I’ve got your missing links right here (12 January 2013)

Top picks

Earlier this week, scientists on Twitter took part in a glorious exercise in self-deprecation, revealing (some half-seriously and some all-jokingly) the silly and mundane side of research life. It’s all collected in the hashtag #overlyhonestmethods and, really, it’s one of the most wonderful pieces of science communication I’ve seen in a long while. It humanises everyone. Even if you don’t get all the in-joking, the gist is clear: they occasionally f**k around and occasionally f**k up. Beckie Port has collected 75 of the best ones and io9 wrote about it.

What the Dalai Lama can teach us about temperatures below absolute zero – an absolutely amazing piece of explanatory writing, by Aatish Bhatia

The ‘Most Significant’ Photo Recently Taken From Space. And a great mini-profile of the awesome Chris Hadfield, by Megan Garber.

Great profile of Nobel winner Bob Lefkowitz – the nice guy who was passed over for the prize twice but finally won it. By David Kroll.

A poignant article by astronaut Chris Hadfield’s son, detailing the mixed emotions of space launches for the families

Stop “fostering a culture of DNA fear when what we need is a realistic & nuanced genetics education,” says Virginia Hughes. Amen. Similarly, David Dobbs urges us to embrace our dangerous genome.

Scientists estimate a hundred BILLION planets in the Milky Way. Can’t bloody move for planets.

The Myth of Tamiflu: 5 Things You Should Know

Carl Zimmer on the origin of venom.

Cool! A dancing material that generates power from moisture in the air.

A great profile of Maria Konnikova, whose book—Mastermind—on the psychology of Sherlock Holmes is picking up loads of great reviews.

15-yr-old helps program a simulation on galaxy formation; results end upon Nature cover.

Leo Hickman reviews the controversy over whether the globe is still warming, and New Scientist has a good explainer. Spoiler: yes. In related amazing news: James Delingpole actually wrote down an accurate statement. The Met Office celebrates, and points out all the incorrect ones.

Hey, Buddy, You Wanna Buy a Dinosaur? Brian Switek on the fascinating, infuriating case of a smuggled Tarbosaurus.

Are you or anyone you care about taking any medication? Then you should sign the AllTrials petition, fronted by Ben Goldacre and Simon Singh.

Brian Butterworth started out trying to understand our number sense, but ended up on a crusade to help people with dyscalculia — sever difficulty with numbers. By Ewen Callaway.

A searing critique of that “you think you won’t change in the future” paper. “This is not a contradiction… not a failure of rationality… not a cognitive bias. It is math, done correctly.”

Did false cheetahs give pronghorn a need for speed? Brian Switek investigates a prehistoric Just-so story and kicks off a great comment thread.

Here’s the original proposal document for the web from Tim Berners-Lee. Look at the little scribbled note.

A must-read for any writer: a long interview with John McPhee on story structure

For sale: one NASA launch pad, gently used

The Trouble with Epigenetics – very good intro post by Kevin Mitchell

Treehoppers are just incredible.

Raccoons are being killed by a virus that’s linked to brain cancers. With a great analysis of on the This Week in Virology podcast


Climate change can be solved with 12 wedgies. Oh right, sorry, *wedges*. That’s harder.

ROBOsome! A molecular robot that mimic’s lifes protein-making machines

“When biologists think about the evolution of life, they think about climbing mountains.”

Kate Clancy on life as a professor, in response to that Forbes article claiming it was the least stressful job.

News on polio just gets worse. Now female health workers are refusing to vaccinate in Pakistan because it’s too risky.

“Brown said he tried to teach Watson the Urban Dictionary…” OMG WHY?

Cool home experiment to help kids visualize ocean acidification

“Demands to analyse Connecticut school shooter’s DNA are misguided & could lead to dangerous stigmatization, or worse.” – Nature editorial.

After being trapped in ice, a pod of killer whales was freed. “OH THANKS,” said every seal.

A long lost image from the Hiroshima atomic bombing has been discovered at a Japanese elementary school.

Grown hearing-hairs ‘beat’ deafness in mice

James Watson takes aim at the cancer establishment. Coverage features this amazing jab: “There are a lot of interesting ideas in it, some of them sustainable by existing evidence.” And on the back of Watson’s ever-so-slightly rambling paper, Henry Scowcroft discusses the myth of antioxidants

Good post by Marcus Munafo on bad behaviour in science, with two case studies

If you cried at the mother mum grieving over her dying calf in Attenborough’s Africa, read this.

Could Pap tests detect womb and ovarian cancers as well as cervical cancer? Preliminary but interesting results

This Is Your Brain On Movies: Neuroscientists Weigh In On The Brain Science of Cinema

Mouse eats scorpions and howls at the moon

SciCurious on “the biological sexy times” of high heels

Captive hyenas solve problems differently, better, than wild counterparts

A good explainer. When did humans first realize that sex makes babies?

