The binturong, or bearcat, smells of popcorn. Researchers from Duke University have at last discovered why that is. The strong odour comes from a substance called 2-acetyl-1-pyrroline in the creature’s urine. And it is exactly the same substance that makes popcorn smell like popcorn. The question is how the binturong creates that substance without frying…


People feel emotions if they touch robots in intimate places, found researchers at Stanford University. They had robots ask test subjects to touch various parts of their ‘bodies’. A sensor on the person’s finger recorded their level of arousal. And what emerged was: we hesitate to touch a robot’s crotch. Funny, isn’t it? Come to think of it, how would we feel if a robot touched us in the crotch?

Sorry (1)

What is the most effective way of apologizing when something goes wrong and it’s your fault? Scientists at Ohio State University made a real study of this. The result: acknowledge your mistake and offer to repair the damage. It is not enough to say sorry, any more than it is to declare that you regret it or explain how it happened. And the worst thing you can do is to beg for forgiveness. Sorry, can’t help that.

Sorry (2)

The 200th anniversary party thrown by Groningen student society Vindicat last year will long be remembered. The party led to a deficit of 300,000. To put that in context, the total cost of the party was 2.5 million. The society has launched a website ( for crowdfunding to close the gap. Donations are not exactly pouring in: they currently amount to 600 euros. Sorry.

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