I’ve got your missing links right here (30 July 2011)

Top picks

What a marine massacre looks like – great nuanced post by Rick Macpherson on shark-finning and what the reality is

“One of the animal kingdom’s greatest and most unappreciated symbioses.” Brandon Keim on fungus-farming beetles.

Does he have schizophrenia or is he simply Cockney? An amazing story from Vaughan Bell with a medical use for urbandictionary.com.

Personal genomics: no longer just for white folks. Great post form Daniel Macarthur

Kids are natural scientists. They too are bitter and frustrated by budget cuts.

What lurks at the deepest point of the Earth? We don’t know, but $10m goes to the person who finds out

US government proposes required consent for all human tissue research, citing Rebecca Skloot’s Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks in the decision.

I’m now a freelancer. My new workplace.

My god is this complexity ever going to end?” You can spend 37yrs studying spider dancing & barely scratch the surface.

Jennifer Frazer on the almighty prion (“the Rasputin of biology”) and why the humble lichen f**ks them up

Our knowledge of the past is almost completely deodorized.” Fascinating piece on the smell of history, by Courteney Humphries

Do prey struggle when swallowed whole, or do they die quickly? Loads of interesting answers on G+

The media reacts to the news that the Norwegian terror suspect isn’t Muslim.

A dancing zombie squid (do not watch before a meal). Christie Wilcox explains.

XKCD on cancer survival. Correct, poignant.

The ocean microbe within us. Carl Zimmer on the salty origins of our mitochondria.


How to pre-emptively design a safer chemical

GM cotton halved pesticide use in India, avoided 2.4m cases of pesticide poisoning

British attitudes towards climate change? Is ‘climate scepticism’ rife? No, says a detailed, nuanced report.

Is your positive fMRI result just down to people moving their heads?

Elephant man gene found – already a well-researched cancer gene

For a great take on the Archaeopteryx-isn’t-a-bird story, which I also wrote about, look no further than Larry Witmer’s blog. Larry wrote a great News and Views piece about the paper which anyone with access should read. You don’t really need a scientific background to appreciate it.

The tiny wildlife sanctuary in Chernobyl’s fire station.

Snailbots, fishbots, jellyfishbots, and a bot that’s powered by slugs.

People from Polar Regions Have Bigger Brains and Eyes. Not more intelligent though. Also, they’ll be the first victims of the zombie apocalypse.

Grow a bike

“Why is evolution so nasty in Australia?” asks Carl Zimmer.

Asian elephants: fickle friendships but stable social networks

How do we fuel our ginormous brains? Carl Zimmer has the answers.

Chimp brains don’t shrink with age, human brains do. Yeah, well, we have guns, so NYAH

A toxic weed is poisoning the beaches of northwest France, reports Maryn McKenna. Not talking about British holidaymakers.

When it comes to solar power, these bugs are features, not bugs. Except they’re bugs.

A small population of fanatics (10%) can drive public opinion. Loads of people retweeted this. It’s a model with no real-world validation as of yet.

“Deliberately glib in an effort to get her point across.” Interesting to read Frank Swain’s views on Susan Greenfield after interviewing her.

Why polio eradication is slipping out of reach, by Maryn McKenna

A trilobite quite literally caught in its tracks

“Two Australian police officers use pepper spray to fend off a rogue kangaroo that had attacked an elderly

Engage stealth mode. Blainville’s beaked whales go all quiet in shallow water to hide from orcas.

The case of Princess Alexandra of Bavaria who thought she had swallowed a glass piano.

“Prince Charles has managed to interfere in my professional life & almost managed to close my unit,” says Edzard Ernst, who calls his royal ridiculousness a “snake-oil salesman”.

Great Carl Zimmer story on the evolution of New York

The price of superstition and tradition: London’s museums warned of rhino horn theft risk

Trialled Alzheimer’s drug seems to have done long-term damage to dementia patients

After 10 mths of consultation, the UK Government thinks that the things that matter most to people are health, relationships, & environment.

Piss: window into the soul. Michelle Clement on what urine tell us.

Overhyped fossils, Atlantic Productions and an irked Brian Switek. It’s like 2009 all over again.

Tool use as last resort & failed healing factors – John Rennie adds context to recent dolphin stories

On TB and badger culls – great piece from Ben Goldacre.


Dear person who congratulated me on my Wellcome Trust Public Engagement fellowship, you were very kind, but look at this photo, would you? The chap on the right is me. The one on the left is Kevin Fong, who is now a Wellcome Trust Public Engagement fellow.

The Gay Agenda: Spend time with family. Be treated equally. Buy milk.” Awesome signs supporting gay marriage

The slow-mo beauty of a frog eating a cricket. Watch it swallow using its eyes

You can charge your iPhone simply by typing (but it would take 23 days straight)

Agatha Christie: surfer.

Ewok convicted of indecent exposure

Apparently on the internet, one person’s emotions can influence other people’s emotions. Says a STUDY.

I just can’t believe they gave a polar bear that job in the first place. Clear conflict of interest there.

The Fortress of Solitude has moved to Mexico

“An exploding breech pin penetrating the brain, resulting in escape of cerebral substance… no severe symptoms occurred”

The vomiting plastic cup.

Replica swords, lead pipe, actual semi-automatic rifle. Comic-Con weapons check uncovers serious stuff

Failsafe strategy to get more comments on your blog.


On this really silly story about cancer being a new species, Charlie Petit writes: “News outlets that ran with the story, at face value and no value added from, uh, reporting, were clueless and made little effort to get one.”

The cult of balance has played an important role in bringing us to the edge of disaster.” On the debt ceiling crisis but applicable to journalism as a whole.

Blogs: writing with a voice, without a safety net and without a full-stop. Nice overview by the Blogfather himself, Bora Zivkovic.

Lulszec hacker: “You can’t arrest an idea.” But he’s not an idea. He’s a guy. Who’s been arrested.

The FBI’s “Islam 101” guide depicted Muslims as 7th-century simpletons

Bad fiction contest winners in honour of Bulwer-Lytton’s ‘dark and stormy night’

A fascinating precedent: ASA pulls L’Oreal ads for having overly airbrushed models (and don’t miss the Daily Mash’s take).

The New York Times paywall is working. Good news for journalism?

Must-read piece on the BBC Trust Report on Science by Alice Bell (who actually worked on the study)

David Dobbs on the Wolverine of planes – built to take a frankly insane amount of damage

Brighten up your day with 60 pics of New York’s recently married gay couples. This is what equality looks like.

“Extroverts, we love you. We just don’t want to talk to you all the time.”

Hidden underground, London’s greatest river you’ve never heard of (with some nice photos)

Why the Google+ anti-pseudonym policy doesn’t work & is quite possibly discriminatory.

Just in case your faith in humanity was starting to climb a bit… http://www.notracistbut.com/

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