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PRI's The World

That goat may be a whole lot smarter than it looks

Friday, April 04, 2014

The face of a goat doesn't really inspire. It has a deadpan stare, and it's certainly not the liveliest.

"That's the common public impression, that goats and most other farm animals are not very intelligent," says Elodie Briefer, a researcher at the Institute of Agricultural Sciences in Zurich.

In a recent study, she and her colleagues found that behind that dazed look is a pretty smart brain, too.

It turns out that goats haven't really been studied for their cognitive skills, at least not in the same way that chimps have.

"By working with them, we realized that they are actually very curious animals," Briefer says. "Most people who own goats, they know that they can open locks and escape from any pen."

The goats involved in the study were already domesticated. They were put through a series of tests over the span of several months to measure their thinking abilities.

What they designed was essentially an obstacle course to get food out of a box. Briefer and her team timed the goats to see how fast they could get their grub.

"After these really long intervals, they could solve the task within two minutes, which was quite surprising for us," she says.

Even though the research focused on obtaining food, a goat's intelligence isn't limited to that. In fact, a goat's intelligence is one of the reasons the animal can survive pretty much anywhere, contributing to the resilience of the species.

"They can manipulate objects easily, they can learn complex tasks, and they can remember them," Briefer says.

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The Leonard Lopate Show

Every Night I'm Shufflin'

Friday, April 04, 2014

Insomnia, snoring, restless leg syndrome, sleepwalking. A lot of things can prevent us from getting good sleep. Find out what causes sleep disturbances — and how to treat them.

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The Leonard Lopate Show

Creating a Restaurant that Lasts; Scenes from a Restaurant Kitchen; Carla Hall; Rieslings, Please Explain

Friday, April 04, 2014

Chefs Alfred Portale and Bill Telepan talk about celebrating Gotham Bar and Grill’s 30th anniversary and what gives a restaurant staying power in our very competitive city. Michael Gibney takes us inside a professional kitchen to show us the camaraderie and choreography that goes into making a wonderful plate of food. Carla Hall, host of “The Chew,” explains how food can help forge connections between people–and shares some of her favorite comfort foods. We'll discuss the resurgent popularity of Rieslings. And this week’s Please Explain is about insomnia and other sleep disturbances.

On The Media

Case Closed

Friday, April 04, 2014

A new report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) not only presents dire evidence of global warming's impact, it also offers a different narrative about who is at risk, putting humans at the center of the story. Brooke talks with science journalist Cristine Russell about the IPCC's media-ready case.

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Shooting Unfairly Links Violence With Mental Illness — Again

Thursday, April 03, 2014

The vast majority of people, including soldiers, with PTSD, depression or other mental illness are not violent. Psychiatrists doubt the latest shooting at Fort Hood could have been predicted.

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All Things Considered

One More Speed Bump For Your Retirement Fund: Basic Human Impulse

Thursday, April 03, 2014

Basic human impulses often conflict with saving for retirement. For one thing, people hate losing something — even more than we love winning. Behavioral economists call this "loss aversion."

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Farmers Need To Get 'Climate Smart' To Prep For What's Ahead

Thursday, April 03, 2014

Climate change will likely hurt food production, raise food prices and increase hunger. But those calamities may not be inevitable, according to a group of international agriculture researchers.

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Science Friday

SciFri: Sir Roger Penrose: Cosmic Inflation Is ‘Fantasy’

Thursday, April 03, 2014

What's wrong with modern physics—and could alternative theories explain our observations of the universe?

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Science Friday

SciFri: Inside Insight: Clearing and Staining Fish

Thursday, April 03, 2014

Clearing and staining gobies, stingrays, and sharks has revealed to scientist Adam Summers critical data, as well as the beauty of each fish’s unique form.

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Science Friday

SciFri: Diving Into the Underground Ocean of One of Saturn’s Moons

Thursday, April 03, 2014

Enceladus, one of Saturn’s moons, may have an underground ocean the size of Lake Superior.

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Science Friday

SciFri: The Origins of Violence

Thursday, April 03, 2014

An anthropologist, a psychologist, and a crime writer ask: Are humans hard-wired for violence?

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Science Friday

SciFri: How Will Russian-U.S. Politics Affect Our Relationship in Space?

Thursday, April 03, 2014

NASA suspended a majority of its communications with Russia in response to the conflict in Crimea.

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All Things Considered

Smithsonian's Air And Space Museum To Get $30 Million Spiffier

Thursday, April 03, 2014

Curators say they'll use the big grant from Boeing to better highlight how exploratory flight — from the Spirit of St. Louis to the Starship Enterprise — has transformed the world.

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'Oh, Hello,' Says Andrew, As He Suddenly Grabs You By The Leg Or Neck

Thursday, April 03, 2014

There it is: a wild animal, lurking. Here's Andrew, darting so fast, using his bare hands — and bingo! Suddenly, he's holding the animal. He doesn't use weapons — just his lightning-quick reflexes.

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Radiolab

Hey! Don't I know you?

Thursday, April 03, 2014

In our Soul Patch episode, we feature an excerpt from an event at the World Science Festival, where Robert joins artist Chuck Close and neuroscientist Oliver Sacks on stage to talk about the simple, and sometimes quirky, ways in which they deal with face blindness, a neurological condition that prevents the two men from recognizing the faces of other people.

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Good Day Sunshine: Could Morning Light Help Keep Us Lean?

Thursday, April 03, 2014

People who are exposed to light earlier in the day are slimmer, a study finds. That doesn't mean morning sunshine helps people lose weight. But it matches other evidence on light and health.

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On Being

Janna Levin — Mathematics, Purpose, and Truth [remix]

Thursday, April 03, 2014

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On Being

[Unedited] Janna Levin with Krista Tippett

Thursday, April 03, 2014

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The Leonard Lopate Show

Will Drought Ruin the Southwest?

Thursday, April 03, 2014

Harper's contributing editor Christopher Ketcham reports on the dying Colorado River, which has been diverted by a series of dams to supply water to the parched Southwest. Ketcham talks about rafting down the river from Utah to Arizona with an environmentalist and the water manager for the city of Denver—two men with dramatically opposed views on how this precious resource should be used. A solution must be found, though, because neither the cities of the Southwest nor California agriculture can ultimately survive if the river runs dry. His article "Razing Arizona" is in the April 2014 issue of Harper's.

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The Leonard Lopate Show

Using Your Personal Data to Change the World

Thursday, April 03, 2014

John Havens highlights the benefits of an examined life in the digital world and illustrates how the fruits of the Information Age can improve our lives for the better. Our digital identity is represented by gigabytes of data produced from tracking your activities on your smartphone and computer, and in Hacking Happiness: Why Your Personal Data Counts and How Tracking it Can Change the World, Havens argues that emerging technologies will help us use this valuable data to help us track our emotions to improve our well-being based on the science of positive psychology. 

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