The Latest, Top 5 Science — May 13, 2014 at 3:38 PM

Top 5 Science Stories: Vol. #5

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This vs That invites you to check out this week’s Top 5 Science stories, featuring an in-depth look at dog intelligence, a chemical that can injure your sperm, an amazing advancement in robotics, and research that says humans can control their dreams.

1. Dogs smarter than thought… still lack pocket for their wallets.

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Science has well documented a dog’s ability to map human commands. For example, you place a ball at the edge of your yard, you tell the dog “get the ball,” and the dog runs to the ball, picks it up and returns with it. That is, unless it wants to play, in which case the dog nearly gives you the ball… then makes you chase him around and around. Anyway, the point is: over hundreds of thousands of years, through natural selection, the dogs who could do those things that their human companions required passed along their genes to the next generation. Now, according to a new study by scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Germany have revealed that dogs — puppies especially — are capable of following the direction of a human’s voice. More specifically… dogs were placed at the bottom of a “T” maze. Bowls were placed at the far ends of the “T”. A researcher was hidden behind the top of the “T.” By turning his head one way or the other, the scientist would be facing one bowl or the other. In one bowl, scientists put food. In the other, no food. The scientist would then turn his head towards the bowl with food and encourage the dog to go to the bowl. Dogs were able to follow the direction of the voice about 60% of the time — which is clearly better than 50% — or random chance. You can read more HERE.

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Check out This vs That’s series of experiments to determine which is smarter: Dogs vs Cats.

2. What does the color of your teeth have to do with your sperm’s swimming ability?

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Scientists working at Copenhagen University Hospital have found that a widely used chemical, found in industrial products as well as in many health and beauty formulas, can retard sperm in human males. These chemicals — found in both toothpaste and sunscreen, among others — adversely affect the human endocrine system and were shown to reduce sperm mobility and disrupt their ability to properly fuse with a female’s eggs. You can read more HERE

3. Remember The Bionic Man? Yeah. That’s real now.

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There has been a significant breakthrough in robotics that will be a godsend for amputees. The US FDA has approved the sale and marketing of a miraculous technologically advanced prosthetic arm — pioneered by inventor, Dean Kamen — the inventor of the Segway — which, when attached to an amputee, will respond to signals generated by the wearer’s muscles and nervous system. The new prosthetic — which looks like a hand — will mimic nearly a dozen human gestures, including: picking things up — like a grape, between thumb and forefinger, lifting up of a cup or glass, holding a utensil, etc. You can read more HERE.

4. The most important Top 10 you’ll ever read is hilariously unfunny.

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Perhaps in response to the current wave of anti-science that has crushed popular culture like a tsunami on the coast of Japan, from climate change deniers, to anti-vacciners, to homeopaths — ScienceNews Magazine has released a list of the Top 10 Things Everyone Should Know About Science. You are urged to print out the list… hang it on your fridge and refer to it often.

1. Science successfully explains natural phenomena through rational investigation and logical reasoning rather than by recourse to superstition and mysticism

2. When scientific disputes arise, the ultimate arbiter is not expert authority or common sense but experimental evidence, guided by theory.

3. Scientific theories are not “guesses” but are logi­cally rigorous attempts to explain the observed facts of nature and to predict the results of new observations.

 You can read the rest of the list HERE.

5. The good news: you can control your dreams. The bad news: you have to get into the bathtub with your toaster.

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New research into dreams reveals that as scientists gave low frequency / low gamma range electrical shocks to human patients, they were able to control many aspects of dreams they were simultaneously having. And by “control”, scientists mean that the participants were self-aware of their dream — meaning, they knew they were having a dream, they are able to take a 3rd person’s perspective of the dream, meaning to “be above the dream and look down on it” and most amazingly, control the direction, action and outcome of the dream. You can read more HERE

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