I’ve Got Your Missing Links Right Here (30 November 2013)

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Top picks

‘The Coolest Thing Ever‘: a wonderful, heart-warming story about how a robotic arm changed 4 lives. By Joe Palca.

When We Are Called to Part—Brooke Jarvis on the last days of a leprosy settlement

WHAT? Archerfish hit their prey with a spit bullet that *gets faster as it moves*. That’s AMAZING. By Aatish Bhatia.

This week, the FDA landed a big (and rather snarky) smackdown upon the personal genetic testing company 23andMe. David Dobbs has a great overview of the fracas at the New Yorker, Razib Khan argues it won’t mean much in the long run, Michael Eisen asks how we want genetic testing to be regulated, and Matthew Herper asks if 23andme is self-destructing. Also relevant: a piece about 23andMe mistakenly telling someone they might have a devastating disease, and another telling someone else about a disease that it took doctors 6 years to diagnose.

The risible Seralini GMO/rats study is going to be retracted. Jon Entine has the best take on the woeful tale.

True facts about Ocean Radiation and Fukushima – top quality explainer by Kim Martini.

Read Pete Etchells’ moving story about how his dad made him hate neurons

Emily Graslie makes the best science videos on the web. Here, she talks about why there aren’t more women doing the same. It’s hilarious, insightful, and eloquent. Come for the dramatic reading of sexist comments, stay for the inspiring crescendo about women in science.

Tori Herridge writes about the amazing six-woman team of scientist/cavers behind the Rising Star Expedition. And don’t miss a first-hand account from one of the women herself.

Check out Zach Weinersmith’s anthology of his wonderful SMBC cartoons, including one based on a personal story from me.

Good piece from Jo Marchant on attempts to understand the link between mental states and the immune system.

A Mars-bound bug that thrives in the cleanest place on Earth.

Remote-controlled vaccine delivery system eliminates the need for follow-up injections. By Nadia Drake.

Video footage of an exploding sperm whale.

Having lost their teeth, some birds re-evolved false ones. By Brian Switek.


A tongue piercing that controls a wheelchair

Interesting piece on the connection between type 2 diabetes and Alzheimer’s

Long-term disease database reveals 103m cases of 8 diseases prevented by vaccines since 1924.

Cancer Research UK explains the value of plain packaging on cig packs.

How meaning comes to technology: PCR at 30

What Isaac actually asked the apple. On the persistent myths around Newton and gravity.

Your brain has 2 clocks. Mine are both borked.

Dance Dance Retraction! At long last, disputed dance study retracted from Nature

Pearl” the Mystery Dinosaur

Unexpected: Two species of salamander differ in the way their muscles grow back in lost body parts

Native mantises inordinately attracted to cannibalistic females of another species

China battles army of invaders (550 non-native species descend upon its borders).

Auction could see amazing Diplodocus skeleton wind up in a mall or hotel

Microbes add a special something to wine. This is how the terroirists win.

Tracking Faecal Transplants: Long-term study confirms that stool transplants clear recurrent C. diff infections.

First, they built a flying robot jellyfish, and I did not speak out…

Mary Schweitzer strengthens her claims that she has actually found T.rex soft tissue with, er, iron-clad evidence.

Bacteria-shredding black silicon surface based on cicada & dragonfly wings

Same-sex couples: why albatrosses do it. By Carl Zimmer.

How China’s Pet Dogs Might Save Wild Tigers

Human babies are 75% water, but they dry as they get older.

“In 18th century England, access to brains became a little easier when the “Murder Act” was passed.”

Listening to Africa’s elephants: how a forest full of microphones can fight poaching

Tsintaosaurus, Unicorn No More

Seahorses are killer ninjas.

Mushrooms fart to reproduce. Sort of.

Malassezia, the fungus that’s eating your head and causing dandruff

People prefer to just get the pain over with.

The zebra-legged, giraffe-a-like okapi has been listed as endangered. Other species like the Atlantic leatherback turtle, and some albatrosses are recovering

“Sea snot” bloom = banquet for the deep sea

Malcolm Campbell takes us through the steps for creating a rainbow, starting by making the universe.

Does Your Dog Love You Back? This is Jason Goldmans’ desperate cry for trolling.

Greenland sharks are believed to be the vertebrate with the longest lifespan, at over 200 years!”

The wonderful Christian Jarrett joins Wired’s crack team of science bloggers, covering the neuro and psych beats.

Meet Your Body’s Death Eaters – a fascinating guide to the different types of macrophages.

With his new app, the co-creator of Foldit is getting kids to learn algebra

Tree Mountain: 11,000 trees planted in mathematical pattern on an artificial hill in Finland

The most flexible predator: the Alpine newt!

Synthetic primordial cell copies RNA for the first time

Stealth camera takes pictures using spectacularly little light. http://t.co/BGIAZywaM7

Brain cells might ‘geotag’ memories

Massive Triassic communal toilet found. “A density of 94 poos per square metre was recorded by the researchers.”

The “Publication Integrity and Ethics” organisation has an… interesting… approach to integrity and ethics.

Good take on the ManyLabs Replicationapalooza, and what the future holds. By Rolf Zwaan

Castles in the air. On the wonderful architecture of paper wasp nests

A great live blog on Comet ISON – the comet that may or may not have survived a brush past the Sun.

Mara Hvistendahl uncovers a black market for authorship slots and papers in China

While mating, some spiders spin a “bridal veil“.

“We know surprisingly little about the history of human–chicken relations

At height of Cold War US set nuclear launch codes at every silo to simply 00000000

How Two Twins Were Born 87 Days Apart



Stunning shots from a crane operator in Shanghai

This British teacher’s archive of toys confiscated from students over 30 years is awesome

What the heck is this ‘natural trampoline’?

A mantis accidentally helping out a pitcher plant

This guy in the exploding sperm whale video is really lucky he wasn’t standing about 2ft forwards.

“Firstly I’d like to stress that it isn’t against the law to dress up as a clown.”



Photographer wins $1.2 million from companies that took pictures off Twitter

The awesome Amy Wallace talks about the secrets to writing good long-form pieces on the Longform podcast.

“This is a cam-u-ra. I am holding it the wrong way round.” –Alex Wild explains professional nature photography.

For a look at the kind of PR misfires that science writers get, see this Tumblr. A few of these are mine.

A great all-star discussion panel on women in science writing.

I love Ann Finkbeiner’s take on the recent sci-comm harassment shenanigans, in which she invokes Kant.

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