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12 Lucky Products to Show Your Love for Black Cats

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Happy Black Cat Appreciation Day! These dark-furred felines sometimes get a bad rap for their unlucky reputation, but we think they're awesome. Here are a few black cat-themed products to show you think so, too.

1. STOCKINGS; $3

Why settle for regular pantyhose when you can have adorable stockings that give the illusion that you’re wearing cat shaped knee-high socks?

Find it: Amazon

2. SOCKS; $8

For something a little more subtle, here are some ankle-length socks that feature a cat’s face on the side.

Find it: Amazon

3. EARRED RING; $58

This black-plated metal ring by Kate Spade is covered with glass stones and adorned with two pointy cat ears. There's also a bracelet.

Find it: Amazon

4. GOOGLY EYED CAT IPHONE CASE; $9

This rubber case features a number of cartoon cats, all with moving googly eyes. The PC and TPU fusion material is perfect for keeping your iPhone6/s from harm, plus it's just downright adorable. Need one for an older phone? You can find it at Amazon.

Find it: Claire's

5. KEY HOOK; $13

Never lose your keys again with this rack, which has five metal hooks and two cats lounging on top.

Find it: Amazon

6. MEASURING SPOONS; $21

Cats don’t make good sous chefs—you'll end up with fur in your food—so these silicone and metal measuring spoons are the only kitties you'll want in the kitchen.

Find it: Amazon

7. PICTURE CLIPS; $10

Show off all your cute cat pictures at work or at home with this picture hanging kit. Each of the eight paperclips along the 36-inch cord is topped with a little black cat.

Find it: Amazon

8. MUG; $7

Coffee (or maybe a bit of milk) will taste so much better when you’re drinking from a cat-shaped mug. This black ceramic mug holds 350 milliliters of any liquid you’d like—we just can’t promise your cat won’t dip its paw in when you’re not looking.

Find it: Amazon

9. WINE STOPPER; $10

This wine stopper from Fred & Friends makes it look as though a black cat is inspecting the inside of your wine bottle. Made with food-safe silicone, it’s the perfect addition to any cat-themed wine parties. (These drink markers will help too. And don't forget wine for the cats!)

Find it: Amazon

10. TWITCHY CAT TAIL; $35

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to have a tail? Wonder no more: This battery-operated appendage, brought to you by ThinkGeek, clips to your waistband and swishes and twitches just like the real thing.

Find it: ThinkGeek

11. BOOKMARKS; $7

Write down thoughts or keep your place with these adorable paper sticky notes. The colored tabs are all topped with tiny black cats, which will look adorable sitting on top of your book or important file.

Find it: Amazon

12. SMARTPHONE STAND; $16

Keep your phone upright and secure with this helpful kitty. The polyresin cat is in stretched position, with a groove in its back that holds an iPhone or Android.

Find it: Amazon

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How Bats Protect Rare Books at This Portuguese Library
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Visit the Joanina Library at the University of Coimbra in Portugal at night and you might think the building has a bat problem. It's true that common pipistrelle bats live there, occupying the space behind the bookshelves by day and swooping beneath the arched ceilings and in and out of windows once the sun goes down, but they're not a problem. As Smithsonian reports, the bats play a vital role in preserving the institution's manuscripts, so librarians are in no hurry to get rid of them.

The bats that live in the library don't damage the books and, because they're nocturnal, they usually don't bother the human guests. The much bigger danger to the collection is the insect population. Many bug species are known to gnaw on paper, which could be disastrous for the library's rare items that date from before the 19th century. The bats act as a natural form of pest control: At night, they feast on the insects that would otherwise feast on library books.

The Joanina Library is famous for being one of the most architecturally stunning libraries on earth. It was constructed before 1725, but when exactly the bats arrived is unknown. Librarians can say for sure they've been flapping around the halls since at least the 1800s.

Though bats have no reason to go after the materials, there is one threat they pose to the interior: falling feces. Librarians protect against this by covering their 18th-century tables with fabric made from animal skin at night and cleaning the floors of guano every morning.

[h/t Smithsonian]

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Honey Bees Can Understand the Concept of Zero
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The concept of zero—less than one, nothing, nada—is deceptively complex. The first placeholder zero dates back to around 300 BCE, and the notion didn’t make its way to Western Europe until the 12th century. It takes children until preschool to wrap their brains around the concept. But scientists in Australia recently discovered a new animal capable of understanding zero: the honey bee. According to Vox, a new study finds that the insects can be taught the concept of nothing.

A few other animals can understand zero, according to current research. Dolphins, parrots, and monkeys can all understand the difference between something and nothing, but honey bees are the first insects proven to be able to do it.

The new study, published in the journal Science, finds that honey bees can rank quantities based on “greater than” and “less than,” and can understand that nothing is less than one.

Left: A photo of a bee choosing between images with black dots on them. Right: an illustration of a bee choosing the image with fewer dots
© Scarlett Howard & Aurore Avarguès-Weber

The researchers trained bees to identify images in the lab that showed the fewest number of elements (in this case, dots). If they chose the image with the fewest circles from a set, they received sweetened water, whereas if they chose another image, they received bitter quinine.

Once the insects got that concept down, the researchers introduced another challenge: The bees had to choose between a blank image and one with dots on it. More than 60 percent of the time, the insects were successfully able to extrapolate that if they needed to choose the fewest dots between an image with a few dots and an image with no dots at all, no dots was the correct answer. They could grasp the concept that nothing can still be a numerical quantity.

It’s not entirely surprising that bees are capable of such feats of intelligence. We already know that they can count, teach each other skills, communicate via the “waggle dance,” and think abstractly. This is just more evidence that bees are strikingly intelligent creatures, despite the fact that their insect brains look nothing like our own.

Considering how far apart bees and primates are on the evolutionary tree, and how different their brains are from ours—they have fewer than 1 million neurons, while we have about 86 billion—this finding raises a lot of new questions about the neural basis of understanding numbers, and will no doubt lead to further research on how the brain processes concepts like zero.

[h/t Vox]

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