1) The more we study animals, the more intelligent they become. Olivia Judson writes for the NY Times that many animals appear to have a vocabulary for sounding the alarm when a predator is spotted.
Vervet monkeys, for instance, use different sounds to warn of different types of predator. “Leopard!” is not the same as “snake!” or “eagle!” If you hide a loudspeaker in the bushes, and startle unsuspecting monkeys by playing recordings of “snake!” at them, they will look around at the ground. “Eagle!” makes them look up. “Leopard!” sends them scampering to the trees.
Now, if I can just figure out what my cat is saying.
Related: In just five hours, an average farm pig can learn how to interpret an image in the mirror and use it to find hidden food.
2) Get out your checkbook! Al Capone’s former hide-out in Sawyer County, Wis. is up for auction today. It includes 407 secluded acres with a 37-acre private lake, an eight-car garage and a guard tower, because your next family retreat probably needs a guard tower. Too bad the minimum bid is $2.6 million, otherwise I might have had a shot…
Update: The bank that foreclosed on the property was the only bidder. Bank officials did not say what their plans were for the property.
3) Here’s the coolest thing you’ll probably sleep through this week. NASA is crashing two rockets into the surface of the moon tomorrow morning. The LCROSS mission — Lunar CRater Observation and Sensing Satellite — will slam into the surface of the moon around 6:30 a.m. Central. NASA plans to analyze the plume of debris from the impact in the hopes of confirming preliminary findings of water ice on the moon. The best part? You can watch the impacts live on NASA TV.
4) From the All They Had to Do Was Ask Department: All-Nippon Airlines is hoping to save fuel by asking passengers to use the bathroom before boarding their flight. Add this the list of facts you’ll wish you could recall next time you play Trivial Pursuit.
It might not seem like much, but the human bladder can hold up to 16 ounces before the urge to urinate. That’s about 1.1 pounds of fluid. If all 216 passengers on an ANA Boeing 767 had pretty full bladders, that extra urine would weigh about 240 pounds.
5) I wonder what was happening 100 years ago, on Oct. 8, 1909… Well, it appears the Pittsburgh Pirates were gearing up for Game 1 of the World Series against the Detroit Tigers. The Times reported that a record crowd was expected for the game, that Pittsburgh was a 2-to-1 favorite, and that ticket scalping was notably absent. (Aside: I love how a box scores are essentially the same today as they were in 1909.)
Speaking of the World Series, 53 years ago today, Don Larsen threw a no-hitter in Game 5 of the ’56 Series, the only no-hitter ever thrown in postseason play.
Unrelated, but also happened on an Oct. 8th, the Great Chicago Fire started 138 years ago.
Voters in St. Paul will decide next month whether to adopt instant runoff voting for municipal elections. In Minneapolis, voters have already approved the system and will use it this year for the first time. Is instant runoff voting a good idea?
WHAT WE’RE DOING
Midmorning (9-11 a.m.) – First hour: Critics of the pharmaceutical industry maintain that the majority of clinical trials on prescription drugs are unreliable because they are run by the very companies producing those drugs. Industry defenders say that’s not the case.
Second hour: Wisconsin author Lorrie Moore is out with a new book that explores our collective anxiety since 9-11.
Midday (11 a.m.-1 p.m.) – First hour: The head of immunizations for the Minnesota Department of Health, Kris Ehresmann, will answer listener questions about the flu.
Second hour: Postmaster General John Potter live from the National Press Club. Fewer people are sending mail and the Postal Service recently announced it may lose more than $7 billion this fiscal year.
Talk of the Nation (1-2 p.m.) – Former Pakistan president Pervez Musharraf joins Neal Conan and Ted Koppel to talk about Al Qaeda, nuclear proliferation and India. He’s also taking calls from listeners.
All Things Considered (3-6 p.m.) – Tim Pugmire looks at Mayors Chris Coleman and R.T. Rybak running simultaneously for two offices. Wait, you mean they’re not officially candidates for governor?
Tim Post looks at enrollment in the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system. Spoiler: Only two sites, Rainy River Community College in International Falls and Minnesota State University-Moorhead, saw declines in enrollment.