Science explores the talents of “genius” dogs
Plus: A magic mushroom discovery!
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.
Question of the Week — Tuesday was World Teachers’ Day, and we’d love to hear about your best unconventional teachers this week. Who is someone that taught you an enduring lesson? Send your one-sentence answers to email@example.com. We’ll publish some of the best ones next week. Thank you to everybody who has shared so far! If you’re reading this as an email just hit reply and send it that way.
This is an adapted version of the Inverse Daily newsletter for Thursday, October 7, 2021. Subscribe for free and earn rewards for reading every day in your inbox. ✉️
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.
More on dog science:
- Why do dogs wag their tails? Scientists reveal a complicated answer
- Will my dog get separation anxiety when I go back to work? 7 things to know
- How do you cool down an overheated dog? 7 questions to ask during a heatwave
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.
More on mushroom science:
- Magic mushrooms: Cancer patients are suing the DEA over psilocybin
- Psilocybin: For the terminally ill, mushroom legality may come too late
- Mushrooms could solve a huge problem in outer space
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.
More robotics breakthroughs:
- World's smallest flying robot is the size of a grain of sand
- Are the Boston Dynamics robots really dancing? The creepy video, explained
- This squirming robotic superstructure is the next Roomba
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:
- Physicists explain how the brain might connect to the quantum realm
- Deep space and unsolved mysteries claim Nobel Prize (2019)
- Nobel Prize in chemistry awarded for “simple” yet “ingenious” discovery (CNN)
- About the newsletter: Do you think it can be improved? Have a story idea? Want to share a story about the time you met an astronaut? Send those thoughts and more to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Song of the Day: “I Wanna Be Your Dog” by the Stooges.
- Notable birthdays: Vladimir Putin (69), Desmond Tutu (90; pictured above), Simon Cowell (62), Thom Yorke (53), Toni Braxton (54). (Source: AP.)
- A technical note — To ensure your email open is counted toward our streak program, confirm that all the images have loaded and your ad blocker is turned off.
- A technical explainer — If you received the Gawker newsletter this week, that is because our friends at Gawker are part of the same company as Inverse, Bustle Digital Group. We shared your email address with them because we thought you would be interested in the excellent stories they are putting out every day. If you’d like to unsubscribe, you can do so in that newsletter.