Why Deaf People Oppose Using Gene Editing to “Cure” Deafness

As someone who was born deaf, I’m concerned about the latest application of a gene-editing tool called CRISPR 2.0. And I’m not alone. In June, researchers at Boston Children’s Hospital, Harvard and MIT announced that, using mice, they figured out how to use the technology to temporarily “correct” a mutation in the TMC1 gene, which […]

In the Bird World, It Takes Big Brains or Big Guts to Survive in Extremes

This story appeared in the September/October 2020 of Discover magazine as “The Ecology of Dumb.” We hope you’ll subscribe to Discover and help support science journalism at a time when it’s needed the most.  As you get closer to Earth’s poles, seasonal swings in temperature and vegetation get increasingly drastic. In many places, snowy winter wastelands […]

Senolytics: A New Weapon in the War on Aging

Getting old means fighting a war you’ll never win. Our bodies already battle for us every day, against bacteria and viruses, mutant cells, harmful chemicals and the slow rush of time itself. But as we age, our bodies begin to slow down — all the way down to the level of the cell. This slowdown […]

Ceres: An Ocean World in the Asteroid Belt

Remnants of an ancient water ocean are buried beneath the icy crust of dwarf planet Ceres — or, at least, lingering pockets of one. That’s the tantalizing find presented August 10 by scientists working on NASA’s Dawn mission. Their research was laid out in a series of papers published in Nature. By far, Ceres is […]

How Close Are We To Making Babies from Bone Marrow?

In 2007, a group of researchers reported a startling discovery: They had created sperm-like cells out of stem cells taken from the bone marrow of human men. Two years later, however, the study was retracted due to charges of plagiarism. Thirteen years later, the ability to create functional human sperm out of stem cells remains […]

Why Electric Cars Are Getting Louder

This story appeared in the September/October 2020 of Discover magazine as “Sound Off.” We hope you’ll subscribe to Discover and help support science journalism at a time when it’s needed the most.  Six years ago, three Volvo engineers sat on a forest floor in western Sweden, picking twigs off the ground and snapping them in half.  “We […]

The Robot Scientists Are Coming. But That’s Not a Bad Thing

This story appeared in the September/October 2020 of Discover magazine as “Robot Scientists Are Coming.” We hope you’ll subscribe to Discover and help support science journalism at a time when it’s needed the most.  In the beginning there was Adam. We’re not talking about the first human, but rather the first machine to fully automate the scientific […]

New Class of Planet Can Form Around Black Holes, Say Astronomers

Supermassive black holes are among the most exciting and puzzling objects in the universe. These are the giant, massive bodies that sit at the heart of most, perhaps all, galaxies. Indeed, they may be the seeds from which all galaxies grow. Supermassive black holes are at least a hundred thousand times the mass of our […]

How COVID-19 Might Increase Risk of Memory Loss and Cognitive Decline

Of all frightening ways that the SARS-COV-2 virus affects the body, one of the more insidious is the effect of COVID-19 on the brain. It is now clear that many patients suffering from COVID-19 exhibit neurological symptoms, from loss of smell, to delirium, to an increased risk of stroke. There are also longer-lasting consequences for the […]