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

Top picks

Joe Canseco makes some silly comments about dinosaurs and “ancient gravity”. Everyone mocks him in the usual smug and snarky way. Brian Switek and Matthew Francis actually bother to explain something, and make a fan out of Canseco. DO YOU THINK THERE MIGHT BE A LESSON HERE?

Beautiful Ross Andersen essay on extinctions and the end of humans, suffused with gorgeous poetry.

Eliza Strickland gets her full genome sequenced and asks: It’s getting cheap; will it be useful?

A virus with an immune system! Amazing. By Carl Zimmer.

There is nothing to chill the blood quite like an executive screaming “IT IS MONEY… IT IS MONEY!” while people die. Maryn Mckenna on an indictment over salmonella-peanut outbreak

Stonking piece of reporting from Maggie Koerth-Baker: Firearms, science, and the missing pieces of public policy

WOW! MIT Invents A Machine That Can Look At Batman’s Face And See His Heart Beating. 2:24 in video.

Ferris Jabr visits Iceland’s infamous Penis Museum

Absolutely love this post on imagining the shapes of proteins, by Robert Krulwich.

Virginia Hughes continues her fascinating look at what it’s like to be a scientist in Romania.

Loving this awesome rant about the fatigue of being a feminist when you’re surrounded by people with fingers in ears

A great longread on WEIRD – why the obsession w/ the Western mind leads psychologists astray.

Can Islam and evolution be reconciled? Alom Shaha meets the scientists who are trying to do just that. Great piece

I *love* this piece on the artists who made space colonies look like home. By Veronique Greenwood

“We’re lumping similar-looking blobs into categories after a quick peek down the microscope” – Hilarious post by Holly Bik on working out what’s a species and what’s not.

I’m sorry, Kellogg invented cornflakes as an anti-masturbation tool? Staring at my cereal now…

A colour-changing Roman cup that inspired a new breed of nanotech biosensor. Nadia Drake keeps on finding these amazing stories!

Radiolab wants you to help name the most recent ancestor of all placental mammals

Atlantis! Not really, but still! Long-lost continent found under the Indian Ocean

Meet the prehistoric shark with a buzzsaw jaw. By Brian Switek.

This is an awesome comment on overly clean narratives in sci-writing.

Batman vs Penguin battles are now cast in new light! Vampire bats filmed feasting on wild penguins!

What will the billion dollar brain projects do? Sharp analysis of the recent announcements by Vaughan Bell

Sh*thead was a unique individual.” On the quirks and foibles of caring for Komodo Dragons

Yes! This! On the recent wave of bulls**t, regarding FOXP2 and gender differences.

“You are sitting on a log next to the bonfire. Zoe is next to you.” This story is just beautiful. Click away.

This just confirms what I’ve always said: That snakes are some of the most beautiful things in the world

David Perlman, aged 94, has been a sci writer for 56 yrs. He wrote 111 stories in 2012. What a guy!


Battle of the living instrument platforms: Elephant Seals vs Narwhals

Apparently, “wonder” in popular science is an “infantilising power dynamic” and “anti-intellectual”. Bilious waffle

The moon that looks exactly like the Death Star, and other bad-ass moons

Crystallized hyrax pee, however, changes that.” On fossil pee and climate change.

Did humans drive mastodons and carnivorous koalas extinct?

How video games could be used to improve healthcare

Erin McKiernan lays out the challenges in simulating a human brain.

WHO report on Fukushima health effects: Japan dodged a bullet thanks to strong winds. But also, radiation’s not a great carcinogen.

New estimate says 100 million sharks killed each year, implies more sharks killed than born

Need more material for your paper under review? Take it from someone else’s conference talk!

Pro athletes in trouble for spraying ground-up deer antlers in their mouths.

On tongue-eating parasites

Richard the Lionheart’s heart analysed, found to be 36% horse.

The Guardian runs a story about… er… a dowsing rod for hepatitis. No, really. And some rebuttals.

Just so you know, DARPA is building the Constructicons.

Time to join the dots on environmental murders

3000 new amphibian species described in last 20 yrs. YAY! But they’re screwed. BOO!

Building controversy over plans to save the Dead Sea

Forensic testing of seized ivory could track down poachers.

