I’ve Got Your Missing Links Right Here (19 April 2014)

Top picks

This woman follows polar bears until they give a crap. The best bit of this story by Erin Biba is Quinoa, the polar-bear-poo-tracking dog who has his own anti-bear escape ladder.

First “living” artificial arteries are being implanted in patients. Cynthia Graber on Laura Niklason’s tissue engineering work.

His oven is one of the earliest devices that gave human control away to a machine.” Steve Ashley on the vulgar mechanic and his magical oven.

Can casual marijuana use damage brains of young adults? New study says yes—participants suggest otherwise.” Maia Szalavitz once again countering some dodgy drug claims.

Do jellyfish have minds? Oliver Sacks writing beautifully on neurons, Freud and evolution.

Huge congratulations to Dan Fagin for winning a Pulitzer for his book Toms River.

NatGeo has a new food blog, featuring the awesome Maryn McKenna among others. Go check it out.

Watching a hyena with a huge erection lie down and nurse cubs is a pretty confusing sight. Kate Yoshida on the misunderstood hyena.

Amazing dream-like photos of a 13-year-old eagle huntress. There is great existential angst in knowing that no matter what I accomplish, I will never be a 13-year-old eagle huntress.

I can’t co-sign this hard enough: a clarion call to bring back natural history.

A five-step plan for feeding 9 billion people. National Geographic kicks off its Future of Food series with this gorgeous interactive piece from Jonathan Foley.

No, oxytocin won’t stop your spouse from cheating and isn’t a cure for autism. Great summary from Joseph Stromberg.

Please. Get. On. With. It.” Rousing take on the IPCC report by Leo Hickman. The scientists have done their bit, now it is up to us.

The Dark and Dangerous World of Extreme Cavers. An astonishing piece by Burkhard Bilger. That lede!

Wild. Animals. Aren’t. PETS. And yet there are possibly more exotic animals in US homes than US zoos. By Lauren Slater.

Incredible story of a malaria outbreak, where a faulty CT scanner plays the role of the mosquito. By Rebecca Kreston.

Pterosaurs died out 66 million years ago. Why are there no gigantic flying creatures anymore? Brian Palmer explains.

This week’s story about Neotrogla—a cave insect whose females have a penis—has caused some controversy. Annalee Newitz at io9 argues that calling its organ a penis is inaccurate and misleading. I disagree and wrote a rebuttal. Kelly Hills chimed in too.

If you’re plummeting through the air and someone is swinging a sword at you, I have just the ant you’re looking for. By Matt Simon.

It’s not just the microbes in our bodies that matter, but those in our air, our homes, our buildings. By Brooke Borel



Terrific Sam McNerney piece from 2012 on the amusing paradox of popular psychology books: they open readers up to the very biases they talk about.

Beards are more attractive the rarer they are. This study is actually a great evo-psych paper but STILL spurred terrible evo-psych reporting

Juno and Izumo: the lock and key that allowed an egg and a sperm to fuse into you.

Alligator snapping turtles turn out to be three distinct species. And, of course, they’re all at risk.

This purple cube is NASA’s collapsible space-farm-in-a-box.

“The anesthesiologist posted about a patient on Facebook & and even published a photo of vital signs during surgery“. Social media + operating room = lawsuits.

Chief Warden Shot in Africa’s Oldest National Park

The bias in favour of men in peer review ultimately leads to women being turned down for promotion

I am SHOCKED that an intelligent animal like a chimp would prefer to sleep on a comfy bed rather than a hard one.

Great list of science writers, compiled by Sean Carroll.

Actual fossil shark shows that sharks aren’t living fossils (which was always a stupid term)

How funky do you want your music to be? Science recommends medium funk-levels

The patent for CRISPR genome editing goes to the Broad Institute of MIT/Harvard.

The IKEA Effect, or why you fall in love with your own work and ideas.

Emily Graslie explains crocs. vs gators “so you can meet your death with grace and understanding”.

Mathematicians find way to put seven cylinders in contact without using their ends

Monkey embraces its dead mate, makes alarm calls, and tries to mate with it. Scientist describes this as “compassionate caretaking” and “grieving”. Guys, if I die and any of you want to show “compassion”, please don’t try to shag my corpse.

A new citizen-science Easter egg camouflage game. See how eggs evolve as people play.

If we can communicate with minimally conscious patients, should we ask them if they wish to die? Mo Costandi discusses.

“Participants stuck 0-51 pins into a voodoo doll that represented their spouse each night…” SCIENCE! Bonus: the keywords include “hangry”.

A very close look inside the zebrafish brain.

Snake eats centipede. Centipede eats its way out of the snake. Everybody dies. A metaphor…

Western culture imbues us with the idea of insect as monster: A new book on entomophobia

Yes, IQ Really Matters: How critics of standardised tests disregard data

First volunteers to receive blood cultured from stem cells in 2016. Vampires thrilled.

“Science writing shouldn’t be dictated by people who don’t believe in the empirical foundations of the science method.” On covering difficult vaccine stories.

FLAMMA. How to make fire using only IKEA products!

A douchey tweet from me about flunking out of academia provoked great responses from 27andaPhD and Dr24Hours.

Tiktaalik isn’t just proof of evolution; it’s also proof that the scientific process works.” Great piece by Chris Mooney.

More details on forthcoming BBC Natural History Unit shows, including follow-ups to Planet Earth and Blue Planet!

Lead researcher on “sluggish cognitive tempo” edits its Wikipedia page, won’t talk to NYT, has financial stake in drug company. SIDE-EYE.

Science commentary urges biologists to “stop collecting specimens”. Here’s a great response. A fruit fly is not a mammal, and other revelations from the museum

“The interests of Felis catus and Canis familiaris are directly opposed to the interests of wild species

On kin selection and the evolution of religion. Barbara King considers a new hypothesis

How to build a Neanderthal


Giant rats + hilarious writing

Wow. From inside, musical instruments look like concert halls.

This game is diabolical.

Man ruins Game of Thrones with series of novels full of spoilers

Ants made of skulls.

Missing boy found in toy claw machine. How many quarters did it take to get him out?

“What would happen if the Earth’s rotation were sped up until a day only lasted one second?”

23 awesome chemical reaction GIFs. Love the description for #8.

Someone who writes for Skymall reports from the front lines of writing for Skymall

I’m choosing to view Lost in Translation as a prequel to Captain America: Winter Soldier.

XKCD on free speech


I was selling a luxury good“. Great short post from Alice Bell on why she stopped teaching a masters course.

On writing a book

Bad Advice That 10 Writers Chose To Ignore

Can Instagram save the dying art of skywriting?

I like this guy: ‘You Are Not Special’ teacher has more words of wisdom

“The job of a journalist is not to write the important stories. It is to communicate them.” Superb piece on the difference between short-term wins and long-term growth.

Ten things Chuck Wending would like to say to young writers

Hilarious. Amazon has inadvertently compiled a beginner’s guide to dealing drugs.

“They’re supposed to be stand-ins for all people.” Screenwriter for “Noah” attempts to justify why cast was all-white, fails.

The women-helmed The Toast is profitable after just 9 months

Really enjoyed this TED talk on parenting and happiness, by Jen Senior.

Kathryn Schulz on the late Gabriel Garcia Marquez


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I’ve Got Your Missing Links Right Here (4 January 2014)
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