I’ve Got Your Missing Links Right Here (16 April 2016)

Apologies for the missing missing links last week. Here’s a bumper selection. And as always, you can sign up for The Ed’s Up—a weekly newsletter of my writing plus some of the best stuff from around the Internet.

But first, some announcements!

Tangled Bank Studios have optioned the rights to my book—I Contain Multitudes—and are developing a documentary adaptation. That’s not a greenlight, but it’s a step closer to one. And they’re the same studio that did Neil Shubin’s excellent Your Inner Fish documentary, so I’m sure the adaptation is in good hands.

Also, I got the first proofs of the book this week! Look at it in all its tangible, physical, hold-able glory.

This is a version of the UK cover (the real one will have a subtitle instead of the kind and GIANT Helen Macdonald blurb), and the US one will be ready in a week or so. Preview copies will be going out to reviewers and booksellers soon!

Top picks

From me at the Atlantic:

 I’m on Radiolab, talking with Nick Lane about the singular origin of eukaryotic cells. (Here’s more on the ideas, and how they differ from what people traditionally think about endosymbiosis.)

A historian of EVE Online reflects on the largest video-game war ever fought. This is amazingly interesting. By Robinson Meyer

A tale about filming snow leopards, to get you excited for Planet Earth 2, coming in October.

Rose Eveleth’s choose-your-own-adventure game about AI is wonderful.

How much of a threat is ocean garbage, really? Elizabeth Preston investigates.

The brain that wasn’t supposed to heal. By Apoorva Mandavilli

Why do we think nature sounds soothing? Because of a man named Irv Teibel. By Cara Giaimo

Megan Garber on the tragedy of April Fool’s Day

This Woman Says Her 2-Year-Old Died Because Of A False DNA Test. Stephanie Lee reports.

Wonderful minimalist animations of animal mating; some of these are so spot-on

Marvel at David Quammen’s three-part opus on Yellowstone

Robert Krulwich on a weird tree locked in battle with giant animal. Don’t miss the wonderful photo at the end.

Trees “borrow the wings of birds“, says Sarah Gilman. Beautiful essay and drawings.

Superb storytelling in Maryn McKenna’s piece on avian flu, and the threat it poses to our poultry

“A genetic technology that can kill off mosquito species could eradicate malaria. But is it too risky to ever use?” Antonio Regalado on gene drives.

Inside a billionaire’s new interstellar mission. This piece on Alpha Centauri and Starshot is Ross Andersen at his best—precise, joyful, evocative.

“Oh, So Now I’m Bangladeshi?” Excellent NYT piece by Zia Haider Rahman on labels, belonging, and “Where are you from?”

This is how scientists *should* react to data that contradicts their views. Michael Inzlicht on ego depletion.

“The only achievement demonstrated was “a remarkable dexterity in page-turning.” Speed-reading isn’t biologically possible, writes Simon Oxenham

Joel Sartore is aiming to document as many animals as he can—before they’re gone.

5 Qs for billionaires throwing money at cancer research. Sharon Begley is great as ever on Sean Parker’s new project and other such ventures.

Julie Belluz asks a doctor why he wrote a diet book based on a pilot study of 237 people, with no controls. His answer is stunningly hubristic.

Inky the Octopus Escapes From a New Zealand Aquarium

Gideon Mendel’s portraits of the lives affected by flooding, bringing home the impact of climate change

What will it take to save the world’s reefs and forests? Elizabeth Kolbert on a radical attempt to harness evolution to produce hardier corals and tougher trees.

“The English language is the ultimate code-switcher, gaining multiple personalities when it travels.” By Natalie Zarrelli



Reforming the shrimp industry by growing shrimp in a lab

Drones without borders

You Could Actually Snooze Your Way Through an Asteroid Belt

Mycology is dangerous.

Very excited by this new book on the women of space exploration, by Nathalia Holt

Why Does the Brain Need So Much Power?

