25.1.22

Dakar 1983


A little throwback to the past!

3 photos from January 1, 1983, Place de la Concorde.

As it is in January, and that it is Paris-Dakar month, I went through my archives.

Those were the days when he carried his name well...


This year, it's the Jacky Ickx / Claude Brasseur crew winning it in car category, and Hubert Auriol in motorcycle category.

12,000 kms, no rest day, 8 countries crossed.
Arrival in Dakar 20 January 83


Photos by 
Christian Capron

23.1.22

717-Gigapixel, 5.6-Terabyte Photograph of Rembrandt’s “The Night Watch”


Generally, seeing art on a computer screen is never as good as seeing art in real life. At Glasstire, we’ve always espoused this statement, and I do firmly believe it still. 

However, there are certain times when seeing an artwork online — and the capabilities offered by digital technologies — comes close to eclipsing the live experience.

Maybe this isn’t for me to judge, as I’ve never been to Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum, but the institution’s recent online offering of a 717-gigapixel (that’s 717,000,000,000 pixels) image of Rembrandt van Rijn’s The Night Watch (1642) is very compelling, and perhaps even better than seeing the nearly 15-foot-wide canvas in person.


Rembrandt van Rijn, “The Night Watch,” 1642, Oil on canvas, 379.5 cm × 453.5 cm. Collection of the Rijksmuseum

There’s been a lot of work done on and press about the painting recently. In June of last year, Artnet News reported that, with the help of artificial intelligence, museum experts were able to reconstruct missing sections of the painting, which were lost after the work was trimmed so it could fit inside Amsterdam’s Town Hall in 1715. This was just the latest revelation during the Rijksmuseum’s ongoing effort to conserve and restore the painting, which began in 2019. Likely because the piece is so well-known (and because the public wouldn’t want it to disappear for years into a back room), conservators worked on the painting in a glass chamber, in full view of the public.

The process of how this 717-gigapixel photo came to be is stunning, and the level of detail it makes legible is more stunning still. See information about the process below, via the Rijksmuseum. And see (and zoom into!) the photo here.

This is the largest and most detailed photo ever taken of a work of art. It is 717 gigapixels, or 717,000,000,000 pixels, in size.

The distance between two pixels is 5 micrometres (0.005 millimetre), which means that one pixel is smaller than a human red blood cell.

The team used a 100-megapixel Hasselblad H6D 400 MS-camera to make 8439 individual photos measuring 5.5cm x 4.1cm. Artificial intelligence was used to stitch these smaller photographs together to form the final large image, with a total file size of 5.6 terabytes.


Brandon Zech

18.1.22

I Shot My First Roll of Film in 16 Years and the Results Almost Brought Me to Tears


A foggy morning and the molehills littering our village football pitch. You'd be able to see them better if this shot weren't poorly exposed on relatively inexpensive film. All part of the fun.

Until recently, the last time I shot an entire roll of film was on a Canon EOS 5, sometime in the mid-2000s. Last month, I put a roll of black-and-white film through my mother’s old Olympus Trip 35, and the results sparked some strong emotions.

I have vague memories of my the Olympus Trip 35 from my childhood. I think it came with the family on a trip to Weston-super-Mare, a classic British seaside resort, around 1984, when I was barely old enough to tie my shoelaces. Technology moved on, and since the end of the 1980s, it has remained in my parents’ attic.

The global pandemic has meant very few visits back to my family home, but in November, I finally returned — this time with an empty car — to free my parents from the junk that has accumulated in their attic as a result of my various moves between countries. I’d been longing to see if their old Olympus Trip still worked and, like so many other photographers, remind myself of what it’s like to shoot without the flexibility and carefree instantaneity of digital.

Unsure of the Trip’s potential, I ordered some of the cheapest film available, and with winter approaching, faster film made more sense. I received two rolls of Fomapan 400 and watched a YouTube video showing how to load the Trip to ensure that I wasn’t being an idiot.

The Olympus Trip 35 is an interesting camera. It’s a bit more than a point-and-shoot, as it features an aperture ring, and focusing requires you to guess the distance to your subject before selecting "uncomfortably close," "not quite so close," "that's a bit farther back now," and "really quite far away." These vague distances are indicated by various symbols of people and mountains, though there are feet and inches on the underside of the lens if you feel like cheating. There’s no control over the shutter speed, and the camera will choose automatically between 1/40th and 1/200th of a second so if you decide to stray from Automatic and set your aperture, you’ll need a very good eye or a light meter. ISO 400 proved to be a good choice, and while a few of the negatives have worked the scanning process quite hard, I didn’t lose a single frame to poor exposure.

