Suspicious eyes, Dad’s superpower, Poo proofs, Apple-a-day

This week’s Feedback column (that I write) in New Scientist magazine has four segments. Here are bits of each of them:

  • Suspicious eyes — In the year 2001, US president George W. Bush foreshadowed a hope that decades later would pervade the robotics industry. Bush stood next to Russian president Vladimir Putin at a press conference in Slovenia and said of him: “I looked the man in the eye. I found him to be very straightforward and trustworthy… I was able to get a sense of his soul.” In the period since then, roboticists have theorised that putting eyes (or at least things that look like eyes) on robots would induce people to trust those robots. Trust them more, that is, than they would trust an eyeless counterpart. Now, Artur Pilacinski and his team of robot researchers at the Ruhr University Bochum, Germany, and the University of Coimbra, Portugal, have tested the eyes/trust assumption….
  • Whom Dad saw— Tom Marinov adds spousal-history detection and discernment to Feedback’s growing record of trivial superpowers….
  • Poo-pooping proofs —The year 2023 has already produced three, maybe four scientific papers that – by existing – pooh-pooh the notion that all scientists are prudish. The journal Molecular Ecology Resources gives us: “The proof is in the poo: Non-invasive method to detect endoparasitic infection.” Researchers in Illinois present their report…
  • Apple appeal— Does an apple a day keep diseases away? There had never been a clear answer agreeable to the whole medical profession. Now, maybe there is….