I’ve got your missing links right here (11 August 2012)

Top picks

This week: we parked a science lab with a nuclear heart on a Martian crater, and I talked to friends on the other side of the world about it using my hand-held computer. It was amazing. Here’s a round-up of Mars Curiosity coverage, chosen to highlight different aspects of the cool main story.

A new level of disturbing: Maggie Koerth-Baker on what Christian fundamentalists have against set theory. And a great comment thread. No, really. On the internet, and everything.

Spot-on piece from Skepchick about the skeptic community’s knee-jerk response to anecdotes. “Much of skeptic community values quantitative data over qualitative data regardless of the research question being asked.”

Can people fake mental illness or do they give themselves away? Intriguing Slate explainer.

A wonderful story about a child who says he’s both “a boy & a girl”, and society’s changing view of gender norms, by Ruth Padawer

A Belgian woman creates a hidden-camera documentary about the sexual harassment she gets on the street. It’s vitally important that we keep speaking out about this.

Becky Heggett on the long history of mapping Mars

This piece by Tim Harford, on the futility of explaining events like the London riots, is a must-read

Story of the year! A random coffee shop encounter turns into a lesson on serendipity – and computer history. No spoilers; just read it.

Annaleen Newitz talks about the perils of anthropomorphizing animal sex behaviour

The epic tale of Mat’s unfortunate hacking, and why your security could probably do with being a bit tighter

David Dobbs on the No 1 challenge for a science writer: portraying complexity & uncertainty, and avoiding tidy fables

The Largest Ever 3D Map of the Universe, by Megan Garber

What’s it like to cut open the last of a species? Henry Nicholls finds out as he presides over the autopsy of Lonesome George

A 3D-printed exoskeleton gives a little girl use of her arms. The future is now.

Spare a minute for this short NatGeo piece on gannets – it’s a beautiful, taut piece of nature writing.


How the Amazon rainforest gets half of its nutrients from a tiny spot in the Sahara

Australian spider named after Sir David Attenborough

The Wall Street Journal’s Long War on Science

A drone “hexacopter” is being built “to map the inside of radioactive silos,” using lasers, at Sellafield

Women get smaller grants in biomedical sciences, and the reasons why are interesting.

Dan Simons and Chris Chabris on new research on why the Nigerian email scam works

The collars that let sheep cry “Wolf!”… via text message

Massively overhyped study about a resurrected bacterial gene. Joe Hanson’s reaction is the same as mine

Welcome to Thunderdome: US recently granted 100k PhDs while needing 16k new profs

Danish neuroscientist challenges fraud findings

Scientists discover beautiful new insect species after stumbling upon photos on Flickr

Researcher accused of misleading pregnant women about an experimental therapy to prevent foetus masculinisation and same-sex attraction

Congrats to Dave Hone on his new Guardian dinosaur blog: Lost Worlds

Hillary Rosner pretty much sums up my reaction to the Ecological Society of America Annual Meeting: “Life on Earth: How F**ked Are We?”

Armageddon outta here: Asteroid Splitting Doesn’t Work

How to unstick a gecko. (Requirements: 1 bathtub, 1 lizard-sized harness, 1 pulling machine.)

Ecologist talks about his 40-year study of guillemots and the importance of long-term research.

Arachnophobes, if you click this, you might die. Eight eyes, staring out of an ear canal.

Gigapixel view of a zebrafish embryo that can be browsed GoogleEarth style to subcellular level

The global importance of blue whale poo

Interesting read from the Verge on basement body-hackers & amateur cyborgs

Nature Comes Into Full View On Twitter

Results in a “peculiar” number of psych studies are statistically significant, and only just

Jaw structures suggest that at least three Homo species once roamed the African plains

Carbon seeps are gorgeous — and could hint at the future of coral reefs in an acidifying ocean

From Hugo Spiers: “Ralph Adolphs asks Ralph Adolphs what its like to be Ralph Adolphs in a Current Biology article titled ‘Ralph Adolphs’”

If you can use a mouse, why not an ‘interactive plant‘?

Thousand-Year-Old Dirty Tea Cups Suggest Ancient City Had Far-Reaching Influence

US survey of opinion on GM-mosquitoes to fight malaria/dengue – most oppose if risks are explained.

Study finds that sarcasm is hard to detect over email, which comes as a MASSIVE shock

The first photo of Earth taken from space proves that the world was grainy + black & white in the 40s

Online tool identifies bat calls

Petra Boynton on the ‘shocking epidemic’ of pubic hair removal, as made up told by journalists.

Is corn the new milk? Evolutionarily speaking, that is

Are red-wearing athletes more likely to win? “Be wary of neat explanations for complex phenomena,” says Tom Stafford.

At what point should you stop offering tours to an active volcano?

“The principle value of peer-review is it provides opp for authors to [show] that they’re prepared to undergo peer-review.”

Golf ball-sized tumour removed from 15-yr-old’s brain stem through the nose

The sophisticated tango of plants and the bacteria around their roots. That first image is stunning.

Guinea pig hearts beat with human cells

“For the extreme hot weather of the recent past, there is virtually no explanation other than climate change,” says James Hansen, writing in the Washington Post. But just in case Hansen’s op/ed worried you, here it’s undercut… by the Washington Post


Man Creates Life-Size Wall-E That Tugs the Heartstrings

The unexpected beauty of abandoned psychiatric wards

Cat immersion project” comforts kids with cancer using cat photos crowd sourced from the internet

What It Feels Like To Be A Freelancer (video)

Pastel landscapes

Science Proves Luke Skywalker Should Have Died In The Tauntaun’s Belly

“The Olympics closing ceremony will feature the fighting and vomiting aspects of the UK.”


The 1%’s 1%: in China, the rich and powerful can hire body doubles to do their prison time for them

Felix Salmon writes a spot-on piece about TED but massively, ironically, undercuts his own argument by linking it to Jonah Lehrer, who has never given a TED talk.

David Quigg pulls apart a flawed defence of Jonah Lehrer’s fabulism

Reflections on Hiroshima, Nagasaki… and Tokyo. Was the Bomb qualitatively different to those that came before it?

“My mother’s maiden name is 4dAm3Y3fv9nIks.”

Guy makes game of lying to journalists, wins big.

NYT piece on the US Rubiks’ Cube championships. “Purists consider foot-solving an unbecoming gimmick.”

TOS;DR – a site that reads and peer-reviews terms of service so you don’t have to.

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