I’ve got your missing links right here (13 August 2011)

Top picks

Spoiler warning: spoilers don’t spoil experiences, by Jonah Lehrer

Should you have the right to be “forgotten” online? In Europe, lawsuits & talk of regulations

The science of yodelling. Pure joy by Jennifer Ouellette. I’d quote a bit, but it’s just golden throughout.

Why do people confess to crimes they haven’t committed. A must-read trio of articles

Five things you really don’t want hacked. A great piece by Veronique Greenwood

Placebo brain surgery – it’s not exactly brain surgery, but is it necessary? A great piece by Anna Katsnelson.

Susan Greenfield has been at it again, suggesting links between the internet and autism. Martin Robbins looks at what she said versus what she says she said Carl Zimmer starts a meme. And the Neuroskeptic proves that Susan Greenfield causes autism

How do you do a clinical trial of scorpion antivenom? With great, great difficulty

Bradley Voytek on “the craziest, most unethical study I’ve ever seen

Xu Xing has discovered around 30 dinosaur species but hadn’t even heard of dinos when he was assigned to the palaeontology department.

What field do blind mathematicians tend to work in? Geometry.

Sharp Alexis Madrigal analysis on why Facebook and Google’s concept of real names is revolutionary

“I want a scepticism that queries rather than condemns” Nice piece by Suzanne Moore

Erika Check Hayden looks at Rosie Redfield’s open attempts to disprove arseniclife.

How people in science see each other. Wonderful.

How autism fundraising organisations make adults on the spectrum invisible

Small male squid cockblocks flashier males by sneaking in and placing his giant sperm near the female’s mouth. No, really

A Colorful Way to Watch Evolution in Nebraska’s Sand Dunes – Hillary Rosner on Hopi Hoekstra’s wonderful research.

On London’s riots, Vaughan Bell has an excellent piece on riot psychology and why crowd behaviour is a complex area that’s surprisingly poorly researched, and Tom Stafford writes about why  the Daily Mail is so threatened by attempts to explain the British looting. Also worth reading are James Meek’s take on London: “This isn’t mixing. It’s the ingredients for something… laid out side by side & not being mixed” And some much-needed humour from the Daily Mash (A gigantic number of policemen on London streets does seem to prevent riots, it emerged last night), the Photoshopped Looter blog, and this from near my neck of the woods: “One youth arrested on suspicion of carrying a balaclava; his parents have been informed”


Artificial skin made using spider silk. Hmm. Cool, but the problems seem too much trouble than they’re worth

A brief history of attempts at making antigravity devices, including Edison’s levitating pants, by Jennifer Ouellette

A record of climate changes, written in the veins of leaves

Sri Lanka elephant census accused of plotting to kidnap young elephants

Ivan Oransky asks, “Is it time for a Retraction Index?” Yes, says I.

Confessions of a medical ghostwriter. She has kids with ADHD and quit after being asked to hype an ADHD drug

There’s a wonderful thread about arachnophobia on my G+ page, following a couple of whimsical questions like “Are arachnophobes afraid of scorpions?” Most interesting tidbit: most are less afraid of tarantulas than smaller spiders.

Weirdly, cod are missing some of their immune system genes

Invasive Research on Chimps No Longer Makes Sense – Scientifically, Financially, Ethically, from Sheril Kirshenbaum

Warning! This semen is made in an environment that contains nuts!

Bloggers mostly recycle stuff dug up by Big Media, right? Uh, well… wrong.

Want to take part in a MIT Media Lab’s crowdsourced psychological experiment?

Astronomers find the blackest planet ever! None more black. Blacker than ninjas fighting panthers at night.

Will Ramadan affect outcome of Olympics? 3000 Muslims competing, many fasting.

Words “in theory” are important in this story about an experimental drug that “could kill cells infected by any virus”

Paul Bradshaw calls for arbitrary disproportionate government action. I’m sold.

Oh that’s VERY clever. Glass looks like spider webs under UV, looks normal to us but birds avoid it.

On Prometheus, regenerating livers and stem cells

This is the face of wildlife crime: a tiny, frightened mountain gorilla rescued from poachers in Rwanda.

