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A field of snow-covered pumpkins in Waidring in the Austrian province of Tyrol. (Kerstin Joensson/Associated Press)
A field of snow-covered pumpkins in Waidring in the Austrian province of Tyrol. (Kerstin Joensson/Associated Press)

Talking points: Bill Nye teams with NASA, dogs think they’re people and sixth sense for danger Add to ...

FROM HOOFER TO HOST

Bill Nye the Science Guy may not be much of a dancer, but he’s the right choice to explain a space mission. PCmag.com reports that the affable educator has teamed with NASA to host a new Web series showcasing the space agency’s current Juno probe mission to Jupiter. Nye, 57, was recently a contestant on the reality series Dancing with the Stars, where he suffered a quadriceps injury and was eliminated in early rounds. The new series, titled Why with Nye, is currently available on YouTube’s THNKR channel and features Nye, a real-life mechanical engineer, explaining the science behind the Juno mission, which is on the verge of completing its unprecedented two-year journey to Jupiter. No word on whether he’ll show off his dance moves on the show.

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DOGS THINK THEY’RE PEOPLE

Everybody knows most dogs are affectionate, but why do they love humans so darn much? As reported in Men’s Journal, a new book by neuroscientist Gregory Berns explores how much puppy love has to do with whoever’s filling the food dish. “There’s a contingent of hard-core behaviourists who think that the things dogs do they do just for food and shelter,” said Berns. “To me, there’s no way from looking at a dog to tell the difference.” As research for How Dogs Love Us: A Neuroscientist and His Adopted Dog Decode the Canine Brain, Berns performed extensive MRI testing on his terrier Callie and other dogs and concluded: “Dogs, and probably many other animals, especially our closest primate relatives, seem to have emotions just like us.”

SPIDEY-SENSE IS REAL

If it feels like you have a sixth sense for spotting danger, you probably do. The Vancouver Sun reports that a study from the University of British Columbia has determined more than half the human population is genetically predisposed to recognize danger wherever it lurks. Focusing on a sizable group of volunteers, the study found slightly more than half had a genetic trait identified as the “ADRA2b deletion variant,” which significantly affects how they perceive the world. “These individuals may be more likely to pick out angry faces in a crowd of people,” said UBC psychology professor Rebecca Todd. “Outdoors, they might notice potential hazards – places you could slip, loose rocks that might fall – instead of seeing the natural beauty.”

THOUGHT DU JOUR

Men can starve from a lack of self-realization as much as they can from a lack of bread.

Richard Wright, Author (1908-1960)

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