I’ve got your missing links right here (27th February 2011)

Top ten picks

Ferris Jabr takes sign language at the AAAS conference and makes this wonderful piece out of it. Superb.

The story of JonathanJoshua Foer, a journalist who trained himself for the US Memory Championship & achieved record-breaking success

Sir John Beddington, the UK’s Chief Scientific Advisor, made widely quoted comments about “intolerance” towards pseudoscience. Frank Swain and Alice Bell ask if he’s right.

This is wonderful and, I predict, will be increasingly common as interdisciplinary science becomes the norm. Kate Clancy and SciCurious tag-team a study on that time of the month, each covering their own speciality

The Templeton Foundation – friend of science, or “sneakier than the creationists”? Great feature by Mitch Waldrop. And another one by Shanta Barley, looking inside the mind of a man who was scientist by day and animal “activist” by night

If it wasn’t bad enough that few new antibiotics are in development, we’re running out of the ones we have. By Maryn Mckenna

Brian Switek discusses the convoluted family trees of horses and humans (and how it’s a problem that we have a sparse fossil record for chimps).

Behold Churnalism.com – the Media Standards Trust’s new engine for discovering PR-based shoddy journalism, with commentary from the Guardian

Are some aliens worth saving? A fascinating piece by Carl Zimmer on whether some invasive species are valuable. Meanwhile, the big guy talks about the importance and power of picking stories with “zing”, rather than those that are like “a nudibranch sprinting across the top of a kelp frond.”

Best. Paper. Title. Ever.


A great case study of the power of blogs –a boy without a cerebellum is described in the post and his mum joins in within the comments

Monkeys know what they know – macaques “pass” on a brain teaser task rather than risk giving a wrong answer, just like humans

A great piece by Kate Clancy on the myths and science of women’s health

How to cheat a brain-scan-based lie detector

What does the herbal medicine industry have in common with Bruce Lee? By Martin Robbins

House of Representatives votes to defund IPCC climate studies. Jeez…

Lie down with dog, wake up with fleas. Oh, and plague

Retraction Watch’s continuing investigation into the bizarre case of Jatinder Ahluwalia is fascinating. By the end of it, his birth certificate will probably be retracted

Jennifer Ouellette ties in the science behind a woodpecker’s peck with the problems of pro footballers

Wow. The Annals of Human Genetics began as the Annals of Eugenics!

“If all it can do is beat humans on game shows, Watson is just passing entertainment akin to wind-up automata,” says Gary Kasparov, muttering bitterly under his breath.

10 minutes of pure joy – Attenborough’s Life Stories are back on Radio 4

Please welcome Brontomerus – the Thunder Thighs dinosaur. I love the image of it punting a Utahraptor

Jonah Lehrer validates my life by discussing the downside of attention and the benefits of distrac… OOH SQUIRREL

New analysis finds that 75% of coral reefs are at risk

Sand-swimming lizard inspires scientist to build robot that can do the same. Thanks, lizard. Thanks a lot.

This BBC slideshow nicely renders & explains the images at last night’s Wellcome Image Awards

The long tough road to stroke recovery

Is there a funding crisis in cognitive neuroscience? Good piece by Jon Simons with some interesting but unfortunate “intellectual chauvinism” in the comments.

Mouse heart regenerates for the first time

Daniel Macarthur explains the problems with the plummeting cost of genome sequencing

On why some species domesticate better than others, by Evan Ratcliffe

Half a dodo found in museum drawer. What’s in yours?

Wild sex cries aim to advertise partner’s popularity in bonobos. The “I’ll have what she’s having” effect.

A beautifully illustrated continuum of micro and macro-evolution for Creationists

The journal Energy and Environment threatens RealClimate’s Gavin Schmidt with a libel suit over his harsh critique of the journal’s peer review process

Looking at your own Facebook profile boosts self-esteem? Yakawow!

The Royal Society’s Brainwaves Report on “Implications for education and lifelong learning” of neuroscience, with comments from Uta Frith

A cool Cambrian chain gang

Behold your disease-ridden genome.

Richard Conniff on the power of facing up to mistakes in science

Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a dam – the problem of ageing dams.

A great Wired piece on Alan Turing’s patterns in animals (see also his great missionary/cannibal metaphor)


That Wii remote is going to end up somewhere uncomfortable.

Five Emotions Invented By The Internet; numbers three and five are my life

Sulphuric acid won’t dissolve a corpse in mins, a new study finds.” Great. What am I going to do w/ all these barrels?

I just want to read Malcolm Gladwell books and drink

Nun banished from order for spending too much time on Facebook. LIKE.

Joyous. A playable Angry Birds birthday cake

No flying cars for you

Google search results for “recursion“. Genius.

There’s a WTF family of proteins. Their function is unknown. Also the FFS gene, involved in impatient behaviour, and the FucM gene, involved in sexual behaviour. What’s that you say? OMG?

Someone gave Optimus Prime a parking ticket. One shall stand, one shall not park on a double-yellow

The Experimental Probe of Inflationary Cosmology – an EPIC mission from NASA


“2011 looks set to see an epic battle waged between a self-righteous cult-like group of reactionary folk determined to attack and suppress people they disagree with, and the Westboro Baptist Church.” By Martin Robbins

Rosenblatt defends Demand Media (eHow etc.): it’s not “shallow”, it’s what millions want; it’s not a “content farm”, it gets lots of hits and Likes. Riiiiiiight…. Meanwhile, Razib Khan likens content farms to the Pre-Cambrian period.

Journalists are a little less wide-eyed, and a little more picky. Kate Galbraith discusses how environmental reporting is growing up.

When has good writing become such a cheap commodity that people seem reluctant to pay for it?

Blogging is “waning” if you define “waning” as “growing”. Scott Rosenberg does the shocking thing of actually looking at the data rather than making stuff up

Apple gives iPad owners only 8 more days of fulfilment before the inevitable crushing feeling of worthlessness

“Science journalism needs a mix of really well-done daily deadline reporting and longer, thought-out, exhaustively reported narrative stories.” Protecting the whole journalism ecosystem, by Hillary Rosner. And check out the story behind the story of her award-winning piece on saving an obscure endangered fish.

Colin Schultz on the credibility of pseudonymous blogging, now with interesting data.

“Use those fantastic writing skills to communicate the science behind the science” says Anne Jefferson. I agree.

An old but fascinating study on the effect of mainstream media coverage on the transmission of scholarly knowledge in the science community.

Embargo Watch celebrates its first birthday. Go and wish Ivan the best – his blog(s) are a force for good in science journalism. (And amusingly, he got the anniversary date wrong, so had to retract it. He should have embargoed the retraction…)

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