$200k raised from 2300 people – SETI to Go Back Online

The 5 weirdest worms at the Smithsonian, including the terrifying “Grandma Moses” giant Amazon leech

Why cuts in poison-control funding endanger lives (and overload ERs)

Scientists take revenge for Titanic, commence iceberg genocide

Doctors remove brain tumour, little girl can’t stop giggling

Mysterious orange goo in Alaska are the eggs of some unknown crustacean. Or Palin. She has begun to spawn.

I love that Scientific American is basically running dinosaur fanfic, courtesy of Brian Switek.

Should science force Lady Gaga to quit music & create a social networking site or is it too hard, you big pansies? Charles Choi on whether genius is transferable.

Can animals remember past events? Great two-parter by Felicity Muth.

NYT says Japanese govt suppressed radiation data after Fukushima; Geoff Brumfiel analyses their claims

Japan tsunami broke off icebergs in Antarctica 8000 miles away

“Yes, monogamy is sweet and “booby” is an amusing name, but they are far from kind to their nest mates.” Wait, what?

EU pledges 12m euros towards infectious disease research in wake of E.coli outbreak

Ants + food colouring = art + fun http://bit.ly/ohPcvm cc @myrmecos

Researchers engineer functional anal sphincters in lab. Great. Can we PLEASE have flying cars next?

Census of Marine Life led to an unprecedented database of marine biodiversity, won’t be funded phase 2

Dense but very interesting take on mirror neurons and the problems with neuroscience.

What was eating Protoceratops? Bone-boring beetles, apparently

Crap. Weeds acquire genes from engineered crops

Was the King Tut ancestry buzz just a way to sell DNA kits?

What’s round and black and helps you sleep at night? By Frank Swain.

Wikipedia’s List of Riots: 44 BCE- Assassination of Julius Caesar to 2011 – Riots in Tottenham, London,UK

A review of Rise of the Planet of the Apes points out that the chimps aren’t violent enough to be realistic

“We’ve no evidence that antioxidants are beneficial in humans. (Though if you’re a Sprague-Dawley rat, there’s hope)”


Sesame Street issues formal statement on nature of Bert & Ernie’s relationship just in case you were crazy.

Amazing. Wally/Waldo found in giant Gigapixel. Look closely.

The Angry Birds were the result of a sinister muppet cross-species breeding programme

If Male Superheroes Posed Like Wonder Woman. The Alan Moore will haunt my nightmares

Your dose of schadenfreude: a Tumblr of brokers with hands on their faces

Kitten Voltron

Beautiful slo-mo owl landing

Dear BBC, I’d like my licence fee back please.

Great gallery of award-winning bird pics from last year’s Audubon awards. I love the sinister Count Snowy von Owl.

I love Haeckel. You get the feeling that the drawings really shouldn’t work and yet they do

Meh. Seen one astronomy photograph, seen em al… OOH PURTY

11 countries, 60 seconds, one lovely musical video (although, I do sort of maybe want to smack that guy, just a little)

Gents, brace yourself. The science of a man shrugging off a 22mph kick to the groin

“You have your giant fossil rabbit neck all wrong.”

A breathtaking gallery from new BBC series Ocean Giants

The Micropolitan Museum – The Institute for the Promotion of the Less than One Millimetre

Want a coin with the Queen’s head on one side and Chewbacca on the other? Go to Niue


Drainspotting – a fascinating look at Japan’s beautiful storm drain graffiti culture

Nothing says I love you like an overpriced stone clawed from the mud by slaves working in a torture camp

The Onion (no joke!) is erecting a paywall

With great power comes great… reportage? 10 examples of comics as journalism

Fascinating documentary about the secret tattoo code of Russian prisoners

Neuroscience blogger Mo Costandi joins the Guardian network.

Cameron considers blocking criminals from social media, like a complete moron. He would be more effective if he chased them around with a muzzle. Or tried to tie their shoelaces together.

Laughing at student exam howlers is offensive and smug says Alice Bell. She’s right, and the 3rd commenter NAILS it

“When choosing a restaurant, the first thing I want to know is, Can the chef sign his name?” Slate on why restaurant websites are so bad.

Why not put a theme park inside a skyscraper? It’d be like the Empire State Building but less rubbish.

The human spirograph

98yr-old Keiko Fukuda becomes 1st ever female judo 10th-dan, one of only four still alive.

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