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Hardly Worker

Ants are cultural signifiers of busy industriousness, but a new paper in Plos One reveals that, across species, about 40% of “worker” ants spend most of their days doing nothing.  Jeff and Anthony discuss this revelation, asking whether lazy always exists in nature.  More Details/Download MP3 →

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Eat Me

There are a few animals that can survive being eaten, and the skill might help them spread and colonise new regions. Jeff and Anthony discuss a new article about these creatures and wonder why more animals don’t just evolve to be cool with it.  More Details/Download MP3 →

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The Nose Have It

In a study published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B, researchers found that when it comes time for a pack of wild dogs to determine whether to move, the group engages in a bout of sneezing to see how many members are ready. Anthony thinks this is an amazing insight into canine culture, but Jeff remains unconvinced.  More Details/Download MP3 →

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Evolution of Man

New research claims to have found traces of evidence that humans may indeed still be evolving. A study looked at the DNA of over 200,000 people living across both the United States and Britain, to see if they could tease out any changes in genetic variation in these populations over time. They report that their analysis of these genomes shows natural selection is weeding out gene variants most often associated with Alzheimer’s disease and heavy smoking. Jeff and Anthony discuss our continuing evolution as a species and what this could mean.  More Details/Download MP3 →

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Mess Up

A new study published in the journal Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes says that being disorganized can actually increase productivity, as a mess often presents quicker access to relevant information. Anthony is thrilled, but Jeff has his doubts that this methodology can actually work.  More Details/Download MP3 →

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Aquatic Narcotic

Scientists have tested the drug-seeking behavior of zebrafish in a tank that allows them to trigger the release of the opioid hydrocodone in the water. The new tool, described in a study published online today in Behavioral Brain Research, can be used to study the underlying biological pathways that push zebrafish to seek drugs.  Jeff and Anthony discuss the drug tank, and examine how exactly it might work.  More Details/Download MP3 →

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Forget It

Alongside the studies telling us how to keep our memories intact, an enormous body of research has led to another conclusion: In many cases, it’s okay (and in fact, beneficial) to forget. Human memory is not only unreliable, but often partially or wholly false. And certain kinds of forgetting is actually really good for us.  Anthony and Jeff talk about memory, and try to convince themselves that forgetting is a good thing.  More Details/Download MP3 →

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Watch Your Hands

Using a combination of depth cameras and computer-vision algorithms, a research team has tracked people around two hospital wards and automatically identified when they used gel dispensers to wash their hands. The trial was so successful that the group is now going to fully kit out three hospitals for a whole year, to see if it puts a dent in the acquired infections.  Jeff and Anthony discuss the practice of washing up, and whether cameras or people are better at staying vigilant.  More Details/Download MP3 →

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Echo Effect

The research firm eMarketer estimates that 60.5 million people in the U.S.—a little less than a fifth of the population—will use a digital assistant at least once a month this year, and about 36 million will do so on a speaker-based device like Amazon Echo or Google Home. These things are most popular among people age 25 to 34, which includes a ton of parents of young children and parents-to-be.  What will the effect of growing up with a digital assistant be?  Anthony and Jeff consider the good and bad of helpful AI housemates.  More Details/Download MP3 →

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Sloth Sleuth

Usually, tunnels are made either by human engineers or flowing water. But near the town of Novo Hamburgo, Brazil, there are tunnels large enough to drive a car in that were dug by neither – instead, scientists have a theory that these are the work of ancient, giant sloths.  Jeff and Anthony discuss the theory, and suggest a few of their own.  More Details/Download MP3 →