Scientists Capture ‘Flash of Light’ That Occurs at Moment of Conception

Egg Flash-compressedCHICAGO — Life begins with a “flash of light” or “fireworks,” scientists at a university in Illinois have announced in releasing a written study and video that captures what occurs at the moment of human conception.

Northwestern University in Chicago recently announced the find in a study outlined in Scientific Reports.

“It was remarkable,” said Teresa Woodruff, director of Northwestern’s Center for Reproductive Science. “We discovered the zinc spark just five years ago in the mouse, and to see the zinc radiate out in a burst from each human egg was breathtaking.”

When sperm meets egg, it causes an increase of calcium and the release of zinc, which radiates out from the egg as it binds to probes and is visible under microscope as a flash or fireworks-type display. Researchers found that only mature eggs are activated by the sperm, as no flash occurred in eggs that had not reached maturity.

Using a fluorescent sensor, scientists were able see approximately 8,000 pockets of zinc storing an estimated million zinc atoms per egg. It is believed that the eggs that had a more significant flash were of greater quality.

“All of biology starts at the time of fertilization, yet we know next to nothing about the events that occur in the human. This discovery required a unique partnership between biologists and chemists and non-federal dollars to support the research,” Woodruff stated in a press release from the university.

She said that the study helps to provide scientists with information on how to select the best eggs for in vitro fertilization.

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“This means if you can look at the zinc spark at the time of fertilization, you will know immediately which eggs are the good ones to transfer in in vitro fertilization (IVF),” Woodruff explained. “It’s a way of sorting egg quality in a way we’ve never been able to assess before.”

“There are no tools currently available that tell us if it’s a good quality egg. Often we don’t know whether the egg or embryo is truly viable until we see if a pregnancy ensues,” co-study author Dr. Eve Feinberg also stated. “That’s the reason this is so transformative. If we have the ability up front to see what is a good egg and what’s not, it will help us know which embryo to transfer, avoid a lot of heartache and achieve pregnancy much more quickly.”

Researchers used sperm enzyme and not actual sperm to conduct the study, which would be illegal.

The study was released in the April 26 edition of Scientific Reports. Northwestern University also released a video demonstrating the spark that occurs when sperm meets egg and zinc is released, as well as the difference between what happens in an immature egg and a mature egg.

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  • Matt

    I think the title is misleading a whole lot of people — the “flash of light” is not a natural phenomenon — the release of zinc is the natural phenomenon that the scientists are measuring with a technique that uses light/fluorescence.

    • ʇsǝnƃ

      yeah, it at least was in quotes. 🙂

      Its just basic reproductive science – there is a global shift in the nature of the ovum cell wall when fertilized by a sperm to prevent another sperm from fertilizing the same cell. Interestingly in some other animals the fertilized ovum actually changes polarity so that it electromagnetically repels any subsequent sperm.

      • The Skeptical Chymist

        I love how you worked in that phrase “other animals”. Most folks at this site would object to the fact that humans are animals, and apes at that!

  • Tangent002

    Using a florescent sensor, scientists were able see approximately 8,0000
    pockets of zinc storing an estimated million zinc atoms per egg.

    It’s “fluorescent.”

    “8,0000” is not a number.

    • bowie1


  • WorldGoneCrazy

    No, life does not begin at conception. When life begins is determined by pro-aborts using a Ouija board. Generally, the supernatural event defining the beginning of life that magically occurs sometime during pregnancy can be found by taking the moment of abortion and adding 5 minutes to it, thus alleviating the guilt of the abortionist, abortive woman, and bro-choicer who dragged her into the abortuary.

    (sarcasm off)

    • John N

      Life is a continuum. Life on earth has started a few billion years ago and didn’t stop since then.

      Or are you claiming sperm and egg cells are not alive?

      It would surprise me if scientists from Northwestern University really stated that ‘Life begins with a “flash of light” or “fireworks”‘.

