I’ve got your missing links right here (16 July 2011)

Top picks

“I feel the percussive roar on the skin of my face, chest, arms. I am physically connected to Atlantis now.” This is my post of the week. Karen James’s magnificent description of watching the Shuttle launch is better than anything else I’ve read on this topic. And more on why I love the piece here.

“We did not learn enough from the mission to justify the death of the dog.” Jennifer Ouellette on Laika, the space dog

Bear paternity tests – why were they expensive, what was the point? Great post from Kevin Zelnio, where he calmly & brilliantly sticks up for science

“This is the National Health Service. It’s free.” We in the UK like to bitch about the NHS, but here’s what it looks like to someone who has never had one. Steve Silberman on his run-in with socialised medicine

I am LOVING Google+. This is me.

“As a reporter, I feel like I’ve been holding my breath.” Beautiful, brave piece from Kai Nagata on why he quit TV journalism.

40 yrs later, a comprehensive reflection on the Stanford prison experiment, with Zimbardo, a prisoner, guards whistleblowers and more. A must-read.

How China’s “suddenly wealthy” are triggering an “extinction vortex” among Africa’s elephants. Sad, thought-provoking piece.

Two photos of father and son, 30 years and 134 shuttle launches apart.

“It looks like the ripple of piano keys… it feels like anxious butterflies trying to get out.” A heartbreaking account from a man with ALS as he chooses to take his own life.

No land animal has ever become as big as the biggest dinosaurs. Here’s a great Nature piece about how these titans evolved (hint: they experimented when small). And don’t miss the cool interactive graphic

Will being skinny save a woman’s marriage? Could it possibly be more complicated than that? Yes, says Kate Clancy

The woman who threatens one of the most successful public health programmes ever – newborn screening. And why she has a point. This is a really important piece by Mary Carmichael that successfully navigates a very complicated issue.  (Nature News is now under a registration wall. I say this unreservedly: you should register. It’s no price to pay for one of the most consistently excellent sources of science news anywhere. Proper news, not rehashed press releases or inaccurate fluff.)

A typically long, considered, and sweeping post by Bora Zivkovic on telling different types of stories with different structures at different lengths.

“It’s a tangle that has to be sorted out, lest we have no fish and no fisherman.” When fishing regulations backfire

The CIA organised a fake vaccination drive to get Osama bin Laden’s family DNA. Shocking story, especially for real vaccination drives.

A beautiful post from Alice Bell on Google Science Fair – come for the great stories about how the kids thought up their (bloody impressive) projects, and stay for the thought-provoking discussion on how scientists can learn from them.

The Jellyfish that Conquered Land – a great story about a largely unknown group of animals, by Jennifer Frazer.


Belief in evolution plotted against national wealth.

Endangered Snow Leopards Caught on Camera in Afghanistan. I love how it’s snuzzling the boulder. Of course later, having lured it into a false sense of security, the leopard slashed the boulder’s throat open.

How often does medical consensus turn out to be wrong? Really quite a lot it turns out.

Cool story about how antivenom and why the world is running out, by Douglas Main.

Here’s a lede you don’t see v.often. “It’s a bad day for the AIDS virus. ”

What happens when you remove big animals from an ecosystem? See for yourself.
The slideshow from Brandon Keim is a great idea. This topic gets aired a lot but the before-and-after shots of entire landscapes really offers a fresh perspective.

Ladies and gents, a slow clap for people infected with multi-drug resistant gonorrhoea (see what I did there?). Great Maryn McKenna piece, and the Onion reacts: “Suddenly I don’t wanna get gonorrhea any more.”

Kurzweil is conflating biological data collection with biological insight.” Great post on why the Singularity is far away.

Fantastic piece on why developing cancer tests is VERY hard and why the “mini gold-rush” market hurts patients

Excellent Jesse Bering piece on “brain fags” and other culture-bound syndromes & society specific mental illnesses

Monkey bioweapons manufacturing programme going according to plan

A good Nature commentary (paywall) on why we need to sequence genomes from a broader range of ethnic groups. Even if you can’t read the paper, there’s a really good discussion on the topic over at G+. “Most geneticists aren’t racist, just pragmatic.”

Should the State take severely obese kids away from their families? Great overview of this debate

How dare you limit people’s right to slam their boats into a manatee? Why do you hate America?

Ketamine and Major Depressive Disorder: Is it Better with Special K?

Could there be a fourth domain of life? Maybe not.

Facebook MD – social network diagnosed a rare disease that doctors missed… and saved a boy’s life. There’s a great discussion here on G+.

Scientists have cracked the genomes of the chip, the crisp, mash, wedges, AND the hash brown, all in one glorious day. Great cover too.

