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Science explores the talents of “genius” dogs

Plus: A magic mushroom discovery!

Back view of dog talking to dog friends in video conference. Group of dogs having an online meeting ...

Dogs are immediately knowable in so many ways: You know when they miss you, when they are anxious, when they are hungry. You might even think you know that they know when you’re feeling down in the dumps.

What’s less certain is how well or even if dogs can actually learn words. That eternal question is the basis of our lead story today. If you’ve ever wondered if that dog of yours actually knows what you’re saying (something I often think about when looking at my 11-year-old Shiba Inu, Kano), you’ll want to keep reading.

I’m Nick Lucchesi, and this is Inverse Daily, your daily digest of the latest science and innovation stories from the editorial staff at Inverse, the coolest place to get smarter. Thanks for being with us.

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Can dogs actually learn words? Tara Yarlagadda speaks with scientists who discovered how “genius” dogs can quickly learn words associated with toy objects — and even remember them after a long time:

We often view the ability to construct and learn a language as a skill set so unique it sets us apart from all other creatures in the animal kingdom.

Dogs, in all their unknowing wisdom, make a mess of this theory. Research suggests man’s best friend may possess the basic ability to learn words — the basic blueprint of language — even if they lack the ability for more complex linguistic skills.

In a study published Wednesday in the journal Royal Society Open Science, researchers evaluated the ability of certain “genius” dogs to remember words associated with particular objects. What they found could help us crack the similarities between canine and human cognitive learning.

Read the full story.

More on dog science:


A magic mushroom discovery Katie MacBride reports that psilocybin-assisted therapy and music can combine to heighten emotion and facilitate healing depressive symptoms:

Psychedelic drugs aren’t the only unusual thing you’ll find in a session of psychedelic-assisted therapy.

You’ll also find a blindfold, headphones, and a carefully curated playlist.

That may be surprising: perhaps you think of music as more consistent with recreational psychedelic use (think Woodstock). But researchers believe music is an essential component of psilocybin-assisted therapy.

Read the full story.

More on mushroom science:

Vicarious Surgical

A dime-sized robot Sarah Wells reports on the work of Vicarious Surgical a company that has designed a new kind of robot surgeon that can climb into the body through a dime-sized hole and be controlled using virtual reality:

Blank, expressionless eyes stare at your exposed abdomen — and then pop! The tiny silver, black machine burrows into your warm flesh, extending its claw-like arms and flipping on its headlights like a car pulling onto an empty highway.

It’s a spine-tingling piece of film — but this video is not the first scene of a horror movie. Rather it is a video of a piece of cutting-edge medical technology that its creators, Vicarious Surgical, believe will be a major player in making a healthier world.

Read the full story.

More robotics breakthroughs:

Princeton University professor David W.C. MacMillan attends a press conference after he was Awarded Nobel Prize In Chemistry of the 2021 Nobel Prize at Princeton University on October 6, 2021 in Princeton, New Jersey. MacMillan received the prize for his work developing a new way to build molecules in an environmentally cleaner way.

Kena Betancur/Getty Images News/Getty Images

2021 Nobel Prizes and beyond Jenn Walter writes that since their inception in 1901, the Nobel Prizes have been the ultimate indicator of scientific achievement.

Here are 8 Nobel-winning projects that will influence science for years to come — including the 2021 Prizes.

Read the full story and see the gallery.

More science news:

South African religious leader and activist Bishop Desmond Tutu gestures as he gives a speech at the University of California Berkeley, California in 1985. Tutu marks a birthday today.

Bromberger Hoover Photography/Archive Photos/Getty Images
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