      • WorldGoneCrazy

        Confusing sperm and egg cells with a conceived human shows how science-phobic you are, John. It seems to be a Hail Mary effort lately by pro-aborts to equate sperm to a human being and claim that masturbation is genocide. It must be difficult for the superstitious ones to accept that they were once zygotes, embryos, fetuses. For those of us who actually do science – and understand the difference between sperm and humans:

        “Fertilization is the process by which male and female haploid gametes (sperm and egg) unite to produce a genetically distinct individual.” Signorelli et al., Kinases, phosphatases and proteases during sperm capacitation, CELL TISSUE RES. 349(3):765 (Mar. 20, 2012)

        “Human development begins after the union of male and female gametes or germ cells during a process known as fertilization (conception). “Fertilization is a sequence of events that begins with the contact of a sperm (spermatozoon) with a secondary oocyte (ovum) and ends with the fusion of their pronuclei (the haploid nuclei of the sperm and ovum) and the mingling of their chromosomes to form a new cell. This fertilized ovum, known as a zygote, is a large diploid cell that is the beginning, or primordium, of a human being.” [Moore, Keith L. Essentials of Human Embryology. Toronto: B.C. Decker Inc, 1988, p.2]

        “The development of a human being begins with fertilization, a process by which two highly specialized cells, the spermatozoon from the male and the oocyte from the female, unite to give rise to a new organism, the zygote.” [Langman, Jan. Medical Embryology. 3rd edition. Baltimore: Williams and Wilkins, 1975, p. 3]

        “Human life begins at fertilization, the process during which a male gamete or sperm (spermatozoo developmentn) unites with a female gamete or oocyte (ovum) to form a single cell called a zygote. This highly specialized, totipotent cell marked the beginning of each of us as a unique individual.” “A zygote is the beginning of a new human being (i.e., an embryo).” Keith L. Moore, The Developing Human: Clinically Oriented Embryology, 7th edition. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders, 2003. pp. 16, 2.

        “Your baby starts out as a fertilized egg… For the first six weeks, the baby is called an embryo.” Prenatal Care, US Department Of Health And Human Services, Maternal and Child Health Division, 1990

        Landrum B. Shettles, M.D., P.h.D. was first scientist to succeed at in vitro fertilization:

        “The zygote is human life….there is one fact that no one can deny; Human beings begin at conception.”

        “The zygote and early embryo are living human organisms.”

        Keith L. Moore & T.V.N. Persaud Before We Are Born – Essentials of Embryology and Birth Defects (W.B. Saunders Company, 1998. Fifth edition.) Page 500

        Ronan O’Rahilly and Fabiola Miller, Human Embryology and Teratology, 3rd edition. New York: Wiley-Liss, 2001. p. 8.

        “Although life is a continuous process, fertilization… is a critical landmark because, under ordinary circumstances, a new genetically distinct human organism is formed when the chromosomes of the male and female pronuclei blend in the oocyte.”

        “[All] organisms, however large and complex they might be as full grown, begin life as a single cell. This is true for the human being, for instance, who begins life as a fertilized ovum.”

        Dr. Morris Krieger “The Human Reproductive System” p 88 (1969) Sterling Pub. Co

        “The first cell of a new and unique human life begins existence at the moment of conception (fertilization) when one living sperm from the father joins with one living ovum from the mother. It is in this manner that human life passes from one generation to another. Given the appropriate environment and genetic composition, the single cell subsequently gives rise to trillions of specialized and integrated cells that compose the structures and functions of each individual human body. Every human being alive today and, as far as is known scientifically, every human being that ever existed, began his or her unique existence in this manner, i.e., as one cell. If this first cell or any subsequent configuration of cells perishes, the individual dies, ceasing to exist in matter as a living being. There are no known exceptions to this rule in the field of human biology.”

        James Bopp, ed., Human Life and Health Care Ethics, vol. 2 (Frederick, MD: University Publications of America, 1985)

        “Zygote, fertilized egg cell that results from the union of a femalegamete (egg, or ovum) with a male gamete (sperm). In the embryonic development of humans and other animals, the zygote stage is brief and is followed by cleavage, when the single cell becomes subdivided into smaller cells.

        The zygote represents the first stage in the development of a genetically unique organism. The zygote is endowed with genes from two parents, and thus it is diploid (carrying two sets of chromosomes). The joining of haploid gametes to produce a diploid zygote is a common feature in the sexual reproduction of all organisms except bacteria.

        “Although life is a continuous process, fertilization (which, incidentally, is not a ‘moment’) is a critical landmark because, under ordinary circumstances, a new genetically distinct human organism is formed when the chromosomes of the male and female pronuclei blend in the oocyte.” – Ronan O’Rahilly and Fabiola Müller, Human Embryology and Teratology, 3rd edition. New York: Wiley-Liss, 2001. p. 8.

        “It is the penetration of the ovum by a spermatozoan and resultant mingling of the nuclear material each brings to the union that constitutes the culmination of the process of fertilization and marks the initiation of the life of a new individual.” – Clark Edward Corliss, Patten’s Human Embryology: Elements of Clinical Development. New York: McGraw Hill, 1976. p. 30.