Perhaps the world doesn’t need another article on the joys of shooting on film, but regardless: the medium makes you more thoughtful and more considered in your approach, if simply through the knowledge that frames are finite and each one costs you money. There’s the knowledge that every push of the shutter results in a chemical process and a physical image: this shifts your appreciation of how a photograph exists, making it a tangible thing that doesn’t live solely as a series of digits. To a degree, it’s also a connection to a historic process, of pioneers playing with silver chloride and mercury vapor, and the mechanization of the image — a leap not dissimilar to the arrival of the printed word — that transformed how we shape and perceive the world around us.

If you’re anything like me, over the last 20 months, the global pandemic may have occasionally led your brain to some dark corners. I’ve been fortunate, and I count my blessings, but the reduced travel and sense of isolation from friends and family have prompted a few morbid moments.


Somewhere near Brighton, U.K. That grainy thing forming the horizon is the sea.One image that stands out from my first roll on the Trip is this view across this field of sheep on the outskirts of Brighton, the sea on the horizon. It’s a poorly exposed shot and a relatively underwhelming scene but it cuts me to the core. 

I took this while waiting for a taxi, having just walked a mile to a more convenient pick-up point to try to avoid a queue of traffic, on my way to the funeral of a close friend that had died suddenly from heart failure. I probably wouldn’t have taken this photo — even as a snap on my phone — if not for the Trip in my pocket. 

Having this photograph on film makes it feel more like something. I don’t know what that something is, exactly — a strange mixture of emotions — but I feel it more intensely. Knowing that there’s a small strip of plastic that holds this image, that keeps a piece of that day, perhaps makes me invest in this memory deeper than I would have otherwise.


The portrait of my father — the second frame on this roll of 36 images — does something similar. I couldn’t say to my father: “hey, Dad, let me take a shot because I'm increasingly aware that you won’t be here forever and I want a photo of you.” The newly loaded Trip was an excuse to capture my father as I think of him: in his favorite chair, reading a book, sipping a cup of tea. 

The only things missing are his cat and one of his many mandolins. The eyes are a touch soft (focus is by guesswork, remember), but I don’t care. They say that gear won’t make you a photographer, but in this case, the gear was the reason for creating one of the most meaningful images I’ve ever captured.




At some point, I’ll probably treat myself to a more serious film camera — I’d love a Nikon FM2 or maybe a Contax 139 — but right now, there’s a house to renovate and plenty of other things to spend my money on. Cameras are cheap but film is expensive and, frustratingly, becoming more so. For now, the Trip will be reserved for random, novel, or meaningful moments — such as my wife holding our new kitten, shortly after trimming off a section of her claw with an angle grinder, or a trip to a bird sanctuary with my nephews — moments that feel like they deserve the magic offered by silver halide. And if that magic comes only from within me, what does it matter?

Andy Day


16.1.22

From Greek to Latin: Visualizing the Evolution of the Alphabet


Over the course of 2021, the Greek alphabet was a major part of the news cycle.

COVID-19 variants, which are labeled with Greek letters when becoming a variant of concern, normalized their usage. From the Alpha variant in the UK, to the Delta variant that spread from India to become the dominant global strain, the Greek alphabet was everywhere. Seemingly overnight, the Omicron variant discovered in South Africa has now taken the mantle as the most discussed variant.

But the Greek alphabet is used in other parts of our lives as well. For example, Greek letters are commonly used in mathematics and science, like Sigma (Σ) denoting a sum or Lambda (λ) used to represent the half-life of radioactive material.

And the study of linguistics shows us why using Greek letters in English isn’t completely farfetched. This visualization from Matt Baker at UsefulCharts.com demonstrates how the modern Latin script used in English evolved from Greek, and other, alphabets.

It’s All Proto-Sinaitic to Me

Before there was English, or Latin, or even Greek, there was Proto-Sinaitic.

Considered the first alphabet ever used, the Proto-Sinaitic script was derived in Canaan, around the biblical Land of Israel. It was repurposed from Egyptian hieroglyphs that were commonly seen in the area (its name comes from Mount Sinai), and used to describe sounds instead of meanings.

As the first Semitic script, Proto-Sinaitic soon influenced other Semitic languages. It was the precursor to the Phoenician alphabet, which was used in the area of modern-day Lebanon and spread across the Mediterranean and became the basis for Arabic, Cyrillic, Hebrew, and of course, Greek.
Evolving into the Greek, Roman, and Latin Alphabets

Over time, the alphabet continued to become adopted and evolve across different languages.

The first forms of the Archaic Greek script are dated circa 750 BCE. Many of the letters remained in Modern Greek, including Alpha, Beta, Delta, and even Omicron, despite first appearing more than 2,500 years ago.

Soon the Greek alphabet (and much of its culture) was borrowed into Latin, with Archaic Latin script appearing circa 500 BCE. The evolution into Roman script, with the same recognizable letters used in modern English, occurred 500 years later in 1 CE.

Many of the letters which first came from Egyptian hieroglyphs made their way into modern English, but they took a long and convoluted journey. As the graphic above highlights, some letters evolved into multiple forms, while others fell out of use entirely.

