Welcome to Weekend Links, a collection of fascinating science stories from across the web, curated by your science-loving friends at the Mass General Research Institute.
Safe, Efficient Self-Driving Cars Could Block Walkable, Livable Communities
Daniel Piatkowski writing for The Conversation
As a driver and a cyclist, I initially welcomed the idea of self-driving cars that could detect nearby people and be programmed not to hit them, making the streets safer for everyone. But as an urban planner and transportation scholar who, like most people in my field, has paid close attention to the discussion around driverless cars, I have come to understand that autonomous vehicles will not complement modern urban planning goals of building people-centered communities.
Should You Pet Your Dog Before an Absence?
Zazie Toss writing for Psychology Today
Dogs form an attachment to their owner and as a result can find it stressful to be separated from them. It used to be conventional wisdom that you should ignore your dog before you go out, but a pilot study finds gentle petting of dogs before a short separation makes them more calm than if they were ignored before the separation.
Futuristic Organ-on-a-Chip Technology Now Seems More Realistic Than Ever
Max Levy writing for Massive Science
In theory, organ-on-a-chip devices are aptly named. The engineered silicone modules contain small “organs,” represented by specific types of human cells. Fluid courses through thin channels — like veins, but only a fraction of the size — which interconnect the various cells, and expose them to drug treatments carefully administered by lab scientists. They may look like gadgets from the future, but these organ-on-a-chip devices have already garnered attention from scientists hoping to fix a broken drug discovery process.
Lemurs Provide Clues About How Fruit Scents Evolved
Merrit Kennedy writing for NPR
A group of researchers set out to test what kind of information the animals are able to discern from scent about whether a fruit is ripe. In a paper published in Science Advances, they say that fruit plants can evolve to signal to animals that it is ripe using their scent. This helps certain fruits that rely on animals to distribute their seeds.
The Irrational Psychology of Disgust
Rachel Sugar writing for Vox
At the Disgusting Food Museum, which opens in Malmo, Sweden, at the end of this month, you can — as the name suggests — experience “80 of the world’s most disgusting foods.” It’s easy to read the museum as a culturally insensitive house of culinary horrors — people (who are not me) in places (that are not here) eat that? And sure, there’s not not a gross-out factor, as evidenced by the name. But West told me the actual mission is the opposite: By really diving into the world of disgust, he’s hoping he can change the way people eat, and maybe save the world.
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