        You’re welcome. Embrace science, do not fear it.

        • John N

          It seems you are confused here, World.

          You are the one claiming life starts at conception. Nothing in your post supports that notion. You even mention a source that says ‘Although life is a continuous process …’.

          Thanks for admitting that your argument was rather silly.

          • WorldGoneCrazy

            “You are the one claiming life starts at conception.”

            And I just proved it using peer-reviewed medical and biological sources, unlike the superstitious one that you are.

            “ou even mention a source that says ‘Although life is a continuous process …’.”

            Read on, Child, there is more where you conveniently put the …:

            “fertilization (which, incidentally, is not a ‘moment’) is a critical landmark because, under ordinary circumstances, a new genetically distinct human organism is formed when the chromosomes of the male and female pronuclei blend in the oocyte.””

            Still waiting for your evidence that you were never a zygote, embryo, or fetus.

          • John N

            No need. You claimed ‘life starts at conception’. Your evidence does not show that. It shows life is a continuum – conception is merely a milestone in the formation of a new individual – a crucial one, but certainly not the only one.

            You silly argument for not allowing abortion because ‘life starts at conception’ therefore ends here.

          • WorldGoneCrazy

            I gave you peer-reviewed science, and you reply with feeewwwings?!?

            Still waiting for your proof that you were not a zygote, embryo, and fetus. This won’t take long, will it? 🙂

          • John N

            Waiting for proof for a claim I didn’t even make? Yes, it will take a veeeeerrrryyy long time.

            Right, World, thanks for your peer reviewed scientific evidence saying life is a continuum. So at last, anti-choice fundamentalists can drop their argument that ‘life starts at conception, therefore abortion is murder’?

          • WorldGoneCrazy

            Well, let’s review. I provide peer-reviewed secular citations for every human’s existence beginning at the zygote stage, you provide nothing except to preposterously equate sperm and eggs with human beings, then you deflect and start talking about religion.

            Your superstition and science-phobia are duly noted.

          • gizmo23

            You mean life begins from nothing?

          • John N

            Yes, let’s review. You claim life starts at conception, thereby saying before that there is no life – so sperm and egg cells are clearly not alive. You provide peer-reviewed secular citations telling us life is a continuum, therefore showing you are wrong.

            Do you actually read the sources you’re posting here or do you just assume they tell you what you want them to tell?

          • WorldGoneCrazy

            Back to your absurdism, I see.

            You are confusing living cells with human life. The fact that you were once a zygote, embryo, and fetus (ZEF) does NOT imply that you were once sperm. You did not exist as sperm, silly.

            So, to make this simple for you, living human cells are alive, but they are not living humans. And that is PRECISELY what my sources proved to you – IF you had the intellectual honesty to admit it. Which you clearly do not.

            Thus far, you have not refuted my sources by showing that ZEFs are not humans or that sperm is. Until you do so, a reasonable person would just have to conclude that you are denying basic biology in order to desperately cling to a barbaric ideology that kills human life (not merely cells – in case your attention span is that short).

            You are free to hold to your religious superstitions – but not when it kills others. You were once a ZEF – and yet you advocate for the killing of ZEFs. Your hypocrisy, and immorality, are unbounded.

          • gizmo23

            A monkey reading another monkeys research is peer review. It means nothing

        • peachnectar

          Thank you. I embrace science as a doctor.

    • Paul Hazelwood

      You try to equate the fertilized egg to a toddler while not actually seeming to realize that this article supposedly supports your cause through a system that destroys fertilized eggs. Go choke on your hypocrisy.

  • acontraryview

    In vitro fertilization????? That’s not how God intended for women to become pregnant. These people are of the devil!!!!!! It was Adam and Eve…..Not Adam and a turkey baster!

    • Herb Planter


  • Mary Lyons

    TROLL ALERT!!! They are out in force on here, so just ignore them. They enjoy making statements to get an argument going. They are paid to do this.

    • The Skeptical Chymist

      “They are paid to do this.” — Evidence, please?

  • Crusader777

    God said “Let there be light and there was light” amazing how science creeps forward to prove that God is the Creator.

    • Louise Carpenter

      No science has proven that there is a flash of light st conception ( I haven’t read the story but if hubby wrote it imi am guessing there are no sources

  • Crusader777

    The Spark of Life! Amazing!

  • Grace Kim Kwon

    The Holy Bible has been always right. Human life starts at conception. ( Psalm 139) Abortion is murder.

  • BeBeX

    Science is finally catching up with what God has known all along.