SALT LAKE CITY—As the first year of the Seventies tracking program winds up, scientists are trying to interpret the information they’ve received from tiny microchips planted in the earlobes of newly called members of all Quorums of the Seventy.
The study, performed by sociologists and wildlife biologists at the University of Illinois Urbana and funded by the U.S. Department of Wildlife, has successfully gathered transmissions from the microchips about the whereabouts of the Seventies.
“It was a question that frankly had the whole nation puzzled,” said Dr. Tim Miner, head of the project. “A slew of new Seventies would be introduced at general conference, and then we’d never hear from them again until about five years later, when they’d show up to be released.”
The burning question, Miner stated, was, “Where on earth do these brethren disappear to?”
To answer that question, scientists applied a local anesthetic and inserted a microchip into the earlobe of each Seventy as he left the Conference Center after the April 2004 session of general conference. During the next year, the scientists used sophisticated instruments to track the position of each Seventy all over the globe.
“It was a time-consuming task,” admitted Frank D. Weyerhauser, head of the surveillance team. “Those guys are all over the place. And sometimes the microchips would malfunction and we’d have to track the guy down. But wouldn’t you know it, in most cases not even their wives knew where they were.”
When worse came to worst, the tracking team had to chase down an errant Seventy in a helicopter and shoot him with tranquilizer darts in order to insert a new microchip.
“Sometimes we’d catch one in the middle of a sermon and have to down him in front of all those people,” said Weyerhauser. “He’d get kinda groggy and incoherent, but no one really seemed to notice.”
Miner says the data they’ve gathered so far is yet to be interpreted. “All I can say is that, in all my years of studying the migration pattern of humpback whales and ribboned seals, I have never seen a species so given to world travel,” he said.
“Our initial findings show intense activity in Jackson County, Missouri; Jerusalem; and Cancun, Mexico,” said Miner. “We have theories about the goings on in the first two places, but we’re baffled by Cancun. Is there a temple there or something?”