Bora Zivkovic is the Blog Editor at Scientific American, chronobiologist, biology teacher, organizer of ScienceOnline conferences and editor of Open Laboratory anthologies of best science writing on the Web. Follow on Twitter
Gene therapy to restore hearing sounds closer to reality after success in deaf-born mice by Kathleen Raven:
Using gene therapy, a team of researchers for the first time successfully restored normal hearing to mice born deaf due to a missing protein, according to a study published today in the journal Neuron. This finding could be music to the ears of people whose congenital hearing loss is caused by genetic mutations that may prevent tiny inner ear hairs from interacting with neurotransmitters that are necessary for hearing. In the current experiment, mice recovered full hearing for an average of seven weeks, with two of 19 mice maintaining it for as long as one and a half years. “I was completely shocked,” says lead author Lawrence Lustig, director of the Douglas Grant Cochlear Implant Center at the University of California, San Francisco. “The hearing looked almost completely normal and you couldn’t tell these were rescued mice.”…
Why We Hoard – And How to Stop by Rachel Nuwer:
Our brain tells us to value something merely because it is ours. It’s what researchers call the endowment effect. While there may be many books, stuffed animals or DVDs that are exactly the same as the ones stuffed in your closet, there’s something special about the copy you own specifically because it’s yours. Follow this urge to the extreme and you might wind up with a scene from the television show “Hoarders.”…
Tinnitus: it never shuts up! by Donna:
You know that ringing you get in your ears when you come home after a night out? Imagine having that noise in your head all the time. Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to my world – and that of an estimated 4 million Australians – the world of tinnitus…
Unlock Your Inner Rain Man by Electrically Zapping Your Brain by Tanya Lewis:
‘Imagine a creativity cap. A device that would free you, if only momentarily, from your mindsets, from your prejudices, from the mental blocks to creativity.’ These words are emblazoned on the website Creativitycap.com, and they represent the vision of neuroscientist Allan Snyder. Snyder believes we all possess untapped powers of cognition, normally seen only in rare individuals called savants, and accessing them might take just a few jolts of electricity to the brain.
Crowd sourcing comes to astronomy by Nadia Drake:
Some people scour the Internet for pictures of celebrities and cats. Others search for comets. After performing a Yahoo! image search for photos of Comet Holmes, which whizzed by Earth in 2007, a team of astronomers used the returned images to reconstruct the comet’s orbit in three dimensions — proving that astronomers can take advantage of data provided by an unwitting group of participants.
HIV rates are high for gay, bisexual black men by Helen Shen:
Nearly 6 percent of black gay and bisexual men under age 30 are newly infected with HIV every year in the United States, three times the rate among white men of the same sexuality in the United States, according to the largest study ever to look at infection rates in this population….
Generation HIV: Growing up under a shadow of infection by Madhumita Venkataramanan:
Tanya is a spirited 22-year-old with dark, cropped hair, a penchant for body art, and a secret. On a chilly October afternoon, she sits at a round wooden table in a knitting shop in New York City and shows off her latest tattoo. Her companion, a 56-year-old nurse practitioner named Susan Ledlie, examines the design and grins, pulling up her sleeve to display her own. …
Rare Burst of Melting Seen in Greenland’s Ice Sheet by Kelly Slivka:
In a scant four days this month, the surface of Greenland’s ice sheet melted to an extent not witnessed in 30 years of satellite observations, NASA reported on Tuesday. …