Research-induced synesthesia

25 09 2018

I visited the farm with Sam last week, to check in and also help label mink cages. Sam’s testing hypotheses about how the number, newness and diversity of enrichments affect welfare, especially aggression and boredom. To do this, he has created seven different enrichment-groups, Treatments 1-7. And he’s labelled these with coloured cable ties so often that he now feels that the number 1 IS red, that the number 2 IS orange, and so on.


Sometimes, I admit, I’d stop helping to coo at snoozing mink.


Papa Goose

25 09 2018

Cute interview just now on the BBC just now with a scientist who had young geese imprint on him and his microlight (and has just written a book about the experience).


Postcard from Austria

25 09 2018

More from Carole:

Boredom experts at the low arousal workshop: Becky’s talk chaired by Charlie, with John Eastwood on the right side (who gave fascinating talk on human boredom yesterday). V interesting workshop (and delicious organic vegetarian food ;-)), well done Sara Hintze and Christoph Winckler for the organisation!



To watch the meeting, here are instructions from Sara:

Go to an;  log in as guest (“Anmelden als Gast”); then press “teilnehmen” (meaning to participate); and click on “Präsentation”.  You will need to execute Adobe Flash.
Next you will be asked “Wie möchten Sie der Konferenz beitreten?”. Please press the right button here („Nur zuhören“).

Judgment bias in men

24 09 2018

Fascinating data from Carole, who charitably described them as “the perfect example to teach students about chi square and significance. Imagine you have two groups of people, men and women, answering a question ‘do you perceive any barrier to equality in your department?’“. Only they’re not imaginary numbers, they’re real….


MDMA and octopuses

24 09 2018

Screenshot 2018-09-23 21.28.22This really got a lot of attention this week: give Ecstasy to an octopus and it becomes all “touchy feely”. It sounded as dumb as the “we get our lobsters stoned before boiling them” story that came out of Maine around the same time. But chasing up the original paper, I found it was in Current Biology and that the work was thorough, from genotyping and finding evidence for an MDMA receptor, to using several animals in social preference tests with and without the drug. The authors admit they weren’t blind, and OK, all the animals were siblings (so the data strictly say more about this one family than the whole species). But it’s still interesting evidence of homology despite all the many differences between them and mammals. Would they self-select MDMA? That seems the obvious next experiment.

Hmm, not replying to this one …

17 09 2018

Screenshot 2018-09-17 09.06.41

Email of the week

17 09 2018

From Emma, proving herself fabulous once again:

Screenshot 2018-09-16 21.48.42


Why the week off? Because last week she beautifully defended her thesis, giving a great talk, and handling the questions (good ones from Lee and Renee) thoughtfully and with ease. (She made her corrections in record time too).

About 20 of us went out for lunch at Miidijaa that day as well, to celebrate: it was lovely. But somehow, we all forgot to take photos (my own excuse being that the start of semester had hit me like a small tsunami). All I have is the one below, just after the defence was over, where we both look a bit blurred and tired.

Luckily for me Emma’s staying in Guelph, and apparently raring to publish…