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Last updated on April 16, 2014 at 1:21 EDT

Life In Paradise Has A Calming Effect On Animals – On Science

January 13, 2014

The truth about your morning coffee that you’re never going to forget.

Ever wonder why your cat won’t stop staring at you?

What surprising drink is keeping you hydrated?

And animals are on island time. Coming up today…On Science!

Hello and welcome to On Science, I’m Emerald Robinson.

Life in paradise has a calming effect – even on animals. While studying evolution, Charles Darwin used the Galapagos Islands as his observation ground. However, there was one particular observation he made that we don’t hear as much about. Darwin found that island animals were tamer than their mainland relatives. A study from a collaboration of universities has confirmed this observation. Island dwellers can be considered tamer thanks to a lack of predators. The team noted the average amount of time it takes for an animal to initiate a flight response once they are threatened. Island animals have diminished escape behavior because predators are more scarce, or even absent, there. I’m tamer too when I’m on island time.

Oh sorry, just imaging myself sitting by the ocean, sipping my coffee. Here’s good news, coffee drinkers. A new study from the University of Birmingham School of Sport and Exercise Sciences says that moderate coffee intake does not dehydrate you. Not only does it not dehydrate you, but it helps contribute to your daily fluid requirements just like any other drink does—well, let’s not say any other. It has been a common held belief that coffee and other caffeinated beverages could lead to dehydration due to its diuretic properties. Hydration analysis of study participants revealed no significant differences in total body water or any blood measures of hydration status between participants who drank coffee and those who drank water.

Which is a good thing since caffeine has recently been linked to long-term memory enhancement. Researchers recently reported that caffeine has a positive impact on long-term recollection in humans, enhancing some memories for roughly one full day after consumption. In the study, participants who drank coffee performed better on a memory test conducted the day after drinking coffee than those who drank water or a had a placebo. However, researchers aren’t sure whether this enhancement is due to caffeine’s effects on attention, vigilance, focus, or other factors. Hey, whatever, it works!

Have you ever looked at your cat and wondered what it is they see when they’re looking back at you? One professor says he’s figured it out! According to a new book called Cat Sense from a professor from the Anthrozoology Institute at the University of Bristol, your furry little feline friend thinks you’re just a larger, non-hostile version of itself. Researchers say that your cat is just treating you as another cat. And when you’re cat brings home that prize-wining dead rat to your doorstep as a gift, they say it’s not actually a gift. Researchers at this school say the cat simply remembers it likes tinned food once it walks through the door and leaves its prey laying there. Why study this view of cats? Because the researcher at this school says that in actuality cats aren’t really very domesticated, that they are still wild, and that we must take that into consideration in the damage he says he’s seeing done by pedigree breeders.

Though we think of space travel as a modern advancement, dreamers have long been dreaming of traveling beyond our world. One such dreamer was about 300 years before his time. John Wilkins, a graduate of Oxford in England, was born in 1614. A mathematician and scientist ahead of his time, he wrote a book called “Mathematical Magick” which outlines the plans for a possible aircraft called a “flying chariot.” Wilkins believed that a trip to the moon could be possible but he realized that the Earth’s gravitational pull on the moon, the coldness of space, and food for astronauts would be problems to be considered. If only Wilkins could see us now!

And that’s what’s happening today On Science. See you right back here tomorrow!