Editor’s note: I will be on vacation next week, and so will the blog. A tanner ScienceLife will return on July 6th.
People often worry that the latest ubiquitous technology is changing or harming them, and the link between cell phones and cancer is a treasured old superstition at this point. But chalk up another strike against the invisible deadly waves of mobile phones, as a British Medical Journal study found no link between pregnant women living near phone towers and the incidence of childhood cancers. “We found no pattern to suggest that the children of mums living near a base station during pregnancy had a greater risk of developing cancer than those who lived elsewhere,” the adorably British senior author Paul Elliott told the Guardian. The story is also fodder for another fascinating use of the new Guardian story tracker, which aggregates web commentary on major science stories.
The genome-sequencing service 23andme hasn’t had the best press this month, after a mix-up of the DNA test results for 96 people renewed concerns about the utility and harm of such tests. But yesterday the 23andme team scored some points with the publication online of the first research study to come from their pool of data (customers who consented to having their genetic information used for this purpose). It’s a curious paper, a genome-wide association study concerned not with cancer or disease but characteristics such as earlobe shape, sneezing reflexes, and curly hair. Also this week, Wired published a great story about the role that can be played by personal genomics companies in the hunt for new information about conditions such as Parkinson’s disease.
Was Michaelangelo a secret neuroscientist?