The rise and fall of the oxytocin hype

Eight things I learnt from Tardigate

Our Natural History, Endangered

Time-lapse of a scorpion leaving its old skin

These tadpoles actually live underground

Everything you thought you knew about the shape of DNA is wrong

The scuba-divers of the beetle world.

The Harvard Library That Protects The World’s Rarest Colors

How a Kenyan goat herder & a disparate team of scientists discovered world’s oldest tools

Mobilizing mental health: thousands of apps claim they can help, but few have been tested

430 million years ago, this spiny animal kept its brood tethered to its body as it swam Earth’s seas

CSIRO to cut “science for science’s sake” including irrelevant stuff like, er, climate change

Neuroscientists hope to automate the delicate art of eavesdropping on brain cells

Your complement of immune cells is more like your lover’s than like a stranger’s

Is this owl an “it” or a “she”? A “who” or a “what”? The fight over animal pronouns.

Tracing the legacy of Zaha Hadid, architecture’s esteemed anomaly

The Extraordinary Iridescent Details of Peacock Feathers Captured Under a Microscope

People have contributed nearly $1million to an Indiegogo campaign for bunk electronic gills

Tardigrades that were frozen in 1983 wake up & lay eggs.

Bats plan their kills two insects ahead.

The number of tigers has finally started going up. Yay! But they might still all die. Boooo!

Excellent Ivan Oransky piece on the failings of peer review

A gorgeous new photo book on feathers.

The Future of Wildlife Conservation Is … an Electronic Vulture Egg

Insects Don’t Get No Respect. Bring in the Glamour Shots!

Blood in a Mosquito’s Belly Could Reveal How Diseases Spread

Paper predators and prey spring to life in this stunning short film in support of the WWF

The biggest library of bat sounds has been compiled to identify bats from their calls

Bizarre case: a scientist confesses to fraud, but his co-author disputes it, saying it’s a false confession!  

The easy way to let extraterrestrials know we exist

“Would you go to an inflatable hotel in space?” Nadia Drake writes about the ISS’s sort-of bouncy castle

The Scariest Vine You Never Ever Want To Meet

Coral crisis: Great Barrier Reef bleaching is “the worst we’ve ever seen”

Carl Zimmer explains his disillusionment about the privilege of science fairs.

Scientists have no explanation for my mysterious swarm of 1000s of crabs, wait, I mean THIS not MY

The chutzpah of billing your own study as the Higgs boson of neuroscience when it is absolutely nothing of the kind.

“There are some very good scientists involved in neuromarketing, but no one speaks out against the bad ones.”

Retained garden fork is a rare complication of penetrating cranial trauma.”

This Snake Pretends to Be a Spider—and Catches a Bird

Frans de Waal on “anthropodenialism” and the minds of animals.

Inside the Box: Bringing Vent Life to the Surface

Why we’re living in an era of neuroscience hype

The center of the gene-editing revolution looks like a mailroom. Wait, it is a mailroom

To understand Zika, scientists are looking to the rubella outbreak of 1964.

On global happiness inequality; those graphs are really interesting



Soylent is just Slim-Fast. And food tech is just men rebranding what women have done for decades

A history of the greatest food heists

The Real Reason the US Is Giving Bomb-Grade Uranium to Europe.

Worst April Fool’s prank this year?

A buddy bench, where strangers come up to you to be your friend. It’s like the opposite of the internet.

The secret planes the FBI uses to watch people on the ground–whenever they like.

April Fool’s: “Early investigations of Zimmer’s unbelievable publication record focused on “academic doping” & “sleep swindling””

A detailed history of prank phone calls

Brazil’s Olympics may be the shittiest ever cos of the raw sewage flowing into the water.

The surveillance and censorship dangers of a cashless society is so, so good

A stunning vertical video

The greatest Star Wars photo ever

Women do not prefer saying less: They anticipate the treatment they will receive when they say more.”

An incredible column by a man asking the US to stop hunting him with drones

Nate Silver Blinded By Gods For Seeking Forbidden Knowledge Of Future

Read This Next

I’ve got your missing links right here (16 March 2013)
I’ve Got Your Missing Links Right Here (26 September 2015)
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