September 2012

Volume 26 Issue 9

The Scientist September 2012 Cover

Featured Articles

image: A Nose for Touch

A Nose for Touch

By Kenneth C. Catania | September 1, 2012

The remarkable ability of the star-nosed mole to interpret its surroundings through touch is yielding clues about mammalian sensory processing in general.

image: Missing Touch

Missing Touch

By Megan Scudellari | September 1, 2012

Bionic fingers. Rewired nerves. Science fiction becomes reality as scientists attempt to give prosthetics a sense of touch.

image: Pleasant to the Touch

Pleasant to the Touch

By Sabrina Richards | September 1, 2012

Scientists hope an understanding of nerve fibers responsive only to gentle touch will give insight into the role the sense plays in social bonding.


Capsule Reviews

Capsule Reviews

Wired for Story, Dreamland, Homo Mysterious, and Vagina



Meet some of the people featured in the September 2012 issue of The Scientist.


Robo Touch

Because of a lack of touch, upper-limb prosthetic users must look at their prosthetic hands the whole time they use them. Unfortunately, the prosthetics research community has put most of its efforts into making arms with wider ranges of motion and m

Of Frogs and Embryos

Associate Professor in Molecular Cell & Developmental Biology at the University of Texas at Austin, John Wallingford, makes his living using cutting-edge microscopic techniques to watch developmental events unfold in real time.

Bottom Dwellers

See some of the images brought up from early trips to the Galápagos Rift, where an ecosystem thrives around hydrothermal vents.


Sense and Sensibility

Why is tactile perception so fundamental to life?

Speaking of Science

Speaking of Science

September 2012's selection of notable quotes


Good Vibrations

Researchers are learning how species from across the animal kingdom use seismic signals to mate, hunt, solve territorial disputes, and much more.


Down and Dirty

Diverse plant communities create a disease-fighting "soil genotype."

Get a Whiff of This

Can electronic noses come close to the real thing?

Gifted in Science

Researchers look to the emerging phenomenon of "crowdfunding" to pay for their work

Thought Experiment

The Pliable Brain

Altered touch perception in deaf people may reveal individual differences in brain plasticity.

Critic at Large

Stress Tests

Judiciously applied pressure could benefit the scientific system by providing an opportunity for renewal.

Modus Operandi

The Inside Scoop

Probing cells with nanometer-scale electrodes

The Literature

A Good Night’s Sleep

Sleep-wake cycles affect how well our bodies fight disease.

Finding Injury

The brain’s phagocytes follow an ATP bread trail laid down by calcium waves to the site of damage.

The Literature

Flu Fights Dirty

Mimicking a host-cell histone protein offers flu a sneaky tactic to suppress immune response.


Taking the Long View

In exploring how embryos take shape, John Wallingford has identified a key pathway involved in vertebrate development—and human disease.

Scientist to Watch

Kartik Chandran: Chemistry Kid

Associate Professor, Department of Microbiology & Immunology, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Age: 38

Lab Tools

Stemming the Toxic Tide

How to screen for toxicity using stem cells

Enter the Third Dimension

Cell culture goes 3-D with devices that better mimic in vivo conditions.

Bio Business

Sharing Made Easy

Biological resource centers are bigger and better than ever before, storing and distributing shared reagents, plasmids, and more.

Reading Frames

A Story Biological

Using scientific information as narrative can be a powerful way to communicate.


Life on the Ocean Floor, 1977

The discovery of deep-sea hydrothermal vents along the Galápagos Rift revealed a biological Garden of Eden.

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