I’ve got your missing links right here (10 September 2011)

Top picks

Patrick Keeling teaches his students to make their own DIY microscopes. Anne Casselman describes it *beautifully*

It’s worth reading this piece on John Hunstman by Tom Chivers just for the brilliant football/evolution analogy

Jawless fish, an epic primer on the birth of vertebrates.

When Doctors Become Patients: moving story of a doctor who gets throat cancer

Razor-sharp: why worrying whether people like science or not is probably the wrong concern. By Alice Bell.

“It’s hard to overstate the influence of the marshmallow task.” 40+ years on and still important, says Jonah Lehrer.

I spend all my time blogging about papers. But here’s a paper about my blog!

How the war over dolphin rights sundered the friendship between two scientists. Great story by Erik Vance.

Aceinetobacter baumanni, a totally hardcore bacterium that’s stopped by blue light. A bit like Green Lantern. Great tag-team posts by James Byrne and Lab Rat.

Natural hazards in the age of social media, or how some people felt quakes on Twitter before real life

Freedom to Riot: On the Evolution of Collective Violence. Yet another tour de force post by Eric Michael Johnson.

Billboards advertising Contagion movie made from bacteria and fungi. Viral marketing at its best.

The mirror test for self-awareness works for visual animals. For dogs, there’s the “yellow snow” test.

Reconstructing 2-million-year-old hominin skin. John Hawks describes a new open-science project.

If you sequence the bacteria in the English Channel, you can work out which month it is with perfect accuracy, says Holly Bik

Meet Chinquapin the Badass Whimbrel, who flew through the centre of Hurricane Irene and survived.

On “menotoxins” & how culture biased science towards the acceptance of “menstrual toxins”. Great post by Kate Clancy.

Your brain constructs reality. Don’t buy it? Try out the app that lets you see the stuff you can’t see.

Surprising no one, Reebok’s leg/bum-toning shoes don’t work, by Travis Saunders


Ben Goldacre on the statistical error that just keeps on coming, and afflicts neuroscience papers

The versatility of science graduates should be celebrated not criticised, says Imran Khan.

Live malaria vaccine is safe. Yay! Not actually very good at preventing malaria. Boo.

Man gets $75k for proving “Enormous Theorem“. Proof runs to 15000 pages. Other mathematicians get proof envy.

How accurate are our memories of 9/11?

Should We Outsource Obesity Treatment To Weight Watchers?

Diederik Stapel, a psychologist whose work I’ve written about, has been suspended on the grounds of fraudulent data.

Conspiracy theorists deny 9-11 anniversary. Excellent.

Fukushima had no effect on British public’s nuclear appetite.

Babies show same brain responses to touch and pain until around 35 wks.

Flight of the hippo. Fly a pollutant-sampling plane from pole to pole & you find cool things

Café owner going to kill that laptop-using bastard

Locked in an airtight chamber for 48hrs, relying on plant produced oxygen – will sealed-in scientist survive?

A church that wants to teach science.

You’ve been buried in the rubble of a collapsed building. Then a snake robot moves towards you.

Here’s Carl Zimmer on the raft of new Australopithecus sediba papers

Dolphins don’t “whistle” – they ‘talk’ like humans

Mankind gives Antarctica a raging case of the crabs

“Politicians are more conversant with human irrationality than most.”

Nature editorial: Severe storms make the public think of climate change. Scientists must work to evaluate the link

Child’s skull clearly showing both baby and adult teeth http

How a Christmas card led to Michelle Nijhuis’s story on a killer bat disease.

On the spread of unproven treatments in sports medicine. “For a lot of people it is a boutique business”

Predicting individual neural activity differences at 18 years based on behaviour at 4 months.

“More rules when you buy a used car than sperm.” 1 sperm donor, 150 brothers and sisters.

Can probiotic yoghurt cure your psychiatric ills?

The toxic drug that decimated Indian vulture populations is still for sale in pharmacies

Modern African genomes hint at massive prehistoric inter-hominin shagfest

“What has really made me mad is that this 24/7 [lab] culture is condoned AT ALL.” Hear hear, Nicola Davis

Biting a wasp is a gateway to injecting yourself with horse blood

Could next Mars rover contaminate red planet with Earth’s bacteria?

On Steve Irwin and the rise of schlock nature programmes. Give me Attenborough any day.

The baby boomers demand your blood to rejuvenate their dying brains. Or something.

One third of known species catalogued in the new Encyclopedia of Life.

Irreproducible data: Half of published studies claiming “new drug target” can’t be reproduced by drug companies. However, conclusion is based on a study from a drug company that isn’t peer-reviewed and can’t be checked because of confidentiality issues. I think my irony meter just broke.

The EU wants to spend €2m on a review of the homeopathy literature for animals.

“Any paper, however bad, can now get published in a journal that claims to be peer-reviewed.” David Colquhoun on the publish-or-perish mentality.

Male fiddler crabs wave their hands to keep cool. Like the Fonz.

Panda poo considered as next step for biofuel production

Green tree frogs survive by using lemonade physics.”

From the Annals of Yesweknewthat, people can look different in different photos

Sad, plaintive insect cyborgs can control their own lives if only they stay completely still.


Early planning is underway for a massive crowdsourced movie of the 2017 solar eclipse.

Incredible once-in-many-lifetimes lunar eclipse photo

XKCD on file transfer. Make sure you read the alt-text.

Taxidermy hybrids FTW

Official US recommendations for hunting yeti: only shoot/kill a yeti in self-defence

6m, 1 tonne! Giant crocodile captured in Philippines.

You made the sky mad! Humans fire laser to sky, sky responds with lightning

The worst/best athlete of all time don’t jump for no man.

Every crazy CIA plot you’ve heard of originated with one man.

Daredevil bot climbs building, base-jumps off.

The problem with security questions.

Gallery: insect wings are cool.

A camel carrying a car up a hill.

Sad. Swedish wildlife Photog of the Year admits to faking photos


Are jobs obsolete? A thought-provoking column from Douglas Rushkoff.

Nice work by Martin Robbins on King Cnuts, tides and the folly of politicians trying to halt social media

This is how I plan to deal with the next person who raises the blogger/journalist thing

Lots of smart thoughts in Alexis Madrigal’s analysis of Michael Arrington’s TechCrunch fiasco. Also good stuff from David Carr.

This website of obsolete skills will be useful for when society collapses…provided we can still get online. Also, the Museum of Obsolete Objects.

Aging population + emerging lawsuit culture = emerging trend of not helping the elderly in China

Empty toner cartridge leads to “fuzzy” press release print-out so reporter breaks embargo. Riiiiight.

Do you like communicating science? Are you a bit of a show off? Do you live in London? Head for Science Showoff’s inaugural gig.

Tobacco company seeks access to secret data on smoking habits

But is it journalism? Still a discussion worth having.

How an MIT success came to launch an online hub for glorified prostitution.

Which Middle Eastern nation is most vulnerable to Internet shutdown, because it has only one provider?

Heh. 10 things you’ll hear at every journalism conference

What’s the point of science education?

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