And this is just a snapshot of the many scripts and languages that the modern English alphabet evolved from. Lowercase letters came from Roman cursive, which evolved into the Insular and Carolingian scripts before becoming modern lowercase English.

Like many things in the long arc of human culture, alphabets are not as far removed from each other as you might think.

Omri Wallach

15.1.22

How the Refrigerator Became an Agent of Climate Catastrophe


The evolution of cooling technology helps to explain why supposed solutions to global warming have only made the situation worse.

Acouple of years ago, in spring, my wife and I took our dog for a walk near Bantam Lake, in northwestern Connecticut, a few miles from our house. In swampy woods on the lake’s northern shore, we noticed a double row of lichen-spattered concrete pillars, each one four or five feet tall. The rows began at the edge of the water and extended maybe two hundred yards into the trees. Nearby was a narrow canal filled with water and dead leaves, crossed in several places by wooden bridges that looked like shipping pallets. In a rectangular clearing beyond the inland end of the canal, we saw two parallel strips of concrete, hundreds of feet long and more than a hundred feet apart. They made useful walking paths over the mucky ground.

I learned later that we had seen ruins of the Berkshire Ice Company, which ran a harvesting operation on the lake a century ago. Each winter, at that site, Berkshire employed a hundred and forty men, many of whom lived in bunkhouses. They worked from three in the morning until six at night, seven days a week. Teams of horses pulling sleigh-like “scorers” cut grid lines in the ice, and men with long handsaws followed the lines. The ice, to judge from old photographs, was more than a foot thick. The concrete pillars that we saw supported a conveyer belt. It moved freshly cut blocks away from the lake to an immense icehouse, which stood on the concrete footings that we had used as walking paths. The icehouse held sixty thousand tons. Train cars could be loaded from two sides of the building at the same time.

According to a historical booklet published by the White Memorial Foundation, the conservation nonprofit that owns the land now, the harvest typically began each year in late November, and ended in mid-March. I went back to the same spot several times in recent months, beginning shortly before Thanksgiving, and saw no ice at all, much less enough to support men and horses and heavy equipment. Many of the homeowners had pulled their docks onto the shore for the winter, but the entire lake was open water. On the afternoon of December 16th, the temperature was sixty-one degrees.

Changes in the Earth’s climate in recent decades have been both frighteningly swift and deceptively slow. Once in a while, though, you notice something that knocks you over. Many unsettling transformations are concealed within 1.5 degrees Celsius.

Ice harvesting on Bantam Lake ended in 1929. The proximate cause was a fire that destroyed the icehouse, but the business was doomed anyway, by the rise of artificial ice production and the growing popularity of a new consumer product: the household refrigerator. Kelvinators, General Electric Monitor Tops, and other early residential models were crude and expensive, but they and their successors eventually displaced icehouses, horse-drawn scorers, and overworked sawyers. The evolution of cooling technology can be viewed as a parable of our unfolding climate catastrophe, partly because the technology has directly contributed to the crisis, but mainly because its history suggests a counterintuitive explanation for why combatting global warming has proved to be so hard, and why some of our putative solutions are actually making our problems worse.

The end of ice harvesting on Bantam Lake, in 1929, corresponded with a rise in artificial ice production and the growing popularity of the household refrigerator.Photograph courtesy Bantam Historical Society.

In temperate places, regularly using cold to preserve food first became practical in the early decades of the nineteenth century, when harvesters in Connecticut and elsewhere began packing lake and river ice in sawdust and shipping it as far away as India and Australia. Large-scale artificial production followed. My mother, who is ninety-two, calls her refrigerator her icebox, because when she was a little girl that’s what her parents had: a zinc-lined food-storage cupboard that didn’t plug into anything and sometimes dripped meltwater onto the kitchen floor.

The first electric refrigerators were loud, poorly insulated, and occasionally dangerous, and they cost more than some new cars. As the technology improved and prices dropped, though, they upended multiple industries. Iceboxes and neighborhood icemen gradually disappeared, of course, but the production, packaging, distribution, retailing, purchasing, and consumption of food were transformed, too. At around the time that the Bantam Lake ice business ended, Clarence Birdseye, an American businessman and inventor, introduced flash-freezing technology, and the tiny freezer compartments of early household refrigerators grew to make room for Birds Eye peas and spinach, and also for the aluminum trays that set my father’s teeth on edge when he pulled their handles to free ice cubes for his cocktails.

My grandchildren dispense ice cubes for themselves by pressing a glass against a lever in their freezer door. My wife and I don’t have one of those, but we do have a refrigerator-freezer in our kitchen and another in our basement, along with a full-size stand-alone freezer. We are by no means the most well-equipped people we know; we don’t have a temperature-controlled wine-storage cabinet, an under-counter refrigerated beverage drawer next to our dishwasher, or a third refrigerator, in our garage. Even crummy motel rooms now have refrigerators (always running, seldom used). I sometimes buy gas at a big new Cumberland Farms, which, like many modern gas stations, has more refrigerated display space than the A. & P. where my mother did her grocery shopping when I was little. The small grocery store near my house has an entire refrigerated room just for beer.


