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People Who Will Be at the Idea Festival Besides Us

As we mentioned last week, our co-founder Will Pearson will be representing mental_floss at the Idea Festival in Louisville, which runs from September 29th through October 2nd. Our own Colin Perkins may be joining Will for The Mental Floss Trivia Show on Friday morning (October 1st). This week we'll be highlighting some of the other people who'll be there.

Hugh Herr


Hugh Herr heads the Biomechanics group at MIT and is at the cutting-edge of a fast-paced revolution in Bionics. At the Idea Festival this year, he will explore his work and unique new technologies that are accelerating the merging of mind, body and machine.

Since mental_floss is one of the Idea Festival's sponsors, our readers can attend for the special price of $299. Click on this link and enter the discount code "Insider." (If you're a student, you can get in for $199, but you can't book your ticket online. Just call the Kentucky Center Box Office at (502) 584-7777. They'll hook you up!)

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Bone Broth 101
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Whether you drink it on its own or use it as stock, bone broth is the perfect recipe to master this winter. Special thanks to the Institute of Culinary Education

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Why Can Parrots Talk and Other Birds Can't?
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If you've ever seen a pirate movie (or had the privilege of listening to this avian-fronted metal band), you're aware that parrots have the gift of human-sounding gab. Their brains—not their beaks—might be behind the birds' ability to produce mock-human voices, the Sci Show's latest video explains below.

While parrots do have articulate tongues, they also appear to be hardwired to mimic other species, and to create new vocalizations. The only other birds that are capable of vocal learning are hummingbirds and songbirds. While examining the brains of these avians, researchers noted that their brains contain clusters of neurons, which they've dubbed song nuclei. Since other birds don't possess song nuclei, they think that these structures probably play a key role in vocal learning.

Parrots might be better at mimicry than hummingbirds and songbirds thanks to a variation in these neurons: a special shell layer that surrounds each one. Birds with larger shell regions appear to be better at imitating other creatures, although it's still unclear why.

Learn more about parrot speech below (after you're done jamming out to Hatebeak).

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