I’ve got your missing links right here (5th February 2011)

Top ten picks

Undoubtedly the week’s must-read post: Greg Downey’s opus on the science of breath-holding. He really ought to be paid for this.

A moving list of people who, while studying life, lost theirs, collected by Richard Conniff

Kate Clancy continues her run of busting myths about female bodies. This time: anaemia isn’t something you get just for being a lady.

A brilliant Jonah Lehrer piece about a man who cracked the scratch ticket lottery code. “I’d simply done the math and concluded that beating the game wasn’t worth my time.”

“That experience—the one of initial discovery, of fulfilled curiosity, is what I aim to communicate through my writing.” Andrea Kuszewski on using science stories to rediscover wonder

The Atavist – a fascinating new way of publishing long-form journalism. Edited pieces are published through e-readers, in multiple versions at different costs, with proceeds going to editors and journalists. With a great promo video by John Pavlus.

The incidence of botulism in Alaska is 836 times greater than in rest of US – a clash of culture & disease. Maryn McKenna reports.

“Only a few teachers include hands-on transgenesis in their courses for 15 and 16-year-olds.” Transgenic bacterium sparks row in French schools. Barbara Cassassus reports.

Cyclone Yasi is huge but so’s Australia. Here’s Yasi superimposed on other parts of the world.

Google’s Art Project takes you on a virtual tour of the world’s best galleries. It’s an incredible idea, well-executed but doesn’t even come close to the actual experience

And an extra one: my heartfelt thanks to John Rennie for this post about my timeline experiment.


“The authors weren’t completely bonkers/perverted to [look] for tastable compounds in dolphin semen” by Christie Wilcox.

“When the Columbia shuttle tore apart on re-entry on February 1, 2003, I learned of it from a phone call that interrupted a placid Saturday morning.” John Rennie reflects on space shuttle disasters. Meanwhile, Phil Plait reminds us that the 7 astronauts who died on Challenger all have “memorial craters” named after them.

“You can’t just tell people what you know, you have to build a relationship so they trust you enough to listen.” Great post by Alice Bell on science policy.

Frank Swain on how online dating will make slaves of us all

“I had always been afraid of my grandfather and now I was staring at his pale, lifeless hand inches from my face.” Eric Michael Johnson on mourning in primates.

Social science lines up its biggest challenges. And boy, they’re big.

Worried about science funding cuts? Never fear – surrender your uranium in exchange for a swanky new research centre.

On male pregnancy as a case study for the intersection of science and history – great post by Holly Tucker

Incredible pictures of a beautiful ant mimic, by (who else) Alex Wild.

Woodpecker’s head inspires shock absorbers for planes and cars

An amazing project at Google’s Science Fair, by young scientist Tesca Fitzgerald

The full genome of the water flea Daphnia is out, and Holly Bik wonderfully explains why this is important

A vault full of brains in a jar – paradise for neuroscientists and zombies, by Emily Anthes.

Snakebot to operate on heart. Progress to Doctor Octopus: 83% complete.

“Study after study has shown that parents, compared to adults without kids, experience lower emotional well-being.” Is joyful parenting a myth? By Wray Herbert

Lotteries: they target the poor and keep them poor, by Jonah Lehrer

A retractiothon! A retratiopalooza! Retractiofest 2011! Boldt investigation may lead to over 90 retractions

After taking axe to forensics, the UK prepares to lobotomise neuroscience

Meet Titanoceratops. Basically like Triceratops but bigger. And older. Also, the spelling’s different.

“The Vikings may have used the ancient equivalent of polarized glass to navigate in cloudy weather, suggest new reports on a long-hypothesized but never-tested sunstone compass”, by Lisa Grossman.

Does walking improve memory? Not according to a new study, despite the authors’ claims.

A small asteroid passed close to Earth. If the bastard scratched the sides, I bet our insurance goes up.

“Aren’t you supposed to be a clone?” Naseem on life as a fraternal twin

Insects could be vectors for antibiotic-resistant bacteria, from animal dung to our food, says Maryn McKenna (who, incidentally, is interviewed here).

An uncontacted Brazilian tribe has been spotted by plane. These poor, poor people, who know not the wonder of LOLcats

“This is 100% a real issue.” The internet has run out of room.

All inventions are immortal. Literally, they never die! Or do they?” Robert Krulwich goes on a quest for an invention that isn’t used any more

Another blow for oxytocin, the increasingly inaccurately named “love hormone

Jackal” turns out to be the first ever African wolf.

Studying geography can be badass: Two Russian postgrads rescued from drifting ice floe, by Frank Swain

Scientists stage lion-roaring contest, by Marc Abrahams

Whenever someone writes a piece about the limitations of fMRI “mind-reading”, a kitten smiles


Why in God’s name are you waving?!

Yes, you drank the beer. Now let’s see you fit in the bottle

A satirical meta-infographic

It’s harder to recognise faces in the dark. Possibly because it’s harder to see. Thank you, science.

“The ChumBuddy sleeping bag will snuggle you so sweetly as it gnaws upon your innards.”

Heh. A lovely counter to Greenfield-esque internet doom-mongering.

The text is in Portuguese but this really is the most wonderful infographic of the human microbiome

Oh, that’s where Egypt is. Thanks, FOX News.

See paragraph 5 for the worst experiment ever

Love the picture caption.

Great T-shirt

The most important article on Wikipedia.


Congratulations to Alok Jha, an excellent science writer from the Guardian, whose book How to Live Forever is out this week.

A literal race between print and digital magazines. Print wins.

Rupert Murdoch launched his new iPad-only newspaper, the Daily. Mashable describes it as a “second-rate” iPad magazine, not an iPad newspaper, but Scott Rosenberg really nails it: “CD-ROM flashback

PLoS has a new blog on the ethics and economics of drug development, by freelance writer Jessica Wapner.

Amazon is now selling more e-books than paperbacks.

Athene Donald continues the discussions about female science bloggers with a post on unwritten rules. Meanwhile, it’s worth noting that on Wikipedia, which aims to be the “sum of all human knowledge”, only 13% of contributors are women.

I loved this interview by Brian Cox. It’s warm, happy, humble… behold the presenters’ reactions

Why science writers *should* write for women’s magazines, by Katie Fleming.

A good post on using science blogs as a teaching aid

Google accuses Microsoft of copying search results. But why would they bother unless Bing was a total pile of cra… oh.

Jamie Vernon predicts that Science Online will change the world.

An astonishing tale of what happens when you agree to be in a Daily Mail lifestyle story

An interesting interview with Jonah Lehrer on making money from talks & the existential sadness of multiple hotel keys

A statement on the World Conference of Science Journalists in Cairo. It will continue.

Go Further

Subscriber Exclusive Content

Why are people so dang obsessed with Mars?

How viruses shape our world

The era of greyhound racing in the U.S. is coming to an end

See how people have imagined life on Mars through history

See how NASA’s new Mars rover will explore the red planet

Why are people so dang obsessed with Mars?

How viruses shape our world

The era of greyhound racing in the U.S. is coming to an end

See how people have imagined life on Mars through history

See how NASA’s new Mars rover will explore the red planet

Why are people so dang obsessed with Mars?

How viruses shape our world

The era of greyhound racing in the U.S. is coming to an end

See how people have imagined life on Mars through history

See how NASA’s new Mars rover will explore the red planet