I’ve got your missing links right here (22 June 2013)

Top picks

This is a *spectacular* feature by Jamie Shreeve on the discovery of the Denisovans—a new group of ancient humans—from a tiny bone chip. Reads like a thriller.

Bacteria occasionally transfer DNA into human genomes, especially in some types of cancer. But what does it mean? By me, in The Scientist

Here’s a good example of a situation where no more research needs to be done – on the theatrical placebo that is acupuncture. By David Colquhoun

“Accidental immersion journalism.” While reporting on drug-resistant tuberculosis, Jo Chandler gets it.

The scientists trying to sequence the tuatara genome explain why they want to. Lovely bit of science communication here.

Why the war on drugs has become redundant: Chemists are inventing drugs faster than we can ban them. By Vaughan Bell.

You’re a scientist and you extract 1-billion-year-old water. OF COURSE, you taste it. By Becca Rosen.

Could the niqab be protecting Saudi Arabian women from the MERS coronavirus? By Rebecca Kreston

Psychologist gains much better depth perception after watching Hugo in 3D. Fascinating piece by Liz Landau.

The vampire bat is effectively a mammal that turned into a tick. By Carl Zimmer.

35 amazing photos from Nat Geo’s wildlife photo contest. My favourites are 1-35.

Our galaxy managed to hide an entire supernova for 2000+ years. A great piece from Phil Plait on why supernovas are so amazing.

This is wonderful. The philosophy of Mr Potato Head & Toy Story 3 (and Mr Tortilla Head). By Julia Galef.

“There are 2 clear giveaways. One is the sweetness of the coffee. The 2nd is the distinctive kidney damage.” Deborah Blum on fine form.

On his 50th, Malcolm Campbell reflects on 3 important scientific ideas that share the same birthday

A membrane that waterproofed insect eggs might have allowed insects to conquer the land. By me at Nature News.

There’s a scientific spat going on about dog evolution, and Ewen Callaway covers it very well.

What would it be like to navigate a rowboat through a lake of mercury?

TrowelBlazers: In search of the female Indiana Jones – awesome piece by Tori Herridge

Snail genes reveal human migration to Ireland. Wonderful.

Scientists show silver helps antibiotics to kill resistant bacteria & STILL won’t call it a silver bullet. By Brian Owens

How to Move a $25 Million Magnet Without Bending it an Inch. Very cool story by William Herkewitz

The sad tale of the beetle that tried to mate with a beer bottle. By Robert Krulwich

Evolution is the only natural explanation. And it’s all we need. Storming post by Holly Dunsworth.

Using webcam footage, Google Earth & darkest sorcery, Aatish Bhatia calculates the pressure inside an exploding volcano.

Routine autopsies are a great thing; we need more of them, argues David Dobbs.

The GM slow motion train wreck, by Paul Nightingale. Why the deficit model just. Won’t. Die.

This webcam shows a snow leopard and her three cubs. They’re frequently snuggling. Say goodbye to your productivity.

These three winners from the Association of British Science Writer Awards are well worth your time – Geoff Brumfiel on Fukushima’s radiation, Ian Sample on the Higgs boson, and Kerri Smith on dinosaur hunter Xing Xu.


“Why I retracted my Nature paper” – a fascinating account of an attempt to correct the scientific record.

Mutant Silkworms Spin Fluorescent Silk in 3 Colours

In the Triassic, a mammal and an amphibian snuggled up in a burrow. Daw! (And then drowned.)

Why women evolutionary biologists are underrepresented as speakers at conferences

The ongoing debate about the genome: how much is music, and how much is noise?

Zombie ants! A Kickstarter to develop educational materials… on zombie ants. Because zombie ants!

An international group of neuroscientists has sliced, imaged and analysed the brain of a 65-year-old woman to create the most detailed map yet of a human brain

The “anti-science” label has become a cliché.

Singapore’s ongoing smoke disaster, and the growing row with Indonesia over forest fires.

Why babies and puppies twitch in their sleep, by Virginia Hughes.