Refrigerators use compressors, condensers, and coils filled with volatile compounds to transfer heat from inside to outside; this same innovation made air-conditioning possible. When I was born, in 1955, air-conditioners in houses (and cars) were rare; today, in almost all of the United States, they’re close to universal. My mother’s father stayed semi-comfortable during Kansas City summers in the thirties and forties by moving a bed into his screened porch and wearing seersucker suits to work. Now it’s possible to pass entire days without encountering air that hasn’t been artificially cooled—and, once you get used to cooled air, its absence can feel unendurable. (In 2011, a retired Army general estimated that the Defense Department was spending a little over twenty billion dollars a year to provide air-conditioning for U.S. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan.)


The use of cooling technology is growing worldwide. China now accounts for close to half of global air-conditioner purchases and roughly three-quarters of global production; in Dubai, where life during much of the year would be next to impossible without air-conditioning, hotel swimming pools are chilled. According to a report published in 2018 by the International Energy Agency, refrigeration in 2016 accounted for about six per cent of the world’s energy consumption, and space cooling accounted for about eight per cent. In the same report, the I.E.A. predicted that worldwide energy use by air-conditioners would triple by 2050, “requiring new electricity capacity the equivalent to the combined electricity capacity of the United States, the E.U. and Japan today.” Energy use by refrigerators is on a similar upward path.

Much of the world’s recent growth in cooling capability has been an adaptive response to global warming. The problem is self-perpetuating, because the electricity that refrigerators and air-conditioners run on is mostly generated by burning fossil fuels. There are other climate impacts. Hydrofluorocarbons—which, for decades, have been the volatile compounds circulating inside most new cooling equipment—were widely adopted as refrigerants because they don’t have the same destructive effect on the Earth’s ozone layer as their immediate predecessors, chlorofluorocarbons. But hydrofluorocarbons are greenhouse gases with hundreds or thousands of times the warming potential of carbon dioxide. Last year, the Environmental Protection Agency adopted a rule phasing down their production and use in the United States by eighty-five per cent over the next fifteen years. But vast quantities are still being manufactured. Leakage is a common problem, and not only when old refrigerators and air-conditioners end up at the dump.

The most widely embraced strategy for slowing the warming caused by cooling technology is to increase the energy efficiency of new refrigerators and air-conditioners. In a 2011 report, the U.S. Department of Energy estimated that its new efficiency standards for refrigerators (which went into effect in 2014 and are currently being updated) would “save the nation almost four and a half quadrillion BTUs over 30 years. That’s three times more than the total energy currently used by all refrigeration products in U.S. homes annually. It’s also the equivalent amount of energy savings that could be used to power a third of Africa for an entire year.” The I.E.A., in its 2018 report, argued that, through “stringent minimum energy performance standards and other measures such as labelling, the average energy efficiency of the stock of ACs worldwide could more than double between now and 2050.” Implementing those changes, it said, would significantly reduce the need for new electricity infrastructure, flattening the curve of future energy demand.

This strategy sounds both logical and doable. But history suggests that it won’t succeed. Artificial cooling caught on initially because it was more efficient than packing lake ice in sawdust and loading it onto trains and ships. During the decades since then, the efficiency of cooling machines has increased steadily and spectacularly. Indeed, the stunning growth in cooling machines’ energy consumption has been paralleled, from the beginning, by equally stunning growth in their energy efficiency. Some of the biggest gains began in the mid-nineteen-seventies, in the aftermath of the Arab oil embargo, but efficiency improvements had preceded the crisis, and they continued long after it had passed. In 2010, the World Economic Forum estimated that the average refrigerator for sale at that time used only a quarter as much energy as a typical 1975 model, yet had twenty per cent more storage capacity and cost only forty per cent as much. Today’s refrigerators and air-conditioners are more efficient still.

If increased energy efficiency makes over-all energy consumption go down, as the I.E.A. and the D.O.E. suggest, then why does our warming problem keep getting worse? Defenders of efficiency as a climate strategy argue that the amount of energy our machines use today would be vastly higher if our machines were as inefficient as they were ten or twenty or fifty years ago. But the flaw in that argument is easy to see. If the only refrigerators we could buy now were thirties-era G. E. Monitor Tops, Cumberland Farms wouldn’t have an entire wall filled with chilled soft drinks and drinking water (in minimally recyclable plastic bottles, which themselves would not exist without the efficient refrigerated display cases that keep them cold). Similarly, if the only way to fly from one coast to the other were to hitch a ride with the Wright brothers, you wouldn’t travel to California for Christmas.

