Hearing test, radiation-resistant cells, sign language and more

Curious Bends is a weekly newsletter about science, tech., data and India. Akshat Rathi and I curate it. You can subscribe to it here. If have feedback, suggestions, or would just generally like to get in touch, just email us.

1. Poor children deserve better hearing tests; an Indian entrepreneur may have the solution

An estimated 63 million people in India suffer from hearing problems. But children are not tested for such impairment at a young age because of the costs of testing. Early detection and intervention is crucial for improving the difficulties with cognition and language skills. Now, a Bangalore-based inventor has come up with a solution that sharply lowers the cost of testing if a newborn can hear properly. (3 min read)

2. What makes cells resistant to radiation?

Radiation can damage cell’s DNA, and sometimes make them cancerous. But not all cells are affected by such radiation. Previously, it was thought that such ability was down to the DNA repair mechanisms in place in every one of them, but a new study shows that cells have more weapons to fight this invisible attack. (2 min read)

3. What sign language teaches us about the brain

As she took a course to learn sign language, a question kept nagging this neurobiologist: does the brain treat the visual language differently from spoken languages? Turns out, for the most part, they don’t. And yet brain studies of deaf people who use sign language helps bust a few myths about how our brains work. (5 min read)

+ The author of this piece, Sana Suri, is a neurobiologist at the University of Oxford.

4. Another biotech startup accelerator opens up in Bangalore. Can it deliver?

India’s biotech industry is supposed to be undergoing a boom. It was projected that revenues would reach $5 billion by 2009, but that hasn’t happened yet. Industry watchers remain optimistic, claiming that revenues will reach $100 billion by 2020. Can a startup accelerator help achieve this dream? (5 min read)

5. BRICS can boost their research by setting up collaborations, but there seems to be no will

The recent BRICS summit in Brazil saw the launch of the New Development Bank, which has been setup to rival the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. But there was little progress on setting aside joint funds to boost scientific collaboration. There is a huge potential here but no one is interested in tapping it. (2 min read)

Chart of the week

It has been a terrible week for the civilian aviation industry with Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 shot down over Ukraine and an ongoing investigation of Air Algerie Flight 5017 that crashed in Mali. Vasudevan Mukunth (one of the curators of Curious Bends; a.k.a. me) has collected the data of all such past events in one interactive chart.


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