Turn a female rat into a male by rubbing its tummy

US scientists found that mother rats spent many more hours licking and grooming male offspring than female ones. By tickling a baby female rat’s tummy for hours on end, the team from the University of Wisconsin managed to make the DNA clusters in its brain become more like a male’s. The research, reported in the New Scientist, challenges the long-accepted belief that the physical differences between a male and female brain are genetic.

(via Althouse)

Touch interfaces cause problems for blind users

That is, if they’re not designed properly:

[Stevie Wonder] said some companies had managed to make their products more accessible to the blind, sometimes without even meaning to. He cited an iPod music player and Research in Motion’s BlackBerry as gadgets he likes to use.

Advocates argue that if product designers take into account blind needs, they would make electronics that are easier to use for the sighted as well.

The good news is that manufacturers do not need to put large sums of money into making products accessible, nor would they have to forsake innovation, said Chris Danielsen, a spokesman for the National Federation For The Blind.

“We don’t want to hold up technological progress,” he said. “What we’re saying is, think about the interface and set it up in such a way that it’s simple …. The simpler you make the user interface of a product, it’s going to reach more people sighted or blind.”

Bang on.

And the money quote:

Sendero Group President Mike May, who is blind, joked, “Can I ski 60 miles an hour downhill? Yes. Use a flat panel microwave? No.”

(via Touch Usability)