The I.E.A. says that if we successfully implement what it calls an “Efficient Cooling Scenario,” by optimizing the energy efficiency of our cooling machines, we could save almost three trillion dollars by 2050. If we really do that, though, we will have three trillion to spend on something else, and whatever we spend it on will inevitably have climate consequences of its own. The history of civilization is, in many ways, the history of accelerating improvements in energy efficiency. Extracting greater value from smaller inputs is how we’ve made ourselves rich; it’s also how we’ve created the problem that we’re now trying to address with more of the same. Making useful technologies more efficient makes them cheaper, and as they become cheaper we use them more and find more uses for them, just as adding lanes to congested highways makes driving more attractive, not less. In 2011, the D.O.E.’s forecasters presumably didn’t anticipate that improvements in energy efficiency would make it increasingly economical to power and cool the server farms that mine and manage cryptocurrencies. The correlation between growth in efficiency and growth in consumption is not accidental.

My wife and I lived in Connecticut without air-conditioning for thirty-seven years. The summers are getting hotter, though, and we’re both in our sixties and therefore more susceptible to heat-related health problems. In December, we installed a modern four-zone air-conditioning system in our house. Because the system is so energy efficient, a consortium that includes the state and two electric utilities covered part of the cost. The transaction encapsulates the main flaw of America’s principal response to climate change: we increased our annual energy consumption by making a luxury addition to our house and got credit for helping to save the world.

On January 2, 2022, I went back to Bantam Lake and saw two pickup trucks and a boat trailer parked near the state launch ramp. The day was too cold for water skiing but warm enough for dog walking in just a sweater. A little later, I spotted the boat, with two guys in it. They were probably fishing, or maybe they were just tooling around. There was no ice anywhere, not even on the puddles in the parking lot.

David Owen

13.1.22

How Does the Canon EOS R3 Compare to the Sony a1?


The Canon EOS R3 and Sony a1 are two of the most powerful consumer cameras ever made, both offering ridiculous 30 fps continuous burst rates, class-leading autofocus, and a range of other highly advanced capabilities. This excellent video comparison takes a look at both cameras and compares their respective designs, autofocus capabilities, and sensor performance to see which edges the other out.

Coming to you from Dustin Abbott, this helpful video compares the design, autofocus, and sensor performance of the Canon EOS R3 and Sony a1 mirrorless cameras. Though both cameras are powerhouses that can fire off 30 fps, they have essential differences between them.

Design-wise, the most obvious difference is the Sony a1's lack of a built-in grip, though you can, of course, buy one to add an extra battery and to make portrait orientation images far easier to shoot. 

Beyond that, the other major difference is the sensor resolution, with the EOS R3 offering 24 megapixels, while the Sony a1 more than doubles that to 50 megapixels. 24 megapixels is often plenty for most applications, but of course, 50 megapixels leaves a lot more flexibility, particularly the ability to crop in in post and still retain plenty of resolution.

On the other hand, that adds up to a lot more storage space and computing power needed to tackle those images, so it is worth thinking about what best suits your needs and workflow. Check out the video above for Abbott's full thoughts on both cameras.

11.1.22

In a First, Man Receives a Heart From a Genetically Altered Pig


Dr. Bartley Griffith, left, performed the operation on David Bennett Sr. to receive a new heart from a genetically modified pig. Credit...University of Maryland School of Medicine.


The breakthrough may lead one day to new supplies of animal organs for transplant into human patients.


A 57-year-old man with life-threatening heart disease has received a heart from a genetically modified pig, a groundbreaking procedure that offers hope to hundreds of thousands of patients with failing organs.

It is the first successful transplant of a pig’s heart into a human being. The eight-hour operation took place in Baltimore on Friday, and the patient, David Bennett Sr. of Maryland, was doing well on Monday, according to surgeons at the University of Maryland Medical Center.

“It creates the pulse, it creates the pressure, it is his heart,” said Dr. Bartley Griffith, the director of the cardiac transplant program at the medical center, who performed the operation.

“It’s working and it looks normal. We are thrilled, but we don’t know what tomorrow will bring us. This has never been done before.”

Last year, some 41,354 Americans received a transplanted organ, more than half of them receiving kidneys, according to the United Network for Organ Sharing, a nonprofit that coordinates the nation’s organ procurement efforts.

But there is an acute shortage of organs, and about a dozen people on the lists die each day. Some 3,817 Americans received human donor hearts last year as replacements, more than ever before, but the potential demand is still higher.


Scientists have worked feverishly to develop pigs whose organs would not be rejected by the human body, research accelerated in the past decade by new gene editing and cloning technologies. The heart transplant comes just months after surgeons in New York successfully attached the kidney of a genetically engineered pig to a brain-dead person.

Researchers hope procedures like this will usher in a new era in medicine in the future when replacement organs are no longer in short supply for the more than half a million Americans who are waiting for kidneys and other organs.

