I’ve got your missing links right here (24 January 2012)

Bit late this week because of ScienceOnline. Just pretend it’s Saturday! Normal blogging service will resume tomorrow when I recover from jetlag.

Top picks

I’ve been in North Carolina for ScienceOnline over the last week. Here’s a smattering of roundups from the event.

Head movements taint the results of brain imaging studies, especially in people with autism. Important story by Virginia Hughes

Carl Zimmer on his favourite beautiful explanation in science, which is “stunningly wrong.”

Adam Rutherford meets Freckles the spider-goat, and investigates the world of synthetic biology.

Crabs that build their own galaxies

A whole Guardian special on memory.

Carl Zimmer starts an excellent discussion of the multicellular yeast paper at his blog, and the first author addresses his critics.

“You are bitching about the wrong things when you read an article about science,” says Annaleen Newitz. And she’s absolutely right.

Meet William Dampier, the pirate botanist, by Robert Krulwich. Love the connection to Craig Venter at the end

Another triumph for the Foldit players – this time in protein design

Holy cr*p! Orangutans killing & eating slow lorises, with video.

Very smart Alexis Madrigal piece on Radiolab, which exemplifies how the genre conventions of blogs are changing

The mathematics of cooking. A *really* interesting post on the chemical components of food ingredients, by Sam Arbesman.

Francois Arago, world’s most interesting physicist. Negotiated with bandits, lanced a soldier, got punched by an archbishop. By Greg Gbur

A fascinating Sally Adee post on night terrors, what causes them, and what you can do about them

Great Vincent Racianello post comparing the stories of two viruses – XMRV and HIV

Excellent. Slate asked Emily Willingham to critique the GM-food-miRNA piece in the Atlantic

Great rich piece about a man who, knowing he’ll be blind, works at a museum that simulates the experience. By Susan Matthews

Chris Mims on why the Atavist’s new publishing platform is a really big deal.

The problem with Patient Zero – spot-on post by Cassie Willyard about false uninformative narratives



This is an old but stunning profile of Bob Langer by Helen Pearson. A day in his life. The structure is genius.

Why I Don’t Trust Jack Horner  – the holes in the Triceratops-is-Torosaurus Idea

Aye-aye heats up middle finger.

NCSE moves on from creationists to tackle climate deniers. Different silly, same tactics

Terrible article about a “half-plant, half-animal” hybrid. Except the plant bit isn’t plant, the animal bit isn’t an animal, and they haven’t hybridised with each other.

“We’ll take your study. But could you, er… cite some articles in our journal please?”

Karaoke medicine” – Which? finds shocking advice from Nutritionists after undercover stings

Why the ‘Blue Monday’ equation nonsense drives Dean Burnett to distraction.

The value of solitude and introversion in a world that praises collaborative creativity. Some dodgy neuroscience here, but good sentiments.

Good primer on the menace that is SOPA

Fruitachampsa – the crocodile that seeks a better name

Paleontologists give Madagascar’s fiercest dinosaur a hand (and a very unusual arm)

MIT Climate Scientist’s Wife Threatened In A “Frenzy of Hate

Terrifying eight-word headline: Totally Drug-Resistant TB: A Patient Is Missing

Stunning plankton bloom from space. Could be a tattoo

A history of torture devices

“The infection was moving so fast they could see flesh dying right before their eyes.”

Mystery of the moving Antarctic lakes

Underwater noise silences humpback whales *120km away*.

An intelligent critique of the recent study “proving” gender differences in personality

Years, A Modified Record Player That Creates Music From a Tree’s Growth Rings

Liz Preston on why a little beetle pushing a boulder of crap has a better sense of direction than you

Extremely controversial: review of all studies suggests that breast cancer screening can do more harm than good

V.good post on the difficulties of getting vaccines delivered across continents

Controversial flu research paused: recognition of need for broader discussion, or PR gesture?

“The place I feel most like a doctor is… at home, with my family.”

“I hate the word geek,” says Alice Roberts. “It is being divisive.” Interesting point of view.

“Relatively definitive refutation”: Rosie Redfield’s attempts by to replicate arsenic-based life have failed.

Fossils found by Darwin, brought to light again after 150 yrs

This terrible uncritical article about neuromarketing in the Observer misspells “pseudo” as “neuro” throughout.

Species die for superstition. Manta rays killed so quacks can sell their gill rakers

How to Build a Dog – Evan Ratliff once again cornering the domestication beat

“You can torture numbers into very unmathematical contortions — contortions that will make you smile.”

Marine biologist faces up to 20yrs for filming killer whales eating grey whale blubber

“In our time lapse photography, there are many frames missing.” Lovely Patrick Clarkin post on our changing selves



All editors will empathise with this

Use of the word “sustainable” is becoming unsustainable

Lazy Jedi Shows Us What Telekinesis Would Really be Used For

Call that a spider costume? THIS is a spider costume

I can haz camera trap? Snow leopard cub makes off with camera trap

Shit Scientists Say, via the ScienceLine crew

Almost a volcano lair – leaked plans for $100M Scientology “Super Power” HQ show pretty weird stuff



Apple earned over $400,000 in profit per employee, more than Goldman Sachs, Exxon Mobil or Google. The result of Charles Duhigg’s months-long investigation.

Wikipedia shut down for Wednesday. BUT HOW WILL WE KNOW STUFF? Screw this – I’m going to start the looting now

Great post by SciCurious on her origin story, and why she keeps schoolkids in mind when writing

A critique of the righteous indignation from both sides of the ‘Waterstones Apostrophe debacle’

The public doesn’t support nuclear power and it’s all James Bond’s fault. Riiight. Bowler hat hate also high

This guy stuffs 100 processors into a chip and Wired’s all “Ooh Aaah”. I stuff 100 chips into my face and… nothing

Deep Dive – the NYT’s new context engine. This could be very exciting.

I wholly recommend Brian Switek’s state-of-the-nation post on science journalism

New president of Zambia used to be a railway porter sweeping the platforms of Victoria Station

7 things you should know about nuclear-powered, drone-guided icebreakers

Okay, but how do touch screens actually work?

David Tuller tells the Open Notebook the story behind his story on chronic fatigue syndrome research’s tangled history

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