I’ve Got Your Missing Links Right Here (24 November 2012)

Top picks

One woman’s craving for sleep led to the discovery of a mystery sleep-inducing chemical. This is an amazing piece. Virginia Hughes is science writing royalty.

Attack of the mutant pupfish: a spectacularly written feature by Hillary Rosner on a bold approach to conservation—hybridising species to save them

Excellent longread on a 50-year quest to find cases of “laughing death” (kuru), which led to the discovery of prions

Animal vision evolved 700 million years ago. This is a *beautifully* written post by Lucas Brouwers. Highly recommend

Where is your mind?” Tom Stafford on the fine line between cultural & neural networks

Don’t miss Charles Seife’s investigation into how drug company money is influencing scientists.

Nature takes a hard look at its own sexism & commits to do better. Massive kudos to them for this

If you’re 27 or younger, you’ve never experienced a month when the global temperature was colder than the 20thC average

Yet more evidence of Retraction Watch’s continuing effect on scientific integrity. Congrats to Ivan Oransky and Adam Marcus

Check out Gaia Vince’s radio series on the anthropocene.

NatGeo GIFs: it’s like wonder on a loop.

Feather by feather, scientists reconstruct primitive wing of Archaeopterx, a prehistoric bird. By Carolyn Johnson

The story of the portable beetle, with handles that termites can hold, as told by Matthew Cobb the style of Kipling. And then, a follow-up story on a handled wasp!

Hunt for life under Antarctic ice heats up. This is a marvellous quote: “This is the very pinnacle of the science I’ve been doing since the turn of the millennium. Now guess if I’m excited.”

Mankind isn’t a gender-neutral term. Let’s use humanity instead, argues Annaleen Newitz. Lovely piece on etymology

Vaccines: because it’s great when babies don’t sh*t themselves to death. A hard-hitting chart.

Mind-blowing Jennifer Frazer post: Zombified bacteria are a thing.

Troubled bonobo facility reinstates controversial researcher, Sue Savage-Rumbaugh. Great coverage from Kate Wong.


Coming soon: Africa, a new 6-part Attenborough series.

British physicist jailed for smuggling 2kg of cocaine into Argentina, says he was duped by bikini model

It’s the final stretch for Ethan Perlstein’s attempt to crowdfund his research on meth addiction. And here’s more cool crowd-funded science, on beetles that dupe super-organisms

DNA has been around for billions of yrs — but that doesn’t mean scientists can’t make it better.

Where did it go? Scientists ‘undiscover’ Pacific island

Bats adjust squeaks to focus sonar http://t.co/l9K0uj3E

DROPBATS! Ancient tree-wombat behaved like a koala http://t.co/nUDCTcvV

Counting white animals against a white backdrop from a helicopter, over 100,000s of sq.kms, is actually pretty tricky”

It is frankly amazing that the guy behind the “Things I Learned as a Field Biologist” blog is even alive.

Self-filling water bottle that condenses water from the air, modelled on namib desert beetle

Here’s a campaign to stop animal rights groups who are targeting firms that transport animals for medical research

Carin Bondar launches a new web series on animal sex

‘Lonesome George has relatives’

Bora Zivkovic on expertise. I love the point about the difference between a good writer and a seductive writer.

Oliver Morton on the Martian organic molecules scientists have already found and studied

In case you need to sort gorilla sperm from human sperm… Jennifer Ouellette on telling one sperm from another

Physicist Paul Davies is back with his ideas about cancer. Except they’re hogwash. See these rebuttals from Genotripe (“…article offers no new insight & crucially, no actual evidence.”) and PZ Myers.

Google engineer turns vacuum cleaner into dirt-cheap book scanner

Nutrition recession: Families struggle to eat healthily amid rising food bills and shrinking budgets

Gamers prove equal to surgeons in operating robotic surgery tools. But they keep dragon-punching my spleen.

Excellent post by Melanie Tannenbaum on the psychology of the Petraeus affair – much better than the usual tripe in this vein.

Why being able to hold your booze might not be a good thing, but could lead to targeted interventions

Man CT scans and 3D prints own skull, makes art of forensic facial reconstruction

To horn or to sneak? It’s all about balls. Tom Houslay on beetle sex lives.

Winter to be cold, say Met Office to press, with tremendous weariness

The science of the moustache

Gorillas & humans last shared a common ancestor 10m yrs ago— how do we know that? Nice explainer

“It is quite usual that an amputated penis is tossed out of an open window, where it may be captured by a duck.”

The cost of basic lab equipment is absurd. Can 3D-printing help?

First randomised controlled trial to show spinal cord regeneration in dogs

Nice campaign from Parkinson’s UK – fund research by sponsoring a C. elegans worm for £5/mth

Great website on the incredible Burgess Shale by the Royal Ontario Museum

JNK Nature paper has 3 corrections and counting… Very rich comment thread

BBC makes absurd decision to axe the great popular science radio show, Naked Scientists

On this story on apes and midlife crises, virtually *every* outside comment I’ve seen about this ape-midlife-crisis story has been skeptical & critical

Breast Checking mitt loses fight to prove credibility

‘Super-Jupiter’ Dwarfs Solar System’s Largest Planet. Jupitest?

How birds are used to monitor pollution. They’re like canaries in the coa… wait.

Science isn’t necessarily hard, nor scientists necessarily clever, and both tropes are unhelpful.

Which Bond villain schemes might actually have made economic sense?

Fascinating paper: how the Mian of Papua New Guinea use rivers to represent space & time how education is changing it

This is a thing? DESTROY ALL TICKS. Evidence mounting that tick bites cause unusual allergy to meat

Relocating rattlesnakes as conservation tool for homeowners?

A teacher’s perspective on the study on neuromyths held by teachers

Skeleton might be Richard III; DNA results delayed from December to January. So… winter of discontent?


Picture taken at London’s Natural History Museum. “We are evolving.” Charles approves.

XKCD on heatmaps

In which Dean Burnett single-handedly fixes the British economy

“They have pictures on the boxes that mean science.” Humans buying any sh*t with ‘immune system’ written on it

Beautiful Chinese leopard wins wildlife camera-trap photo prize

“Using your brains to think of an idea? That’s the old model.” The Onion on social media “gurus

WTFs from textbooks.

Excited frog is excited.

Robot spider seeks missing legs

Spiders from Mars! (made of dry ice)

“Irrational hatred of fruit” and other hidden motivations of video game characters

Second cutest book ever! ZooBorns has new book of dangerously adorable baby animals.

Gaze in wonder at Professor Walter Lewins’ best chalk lines.

No fair, I wanna ride a capybara.

Mechanical Arthropods and Insects Made from Watch Parts and Light Bulbs

Oh HAI, baby mantis!

Public shaming.


On dead pigeon’s leg, an unbreakable code

Writer/journalist and scientist are among kids’ dream jobs, proving again that kids are morons 😉

Della Thomas has an interesting post and survey on self-promotion via Twitter. Here’s my simple guide

Are Japan’s ninjas heading for extinction? Or are they just hiding?

The John McAfee story is unbelizeable

The next generation of touchscreen tech or the emperor’s cumbersome new clothes?

Freelancers, find a home for your science story, by reading what editors want

What does war sound like now?

How many times should the government rebuild at-risk areas? The “retreat” quote is chilling.

Here are 10 golden rules of Twitter

A Q&A about MATTER, the new long-form science publishing initiative

Portraits of politicians made from collages of bits of pornography.

Lord McAlpine plans to Sue 10k Twitter Users

Dystopic, awful read on a possible future for Twitter

This is a shocking example of men who hate strong women. Also: terribly written. Skip to the letter at end

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