“This is a watershed event,” said Dr. David Klassen, the chief medical officer of the United Network for Organ Sharing and a transplant physician. “Doors are starting to open that will lead, I believe, to major changes in how we treat organ failure.”

But he added that there were many hurdles to overcome before such a procedure could be broadly applied, noting that rejection of organs occurs even when a well-matched human donor kidney is transplanted.

Recent Breakthroughs: In groundbreaking procedures, surgeons successfully transplanted a heart and attached a kidney from genetically modified pigs to human patients.

Solving the Shortage: Thanks to genetically engineered pigs, the donor-organ shortage could be a thing of the past, though considerable hurdles remain.

Accepting New Organs: Transplant patients must take damaging anti-rejection drugs for the rest of their lives. Researchers hope to trick the immune system instead.

“Events like these can be dramatized in the press, and it’s important to maintain perspective,” Dr. Klassen said. “It takes a long time to mature a therapy like this.”

Mr. Bennett decided to gamble on the experimental treatment because he would have died without a new heart, had exhausted other treatments and was too sick to qualify for a human donor heart, family members and doctors said.

His prognosis is uncertain. Mr. Bennett is still connected to a heart-lung bypass machine, which was keeping him alive before the operation, but that is not unusual for a new heart transplant recipient, experts said.

The new heart is functioning and already doing most of the work, and his doctors said he could be taken off the machine on Tuesday. Mr. Bennett is being closely monitored for signs that his body is rejecting the new organ, but the first 48 hours, which are critical, passed without incident.

He is also being monitored for infections, including porcine retrovirus, a pig virus that may be transmitted to humans, although the risk is considered low.

“It was either die or do this transplant,” Mr. Bennett said before the surgery, according to officials at the University of Maryland Medical Center. “I want to live. I know it’s a shot in the dark, but it’s my last choice.”

Dr. Griffith said he first broached the experimental treatment in mid-December, a “memorable” and “pretty strange” conversation.

“I said, ‘We can’t give you a human heart; you don’t qualify. But maybe we can use one from an animal, a pig,” Dr. Griffith recalled. “It’s never been done before, but we think we can do it.’”

“I wasn’t sure he was understanding me,” Dr. Griffith added. “Then he said, ‘Well, will I oink?’”

Xenotransplantation, the process of grafting or transplanting organs or tissues from animals to humans, has a long history. Efforts to use the blood and skin of animals go back hundreds of years.

In the 1960s, chimpanzee kidneys were transplanted into some human patients, but the longest a recipient lived was nine months. In 1983, a baboon heart was transplanted into an infant known as Baby Fae, but she died 20 days later.

Pigs offer advantages over primates for organ procurements, because they are easier to raise and achieve adult human size in six months. Pig heart valves are routinely transplanted into humans, and some patients with diabetes have received porcine pancreas cells. Pig skin has also been used as a temporary graft for burn patients.

Two newer technologies — gene editing and cloning — have yielded genetically altered pig organs less likely to be rejected by humans. Pig hearts have been transplanted successfully into baboons by Dr. Muhammad Mohiuddin, a professor of surgery at University of Maryland School of Medicine who established the cardiac xenotransplantation program with Dr. Griffith and is its scientific director. But safety concerns and fear of setting off a dangerous immune response that can be life-threatening precluded their use in humans until recently.

Dr. Jay Fishman, the associate director of the transplantation center at Massachusetts General Hospital, said that using pig organs provides the ability to perform genetic manipulations, the time to carry out better screening for infectious diseases, and the possibility of a new organ at the time that the patient needs it.

“There are challenges for sure, but also opportunities,” he said.


The heart transplanted into Mr. Bennett came from a genetically altered pig provided by Revivicor, a regenerative medicine company based in Blacksburg, Va.

The pig had 10 genetic modifications. Four genes were knocked out, or inactivated, including one that encodes a molecule that causes an aggressive human rejection response.

A growth gene was also inactivated to prevent the pig’s heart from continuing to grow after it was implanted, said Dr. Mohiuddin,who, with Dr. Griffith, did much of the research leading up to the transplant.

In addition, six human genes were inserted into the genome of the donor pig — modifications designed to make the porcine organs more tolerable to the human immune system.

The team used a new experimental drug developed in part by Dr. Mohiuddin and made by Kiniksa Pharmaceuticals to suppress the immune system and prevent rejection. It also used a new machine perfusion device to keep the pig’s heart preserved until surgery.

The Food and Drug Administration worked intensely toward the end of the year, finally giving the transplant surgeons an emergency authorization for the operation on New Year’s Eve.

The surgeons encountered a number of unexpected turns.

“The anatomy was a little squirrelly, and we had a few moments of ‘uh-oh’ and had to do some clever plastic surgery to make everything fit,” Dr. Griffith said. As the team removed the clamp restricting blood supply to the organ, “the heart fired right up” and “the animal heart began to squeeze.”

When Mr. Bennett first told his son, David Bennett Jr., about the upcoming transplant, he was flummoxed.

