I’ve got your missing links right here (6 April 2013)

Top picks

Adam Rutherford’s new book, CreationAdam Rutherford’s new book, Creation, is out this week in the UK and I highly recommend it. It’s about the origin and future of life, and is full of fantastic writing and amazing science. [Disclosure: I helped to edit it.]

The news on the new H7N9 bird flu is progressing at a breakneck pace. Check Helen Branswell’s awesome explainer for all the context you need, and Maryn McKenna’s guide to finding and parsing the news.

Mars is really, really, really far away.

Megan Garber’s wonderful story of how the mobile phone was invented 40 yrs ago.

What would it be like to see the world through a whale’s eyes? By Alexis Madrigal .

The NYT’s obituary of rocket scientist Yvonne Brill led with her cooking, husband and kids. Which was utterly ridiculous, and prompted a justified outcry. Io9 summarises what happened. Here’s more good reading:

Brain scans decode dream content. By Mo Costandi.

Geoengineering for natural disasters: could catyaclysmic droughts in the Sahel be avoided? By Ollie Morton.

“By understanding autism from the inside, we become more fully human” – more outstanding writing from Steve Silberman, this time reviewing Amy Harmon’s equally outstanding e-book.

For comprehensive advice on breaking into science-writing through blogs and social media, look no further than Bora Zivkovic’s awesome post.

Yet another new study shows why “living fossil” is a misleading and unhelpful term. My piece for The Scientist.

Brian Switek’s having a Jurassic Park field day. His piece on the most ludicrous scene in the movie (it’s not the one you think), and on how close the real T.rex is to the movie one.

Brain Shape Confirms Controversial Fossil as Oldest Human Ancestor, by Kate Wong.

Nobody should have to die of cholera, but in Haiti, over 8,000 have. Arikia Millikan reports from the outbreak.

This is extraordinary. Guy builds AI that designs and evolves games

I love Natalie Angier’s paean to dragonflies, with gold like “Dragonflies may be bantam, but their appetite is bottomless”

How Metafilter brought a deceased father’s jokes back to life. Wonderful story from Becca Rosen.

A fascinating interview with a friendly jihadist, conducted via Twitter Direct Messages.

Is “the most important benefit of CPR is that it gives bystanders something tangible to do?” asks Christie Aschwanden.

Glad to see good journalists calling MD Anderson Cancer Center’s leadership out on their repeated bullsh*t. Here’s a good link round-up. And a rightly outraged piece on TIME’s “How to Cure Cancer” story, which had a full-page ad for the cancer centre featured in it.

Meet the microbe that can breathe rocket fuel. By David Biello.

Superb tips on how scientists can get politicians to listen to them (obviously, besides writing snarky blog posts).


What’s wrong with the scientific method?

A colour-changing crab

Unborn lizards can erupt from their eggs and start running if vibrations hint at a hungry predator

Nice time-lapse photo series of Mars Curiosity’s abandoned parachute still flapping in the wind

An astronaut falling into a black hole would be burned to a crisp and not crushed.

HA! Some quotes from scientists angry about Big Science, but are they angry about the Human Genome Project or BRAIN?

Oh thank %&$£ for that! Schrewdinger beats out Mancestor as the name of common ancestor with other placental mammals.

A hilarious slide-set on neurobollocks by Chris Atherton.

Tiny microbe found in termite guts. Sorta looks like it has tentacles. Scientists call it Cthulhu

Bring me a shrubbery! Urban vegetation correlates with reduced crime rates.

MIT researchers are building robots with awareness of their own limitations

So, how did Polynesian DNA get in a Brazilian tribe? By John Timmer.

Journalist who threatened to sue anyone who republished her tweets gets 30 days in jail

Computational logic circuits built inside cells!

How to count Komodo dragons

Learn why a creator of BRAIN project finds Obama support “bittersweet”

Scientists track evolution of antibody against HIV in a patient.

Sea Lion Bops to the Beat, Challenging Popular Rhythm Theory

Clever crow. Then it used the nut to make a rudimentary laptop.

Homosexuality in female beetles, and what we can learn from it

A new treatment strategy for neurodegenerative disease: support the support cells.

Heroic beavers as ecosystem engineers save the day

Drone, saving up for a Play Station 4, gets a paper route

On ignorance, explainers, and the failure of the “deficit model”, by Emily Finke.

Do GMOs yield more food? The answer lies in semantics.

Gelada monkeys like to mimic each other’s facial expressions

Cat Fight Brews Over Cat Brain Simulation.

The man who used letters to make explosions more destructive via “the Munroe Effect

Robot Ants Could Make Us More Efficient

Can two wolves, born in captivity, survive accidental release? By Kim Moynihan.

MRC’s centenary poll: greatest medical advance of 100 yrs?

The Duck Penis Controversy

“Another important step will be to train people to have realistic expectations for their robots.”

Toxic green slime – coming to a beach near you?

Sizing up a slow assault on cancer

Radiolab Wants Your Help To Track The Once-Every-17-Year Cicada “Swarmageddon”

A post on vagina and vulva diversity

How geckos still stay sticky underwater.

Studying lizards that live on Caribbean beaches isn’t as fun as it sounds

Ooh, this newly discovered tarantula species is *gorgeous*. Also, face-sized.


John Cleese Almost Explains Our Brains. This is very familiar

Pandora, a gorgeous giant Pacific octopus

What type of scientist are you? The “f” answers are brilliant.

The photographic equivalent to opening a tub of Pringles. Could look at it all day.

Awkward science stock photography. I’m torn between laughing and cauterising my eyes.

Fully clothed female superheroes finally look like they can fight crime in the winter

Polar bear cub wrestles teddy bear

To come up with these social media tips, Jay Rosen had to study in a monastery for decades.

Voyager snapped a mind-bending photo of Jupiter’s Great Red Spot

The lesser of 101 weevils.


This Independent reporter deserves a medal

Longreads is joining forces with The Atlantic.

Brits are more likely to support an overseas drone strike if the person being targeted is a UK citizen. That’s so us.

86 journalists from 46 countries working on one story to screw over rich tax-dodgers!

Company plagiarises a guy, then slap him w/ a cease-and-desist letter for… plagiarising them!

Science & sci-communication is all about the story, but don’t forego all sides of it for the sake of narrative.

Heartbreaking news about Iain Banks.

A great take on Evgeny Morozov’s attack on Tim O’Reilly, by Annalee Newitz at Io9.

The book lover’s dilemma, in a flowchart

The Guardian’s report on the Google doodle flap is hilarious.

TED revokes licence for TEDxOhmygodallthebullsh*t event. I mean, TEDxWestHollywood

“It’s now the smart, hip thing to be a young science journalist” – New Yorker’s Nick Thompson.

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