I’ve got your missing links right here (23 April 2011)

Top twelve picks

Adam Rutherford’s documentary The Gene Code was an utter triumph – complex and cutting-edge science rendered clear and compelling. Let’s pause for a second and note that the UK is a country where we talk about Archaea and recombination in detail on national TV. For this alone, Adam is my hero.

Eric Michael Johnson’s superb piece on chimps, bonobos, the Tempest and the “killer ape” concept is one of the highlights of the week. David Dobbs’s follow-up is well worth your time too.

Brian Switek is on incredible form this week with no fewer than four superb posts: on primate “grief”, on the evolution of mammal ear bones from reptile jaws (with the perfect headline), on the world’s oldest toothache, and on exhorting people to stop comparing every dino to T.rex. I have immortalised his sentiments in T-shirt form.

Chris Mooney writes about the science of science denial for Mother Jones.

Tigers Are Less Important Than Warblers. A wonderful, witty and compelling piece by Madhusudan Katti.

“Well-read isn’t a destination; there is nowhere to get to.” Linda Holmes urges you to embrace sweet surrender

This excellent piece looks like it’s about roller-derby, and then morphs into an awesome medical story. By Sally Adee.

Eric Kandel uses the HHMI iPad app, featuring the sea slugs he works on. A wonderful cheeky film by John Pavlus.

A really good explanation of that retina-in-a-dish paper by Ambivalent Academic at Scicurious’s blog.

Warming up, turning sour, losing breath – Carl Zimmer on the fate of the world’s oceans

In Brazil, scientist saves forests with data. Great positive story for Earth Day (tomorrow), by Thomas Hayden.

I did not see a dinosaur you call yourself a museum!” 10-yr-old Annabelle complains to MOMA.


Jonathan Latham started off the week with an abysmal post about the genetics and the Human Genome Project, which Daniel Macarthur and Adam Rutherford skilfully dismantled. See, it’s nice when you know something about what you’re writing about…

Alice Bell on science Top Trumps

The media doesn’t report bad news in science often *enough*, such as the failure of a stem cell trial, covered by Erika Check Hayden.

Fixing the PhD. In the future, PhD students + J-schoolers will be forced to eat each other

Yawning, empathy and chimps – good post at a new blog, Phylogenetic Tree Hugger.

Felisa Wolfe-Simon has made the Time 100. The list honour people whose “ideas spark dialogue”. A shame that she refused to take part in any of that dialogue…

A fascinating piece of data journalism. Declan Butler marks out nuclear reactor sites where most people would be at risk if accident occurs.

Richard Branson to create lemur sanctuary… in the Caribbean. Richard Conniff discusses two precedents

Man quits job to be pro golfer and test Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000 hrs theory

Marc Hauser won’t be teaching “Hot Topics in Cognitive Science and Neuroscience” even though he is one

Desert kites – ancient stone structures that herded gazelles towards mass slaughter

The perfect Easter story. There are some words here, but I’ve just been staring at the pic

One year since the Deepwater Horizon rig exploded, Mirian Goldstein is collecting a list of the best coverage. Allie Wilkinson discusses the long-term risk to seafood

What my 8-year-old daughter’s new chess game tells us about creativity, by Mark Changizi

A great Kate Clancy post on the Pill, puberty & teen pregnancies. I’m fascinated by her running theme of importance of variation

All those happy people must really piss of the unhappy ones

First images form robots inside Fukushima nuclear plant. Meanwhile, it’s okay now. We have a flowchart. It’s all going to be okay. Let purty colours distract you from the scary radiation.

“As the crow flies” really ought to be “as the whale swims“. That is one straight line.

Bora Zivkovic reviews the Giant Dino exhibit at the American Museum of Natural History

Here’s Steve Silberman’s interview with Siddhartha Mukherjee, who just won a Pulitzer for his biography of cancer, The Emperor of All Maladies.

Wonderful. A post on velvet worms and water bears as gateway drugs into science, and more broadly on the power of inspiration.

