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

Top picks

Every Shuttle mission, in order, set to music. Adam Rutherford’s incredible tribute to the Shuttle is moving, uplifting, at times heartbreaking, and unmissable.

Amos Zeeberg chimes in on the Shuttle with a no-holds barred take on the programme as an objective failure

A “beautiful study” on placebo and asthma shows the difference between placebos and real treatments. Great write-up by Pal MD

Jonah Lehrer riffs off one of my pieces and creates a hypothesis on why beauty exists, And David Dobbs riffs of Lehrer, with a beautiful tribute to London

We saved a humpback whale! WOOOO!” Absolutely wonderful video.

Right under our noses, dolphins have been evolving their own healing factors. Phase 2 now complete

The US Army wants soldiers to communicate just by thinking. Synthetic telepathy could make that happen

Read Imperial College’s new analysis of the BBC’s science reporting (the actual paper and not the news reports of it, natch).

When fish fail – a wonderful blooper reel of suction-feeding fish screwing up their attacks

Tomorrow’s role models. These girls who won Google Science Fair are amazing. It started when she was 8 & tried to make blue spinach…

The Kiki/Bouba effect, or why Humpty Dumpty sounds round. A wonderful New Scientist piece on linguistic fossils.

Seven experiments that would be really illuminating, albeit morally objectionable. Excellent Wired feature

Punter asks “What would happen if I swallowed a ball bearing and went for an MRI scan?” on Reddit. Physicist replies

Did the civilization behind Machu Picchu really fail to develop a written language? Or did they tie themselves in knots?

Why I will never pursue cheating again – A Computer Scientist in a Business School

The laws underlying physics of everyday life are completely understood, says Sean Carroll, with a somewhat wearier sequel

“Every so often—perhaps once every 18 months—the veteran Guardian writer Nick Davies comes into my office, shuts the door with a conspiratorial backward glance, and proceeds to tell me something hair-raising.” Alan Rusbridger on how the Guardian broke the News of the World scandal.


Common sense often neither. New Scientist piece on how common sense can undermine our ability to understand human behaviour

Rogue stem cell ‘clinics’ are bullying stem cell researchers into not calling them out

The physics of Pollock, by Jennifer Ouellette.

This is a great idea – Google Maps mashup explores flight paths’ hidden treasures, by Olivia Solon

As goes Nauru, so goes the world. Great piece on how unsustainably mining phosphate is a bit like pumping out greenhouse gases

How bomb blasts injure the brain. Yes, *besides* the ‘splode

I LOVE the Name-a-Species competition, this year featuring the Ascot hat and hotlips. And the winner  was a 12 year old girl

How many social psychology studies use deception?

What space sounds like (yes, yes, I know, shut up and click the link)

Punishing correct answers improves memory recall

The science of stabbing with a broken bottle. I’ve clearly been doing it wrong.

How radical redesign of wind farms could increase efficiencies and reduce visual impact

Charles Choi asks how new questions might drive new forms of science writing

Deborah Cohen from the BMJ on how to improve health reporting; my thoughts

Part tortoise, part machine. All cute. Amputee tortoise gets swivelling wheel prosthesis

Color fades away: extremely hyped start-up fails to live up to extreme hype

The sunny side of porn

“Nothing keeps us motivated like not knowing better.” Jonah Lehrer’s tribute to vagueness. Sort of. Ish.

Perfect nightmare fuel.” Brian Switek on dog-faced, semi-sabre-toothed, fast-running crocodiles

Mass extinctions easier to trigger than thought. Flip switch from “Everything lives” to “Everything dies”

If the carnivorous cave-dwelling mutants don’t get you, one of these horrible diseases will

Computer reads manual, conquers world

“Like the last person turning the lights off” – Razib Khan on the end of evolutionary psychology

Barefoot running – better for you? Definitely read Lena Groeger’ s three lessons at the end

Ars Technica interviewed the guy who dumped 32GB of scientific papers on the Pirate Bay.

When viruses and bacteria unite!

The new sequencing tech that made headlines yesterday produces poor quality results at great expense, says Dan Macarthur

Sebastiani group retracts genetics of aging study from Science. Corrected data better, but not fit for Science!

Six of the most innovative ways to process your poo

Bill Gates to reinvent the toilet. “It looks like you’re having a poo. Do you need help with that?”

NASA spacesuits – like 90s superhero costumes, except the pockets actually DO things

The prosody of swearing. A joyous paper, and surely the only one ever with the word: “coe-f**king-lacanth”

Are “good bacteria” really good for you? The pros and cons of probiotics

How hard is it to measure a mountain’s height? You’d be surprised. Nepal to re-measure Mount Everest

Arts & science bodies can nominate 1,000 extraordinary people for immigration to UK

Heavy, encumbering armour was heavy, encumbering. Thanks science. Thanks.

Gonorrhea, slingshotting its way across your groin.

Feds charge hacker for downloading millions of JSTOR articles on MIT’s servers (may or may not be Reddit co-founder)

Well, if you’re involved in corruption charges and feel the need to resign, it’s a good week for it. Nicely timed, Marc Hauser.

Asexual ants” have sex

Nature!: The “Curse You, Carl Zimmer!” edition. John Rennie on a world of scary worms.

The parasitic wasps that made a home in a dinosaur egg.

Those self-portraits of a smiling monkey? They will probably remain in public domain because they were not taken by a human

Students program a saber-wielding “Jedibot”.

Ewen Callaway on the struggle to keep up with doping in cycling

Coffee might not prevent Alzheimer’s but Scicurious’s post suggests that it does wonders for critical analysis skills

Informed consent? More like uninformed acquiescence, when the forms run to a median of 27 pages.

Small fin routinely removed from salmon turns out to have important sensory function

Organic Water: A New Marketing Wave. Christ. That would be formaldehyde…

How Big Pharma got Americans hooked on anti-psychotic drugs. Great Al Jazeera piece

10 health trends that can be gleaned from Twitter. Interesting Atlantic piece


Either the best or worst comment thread I have ever started. Also, guy covered in bees

Cute: cheetah cub getting a check-up.

XKCD on the mimic octopus (My post on it)

I think this, by James Murdoch, is my favourite press release of all time

The fist of an angry cloud.

The Arty Bollocks Generator.

That’s no moon! That’s a space statio… oh. Wait. No, no, that’s moon. A fourth one, around Pluto

The whole tone is preachy and moralising, rather than engaging and well written” Amazon reviews the King James Bible


How the Khan Academy is changing the rules of education

Chris Clarke’s observations on being a “Skeptic

PLoS’ operating revenues exceeded expenses for the first time in 7 yrs after launch. Nice.

Daily Mail explains, over 43254 articles, that women can’t “have it all

“Massive success” of the CDC’s zombie preparedness story as a lesson in sci-comms

“But never let facts get in the way of a good rant.” The Economist dissects the BBC’s idiotic list of 50 hated Americanisms list. Aside from the corporate jargon, it’s basically a list of 50 whiny losers.

Scroll to comment at 16:32 for an interesting comparison of modern journalism and agriculture

Work in public. Reveal nothing.” A superb meditation on public thinking by Robin Sloan.

On the web, the prospects for journalism are better than ever, says Jay Rosen, citing science journalism as an example

Animated infographic of Twitter’s coverage of Murdoch’s testimony. Ends hilariously for the obvious reasons

Rapports Opus underwent 1yr’s training in order to reach his exalted position as the region’s sole sperm-sniffing dog

I love Alexis Madrigal’s opus on the design of the pizza box

The renaissance of long-form journalism

On WSJ and Murdoch

Interesting discussion on whether regulation should consistently apply to bloggers/journos

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