Biomedicine

Monkey Thoughts

We round up this week’s most intriguing items from around the Web.

Monkey Thoughts

Those baboons may see, hear and speak no evil, but they might be able to think it, report researchers in the Journal of Experimental Psychology. In a study, baboon subjects discerned relationships between icons on a computer screen, suggesting they may be capable of abstract thought. As expected, human subjects outperformed the monkeys, even without the motivation of banana-flavored pellets.

D-Mail

Report-card forgery may soon become a lost art, reports the New York Times, as parents turn to e-mail and the Web to monitor their children’s schoolwork. Schools post assignments, grades and permission slips on Web sites and mailing lists; one teacher tells how e-mail thwarted her class’s attempted homework revolt: “They got nailed the minute they got home.”

Look Dave, I Can See You’re Really Upset about This

New Scientist takes the pulse of the latest offering from Toyota: a car that detects a driver’s emotions through biometrics and behavior tracking. The car, named Pod, attempts to wake the drowsy and soothe the angry-and can even communicate your state of mind with outside lights. Finally: a digital way to tell other drivers how you feel.

I Should Pay for This?

A Japanese company has perfected a robotic cat that promises as much loyalty (none) as the real thing, reports BBC News. While NeCoRo, as it’s called, will stretch and purr when stroked, it won’t perform tricks or respond to commands. It just lies around waiting for attention. Perhaps this particular e-Garfield could have used a little less reality.

Tobacco Cures Cancer!

Well, not quite. But a California-based biotech has genetically engineered tobacco plants to produce leukemia- and lymphoma-resistant chemicals, reports the Observer. Now, for everyone out there on the patch, settle down: scientists will harvest these novel biofactories by scraping the leaves, not lighting them. There’s still some time to go before you smoke your way to better health.

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