Randomise Me, by Ben Goldacre. A tool for learning about randomized controlled trials, and creating your own.

The Trolley Problem With Science

A frog discovered by Darwin has gone extinct

“The reviews start to come in & it slowly dawns on you that you’ve accidentally written the wrong book” – great review from Maggie Koerth-Baker

Interesting post from Kate Clancy on the ousting of awesome science communicator Meg Lowman

Excellent analysis of concerns & denialism surrounding GMOs, by Christie Wilcox

Facebook Helped Kick Off a 20-Fold Registration Spike for Organ Donors

HPV vaccines are cutting rates of HPV infections in the US even more than expected.

Philippines becomes first ivory-consuming nation to destroy its national ivory stock.

Why Male Dark Fishing Spiders Spontaneously Die After Sex

Great review of Virginia Morell’s new book on animal minds and emotions, by Jason Goldman.

How Light Warlpiri, the world’s newest mixed language was invented

On the origin of the hairy yeti crabs. By Craig McClain.

Winter is coming? It never left. Why Britain’s rubbish summers could go on for another decade

Lidar scans reveal sprawling Khmer cities around Angkor

How a deluge of pregnancy advice gave Hillary Rosner insights into climate complacency

David Brooks doesn’t understand neuroscience.

This Castle’s Toilet Still Holds Parasites From Crusaders’ Faeces.

Great interview with Adam Rutherford about his awesome book on the origin and future of life. Extract here.

The Internet’s greatest threat: a new fungus that kills both humans and cats

Dolphins are not healers

Lists of cancer mutations awash with *loads* of false positives; new technique sieves them out

How caffeine short-circuits creativity

“It’s like the entire world left Caps Lock on for 180 million years.” Stop drawing roaring dinosaurs.

We can now pluck single cells from the environment & sequence their genomes. That’s a game-changer

Why It Is Possible to Walk on a Lava Flow (But You Still Shouldn’t)

Dorothy Bishop on overhyped genetic findings

A debate about the value of UK’s Science Media Centre. Note the comments.

Superman’s greatest power – he emits a prosopagnosia field.

Russians who raised the dead: an extract of Frank Swain’s upcoming book on the science of zombies.

A New Biomarker for Treatment Response in Major Depression? Not Yet.


Every night, you exhale a pound of breath.

Fortress of Sol? Amazing crystal cave in Mexico.

Modern Life: crushing conversation, writing and culture since at least 1871

The best knock knock joke ever

“Until now, no one had produced the Batman theme by using sounds made by actual bats”

Because space fireballs

The best Game of Thrones chart ever.

Alternative lines from Pacific Rim

“Good news! After cancer is cured twice, we now have a cure for Diabetes!”

This is how it begins: when the giant snakes learn to open doors.

An accurate recap of Man of Steel.

This commenter’s mum sounds cool

Landscapes painted by hacking a typewriter to print colour

Caterpillars create an “avenue of ghosts” in Cambridge.


David Dobbs’ writing wisdom.

“38% of all murders of women worldwide are committed by intimate partners” – WHO report on violence against women

Why “robot wars” competitions died out: wedge-shaped robots were invincible

Angry-faced LEGO minifigures show a strong link to bad journalism

I’m saving this for a flight – Brendan Koerner’s book on the rash of hijackings 4 decades ago. It looks fantastic.

Kickstarter fails to block a manual on sexual assault, but puts forward a decent response afterwards.

Amy Wallace on her initiative to promote amazing women editors

Apple amends Siri’s response to suicide.

Photographer sues BuzzFeed for $3.6M over viral sharing model

“A Catalogue of Journalistic Malfeasance: The reporting on Edward Snowden has been dreadful.”

How do you translate a medium as visual as a comic book into Braille? Rather beautifully

Forget MOOCs–Let’s Use MOOA (Massive Open Online Administrations)

Linklater’s series [stumbled] into profundity… as if by accident. There can be no greater delight in art.” – a wonderful tribute to the “Before” Trilogy.

From the Open Notebook, as a science journalist, how do you decide which conferences to go to?

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