“At first I didn’t believe him,” the younger Mr. Bennett, who lives in Raleigh, N.C., said. “He’d been in the hospital a month or more, and I knew delirium could set in. I thought, no way, shape or form is that happening.”

He said his father had had a pig’s valve inserted about a decade ago, and he thought his father might be confused. But after a while, Mr. Bennett said, “I realized, ‘Man, he is telling the truth and not going crazy. And he could be the first ever.’”

Roni Caryn Rabin

6.1.22

Biden accuses Trump and his allies of holding ‘a dagger at the throat of America.’




After the president accused Mr. Trump of spinning a “web of lies” and imperiling democracy, lawmakers began holding events to remember the Jan. 6 attack last year by a mob trying to keep Mr. Trump in office.

President Biden forcefully denounced former President Donald J. Trump for promoting lies and tearing down democracy because he could not stand the fact that he lost a free and fair election, accusing his predecessor and his allies of holding “a dagger at the throat of America.”

In his most sustained and scathing attack on the former president since taking office, Mr. Biden used the anniversary of the Jan. 6 mob assault on the Capitol to condemn Mr. Trump for waging an “undemocratic” and “un-American” campaign against the legitimacy of the election system that he likened to the actions of autocrats and dictators in faraway countries.

“The former president of the United States of America has created and spread a web of lies about the 2020 election,” Mr. Biden said, standing in the same National Statuary Hall invaded by throngs of Trump supporters a year ago. “He’s done so because he values power over principle, because he sees his own interest as more important than his country’s interest and America’s interest, and because his bruised ego matters more to him than our democracy or our Constitution. He can’t accept he lost.”

Without using Mr. Trump’s name, the president assailed the “defeated former president” for trying to rewrite history and for casting the attackers of a year ago as patriots. “Is that what you thought when you looked at the mob ransacking the Capitol, destroying property, literally defecating in the hallways, rifling through the desks of senators and representatives, hunting down members of Congress?” Mr. Biden asked. “Patriots? Not in my view.”

“Those who stormed this Capitol and those who instigated and incited and those who called on them to do so held a dagger at the throat of America and American democracy.”
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Biden: ‘I’ll Allow No One to Place a Dagger at the Throat of Democracy’
The president denounced former President Donald J. Trump for spreading lies about the 2020 election during a speech on the anniversary of the Capitol riot.

This wasn’t a group of tourists, this was an armed insurrection. They weren’t looking to uphold the will of the people, they were looking to deny the will of the people. They weren’t looking to uphold a free and fair election, they were looking to overturn one. They weren’t looking to save the cause of America, they were looking to subvert the Constitution.

The former president of the United States of America has created and spread a web of lies about the 2020 election. He’s done so because he values power over principle. Because he sees his own interest as more important than his country’s interest, than America’s interest. And because his bruised ego matters more to him than our democracy or our Constitution.

He can’t accept he lost. The third big lie being told by our former president and his supporters is that the mob who sought to impose their will through violence are the nation’s true patriots. Is that what you thought when you looked at the mob ransacking the Capitol? Destroying property, literally defecating in the hallways. Rifling through the deaths of senators and representatives. Hunting down members of Congress. Patriots? Not in my view. I did not seek this fight brought to this Capitol one year ago today. But I will not shrink from it either.

I will stand in this breach. I will defend this nation, and I’ll allow no one to place a dagger at the throat of democracy. We will make sure the will of the people is heard. That the ballot prevails, not violence. That authority in this nation will always be peacefully transferred.

According to a review by The New York Times of recent posts from right-wing groups on sites including Facebook, Twitter, Gab and Gettr, online chatter about celebrations and rallies for the anniversary of the Capitol riot has grown in recent weeks, but the posts have not attracted much buzz and appear unlikely to translate into sizable real-world efforts on Thursday.

In the posts, there has been little talk of violence and guns. The groups have mostly focused on positioning the rioters as heroes and martyrs and encouraged people to push local political leaders toward a far-right agenda. They have also called on supporters to think of long-term goals such as stopping mask and vaccine mandates.

Efforts to organize an anniversary protest in Washington on Thursday have also appeared to gain little traction online, according to The Times’s review.

“Stay out of Washington, it is nothing but a setup,” wrote an Ohio member of the Proud Boys on Telegram on Monday. “Federal agents are going to be there in disguise waiting to arrest anyone who shows up.”

Biden: ‘I’ll Allow No One to Place a Dagger at the Throat of Democracy’The president denounced former President Donald J. Trump for spreading lies about the 2020 election during a speech on the anniversary of the Capitol riot.CreditCredit...Al Drago for The New York Times

Mr. Trump fired back moments later with a written statement issued from his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida. “This political theater is all just a distraction for the fact Biden has completely and totally failed,” Mr. Trump wrote. “The Democrats want to own this day of January 6th so they can stoke fears and divide America,” he added. “I say, let them have it because America sees through theirs [sic] lies and polarizations.”