Biggest fossil spider ever found; bigger ones await.

Chimps give birth like humans

What’s the difference between monkeys and apes, if any? A seemingly simple issue that’s kicked off a long debate, featuring Martin Robbins, Paolo Viscardi, John Hawks, John Wilkins, and more.

We haven’t seen this in a mammal! Rewrite the textbooks!” Doctor Zen deflates a breathless press release to talk about a cool study.

Evan Harris explains the science behind the “three-parent baby” pseudo-controversy.

Somewhere in Germany, robots are manufacturing human skin

Kate Wong on Australopithecus sediba. Is it our long lost ancestor?

Orangutans Use Simple Tools to Catch Fish

Choose-your-own-adventure books become thought-controlled films. Bet the films will be *rubbish* though.

Jonah Lehrer expands on my story from last week about messy judicial decisions

Last week’s death of a Yale student in the lab has sparked calls for a shake-up science’s safety culture.

26% of US soldiers return from Iraq with PTSD compared to 5% of UK troops. Vaughan Bell considers why.

Tara Smith discusses the recent news about MRSA in meat, and what it means

Henry Nicholls interviews the designer of ConservationOrg’s “suggestive and potentially expansive” new logo.


The best 404 page ever. It’s not pretty when a web server cries.

Beautiful moving time-lapses of the night sky

Bryant Austin has photographed whales like never before.

Cookie the baby penguin at the Cincinnati Zoo being tickled. That is all.

“THE WEB IS NOW OFFICIALLY FULL-ON,” exhorts Microsoft. Excuse me while I die laughing.

Design brief for London’s Natural History Museum “I shall want space for 70 whales, to begin with

The future according to Google. Orangutans to die out 2yrs before rock & mysteriously “Cyprus achieves its goal” in 2066

Mini-nightmares. Electron microscope images of scorpions, spiders and insects

“He thought that the bees would be asleep, as it was past midnight. Instead, they attacked him.”

Eleven coins were retrieved from nine patients… giving a total return on ingestment of $1.03.”

So obvious when you draw it out: using dinosaurs to solve the fossil fuel crisis

Minimalist movie posters by Matt Owen

How to back down gracelessly but effectively when you’ve been out-pedanted.

An Antiguan anti-homeopathy ad appears for unfortunate reasons.


I realised something very cool about how Discover’s slideshows can be used

BBC health journos still don’t link to primary sources, despite policy change, and despite covering the topic where it arguably matters most

How it feels to crush £1.2m of violin beneath your buttocks.

Dear world, on behalf of the UK, we’re really sorry for this.

Robot journalist writes a better sports story than a human reporter

I love that there’s a Pulitzer for Explanatory Journalism. Wah wah investigation wah wah. This stuff’s important too.

Good example of terrible health journalism – it takes 11 paragraphs to get to the fact that this was in mice and human trials won’t begin for 2 years, and features unquestioning quotes about “biggest breakthrough ever” (Ever? EVER!). Written by… yeah.

My word, look at Gawker’s traffic. That’s insane. Death to linkbait!

“The most valuable asset a journo has is access to other people’s brains”. Writing tips from Ian Sample.

First, there was the Atavist. Now, there’s Byliner.

A great interview on science writing between Jennifer Ouellette and Robert Lee Hotz

The iPhone keeps a record of everywhere you go, triggering fears about privacy and ppl knowing how boring we all are. And meanwhile, the “fears” have been put to rest.

When will press release headlines simply devolve into “WOW” or “OMGWF!!??!?!”

A database of female science bloggers, compiled by Elaine Westwick

David Dobbs on the writer’s dilemma: what to toss

For 6 days after the tsunami, a Japanese newspaper was written by hand w/ flashlights & markers

Cassie Willyard deals with the allegations that large bits of Three Cups of Tea were fabricated

This timeline on the story behind an investigative news story is a must-read for any budding journo

Spot-on musings from Carl Zimmer on how journalists should cover astrobiology

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