I’ve got your missing links right here (9 April 2011)

UK readers: exciting new science writing competition opens

Fantastic! Bravo! The Guardian and Wellcome Trust have launched a new science writing prize for young talent. A similar prize (now defunct) organised by Roger Highfield at the Daily Telegraph helped to kickstart my career. All aspiring UK science communicators should enter this. Read Alok Jha’s advice too.

Top  thirteen picks

Douglas Fox tells the story behind the story of his Antarctica features (with pitch letters too). A must-read for journalists and people who like good things.

The Man Who Dreamed He Was A Beetle. Robert Krulwich’s touching obituary for Tom Eisener.

The anti-nuclear movement…has misled the world about the impacts of radiation on human health.” George Monbiot does an about-turn of opinion faced with evidence (or a lack of it) – the essence of good scepticism. In his own blog, he shouts “Citation needed” at the anti-nuclear industry

“The bacterial cause of cholera, rendered effectively untreatable. Think about that for a moment.” Maryn McKenna on NDM-1 in New Delhi water and sewage

What do you do if your pilot gets sucked out the cockpit window? A truly harrowing account.

Superb post by Jeremy Yoder on sorta-carnivorous plants. How can you tell? Try feeding it.

Lord Martin Rees won the million-pound Templeton Prize, causing much consternation. Start with Ian Sample’s palpably awkward interview with Rees (great from the first question) and read critiques by Jerry Coyne and Sean Carroll.

XKCD explains significance. Genius.

Should Fukushima plant be bathed in ‘friendly radiation’, or floated out over the Pacific by air balloons? Guardian readers fix Fukushima.

Virologist transmits insect-borne virus to his wife by having sex with her. Wife “unhappy”. AMAZING story.

50 writing tips for journalists or, for that matter, anyone.

A New York Times piece on the wonderful RadioLab, and how they create their sounds of science

If you find yourself saying things about engaging the public about science, stop, read this by Alice Bell, and then continue


Stem cells make ‘retina in a dish’. The most complicated tissue ever engineered. This is bloody incredible.

Hey, wanna buy some furs? Get TB for free?

Marshmallow vulvas, bacterial jelly: A “dirt banquet” for science, by Zoe Cormier

Chimps + yawns + iPod Touch = science. Jason Goldman on a nice study by Frans de Waal on whether yawning chimps are tired or empathic.

Editorial recommends semen as Valentine’s day gift. Journal retracts *entire issue*, editor resigns.

Crowdsourced taxonomy. Very cool. Scientists use Facebook to identify 5K fish collected in Guyana.

More superb reporting on Fukushima by the Nature News team. Have a look at this Live Q&A, this editorial on the unknown risks of low-dose radiation,

Legendary, sacred, giant turtle captured by Special Forces soldiers from Lake of the Returned Sword. Of course it was.

Jonah Lehrer on the benefits of Tourette’s, self-control, John Updike and Kanye

The hairy-nosed wombat can crush enemies with its reinforced buttocks. This is an animal you save first, not last. Algorithm decides which species are worth saving.

A very interesting post on the idea of community-funded science projects, by Della

WSJ piece on people who can get by on little sleep. This isn’t me. My lack of sleep is a bug not a feature.

Jonah Lehrer on the reason why most tests fail – they look at maximum performance vs typical performance

The Beatles and the Cambrian Explosion – nice set of parallels

Cultural construction of autism influences prevalence rates. Fascinating stuff by Virginia Hughes.

Exposure to flowers had significant effect on women’s perception of mating attractiveness & behaviour”. You don’t say.

David Cameron compares his NHS reforms to homeopathic practice, by Gimpy

“To have a “gay caveman“, you need a skeleton that is both gay and a caveman. This ain’t either!” By John Hawks, with another take by Bone Girl

How to publicise your story about louse phylogeny: ask if dinosaurs had lice.

Ancient people are still awesome: Centuries-old Japanese tsunami warning markers saved lives

Hannah Waters’ attempt to demystify nuclear energy

RNA enzymes that copies RNA, evolved in a lab.

Barbara King ponders communication differences in talking about science for TV news audiences

Animal rights terrorists now targeting threats at students interested in science, by SciCurious and Janet Stemwedel

Scientists show that people *would* shock others for cash, despite their claims. Clearly, they don’t know Daily Mail journalists.

If I objectify you, will it make you feel bad enough to objectify yourself? On shopping, sexiness and hormones, by Kate Clancy

Jennifer Ouellette’s reflections on being a consultant for Hollywood apply to anyone who pushes science into areas where people care more about profit or entertainment.

Sauropods stomping on other dinosaurs. Bad. Ass.

No link between mercury exposure and heart disease/stroke based on study of 172,000 toenail clippings

Scientists at loggerheads over turtle conservation

Monkey see, monkey don’t like your kind round these parts. An evolutionary bias for prejudice?

*This* retraction has detailed results of the (failed) replicated experiments. Nice!

You are 27 times more likely to be killed by a cow than a shark (and they’ll like it too)

3 odd ways of cleaning up nuclear waste – algae, rust, bacteria

Student wants Bob Saget as commencement speaker, gets Craig Venter, complains about it, is idiot.

Did The “Uncanny Valley” Kill Disney’s CGI Company? By John Pavlus


I like big butts and I cannot lie, but is there some evolutionary reason as to why? A Reddit thread

A giant squid eye in a jar. You should click on the link because you want to see a giant squid eye in a jar.

Jaws as reviewed by climate denialists

Sting-X-ray. Purty.

A baby giraffe is born.

Horseradish tree Goldacre.” Heh.

If we ever receive a first contact message it’ll be spam

I can’t tell you how much I currently empathise with this artichoke petal

Nobody understands Emo Pony

Ah, local news. The caption! The comments!

Transparent and stained sea creatures = gorgeous

Noma Bar’s negative space illustrations

“The list of stuff you could buy at the 9,000 end was at least twice as long.” The Daily Mash on the rise in university fees.

Er, what the **** is a placebo bra?

Why copy-editing headlines is important

http://www.badstockart.com/ The terror. The terror.

“I’d call you a c**t but you lack the warmth and depth” – How to be insulted by authors

Eaglecam of Omens, give me sight beyond sight


Revolutionology – a sociology student embedded among Libyan rebels blogs about the uprising.

The Daily Mail once again illustrate the quality of their reporting. First, shadowy government experiments target TV presenters with brain rays. Next, a fine contender for the worst science story of the year, this piece about human-algae hybrids, Harry Potter & gillyweed (the actual story).

Should we shun colleagues who sexually harass?

I loved this sharp analysis of The Social Network

The Independent weren’t paying attention to Pepsigate.

Interesting piece on using online reputation managers to change your digital past

Nice! Do-it-yourself interactive graphics.

A great look at the use of timelines in journalism.

Emily Bell is wonderful. Here, she attributes the Guardian’s online success to being “of the web, not on the web

What makes a great scientific talk?

Google loses autocomplete defamation case in Italy

The “spade hacker”. Incredible. A copper scavenger cuts Armenia’s Internet

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