Mr. Biden’s speech kicked off a commemoration that, instead of showcasing American unity, underscored just how fractured the nation remains a year after Mr. Trump’s refusal to accept defeat at the ballot box stirred backers to invade the Capitol, disrupt the counting of the Electoral College votes and send lawmakers scurrying for safety.


Mr. Biden and Democratic leaders have scripted a day of addresses, discussions and a candlelight vigil while Republican leaders stayed away, with many G.O.P. senators heading to Georgia for the funeral of their former colleague, Johnny Isakson. Mr. Trump originally planned a news conference at Mar-a-Lago to rail against the investigation into the attack but canceled to the relief of Republicans who considered it counterproductive.

With not a single Republican senator in the Senate chamber, Democrats took to the floor after Mr. Biden’s speech to continue assailing Mr. Trump, “the worst president in modern times,” as Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democratic majority leader, put it.

“It was Donald Trump’s big lie that soaked our political landscape in kerosene,” Mr. Schumer said. “It was Donald Trump’s rally on the Mall that struck the match. And then came the fire.”

Over in the House chamber, the only Republican spotted on the floor for a moment of silence marking the anniversary was Representative Liz Cheney of Wyoming, one of the leading critics of Mr. Trump. She was joined in the front row by her father, former Vice President Dick Cheney, himself a former member of the House. Once the bête noire of the left, Mr. Cheney was greeted cordially by Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other Democrats, who have praised his daughter for her courage.


“It’s an important historical event,” Mr. Cheney told Jonathan Karl of ABC News. “You can’t overestimate how important it is.”

Earlier in the morning, his daughter castigated fellow Republicans for “looking the other way” rather than confront the serious threat represented by the Capitol attack.

“All of my colleagues, anyone who attempts to minimize what happened, anyone who denies the truth of what happened, they ought to be ashamed of themselves,” Ms. Cheney said on the “Today” show on NBC. “History is watching, and history will judge them.”

The House will sponsor an afternoon discussion led by Carla Hayden, the librarian of Congress, with the historians Doris Kearns Goodwin and Jon Meacham, to be followed later by reflections by lawmakers about their experiences on Jan. 6 and finally an early evening candlelight vigil on the steps of the Capitol.

The disparate approaches to the day reflect how much Jan. 6 has become interpreted through a political lens. Democrats view the storming of the Capitol as an existential threat to constitutional democracy unlike any in modern times. Most Republicans would rather focus on anything else, with some convinced that it is being used as a partisan weapon against them and others fearful of crossing Mr. Trump, who continues to wield outsize power within the party.

Feelings remain raw on Capitol Hill, a place of post-traumatic stress that has yet to fully recover from the psychological and political scars of an assault that led to at least seven deaths as well as injuries to 150 police officers. More than the usual acrimony over legislative differences, the legacy of Jan. 6 has exacerbated the toxic rift between members and staff aides on opposite sides of the aisle.

While Mr. Biden has hesitated to engage in a back-and-forth with his predecessor, he used his 20-minute speech to more directly blame Mr. Trump than ever before for encouraging the violence a year ago and then sitting in his private White House dining room watching television and “doing nothing for hours as police were assaulted, lives were at risk, the nation’s Capitol under siege.”

He offered his most extended rebuttal of the false claims that the 2020 election was somehow stolen, noting that repeated recounts, court battles and inquiries had turned up no meaningful fraud. He pointed out that Republicans did not challenge Republican victories for Congress and governor’s mansions based on the same balloting they claim was illegitimate in the presidential race.

Mr. Biden took on efforts to recast the narrative of what happened on Jan. 6, which some Republicans have dismissed as little more than a protest that got out of hand. “This wasn’t a group of tourists,” Mr. Biden said. “This was an armed insurrection. They weren’t looking to uphold the will of he people, they were looking to deny the will of the people.”

Mr. Biden also touched on voting rights legislation stalled in the Senate, although he has a separate speech on the subject scheduled for next week. Vice President Kamala D. Harris, who spoke before Mr. Biden, said, “We must pass voting rights bills that are now before the Senate.”

Republicans accused the White House and Democrats of politicizing the attack to promote legislation meant to benefit their own party and rejected Mr. Biden’s indictment of Mr. Trump. “What brazen politicization of January 6 by President Biden,” Senator Lindsey O. Graham of South Carolina wrote on Twitter following the speech.

Mr. Graham himself broke with Mr. Trump on that day a year ago, saying, “All I can say is count me out, enough is enough.” But it did not take long for him, like most Republicans, to fall in line behind the former president again.

In a series of tweets on Thursday, Mr. Graham denounced the violence of a year ago but not Mr. Trump. “President Biden and Vice President Harris’s speeches today,” he wrote, “were an effort to resurrect a failed presidency more than marking the anniversary of a dark day in American history.”