I’ve got your missing links right here (19 January 2013)

Top picks

If you haven’t read it yet, here’s my story on the incredible scientific dynasty fathered by Bob Paine. From throwing starfish off a beach to a global ocean-studying empire, this is a tale of mentorship and scientific legacies.

A superb story on lasting mental scars of Fukushima, by Geoff Brumfiel.

Leprosy bacteria reprogram nerves into stem cells. By Mo Costandi

Awesome feature on tracking down a hospital killer, by Carl Zimmer

This nurse on her deathbed invited students to learn from her how to care for the dying

These things aren’t even bacteria!” To understand why that quote is so damn amazing, read this by Jennifer Frazer

How a traffic engineer solved the mystery of three grad students’ death. Powerful story by Roberta Kwok

A Cancer Cycle, From Here to China, That Won’t End. By Dan Fagin

The White House response to the Death Star petition is absolutely wonderful.

Study finds gene flow from India to Australian aborigines around 4,000 years ago. I wrote about it for Nature, but Razib Khan is cautious about it.

An attempt to save a beloved Firefly character, using SCIENCE.

First video of giant squid in its natural habitat shows a strong swimmer and vigorous attacker

Californian biotech firm was running secret goat facility. No kidding.

A great piece on spider expert Fritz Vollrath, and his quest to synthesise spider silk.

Nauseatingly stunning photos of world’s wildest places, from NatGeo’s 125th anniversary

A wonderful story about a fishing trip for genes, by Virginia Hughes

A Mysterious Patch Of Light Shows Up In Dark North Dakota. What is it?

How to make a skyscraper disappear quietly

Kenyan elephants more likely to be killed by humans than die from normal causes.

Here’s a video of mating deep-sea squid, explained by Craig McClain

The language used to describe male and female arthropod behaviour is gendered and stereotyped

Privacy loophole means DNA donors’ identities can be determined from some publicly available records.

There Are Whales Alive Today Who Were Born Before Moby Dick Was Written. By Rose Eveleth.

The 2013 Edge Question is back online. What should we be worried about? 150 intellectuals answer it, and none of them say “Mutant radioactive bees.” O, you complacent, underprepared intellectuals. (2014’s question will be “Whom do you serve?” and all answers will be “You, my bee masters.”

Carl Zimmer on why, despite the panic, influenza isn’t even that competent a virus

A heartbreaking tribute to Aaron Swartz from Quinn Norton. Other good pieces from Ars Technica and Cory Doctorow


Radiolab asks doctors: “What’s a “good death?” and gets some surprising answers.

A simple request, from Phil Plait, regarding global warming.

What we know and don’t know about pain in crabs and lobsters

Alice Bell’s manifesto for science museums

Remember the Dunbar number– 150 as human-group size? John Hawks explains why it doesn’t annoy him as much as it used to.

We sent the Mona Lisa to the moon using lasers

How many times are dangerous pathogens accidentally released from labs?

Oh the hugemanatee! Brian Switek on land sea cows.

After years of silence, the plague can rise again.

White nose syndrome confirmed in bats at Mammoth Cave National Park.

A great piece from Alexis Madrigal taking the long view on Beijing air pollution to 19th C Pittsburgh

A new blog about climate science, by Tamsin Edwards, promises to be a great read.

So, how did they find that horse DNA in beef burgers anyway?

Thoreau and Aldo Leopold’s flower journals lend clues for climatologists today

My ex-employers Cancer Research UK stick up a Facebook post that is astonishingly arrogant in the face of the complexity of biology. They apologise, but then double-down on the absurd statement. There’s a superb comment from Jim Woodgett on the unqualified hyperbole.

These laser weapons were brought to you by a novel about laser weapons. Sci-fi funding reality.

Describing what chemists do in plain English

Nature running a huge survey of scientists’ attitudes to publishing and open-access.

Stand closer to the rhinos.” No, don’t do that. Definitely don’t do that.

“Critics say that antibody therapy is too expensive for [Africa].” HIV trial under scrutiny

Meet the awesome 19-year-old who is fighting for science over creationist BS in Louisiana schools.

Seeing inside the flu virus reveals the difficult nature of science

Darwin was Wrong about Dating“: a silly headline, and it doesn’t get better.

Astounding portrait of helpless, paralyzed spiders lined up to be eaten by a voracious wasp larva

This Robot Is the Latest Weapon in the War on Birds

Are pubic lice really going extinct because of Brazilian waxes? No.

Competition for sex is not the reason for the giraffe’s majestic neck

$10 billion pipeline linking Red Sea to Dead Sea is ‘feasible’, says World Bank

How the humble zebrafish is changing medicine

Kevin Mitchell continues his excellent piece on epigenetics, and how it doesn’t provide an answer to “missing heritability”

Check out Adam Rutherford’s programme on the evolution of sex.

How the stink of a waterbuck could prevent sleeping sickness in Kenya

Scientific evidence that you probably don’t have free will. I’m sure some of you will be determined to disagree…

The clouds are alive as microbes fly unfriendly skies

Backbone back-to-front in early animals

Is Daniel Gilbert’s new paper on the “end of history illusion” just a failure of maths?

DSM-V field trials were *worse* than those from the DSM-III, the version from 33 years ago

China pollution pictured: particulate levels unofficially recorded at more than 30 x safe limit

Faecal stains seen from space give away… emperor penguin colony

Words you don’t want to see in front of “gonorrhea” might include “almost-untreatable

Good explanation about puffery on epigenetics, by Jerry Coyne


Go home evolution, you are drunk”

Some beautiful movies of the invisible world

HA! “Scientists conclude: ‘No further research is needed’”

People who say: “Look, somebody has to say it

I’m Not There: A Photographer Captures his own Shadow

“Kills 99.99% of germs!”

Chimpanzee fire = glowing fungi! Amazing.

What if David Attenborough were the subject of a nature documentary?

A full length version of Toy Story with real toys

New flying frog is “one of the most flying frogs of the flying frogs.”

How mathematicians tip.

Complex Natural Spider Webs Preserved on Glass Plates


THE reports on Becca Rosen’s pledge to boycott participation on all-male panels at conferences, w/ comments from me

Was the Guardian right to open comments on their Vauxhall helicopter crash live blog?


Are you a writer or an editor? The writers and the editors discuss. Interesting, although it feels a little Sorting Hat-ty…

The Atlantic, Scientology, and the “giant slurping sound” of credibility being siphoned. And spot-on satire from the Onion and Boing Boing

That story about online comments making you stupid? Alice Bell’s first paragraph is bang on

More on the “journalistic method”, inspired by the scientific one.

Reactions to the dismantling of the NYTimes environmental desk

Japanese hacker continues to taunt police with clue strapped to cat

The death of print media, visualised as a T.rex

Epic last line! Ordinary housecat beats professional wealth managers in year-long stock-picking challenge

Google Trends suggests that Newtown really did change the US conversation on gun control

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