I’ve got your missing links right here (18 June 2011)

Top picks

“There is little validity to concerns that people who use social networks experience smaller social networks, less closeness, or are exposed to less diversity.” Pew kicks the echo-chamber meme in the groin with the steel-capped boot of data.

“Gathered inside a little-known research centre in southern Louisiana, the people who oversee chimpanzee research in the United States were preparing to battle for the survival of their enterprise.” Meanwhile, an editorial sums up the current debate

No heartbeat. No pulse. But very much alive. The artificial heart that doesn’t beat

“Something happened! Sehwag is out! We’re not sure why.” Two Americans who know nowt about cricket live-blog a full game. Pure genius.

Genome study solves twins’ mystery condition. Great piece by Erika Check Hayden

Liu Bolin, the camouflage man. These photos are just ridiculous. And continuing the theme, “Turning the human form into background noise” – awesome profile of a master of camouflage

“So do we over-vilify invasive species? No, we don’t.” An excellent riposte by Christie Wilcox

You may have heard about blind people who can use sonar like bats. But you’ve never read anything this good about it

“Again and again, [Stephen Jay] Gould misstated the evidence or simply made stuff up.” On the mismeasure of skulls

Adam Rogers’ mystery story about fungi and booze is bloody brilliant. Fed my mind, made me smile. Pick of the week.

NiemanLabs has an entire blog where editors discuss storytelling and dissect narratives. I think I’m in heaven

A human cell becomes a living laser. Incredible. “We might be able to make self-healing lasers.”

A brilliant long piece by David Eagleman on how advances in neuroscience are affecting the criminal justice system

Don’t have sex with a time-travelling sea monkey from the future – it could be hazardous to your health. Duncan Geere and Carl Zimmer report.


It’s a good month to be Erez Aiden. After my Renaissance man feature last week there’s another good one in Nature by Eric Hand.

Nets That Could Help Save 7 Million Tons Of Fish A Year

UK immigration cancels DNA screening programme. They should never have started it in the first place

Why prosthetics don’t have to look like the body parts they’re replacing

How Japanese cancer doctors are using the internet to communicate with their patients after the quake

A ready-made list for your bull***t filter: 23 scientists defending the indefensible Satoshi Kanazawa

Police dogs can discriminate identical twins by their smell

The science of that video of a sleeping kitten getting hugged.

The Daily Mail owners buy climate change, so why doesn’t paper?

An epidemic of autism research. Which neurodevelopmental disorders get researched and why?

Felisa Wolfe-Simon does NOT get it. More reactions to the arseniclife responses

None of the trees look the same.” On the state of autism research, by Virginia Hughes

Oh crap. Killer fungus breaks through final frog stronghold

The Ivory Tower – why the world of scientific academia would make great TV fodder

Implantable computers, ultra-low-cost cameras, revolutionary solar panel design. All invented by one guy

Whale gets hit with “bomb lance“, shrugs it off, survives for 100+ years.

It takes humans less than a week to release more CO2 than all the world’s volcanoes release in a year.

Huntsman spiders co-operate to hunt and defend themselves

Beware the “super well” -why controls in psychology research are often too healthy

Good Jerry Coyne piece on the free will question

Beautiful weedy sea dragons – study reveals unique spot patterns. Males hang out in creches & live for 12 yrs

“Is homophobia associated with homosexual arousal?”

The history and future of science and nature documentaries, from Attenborough to Prof Brian Cox and back again

Geology retraction unearths dead co-author, plagiarized image of “Himalayan” rock actually from Norway

Scientists forced to toe party line in Alaska. “Scientists are encouraged to engage in vigorous debate inside their agencies, but that once a position is established, the state has a right to demand adherence to it.”

How Ultrasound Changed the Human Sex Ratio – an excerpt from the amazing book I recommended last week.


Some hilarious. Others to be killed with fire. Birds with arms.

Oxfam reveals that India’s favourite food is “indian” and Mexico’s is “Mexican”. Pity the Philippines, whose national cuisine has been relegated to second place by “chicken”.

What moves a man to try and tell a Dalai Lama joke to the Dalai Lama on national TV?

Welcome to Thunderdooooome. 30 Meters. 70 Bull Sharks.

Gallery of people whose names outlived them in culture. Love the Earl of Cardigan’s look

“They collect additional ejaculates for the subsequent sperm competition in their mouth.” Of course they do.

Samuel L. Jackson reads Go the F*ck to Sleep. Thus is the internet won

Mirror accuses Superman of two murders via hilarious pic mix-up

A list of people who talk about themselves in third person, from Julius Caesar to Hulk

Modern-day pictures taken using Victorian cameras and processes http://is.gd/fb6Ph6

Best balloon animal ever.

USA attacked by speedy glacier unleashed by volcano. Typically, they try to blow it up

Spongiforma squarepantsii. No, really

USB typewriter.

XKCD on geoscience. The pop-up text is awesome.


You are not a curator. (Skip to last line for a hint)

ProPublica develops MuckReads, like Longreads, but for public-interest articles.

Atlantic photos of DIY rebel weapons in Libya

Brewster Kahle on what happens when hard books disappear.

Dissecting our knowledge to share it with others both gives us a deeper understanding of our own field”

100 words and phrases to avoid in writing about everything

The Development of Open Access Journal Publishing from 1993 to 2009

Bad publisher! Bad! New Scientist gives Rupert Sheldrake glowing quote in his book jacket? Not exactly!

The embossing of Oreo cookies as a humble and unrecognized masterpiece

Congratulations to Mark Henderson for winning the European Best Cancer Reporter prize for this piece. I see a lot of cancer pieces as part of my day job. If only they were this good.

Second lesbian blogger exposed as a man. Oh my… Is anyone here an *actual* lesbian? And here’s the best take on the “Gay Girl in Damascus” hoax

A lovely meditation on why science museums are great, but a bit weird “After several months of chronic pain, a person’s brain begins to shrink” Carl Zimmer has elected the way of pain

Why should storytelling stop evolving now? The distinction between articles & stories is important

How far should we trust health reporting? Not that far, according to a new study by Ben Goldacre.

Go Further

Subscriber Exclusive Content

Why are people so dang obsessed with Mars?

How viruses shape our world

The era of greyhound racing in the U.S. is coming to an end

See how people have imagined life on Mars through history

See how NASA’s new Mars rover will explore the red planet

Why are people so dang obsessed with Mars?

How viruses shape our world

The era of greyhound racing in the U.S. is coming to an end

See how people have imagined life on Mars through history

See how NASA’s new Mars rover will explore the red planet

Why are people so dang obsessed with Mars?

How viruses shape our world

The era of greyhound racing in the U.S. is coming to an end

See how people have imagined life on Mars through history

See how NASA’s new Mars rover will explore the red planet