I’ve got your missing links right here (16 March 2013)

Top picks

All the buzz this week is about de-extinction – bringing extinct species back from the dead. Start with Carl Zimmer’s great story for National Geographic. And here’s more:

I offer a standing ovation to Megan Garber’s wonderful brief history of applause. And here’s Ben Zimmer with a brief history of the boo

If you missed it, here’s the Reddit Ask Me Anything that I did with Carl Zimmer, Virginia Hughes & Brian Switek.

10 yrs ago, SARS was vanquished. It could return. Fascinating piece by Helen Branswell.

A huge dock drifted from Oregon to Japan bringing invasive species. Ace piece on how we’re enabling rafting invaders

My piece for Nature News on microbes found deep in the Earth’s crust – the largest habitat on the planet

Some brown bears are actually descendants of ancient polar bears!

How the Aurora Borealis Nearly Started World War III. Awesome story, brilliantly told by Amy Shira Teitel

Great Tom Chivers rant on smug, tiresome people who hi-five themselves for (often wrongly) pointing out logical fallacies in internet arguments.

WOW! How to make a stream of water zig-zag using sound waves.

Can Neanderthal skulls tell us much about Neanderthal brains? Or is it just palaeo-phrenology? Virginia Hughes explains.

“Pavel has successfully produced laser-guided lightning… at least on a very small scale.”

Curiosity found what it went to Mars to look for: evidence of an environment that could have once supported life.”

Amy Harmon has published a Byliner extension of her incredible NYT piece on love with Aspergers.

“The term ’emergent property’ is hand waving for the “stuff we don’t understand.” Or why consciousness is like fire.

A lovely story about setting up some sexytime for giant pacific octopuses. By Katherine Harmon.

“When scientists tried to set fire to cotton coated with herring sperm DNA, the fabric refused to burn” by Nadia Drake.

An interview with me, by Matt Shipman, on blogs, journalism, covering the “wow beat” and getting into science writing.

“The Search for the Loneliest Whale in the World.” Lovely 3 part series on “52 Hertz,” a mystery whale.

Xeni Jardin with a great post about the psychological impact of medical testing and results interpretation

On the plane to a Future of Genomics meeting, Eric Topol diagnosed a fellow passenger with atrial fibrillation via iPhone.

Good patients cover their emotional cracks” – more astute, poetic writing about medicine, from Shara Yurkiewicz

“As he stood, joy stick in hand, claw descending toward the lobster, Ferra began to feel conflicted.” – about morality and lobster claws and lobster claws.

Great post by Holly Dunsworth on anthropomorphos… anthromorphisis… making things too human-y.

Nuanced, readable post on dopamine and what it’s really about, by Pete Etchells. Low on derpamine.

The science of the knockout blow, by Erik Vance.

Tal Yarkoni’s response to psychologists who defend the methods status quo. THIS!.


How to be optimistic about climate change, by Alice Bell.

Interesting hypothesis – were Africa’s mammals just the right size to be hunted by humans?

The fish with a chemical invisibility cloak that fools all other species

List of drugs that can interact dangerously with grapefruit.

HeLa – the world’s most popular human cell gets its genome sequenced.

Frank Swain thinks de-extinction is a really stupid idea.

Wildlife trade meeting endorses DNA testing of seized ivory

500 million years ago, penis-shaped worms.

In the past, cannibalism was kind of not a big deal, and sometimes necessary

10 Commandments for taking part in brain-scanning studies

Book review of Extremes by Kevin Fong

Why hearing half of a mobile phone conversation is distracting & irritating

Truth serums to be used in the Dark Knight shooter trial even though they, er, don’t exist.

My new explainer on CTE, the degenerative brain disease that’s afflicted several NFL players

Sharks have social networks, learn from friends

Crime and punishment: From the neuroscience of freewill to legal reform

Let’s talk about women as successful scientists and mothers. But let’s not pretty it up.”

Doubts about Johns Hopkins research have gone unanswered, scientist says. Astonishing, ugly story about a misconduct case that led to a suicide.

“If, in some cataclysm, all scientific knowledge were to be destroyed, and only one sentence passed on…”

Roller Derby Teammates Give Each Other Bacterial Hugs, by Kate Clancy.

The Great Brain Experiment: free app to crowdsource data about how we think and act

The Uncertain Fate of the Government’s Last 50 Medical-Research Chimps

To tie in with her new book Frankenstein’s Cat, Emily Anthes argues that we shouldn’t fear genetic modification.

Deborath Blum on your Neighborhood Pet Poisoner

No new life found in Antarctica’s Lake Vostok after all, says member of Russian team

Bring back the giant ground sloth

“Why is it that liking the “Curly Fries” page is associated with having a high IQ?”

Printing electronic sensors directly on the skin

For the (unfortunately probably not) last time: Life has NOT been found in a meteorite. And will people. Please. Shut. Up. About. Panspermia.

Paralyzing algae is killing manatees at record pace in Florida

T.rex – you’re probably drawing it wrong

The millions of sharks killed for fin soup win new protection at CITES, as do manta rays

2,000+ pig carcasses fished out of Shanghai river. Officials: “It’s still good. It’s still good!”

Hi-tech dresses. Transforming, laser-enabled, light-emitting, auto-sleeve-rolling dresses

Some technologies that could help blind people to see again

Voice-based lie detection fails to detect lies. So.

Once a parasite, not always a parasite. Christie Wilcox on dust mites and reversible evolution

Excellent profile of epidemiologist Jennifer Gardy


Brain sushi.

Well that’s awesome. An entire gallery of things that mimic ants

Winner, “most obscene title of a peer-reviewed scientific article”

Mesmerizing upside-down horseshoe crab GIF

Giant ice spheres deposited on the shore of Lake Michigan, apparently formed in supercooled lake water

This guy photographed volcanic lightning and lava bombs. You probably take shots of your lunch on Instagram.

XKCD on the bumblebee myth

Company Immediately Calls Job Applicant Upon Seeing ‘B.A. In Communications’ On Résumé

HA! This is totally how I see the world. Re: parasites

“Every time you mow the lawn, you murder the happy faces in the grass

Not a glitch but a cabinet.

The Krebs Cycle. Rapped to the tune of Thriftshop.

Pi Day.

Einstein doodled like… well, like Einstein. Coolest “ex libris” bookplate ever.

Clouds trapped in glass cases: the sculpture of Leandro Erlich.

AMAZING! My life is now better.


A tablet for women. It is as awful as it sounds.

Right. You fitted out a drone with eagle talons. PHEW

Internet epidemiology: Virality not same as popularity

Google are killing off Google Reader on July 1st. Here are some reactions. And alternatives. Meanwhile!

On getting those little humanizing details into profiles of scientists without being false or mawkish

Alexis Madrigal on Evgeny Morozov’s brilliant, confounding, generative technology criticism

“You need a burning curiosity”: Jo Marchant on science writing for Wellcome Trust/Guardian prize.

Albania has 1 bunker for every 4 citizens. TO THE BUNKERS! No, really, to the bunkers.

“The fact that some pros maintain own blogs, or occasionally write for free is utterly irrelevant to the argument.”

Massive congratulations to stellar reporter Maryn McKenna, now the winner of the June Roth Book Award from the ASJA for her book Superbug!

A very cool interactive fiction experiment.

In the final three paragraphs of this story, humanity has been judged and is found wanting

Dad hacks Donkey Kong for his daughter so that Pauline saves Mario

Evgeny Morozov has a safe w/ timed combination lock, into which he puts his phone & router cable. And screwdrivers

Read This Next

I’ve got your missing links right here (2 March 2013)
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