A Dutch company is seeking applications for budding astronauts for a B-Ark. Oh, sorry, I mean Mars Colony.

Why microglia are the best cells ever, according to Virginia Hughes

The Internet of You: How the future of computing became screens and sensors on every appendage

Improve Your Memory With Reverse Peristalsis

Dorothy Bishop with a guide to studies on brain imaging and genetic variation – some questions you should bear in mind.

Vaughan Bell on a brief history of the genetics of murder

Muslim thought on evolution takes a step forward

James would have needed 2½ million seagulls to lift the giant peach. An awesome moment in pedantry, but don’t miss the second half of this.

The tiniest free living species in the world could be in your urethra.

Reprogrammed stem cells *don’t* trigger an immune response… or do they? My coverage of new paper that triggered a meaty debate, over at The Scientist.

Darwin’s final publication was about Francis Crick’s grandfather

Can we — or should we — rehabilitate scientists who commit misconduct, at great expense? Retraction Watch has a poll

Rising Sea Levels Might Promote Increased Volcanism

How the grasshopper mouse shrugs off scorpion venom.

Rogue Planet Confirmed Orbiting Around ‘Eye of Sauron’

A doctor’s bag from a 2,000 year old shipwreck sheds light on Roman pharmacology

Wait, comb jellies evolved before sponges?? That would be a big shake-up for animal evolution. By Amy Maxmen.

“Fraud committed by any social psychologist diminishes all social psychologists” – psychology journal editor on new retractions

Crowdfunded drones could aid rhino protection.

Thalattoarchon saurophagis – the “lizard-eating ruler of the seas”

“It wouldn’t have been hard to discover some of these facts earlier.” Michael Specter on Mark Lynas’ conversion from his anti-GM stance.

A zookeeper’s take on Life of Pi.

So, staying in a cramped windowless box for 520 straight days wrecks your sleep patterns. GO FIGURE.

Thoughtful piece on the scientific method from Vanessa Heggie in her post on historic fad diets

Deborah Blum talks about lead poisoning and the Mother Jones story linking it to US crime.

“I Just Controlled a Computer with My Eyeballs and It Was Amazing”

Why some corals can take the heat

Mouse studies don’t always translate to humans…or mice.

Giant squid filmed in its natural habitat for the first time.

A narwhal tusk smuggling ring has been busted

Truth telling is more important that a ritualized demonstration of viewlessness” – Jay Rosen on the newspaper industry’s struggle with objectivity.

An animated doc about everyone’s favourite back-from-the-dead, hiding-on-an-impenetrable-island-fortress “tree lobster

“You could go to the zoo every day for a year and never learn the color of a zebra’s penis”

These fish climb waterfalls. With. Their. Mouths.


Amazing footage of the Moon – also the suicide video of a little lunar spaceship

Don’t ever stop jumping, red panda

Feminist Thor

Every picture tells a story.

Gorilla Sales Skyrocket After Latest Gorilla Attack

Plane passenger: “There’s a snake on the wing.” And there was.

A story, told in the form of an NYT corrections page article

Indie band, or Dungeons and Dragons monster?

4 Copy Editors Killed In Ongoing AP Style, Chicago Manual Gang Violence

Amazing nerdery: a kerning game

Watch master pickpocket Apollo Robbins work his magic.

Ha! Pictures of People Scanning QR-codes.

Well, this hits home.

A photo of the stunning southern right whale dolphin.

A brilliant teen letter marking a historic moment.


Ethical dilemma: what do you do if two nursing home patients with dementia start having an affair?

Boy writes letter to LEGO after losing mini-figure, gets awesome response

NYC’s pothole fillers have their own Tumblr: the Daily Pothole

WTF did Google Earth spot in the Chinese desert?

Bloggers: we fear the lamp, shun the candle, and shrivel under the piercing glare of the lightbulb.

The best of Kickstarter 2012

Backpfeifengesicht (German): A face badly in need of a fist, and other great foreign constructions

Undeterred by trolls, Becca Rosen reflects on a plan to help phase out all-male panels at science and tech conferences

Beautiful personal New Year’s post by Chris Chambers about a death that shaped his life

There is a “List of Hoaxes on Wikipedia” page on Wikipedia! Or IS THERE? (There is.)

Susan Jacoby on “the widespread misapprehension that atheists believe in nothing positive”

A notorious Somali pirate known as “Big Mouth” announces his retirement

NYTimes dismantles environment desk, says environmental reporting should be throughout the paper, not siloed

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