Congratulations (again) to Maria!

29 08 2014

She corrected her thesis in record time and it’s now lodged safely in the library’s ‘atrium’:

Screen Shot 2014-08-29 at 6.13.00 PM

Her student visa expires at midnight tonight, so we’re hoping this will stop her being deported. Fingers crossed!

Faked pregnancy to get more buns?

29 08 2014

Click here for an odd story about phantom pregnancy in a panda at the Chengdu breeding centre.

Two thoughts. She elevated her output of certain hormones in order to win more buns? Really?? Seems an unlikely kind of duplicity… And if all the pandas there had great treatment all the time, you wouldn’t see this problem, would you?

Screen Shot 2014-08-29 at 8.31.05 AM

G is for grief … and goshawks

29 08 2014

Screen Shot 2014-08-28 at 9.39.56 PMTotally loved this strange interview with Helen Macdonald (starts at 7 minutes in) on how she reacted to her father’s sudden death by buying and obsessively training a goshawk called Mabel. (I was also fascinated that you can only train birds of prey using positive reinforcement).

Macdonald‘s just published a book about the experience called “H is for Hawk”, and this review makes it sound a must-read.

Happynomics (or: how to be happy)

28 08 2014

Screen Shot 2014-08-28 at 7.40.12 PM


Just scouting around for things for my group to read this semester.

We’re going to kick off with Ben Goldacre’s ‘Bad Science‘, but if that doesn’t work I’m quite keen on the BBC’s ‘More or Less’ podcasts … and in looking to see if Tim Hartford had published these in writing, I came across his great little summary on how to be happy (relevant for animals as well as humans, I bet):



Got to get this into my class

28 08 2014

Classes start again next week. And I’ve simply got to show this video in a lecture because it’s SO DAMN CUTE plus set to my very favourite Slumdog track…!!!!

No, wait, sorry: because it’s such an excellent illustration of chaining and the use of discriminative stimuli.


Congratulations to Alexandra!

27 08 2014

Been unofficial for a while, but here is official news of Alex‘s new chair here:


Screen Shot 2014-08-27 at 11.29.54 AM

One man and his two-rule-following dog

27 08 2014

New research shows that sheepdogs, whose impressive skills used to be featured once a week in the BBC show ‘One Man and his Dog’, follow just two simple rules to round up woolly ruminants: collect sheep when they’re dispersed and then drive them forward when they’re aggregated.

Screen Shot 2014-08-27 at 9.26.40 AM

I think both rules take some cleverness to effect though: