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Smell Wishers

What are the ingredients of a good relationship? Trust? Communication? Compromise? How about a sense of smell? When researchers in the United Kingdom surveyed almost 500 people with anosmia (the loss of sense of smell), more than 50 percent of them reported feeling isolated, and blamed their relationship troubles on their affliction. Smell is important in social bonding, says psychologist Pamela Dalton, at the Monell Chemical Senses Center, in Philadelphia. When a mom smells her newborn baby, the scent activates brain regions associated with nurturing behavior. Smells might also trigger brain activity linked with affection, compassion, or romantic love. Jeff and Anthony give this story the sniff test.  More Details/Download MP3 →

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Some Snail a Prey

Conservationists have been sounding the alarm over invasive species for years, warning of the damage they can cause to habitats and native animals. But in Florida, an invasive snail might be helping an endangered bird species come back from the brink. The Snail Kite, an endangered species of bird that feeds on snails, responded to an invasive species by evolving quickly. Jeff and Anthony swoop in to chew on this tasty story.  More Details/Download MP3 →

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Face: Your Fears

The next time a police officer in black-tinted glasses gawks at you, they may be pulling up your personal information. Railway police in Zhengzhou, the capital of central China’s Henan province, are the first in the country to start using facial recognition eyewear to screen passengers. Security personnel at Zhengzhou East Railway Station donned the new accessories ahead of the Chinese New Year travel rush to help them verify passengers’ identities, spot impostors — and even catch suspected criminals. Jeff and Anthony discuss the various simple ways to thwart this technology.  More Details/Download MP3 →

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Why Are You Crying?

We can cry out of sadness, fear, frustration, anger, or even joy. But why do streams of liquid leave our eyes? The truth is no one really knows for sure. In a scientific sense, we’re the only organisms who tear up due to our emotions. Other creatures do so merely to remove irritants from their eyes. Another interesting find is that tears formed from different emotions actually contain different chemical makeups. Jeff and Anthony have a candid discussion about this phenomenon they have no first hand experience with.  More Details/Download MP3 →

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Don’t Sweat the Ball Stuff

The average athlete loses about a liter of sweat an hour; Alberto Salazar, an American marathoner, lost 3.7 liters per hour and 12 pounds of his total body weight during the 1984 Olympic marathon in Los Angeles. For NFL players, the number is lower than sweat champion Salazar, but much higher than their colleagues in sports like soccer or running. Larger bodies aren’t the only explanation for the higher amount of sweat—linemen weigh more and likely have bigger sweat glands, and more of them. Combined, a troop of sweaty football players might produce a grand total of 41745 mL of sweat per Super Bowl, or 11 gallons.  More Details/Download MP3 →

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Banana Bred

Japanese researchers made a botanical announcement on Monday that quickly circled the world. They had developed a banana with an edible peel, allowing Japanese consumers to eat an entire banana—skin and all—the way they would an apple or a peach. So far, the edible-peel banana is little more than designer fruit. Researchers develop the fruit in weekly batches of 10, and sell them at a single market in Okayama for nearly $6 apiece. There’s also the question of whether a banana peel is actually worth eating (nutrient verdict: mixed) and whether inedible banana peels had, rather suddenly, become too big of a nuisance for people who slip on them to bear anymore.  More Details/Download MP3 →

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Face/On

Last month, Motherboard reported on a Redditor using deep learning technology to map female celebrities’ faces onto pornographic performers, with startlingly lifelike results. By scanning a bunch of images of a celebrity’s face, the software was able to imagine what they’d look like grafted into a given video—a powerful technology being used in one of the worst possible ways. The technology also opens up the door to a very near future in which we won’t be able to trust video evidence—long the gold standard, at least in the court of public opinion. Someone decided to use this technology for it’s absolute worst use: superimposing Nicholas Cage into every film ever made.  More Details/Download MP3 →

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Can a Peacock Fly?

Any animal could feasibly provide a human with emotional support, but it doesn’t mean that they all should. According to a report by the BBC, the concept artist Ventiko offered to buy a seat for her peacock, Dexter, but was denied by United Airlines because of the bird’s large size and weight. It was imperative he be on the flight because, she claimed, he’s her emotional support animal. Jeff and Anthony discuss the abuse of support animal laws and ruffle each other’s feathers.  More Details/Download MP3 →

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Retro Virus

Inside the brain, proteins don’t stick around longer than a few minutes. And yet, our memories can hang on for our entire lifetime. Recently, an international collaboration of researchers discovered something strange about a protein called Arc. This is essential to long-term memory formation. What they found was that it has very similar properties to how a virus infects its host. Jeff and Anthony consider what life could have been like without the ability to remember.  More Details/Download MP3 →

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Macaque of the Clones

For the first time, scientists say they created cloned primates using the same complicated cloning technique that made Dolly the sheep in 1996. Shanghai scientists created two genetically identical and adorable long-tailed macaques. Researchers used modern technology developed only in the last couple of years to enhance the technique used to clone Dolly, which is called somatic cell transfer. Jeff and Anthony giggle childishly at some of the funny sounding words.  More Details/Download MP3 →