Sperm and egg; Dogs; Automatic Facebook; Invasive species


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How sperm recognises the egg The discovery of a protein on mammalian sperm almost a decade ago, sparked the search for the corresponding receptor on the egg. Now researchers in the UK have found this receptor in mouse egg cells. They propose to call it Juno, after the Roman Goddess of fertility and marriage. The finding indicates that these two proteins need to interact for normal fertilisation to occur. And in humans, it could lead to early screening of couple to decide which appropriate fertility treatment they require.

Dogs as clinical models Dogs play an important companion role in society, but man's best friend can suffer from hundreds of different diseases. Surprisingly, many of these are very similar to human diseases, including cancer and autoimmune conditions. Research into a range of naturally occurring canine conditions has the potential to lead to some ground-breaking medical advances and improve human health.

Automatic Facebook Keeping up with your online social network of 'friends' on Facebook can sometimes be time consuming and arduous. Now artificial intelligence expert, Boris Galitsky, has invented a robot to do the bulk of his social interactions online. But how realistic is it? And does it fool his cyber pals?

Artistic brains feedback Last week we ran an item showing that researchers have found that artists' brains were structurally different from those of non-artists. This sparked a lot of listener feedback and debate on what is the difference between being an artist and being creative? Is it nature or nurture, or both? We attempt to get your points across!

Invasive Alien Species The European Parliament has approved new legislation which hopes to contain the spread of invasive species of plants and animals in Europe. It has proposed bans on the possession, transport, selling or growing of restricted species. The list, which includes plants like Japanese knotweed and Himalayan balsam and animals like the "killer" shrimp, which can wreak havoc when they spread, was restricted to just 50 species. But now it will be open-ended, so when new alien invasive species arise, they can be dealt with more easily. But in the UK, what constitutes an 'alien' species and how do you decide whether it's invasive? And what about all the 'alien' plants we already grow in our gardens?

Producer: Fiona Roberts.