Weekend Links: We Might All Have Synesthesia, How Female Parakeets Look for Intelligent Mates and More

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Welcome to Weekend Links, a collection of fascinating science stories from across the web, curated by your science-loving friends at the Mass General Research Institute.

The Right Way to Use a Public Bathroom (to Avoid Getting Sick)

Melinda Wenner Moyer writing for The New York Times

What, if anything, can we do to minimize our exposure to germs when we have to relieve ourselves in public? I called a handful of experts — it’s fun to ask total strangers about toilet bacteria, believe me — and dug up some pretty nasty research to find out. You’re welcome.

When Finding a Mate, Intelligence Matters to Female Parakeets

Therese Koch writing for Massive Science

According to the research, published in the journal Science, female budgerigars (or budgies), small, colorful parrots native to Australia, prefer spending time with males that can solve puzzles.

Citizen Science in Nebraska

Guest writing for Discover

Nebraska is a big state. In fact, the Cornhusker State is about 77,358 square miles. That’s a lot of ground to cover for researchers who are studying butterflies, skunks, or salamanders — there aren’t enough scientists to travel to every single possible sighting location every day. As a result, researchers have turned to science enthusiasts in the state to help them study these creatures.

We Might All Have Synesthesia, New Study Suggests

Nathaniel Scharping writing for Discover

Oh, to be a synesthete, those rare people with access to an extra layer of perception. Sounds have colors. Words have taste. Colors play music. The list goes on. The phenomenon isn’t totally understood by scientists, but the general idea is that those with synesthesia experience sensory inputs differently than the rest of us.

A Brief History of Cooties

Jane C. Hu writing for Smithsonian

Of all the germs kids are exposed to on the playground, there’s one they freak out about more than any other: cooties.

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