To save rhinos, some researchers say… create legal horn trade?? And NatGeo explains the crisis

A new bionic hand that lets amputees touch and feel again

Last week saw a vicious attack on the ENCODE study. PopSci covers the main thrust. More at the Finch and Pea.

Stretchy battery can be drawn to three times its size.

Dr. Watson, a typically frustrated science writer.

Meet the blogger behind the best nature GIFs on the web

US Army team of weaponized anthropologists–the Human Terrain System–hits trouble

Breaking the Cheetah Curse

Rebekah Higgitt on problem of using term “science” and “scientist”

Sharks: the MacGyver of bioluminescence

Let us chant this till we’re blue: “Humans aren’t vessels into which you can just pour accurate information.” Fake beliefs persist after instant correction.

How long would it take to tweet all possible tweets? XKCD’s answer is surprising and *beautiful*

Business Insider publishes a lamentable 50 Sexiest Scientists list. AV Flox has a great reaction to it.

“Brain imaging shows that premature babies process speech in similar ways to adults.”

“What’s the evidence that an “anti-vaxx movement” is “causing” epidemics of childhood diseases in US?” Dan Kahan looks at the evidence and follows up.

Most ancestry DNA tests are “genetic astrology” according to geneticist Mark Thomas.

Why the giant squid eye?

Parasite’s “fountain of youth” cells may have allowed a blood fluke to live inside a man for 31 yrs.

Notta lotta otter? The stuff we’re pumping into rivers is shrinking the penis bones of otters.

Meet the giant Africa rats who clear land mines for a living.

The red wolf of the southern U.S.: 100 left, and on the verge of winking out of existence.

Scientists make robotic zombie sparrows that will “fight to the death”. Erm…

Are there really five stages of grief? For me, there is only “looting”.

Sasquatch genome paper cites an April Fool’s joke as scientific reference

I09 explains how Obama’s Brian Activity Mapping project might actually work.

Oldest animal doubles as a thermometer. Do NOT put in bum

“This is not crazy talk, but I am mad. We can do better.” Harvard student with schizophrenia.

How we define “citizen science” depends in part how we classify science itself, says Karen James.

“No, bot flies are NOT a viable weight loss option.”

Temporary Tattoos Could Make Electronic Telepathy, Telekinesis Possible

Spider-sense suit tingles when objects get close

The unfortunate truth in science-communication is that facts often don’t matter.


These skulls carved out of ammonite fossils are awesome and disturbing.

Flying quadcopter drone balances a pole straight above it, then throws the pole to another drone.

Bury an ice sculpture shaped like an ant nest and wait for it to melt.

Listen to 2 jaguars fighting in the Amazon night

Heh. Scientists receive 12.6 million dollar grant to format references correctly

Bloody brilliant art. Or brilliant bloody art. Maybe brilliant arty blood.

The TED2013 Twitter stream: Vogon poetry.

Geekiest proposal ever?

Proud Species Commits Suicide Rather Than Be Driven To Extinction By Humans

“The horned lizard fends off coyotes by shooting blood from its eye. Evolution, please seek psychiatric help.”

Regular working scientists honoured with award worth absolutely nothing

Amazing Wikipedia A-to-Z listing of monarchs by nickname.

Gorgeous paintings of neurons show off beauty of the brain

Cataglyphis – the mathematician ant in a silver space suit.

AAH! 3-D maps carved from rolls of electrical tape

Bubble bursting at 18000fps


Detailed account of how 4 kids created “Golden Eagle Snatches Kid” that fooled millions.

Captain Ramelli’s 16th-century Kindle

Who chases the lightning-chasers? George Johnson, who talks to Open Notebook about reporting unfulfilled quests

Download the Universe – our science e-book review site – reaches its first birthday

Publisher finds “significant problems” with Jonah Lehrer’s 2nd book, pulls it, offers refund, “no plans to reissue”

An actual study on how to attract/repel Twitter followers. No mention of “endless stream of facemite tweets”

The swordsmith who keeps Google safe from barbarian hordes

Liz Neeley on promoting your work on social media & why it matters.

The Browser’s editor reflects on the flood of great writing on the web & Akshat Rathi responds

Robin Ince has no opinion on this.

“For good journalism, you WILL have entire days wasted on logistics, getting lost or sitting on your butt.”

I love narrative journalism but chuckled at this reader’s comment.

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