I’ve got your missing links right here (30th October, 2010)


By far my favourite story of the week: drunken 19th-century cobra-wrangling. “Girling, emboldened by gin, had walked past the railing in the reptile house and proceeded to lift out a Morocco Snake from its glass-fronted cage. Despite the protests of his friend, he draped this snake around the unfortunate Stewart, crying “I am inspired!”… Stewart went about his work only to hear his friend cry “Now for the cobra”–a statement which must have chilled him into instant sobriety.”

“Deep in your brain there are probably several thousand neurons that will respond only to the sight of Lady Gaga.” Carl Zimmer teaches you how to harness your Marilyn Monroe neurons, while the BBC covers the same story with some crap about dream-recording.

“When I opened the new certificate, I found that the name of my mother was in fact my sister’s.” How Nobel Prize-winner Paul Nurse got the greatest genetic insight of his life, by Robin McKie.

An excellent and personal overview of the successful Science is Vital campaign by Della, one of its ringleaders.

A robot with pudgy, beanbag-like hands can grip a variety of objects (and would still have made a better bench scientist than me).

Mark Henderson covers the 1,000 Genomes Project, the study that shows how nobody’s perfect.

Where did all these monkeys come from? – Fossil teeth may hint at an Asian origin for anthropoid primates, says Brian Switek.

A giant virus has been found in a Cafeteria. Meanwhile, Ars Technica’s coverage attracts a grammar idiot, and an absolutely legendary takedownA great interview with an awesome headline. Katherine Harmon talks to the folks who sequenced Ozzy Osbourne’s genome.

A great analysis at Neuroanthropology about the role of cooking in human evolution.

A fifth of animals with backbones are endangered. England’s footballers are in the clear then.

“Young New Caledonian crows learn to use tools by going to “tool-school“, where they can observe their parents at work.”

More after the jump

“It’s just an animal.” An award-winning (and utterly upsetting) photo essay on the international trade in wildlife products

“We care about people we know, even if they vote for the other party.” Jonah Lehrer on social closeness.

How monarch butterfly mums medicate their young, from A Scientific Nature

Why published papers in the behavioural sciences are quite likely to be wrong.

Mystery solved: Horrific corkscrew killings of British seals blamed on ducted propellers (paywall, Times, subscription needed, yadda yadda).

Imagopressionism? Southeastern Louisiana University researcher uses paintings made by maggots to turn students on to forensic entomology

Michael Marshall pays tribute to ancient fertiliser for promoting the evolution of complex life.

SciCurious explains how fat rat fathers beget pre-diabetic daughters

Russian bears eating human corpses out of graveyards. Are they drunk on second-hand vodka?

“The multiply mutated mouse and the black-faced cat are marvellous examples of how what seems simple is not, of how nature and nurture work together, and of how little geneticists understand about their own science.” Steve Jones on genetics, ADHD and the media

“We march to a different drummer.” A great piece on Aspergirls – women on the autistic spectrum – by Steve Silberman.

Researchers resurrect (part of) an ancient chimp virus.

The new snub-nosed monkey that sneezes when it rains via @eol

The terrifying chupacabras monster is… a mite-bitten coyote with mange.

Want to find out why lizards do push-ups? Build a robot lizard. Jason Goldman explains.

Where are the women in the ‘population control’ debate?” Naomi MC asks and answers in the Guardian.

“Participants with lower levels of agreeableness responded more favorably to an angry leader.” Heh.

An excellent post on Williams Syndrome, and the linguistic side of a fascinating developmental disorder

In space, no one can hear you cover the world in soot. How space tourism could affect our climate, in New Scientist.

Narwhals: like research assistants but more awesome.


Explaining the Internet to a 19th Century British Street Urchin

“Detailed retrospective history also confirmed accidental inhalation of the condom during fellatio.”

The physics of the wet dog shake, with some great hi-speed video

I love that the NYT publishes stuff like this – just the pure unalloyed joy of Sean Carroll being awed by king cobras, king snakes and other reigning reptiles.

Absolutely stunning photos of insects trapped in amber

A gallery of incredible new Amazon species including bald parrots, blue-fanged tarantulas and turnip-tailed geckos.

Beautiful Brainbow art.

Boba Fett’s invoice

When the kids of the future grow up, they will hunt down and brutalise the inventors of this little hell-gadget

A Maine diver fends off a shark with a camera


Hearty congratulations to Nick Lane for winning this year’s final Royal Society book prize for his amazing book Life Ascending. You should buy it, if you haven’t already. Meanwhile, Philip Ball decries the shameful death of the prize.

The Open Notebook: an awesome new site looking at the stories behind the stories. Journalists dissect their craft, starting with David Dobbs.

The Guardian bucks the trend by releasing blogging guidelines for journalists that are spectacularly spot on. Other newspapers should take note.

A stunning, brave and personal post by Sophia Collins about her abortion.

Deborah Blum writes about the trouble with scientists, Dr Isis replies on the trouble with journalists, and everyone gets drunk in the end.

“If you ever wanted to see how the media simultaneously loves and destroys stories on sex and science, this week we had a classic example of truly bad sex coverage,” says Petra Boynton.

The ever-provocative Alom Shaha urges skeptics to stop preaching to the converted

““Dude, you are speaking Romulan,” one of my colleagues blurted out… So before teaching scientists how to speak to nonscientists, perhaps scientists should first learn how to speak to other scientists.” An awesome post at the Plainspoken Scientist.

Can journalism students blog their way into a job? This lot can.

Now Hear This: a blog about sound. Which sounds cool.

Robert Niles eloquently explains why he’s no longer a newspaper subscriber.

Alice Bell asks, “Who’s the geek?” Icons of nerdery answer her.

Sophia Collins argues for young people’s involvement in science funding decisions.

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