Synesthesia more common with autism

Shortly after publication of “When hearing is believing” (Fall/Winter 2013), research published in the journal Molecular Autism found that synesthesia, a blending of two senses, was more common in individuals with autism. Scientists from Cambridge University found that synesthesia occurred in 7 percent of the general population and in 19 percent of those with autism.

— Markian Hawryluk

Compromise in 29-26 debate

The Summer/Fall 2012 issue featured the great wheel debate, “29 vs. 26,” in which two avid mountain bikers squared off to argue about the best wheel size. Now there’s a compromise. According to Mountain Bike magazine, at least 10 bike manufacturers in 2013 released mountain bikes with 27.5-inch tires. The tweener tires are supposed to maneuver with the agility of 26ers but handle obstacles as easily as 29ers, according to the publication.

— Markian Hawryluk

Trans law changes

In “Gender in transition” (Spring/Summer 2013), we reported on issues faced by transgender individuals, including requirements for changing gender on official documents. Since our reporting, several changes have taken place in neighboring California.

In September, AB 1121 passed in the California Assembly. The law helps facilitate legal name changes for transgender people. The first part of the law went into effect in January and allows people born in California to change the gender marker on their birth certificates through an administrative procedure rather than through a time-consuming and expensive court order. The second part of the law streamlines the process for transgender individuals obtaining a legal name change.

Meanwhile, another California law dealing with trans issues is being challenged. In August, the California Assembly passed AB 1266, which allows students to use the bathrooms and participate on the sports teams of the gender they identify as, rather than the gender assigned at birth. A coalition of churches and religious groups has launched an effort to repeal the law, which went into effect Jan. 1. The state has until Feb. 24 to count petition signatures. If enough are collected, a statewide referendum would take place in November.

— Julie Johnson

Clinical trials go unpublished

We reported on the high rate of medical studies that have been overturned in our Summer/Fall 2012 story, “When science gets it wrong.” In October 2013, researchers from Rowan University in Camden, N.J., looked at 585 clinical trials that had been registered with the website. They found 171, or 29 percent, had never published their results. Many researchers warn that such studies go unpublished primarily because they show negative results, skewing the medical literature and giving patients and their doctors a false impression of treatments’ efficacy. The analysis also found that 150 of the 171 unpublished clinical trails had been funded by the pharmaceutical industry.

— Markian Hawryluk