And other news from science and technology.
(For the latest Human Nature columns on race, creationism, anal sex, and re-engineering human embryos, click here.)
The FDA approved the first transplant of fetal neural cells to human brains. Some of the neural tissue comes from abortions. The recipients are kids facing a genetic disease that will blind, silence, paralyze, and kill them. (For Human Nature's take on growing embryos for tissue, click here.)
The Kansas Supreme Court ruled that disease prevention does not justify longer jail sentences for gay than straight statutory rape. The court noted that the law in question punishes lesbian sex and male-on-male oral sex more severely than heterosexual anal sex, which is more likely to transmit HIV and other diseases. (For Human Nature's take on oral vs. anal sex, click here.)
Sleeping-pill use among kids and teenagers nearly doubled between 2000 and 2004. Fifteen percent of these users are also taking pills for attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Theories: 1) Kids need sleeping pills because their ADHD keeps them awake. 2) They need sleeping pills because their ADHD pills keep them awake. 3) Stop drugging your kids.
Ultraviolet images show oxygen on the moon. The Hubble Space Telescope found minerals containing oxygen that could be chemically extracted to sustain human visitors.
A global research network will bypass U.S. restrictions on stem-cell funding. South Korea, which excels at human cloning, will fund a center to do that part of the job. American and British researchers will use the resulting embryonic cells for research through privately initiated labs in California and Britain, which support and fund such research. (For Human Nature's take, click here.)
The key trial witness for the theory of intelligent design said it "does not propose a mechanism" to explain evolutionary developments that aren't explained by Darwinism. He said the mechanism of such intelligent activity was "intelligent activity." (For Slate's report from the trial, click here; for Human Nature's take, click here.)
Some spiders drink mammalian blood by targeting mosquitoes that have siphoned it. The African jumping spiders 1) choose to live in dark huts that are bad for catching prey but are rich in gorged mosquitoes and 2) attack gorged mosquitoes rather than empty ones.
Scientists proved they can get stem cells without killing embryos. One team derived stem cells by removing single cells from mouse embryos at the eight-cell stage (earlier than was previously possible), allowing the embryos to grow and be born. Another team derived mouse stem cells from near-embryos that were engineered to be incapable of embryonic development. Moral critics are falling back on the arguments that 1) the first method is slightly risky for the embryo, and 2) the second method kills something that's too much like an embryo. (For Human Nature's take, click here.)
The National Institutes of Health is funding development of a male contraceptive. The researcher who's getting the grant has achieved a 92 percent success rate and is aiming for 100. His method is a compound that blocks the sperm's chemical ability to penetrate the egg.
Will Saletan covers science, technology, and politics for Slate and says a lot of things that get him in trouble.