Anonymous investor puts huge cash injection into non-invasive, wireless brain-recording technology

In Belarus, one-armed man arrested for clapping…

Mummy study shows how ancient Nubians burdened themselves with parasites by using irrigation

Parrots have individual “names” in the wild

Rats, Bees, and Brains: The Death of the “Cognitive Map”

Heh. “Millions killed in jellyfish anti-nuke protests”

“Conservation work requires long-term hope, and double hope at that.” Beautiful Hannah Waters post on saving life

It’s a bridge of ants. A terrfiying snake-like bridge of ants.

All the winners of the Google science fair are women. Fantastic.

Crowd-funded science: The scientists have discovered Kickstarter.

World’s first double leg transplant performed in Spain

Gaia Vince meets the world’s indigenous peoples: Face to face with climate change

Mice with human livers deal with drugs the human way

This chap is raising money to make a concept album + comic book of the life of Rosalind Franklin

Great interview with Frans de Waal by Eric Michael Johnson.

Renewable energy tops nuclear power in the US

First MRI of a tarantula’s beating heart. ‘Nuff said.

Tooth filing was a worldwide craze among Viking men. They must’ve been a bit thor…

You can order & assemble your own desktop PCR machine, powered through a laptop via USB, for $512!! Now you too can experience the failure and humiliation of a grad student.

Tool-using fish?

Tiny snails travel over distances by surviving birds’ guts. This is basically what flying Ryanair is like.

Exploration, they name is Atlantis. A wonderful post by Al Dove on the long history of vessels named Atlantis

Artists helping scientists “reveal the beauty of complexity

“You’re lying on your parachute and it’s kind of lumpy” Astronaut Mike Good talks about what it’s like to go into space

“Duley had become, in that flash, a triple amputee. He recalled uttering a single word: “bollocks.”

How WW2 bombers inadvertently changed English weather

Moon trees, grown from seeds carried on Apollo 14. Out of 500+, NASA only knows where 79 are and is searching for the rest.

“Bird-watching in Iraq is not like bird-watching in a U.S. national park”

“After a hyena deposits its [anal] paste, her students walk slowly through the grass, sniffing to find the deposits.” It’s a glamorous life being a scientist.

A shark tank large enough to house whale sharks. That. Is. A. Big. Tank.

“Scientists are not actually on a mission to (a) gross us out, or (b) make us into cannibals.” That’s what they all say…

It’s a tough life being the alpha baboon.


Heh. Squirrel.

XKCD on cell phones and cancer

The beautiful art of science field notes

A woman returned to her Cumbrian home to find a near perfect imprint of an owl on her window.  Murdoch and Brooks probably threw it…

The long lost rainbow toad. Tell me, how do you lose THAT? It’s like a rainbow collided with a Matisse painting, and grew legs and eyes.

“The point of the series is to demonstrate that compelling photographs are about vision rather than gear.” Indeed so (but the gear helps a bit)

Prisoners riot over journalist influx

What would you like to sing your children to sleep? A terrifying disembodied robot mouth?

“Participants read passages from either a book about wizards (from the Harry Potter series) or a book about vampires (from the Twilight series)… Participants who read about wizards psychologically became wizards, whereas those who read about vampires psychologically became vampires…”

Wow! My post on flags and Republicanism ended up on Stephen Colbert!

Bottom of Form

“I need a monkey, a great kid and hundreds of fruit bats!!”

Lovely personal almost-TMI video from Brian Malow about his love affair with space.

This pic pretty much sums up David Attenborough

Heh. Awesome -> http://www.foxnewsuk.com

Grains of sand up close – a reminder that much of what’s on a beach is animal skeletons

“The study offers a major warning to students: if you blackout, cut back on your drinking” You are KIDDING ME!

The Ben Goldacre arse sunbeam method.

Pluto gets the last laugh

Darth Hairdryer.


Rebekah Brooks resigned! The Sky deal is dead! The News of the World is dead! Four horcruxes to go and Murdoch will be mortal again!

Twitter sends 4 times more traffic to you than you think it does. Really interesting piece on perils of analytics

Why most fiction takes place in an anachronistic universe where people don’t have technological distraction everywhere.

Does the internet make journalism better or worse? Jay Rosen faces off against Nick Carr in a debate that’s essentially about seeing the opportunities of the future versus lamenting the past. And round two

“Twitter is an information network; Google Plus is a social network” Nice. And Alexis Madrigal on what Twitter’s good at in the light of Google+: “It’s a high-speed idea and person connecting machine.”

A sinister and worrying new form of censorship – Amazon pulls The God Species a few days after release.

Effects of churnalism on health news & the public, by Gary Schwitzer

A brutal filleting of a great novel. Roger Ebert on a dumbed-down Great Gatsby.

Frankly, atheists, skeptics, you’re embarrassing as fuck.” I’m sure he means it kindly…

The Internet is Filling Up With Dead People And There’s Nothing We Can Do About It

I’m calling bullshit on the BBC’s story about spelling mistakes costing millions. The point is not about whether mistakes do. It’s about the fact that a random punter can assert something, without a shred of concrete evidence to support it and, in so doing, get their website linked to from one of the world’s leading news websites. More clarification here

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