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August 25, 2003


WP tells the story of

WP tells the story of Michael May, a man who was blind for 40 years, got an operation, and now can see. Strangely, though, although his eyes capture all the information, his brain hasn't quite re-learned how to process that information: he can see two-dimensional objects and do things like catch a ball, but he can't recognize someone's face, even his wife's. Of course, this raises all sorts of Oliver Sacks-type questions about what it means to "see", and some researchers even suggest its possible that seeing, as we understand it, is not "hard-wired" into the brain, but something we learn.

Regardless, recent medical advances seem more and more like miracles all the time, although sometimes things still get screwed up (gene therapy, in vitro fertilization). The restoration of May's sight was achieved through the use of stem cells, and of course many deaf people have had similarly striking success with cochlear implants. But along with these advances come controversy, like the debate in the deaf community about whether children should get them, and of course, in this case, the debate over stem cell research.

posted by adm at 12:45 PM | #


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