The Advances section of Scientific American's December issue helps parents find educational toys for the holidays, pushes cooking into the future, remembers Steve Jobs, takes a look at faster-than-light neutrinos, investigates turtle yawning and more. For those interested in learning more about the developments described in this section, a list of selected further reading follows.  

Can't Touch This Feeling
The Nature paper by Miguel Nicolelis describes how brain-machine interfaces can help monkeys feel virtual body parts.

Microwaves and the Speed of Light
Read more about Nathan Myrhvold and Wayt Gibbs’s book here

A Circuit in Every Cell
In their paper in Science, researchers at the California Institute of Technology describe how to construct biochemical circuits from scratch. They also described a DNA-based circuit that could play a simple memory game in the journal Nature. A follow up paper from researchers at MIT described a cell that can distinguish cancer cells from non-cancer cells.

Vitamins, Minerals and MicroRNA
Researcher Chen-Yu Zhang and her team at Nanjing University published a paper in the journal Cell Research in September on how micro-RNA can be transferred from our foods to our cells.

Fluid Dynamics in a Cup
In "Walking with coffee," researcher Rouslan Krechetnikov uses physics to answer the question: when and why does coffee spill?

Freedom Fighter
Apple customers all over the world have been mourning the death of the company's founder and CEO since his death in October. You can see some of their reactions on Apple's website.

This Year, Give Them Brains
Want to buy some of these toys for your kids? Follow the links below:
Your Body Puzzle – $24.95
Life Cycle Stacking Blocks – $19.95
Skull Puzzle - $23
Bones: Skeletons and How They Work – $11.55
Far From Shore: Chronicles of an Open Ocean Voyage – $13.13
Tuesday – $11.56
Evolution: How We, and All Living Things Came to Be - $18.95
Magic Briks Bristle Blocks - $26.95
Shark in a Jar - $29
Science Kits - $13.95
Non-Stop Top with Built-In Light Show - $14.99
Giant Microbes - $8.95

Why Neutrinos Might Wimp Out
On his blog, Davide Castelvicchi takes a closer look at the faster than light neutrinos hubbub.

Yawn of the Tortoise
This year, one of the Ig Nobel prizes was awarded to researchers who discovered that you cannot pass your yawn on to your turtle. For more coverage of the IgNobels, visit the Scicurious Brain blog on the Scientific American blog network.

Universal Alignment
Dragan Hunter at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor and Glenn D. Starkmann at Case Western University, are both taking a closer look at the cosmological principle.

From Pollen to Polyester
Working with undergraduate students at Olin College, Debbie Chachra investigates the nest linings of Colletes bees.

Here you can see a video of one bee digging its nest.