Roe V. Wade Overturned, Animals’ Amazing Sensory Abilities. June 24, 2022, Part 1

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U.S. Supreme Court Overturns Roe V. Wade

The U.S. Supreme Court decided Friday to overturn Roe v Wade. While there have been rumblings that this decision was going to happen, it’s still a shock to many people in the U.S.

In early May, a draft opinion was leaked that had circulated among the court justices, showing a majority of them were in support of the overturn. This will have huge ripple effects throughout the U.S. when it comes to reproductive healthcare.

A study from the University of California predicts a quarter of abortion clinics in the U.S. are likely to shut down under this rule, with the biggest impact in the South and Midwest.

Guest host Maddie Sofia talks with SciFri radio producer Kathleen Davis about what’s next for abortion rights in America and other science news of the week, including evidence of community transmission of polio in London and Canada’s single-use plastic ban.

The Millions Of Ways Animals Sense The World

A shark tracks its victims by smell, but uses the unmissable signal of a fish’s electrical field to make its final strike. Fire-chaser beetles can detect the heat of distant forest fires with specialized cells in their heads. Baby tree frogs can detect the seismic signals of a striking snake from within the egg—and seem to hatch earlier in defense. And the prey-hunting visual system of one unassuming-looking Mediterranean fly, known as the killer fly, works faster than any other species we’ve observed.

All of these are examples of an animal’s umwelt, their specialized sensory bubble or window onto the world, as described by German biologist Jakob Johann von Uexküll over one hundred years ago.

As science writer Ed Yong writes in his newest book, An Immense World: How Animal Senses Reveal The Hidden Realms Around Us, our history of studying animals’ umwelten has been fraught with hubris, misunderstandings, and mistakes. But bit by bit, we’re learning to appreciate the truly spectacular perceptive abilities of the owl, the elephantfish, and the humble jumping spider.

Yong joins guest host Maddie Sofia to share stories of amazing animal sensory abilities and the challenges of both imagining and describing these other realms using human-centric language. Plus, the uniquely human capacity to imagine other animals’ umwelten, and how we can use it to make the world better for them.

Transcripts for each segment will be available the week after the show airs on sciencefriday.com.

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