A little-known fact is that the National Science Foundation (NSF) peer-review system relies on people who aren’t employed by NSF—or any federal agency. Called rotators, NSF says that these loaner scientists help keep the agency on the cutting edge. But both NSF and the scientists pay a price for the program: Loaner scientists can cost much more than normal employees, but they also lack job protection. Check out parts 1 and 2 of our special report.
Money may not grow on trees, but gold does—or at least it accumulates inside of them. Scientists have found that trees growing over deeply buried deposits of gold ore sport leaves with higher-than-normal concentrations of the glittering element. The finding provides an inexpensive, excavation-free way to narrow the search for ore deposits.
Scientists have successfully grown new hair follicles from the skin cells of balding men. While the research team hasn’t yet shown whether the structures, which produce strands of hair on our bodies, are fully functional and usable for transplants onto a scalp, experts say the discovery is a significant step toward finding new treatments for hair loss.
Researchers have long wondered where our math skills come from. Are they innate, or should we credit studying and good teachers? It turns out that we’re born with at least some of our math skills: According to a new study, a baby’s number sense at 6 months can predict her math ability in preschool. The discovery suggests that part of our proficiency at addition and subtraction may simply be something we’re born with.
Allergy sufferers, rejoice! All that sneezing and wheezing may actually be protecting you. Researchers report that mice that develop an allergic response to honey bee stings are more likely to survive lethal doses of the same venom later on, suggesting that some allergies can actually be beneficial.
Shutdown Fallout Continues
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) announced earlier this week that the rescheduling of grant-review panels affected by the U.S. government shutdown could mean delays of 4 months or more for researchers and up to twice as much work for reviewers. The announcement did not go down well with researchers, many of who were concerned that the extra time would doom labs that depended on the funding. NIH has now revised its plan and will try to schedule most reviews in time for the January council meetings.