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Science
THE MATERIAL WORLD
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Thursday 16:30-17:00
Quentin Cooper reports on developments across the sciences. Each week scientists describe their work, conveying the excitement they feel for their research projects.
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Listen to 18 May
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QUENTIN COOPER
Quentin Cooper
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Thursday 18 May 2006
ABBA, Eurovision winners in 1974
ABBA, Winners of the 1974 Eurovision Song Contest

Eurovision Song Contest

"Norway - nul points" may no longer be a regular occurance but might there have been some collaboration between member states of the Eurovision Song contest to keep Norway at the bottom of the pile?

Since the late 1980s, media observers have noticed that some pairs of countries routinely give high scores to each other. And there are suspicions that voting partnerships might now be turning into voting blocs. Are such phenomena statistically significant, or can be explained by chance? 

Quentin Cooper discusses voting alliances with Dr Derek Gatherer, author of a paper looking at the science behind the fabled voting collusions of Eurovision, and Dr Janet Efstathiou, Head of Manufacturing Systems Group at Oxford University’s Engineering Department, who has two students researching Eurovision. Could this herald the end of the Eurovision Song Contest as we know it?

Social Intelligence

In 1976, psychologist Nicholas Humphrey published the first paper on the social intelligence hypothesis, which suggests that intelligence might have evolved in response to the demands of social life. 

To mark the paper’s publication, next week the Royal Society is holding an event on social intelligence to discuss the developments of this theory over the last thirty years, and Quentin Cooper meets two of the conference’s speakers.

Professor Andrew Whiten, Professor of Evolutionary and Developmental Psychology, University of St. Andrews, describes the results of his research to show that primate communities pass on behaviours from generation to generation, giving rise to 'ape cultures'.

Professor Nicola Clayton, Professor of Comparative Cognition at Cambridge University, has found that members of the corvid family of birds display social intelligence by devising clever food stashing stratigies designed to outwit their peers.

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