel religion into the future instead of always lingering the played-out past.

Symbol suggested to use in DNA related genealogy

The Catholic Church claims it wants to preserve the family, and my contribution to that objective is by continuing to expand my web based family tree.  However, my efforts have come against some resistance – less internet savvy Germans are vehemently private when it comes to sharing information online. Though I’ve accommodated those few individuals who have asked me to remove pictures, the German authorities have been downright undemocratic, denying my access to the so-called “public records”, information that would help people to trace their ancestry. But the more self-governing internet has allowed distant relatives to find and contact me through my site and has facilitated a process of swapping pictures that span generations and sometimes even the stories behind them. In another section of my website, my mother’s

The antique furniture in my office bears a modified yin and yang motif that in my interpretation stands for the family

memoirs have now been formally translated into English. It’s very strange to see her words in a language she never spoke. My intention is to share her story with a wider world audience while maintaining her voice and writing style. If anyone has additional pictures to illustrate the story, I invite you to submit them as well.

In addition, you are invited to dinner on April 16th in Rome, to celebrate my 80th birthday with me.

As an engineer the latest developments in genetic research have been quite fascinating: it is now possible for individuals to have their own heredity established by having the data loaded onto a microchip and

DNA

sequenced.  While my family tree extends to about 1000 entries at this point, this would enable the range of relationships to extend far beyond current restrictions.  There’s also a possibility to us DNA as data storage as it has an enormous storage capacity potential.  A database of the entire world’s digitized knowledge could theoretically fit in a coffee cup full of DNA. And whereas a data CD may start to lose integrity after about 5 years, DNA has stored information for millions of years.

James Watson signed his book for me

In 1962 James Watson won a Nobel Prize for his DNA discoveries.  That same year, I was working in a laboratory supply house in Manhattan selling DNA models. A couple of years ago, Brigitte and I got to meet James Watson personally at a book signing on Long Island where he also lives.

With the renewing energies of spring and the celebration of Easter upon us, we are delighted to take advantage of this time as an opportunity to write and say hello.

With Best Regards,

Gerhard & Brigitte

My personal graphic contribution to DNA: One should visualize RNA as a zipper that closes to form a new DNA