Scientific Discoveries this week: 1/26/15

Colorado, USA- Scientists at Colorado State University have invented a device that allows deaf individuals to hear again, not with their ears, but with their tongues. Although the system that attaches on the tongue does not restore hearing, it converts sound into wave vibrations that can be felt by the tongue. The user would then be able to interpret the sensations. This would be significantly cheaper than ear implants and not require surgery. A Bluetooth-enabled earpiece on the device converts the sound waves into words. When a user presses their tough against the mouthpiece, tiny electrodes send impulses that stimulate nerves on the tongue and then relay it to the brain, where it can be converted to words. Currently, anyone can buy the device for $2000.

Germany- A brand new pair of earbuds will be on sale in April across the world for a whopping $300. What is so special about them? These earbuds will be the first ever waterproof, wireless, and “smart” earphones. People can store music up to 4GB, take phone calls with them, and wear them while swimming, as well as many other functions that track a person’s fitness. The earbuds are wireless and can play music through a Bluetooth connection. Also, these smart earphones act as a fitness tracker and record distances, speed, heart rate, and calories burned.

South Pole- Scientists at the South Pole have started digging the first ever deep ice core samples. These ice core samples are not the same ice that people slip on while walking on an ice-covered sidewalk. These ice core samples can provide information about the historical climate, which can be used to help with the current climate change crisis. The digging will continue until the end of January and the temperatures of the ice can reach down to -50 degrees Celsius, according to T.J. Fudge, the lead researcher. This low temperature is beneficial because it can preserve rare organic molecules and gases inside the ice’s air bubbles. So far the researchers have drilled 500 meters and their goal is to reach 700 meters.

Paris, France- A large international team led by Francois Leroy of the INSERM Neuroimaging Unit in Paris has compared brain images of people ranging from infancy to adulthood to chimpanzees. They have discovered that many brain landmarks may be the key to understanding what the communality between the two species is. The researchers found features important for communication in the brain to be similar between primates and humans. There is a shallower groove in humans that is directly linked to language. However, there is still a lot of work in order to fully understand the two species’ differences. So far, Leroy says, “This symmetry is related to speech and social cognition, which are both abilities where humans outperform primates.”

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