I’ve Got Your Missing Links Right Here (11 January 2014)

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Top picks

“By taking a teenager’s excitement and using it to turn him into a folk hero, TED and many, many media organizations including my own have provided false hope to cancer patients.” Matthew Herper provides a much-needed antidote to the untrammelled hype around whiz kid Jack Andraka (without ever resorting to personal attack).

An incredible tale of survival at sea, by Paul Tough.

Another superb piece from Amy Harmon on the difficulty of finding accurate facts on GMOs.

There are plenty of tales of unexpected paternity after genetic tests, but none like this. Read this one all the way.

Three fossilised marine reptiles join the ancient colour club. By me, for The Scientist.

Why Women Aren’t Welcome on the Internet. Good piece on critical issue, by Amanda Hess.

Sir David Attenborough did a Reddit AMA!

The Komodo dragon—the world’s largest lizard—faces an uncertain future. By Jennifer S. Holland.

“How can this have been allowed to happen?” Ben Goldacre on the scandalous withholding of drug trials data for Tamiflu and others.

Learning drugs reawaken grown-up brain’s inner child, and grant perfect pitch. By Celeste Biever.

100 years of screwing up dogs, in GIFs.

Open-plan offices fail on every front: communication, productivity, creativity, satisfaction, health. By Maria Konnikova.

Zach Weinersmith’s Dolphin Hypothesis

Islands do make animals tamer, says big study of lizard species. (By me, featuring Charles Darwin: bird-swatter, iguana-puller, tortoise-sitter.)

50 yrs of tobacco control in US, 8 million premature deaths averted, 20 YEARS gained each.

“Without reliable memory, I’m a composer with notes but no melody, a sculptor with nothing but crumbled medium” – Floyd Skloot, waxing poetic about memory loss.

The case of the teacher who suddenly couldn’t read, by Virginia Hughes.

An old but incredibly written account of exactly what the human body goes through as it freezes to death. Relevant.

Scientists hatch 700 year old crustacean eggs and get clues to how humans change landscapes. By Carl Zimmer.


New Palaeobiology Database app maps extinct species in time and space.

Yes, reading a novel changes your brain. Which makes it just like absolutely everything else. Christian Jarrett pierces the hype.

The eyes of a mantis shrimp saccade like a primate’s

Mysterious Microscopic Bubbles Baffle Ocean Scientists

Starception! A star within a star!

Ravens in US building nests on electric power lines using the height to target their prey

Fascinating paper on the obesity paradox, and related confusing problems in epidemiology

Lions and tigers and bears! Will die! More than three quarters of large carnivores now in decline

Tigerfish leaps out of water to catch swallow in mid-air. I endorse the music.

Steve Finkbeiner’s lab has a tireless member: a robotic microscope that keeps track of millions of neurons.

This new species of peacock spider dances better than you

Nadia Drake wins the headline competition: “It Took Us Two Days in a Boat to Get to Where the Crazy Jungle Spiders Are

Dolphin infanticide.

Why did an ancient strain of cholera disappear?

Black-n-white walkers: Emperor penguins forced to climb 100-ft ice walls to reach breeding grounds

For 700+ years, Geel’s inhabitants have taken the mentally ill & disabled into their homes as guests or ‘boarders”

Emily Graslie on butterfly memories, the ash from ancient fires, pickled poo, and the difficulty of deep-sea exploration

A new blog celebrating women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics is here

Dozens and dozens, fish are flourescin’, under the sea.

First H5N1 case and fatality in North America. It’s still here.

Shocking Study Finds Lions are Nearly Extinct in West Africa

The elephant shark genome has been sequenced. (I’m still not sure from reading this if sharks lost ability to make bone, or never had it)

Dodgy publication practices: just publish again and again in your own journal.

This spider flings its web (and itself) at potential prey!

Fire ants hug tightly to strengthen their bridges (which are made from themselves)

Explosive BMJ investigation reveals power of alcohol industry over Coalition policy.

Good piece on neuromyths in school.

Today in widespread yet useless tools: readability scores.

Salamanders work like ‘flat catapults’ to propel themselves

Journals and scientists are ignoring guidelines for reporting important details of animal research, study finds.

The Fly Who Came In From The Cold

It looks, thankfully, like MERS isn’t the explosive disease that people feared.

Could a user fee for antibiotics curb misuse?

A-pollen behaviour: Cretaceous flower sex caught in amber

2,300-year-old Chinese bamboo strips hide the oldest-known decimal multiplication table

In the meritocracy of science, what does it take to get women on conference programs? New research suggests one easy way.

A New Test for Malaria takes 20 seconds, No Blood Required. No word if it works on humans yet.

Conjoined whales, miscarried in a Mexican lagoon.

The ‘system’ failed me. It should have failed me sooner. SciCurious on leaving academia. Comment by me.

Think you could spot any of 10 full-grown Burmese pythons in enclosed space if you had half hour? WRONG.

Carl Zimmer on evolution in plain sight, hidden in a long-running experiment.

Stabby, dismembery fun: Engrossingly Gross Photos of Spiders & Insects Eating Each Other

On cancer, George Johnson is consistently excellent. His latest: Why Everyone Seems to Have Cancer.

The Documentary “Blackfish” Is Causing More Major Problems For SeaWorld

Three reasons it’s not a good idea to directly compare the temperatures of different planets


Polar bear cub takes first steps, makes everything okay.

Some days are like this (Wonderful GIF portraits by Romain Laurent)

Scientists have formally apologized for not being able to make dragons for little girls

The best footnote

The T.rex follows you wherever you go. A wonderful illusion

Isn’t it annoying when people take photos rather than just enjoying the view? No. It’s not.

Those are galaxies in this new long-exposure image from Hubble. Galaxies.

“One McDonald’s could support over a dozen tyrannosaurs on hamburgers alone.”

Batman’s amazing childhood

Actual Academic Journals Which Could Be Broadway Shows If They Had Exclamation Points Added!

“Meet the innovators and disruptors of 2014, all under the age of three years old, all impatient to change the world”

Nat Geo’s 2013 year in review

Polar Vortex Causes Hundreds of Injuries as People Making Snide Remarks About Climate Change Are Punched in Face

Dolphin fail.



“I don’t know a serious writer of any kind, fiction or nonfiction, who is not a deeply serious reader” -David Remnick

Because,” 2013 word of the year “exploded with new grammatical possibilities”.

My Mother’s Lover—David Dobbs’ breathtaking Atavist story—is now free to read. You should do that.

How to fix stuff without throwing it away. Useful, also for the links

Spot-on posts from Martin Robbins and Dr Isis on the case of Bora Zivkovic and ScienceOnline’s troubles.

Jon Mooallem, author of ‘American Hippopotamus’, talks on the Longform podcast.

The wonderful Curtis Brainard is the new SciAm blogs editor. Fantastic news.

Chris Anderson defends TED against the latest salvo

If you were incredulous of a certain plot point in the second episode of Sherlock’s third season, read this.

Meet the man who counterfeits the world’s most famous diamonds — legally

Martin Robbins on how to make atheism less awful in 2014. Alom Shaha, one of the best current writers on atheism, also has a good related piece.

Read This Next

I’ve got your missing links right here (6 April 2013)
I’ve Got Your Missing Links Right Here (9 August 2014)
I’ve Got Your Missing Links Right Here (17 May 2014)

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