I’ve got your missing links right here (9 November 2013)

 Top picks

If you aren’t already aware of the work of Hillary Rosner, you should be. She’s one of the best science journalists around, as evidence by the latest in her hat-trick of major awards this year. It’s for this piece.

Acacia trees trap ants in a life of servitude, by doping them with an enzyme that stops them from digesting sugars—except the ones that the trees provide.

This story of a 10-yr-old who shot his neo-Nazi dad is astonishing, as is Amy Wallace’s storytelling

Incredible piece by a neuroscientist about coming to terms with his Parkinson’s.

Everyone can stop writing about Twitter now because Kathryn Schulz’s piece is witty, insightful, unfeasibly eloquent, and peerless. (Jonathan Franzen especially should stop writing about Twitter.)

A stunning read about Nazi anatomists and their lasting influence on modern science & US politics

Do dolphins really share a special bond with humans? Science helps provide an answer. (Spoiler: the answer is no.) By Justin Gregg.

“When I zoomed in, my mind was blown.” Mine too. This memorial to a fallen plane is just so wonderful.

This is a great story about the new form of water that wasn’t. The punchline is amazing. By Joseph Stromberg.

Where’s the fastest evolving place on Earth? High in the Andes, where daisies grow big as trees. By Carl Zimmer

What is school science for? Who is it for? I love the way Alice Bell takes pretty simple, taken-for-granted concepts and really explores and dissects them.

Blessed are the tool-makers, for they will prise you out of bark and eat you. Annalee Newitz on tool-making animals

Contaminating the city’s water supply: not a supervillain ploy but a thing that just happens now.

Wonderful story about an artist who makes beautiful designer prosthetic limbs

Is it morally acceptable for psychologists to be deployed as weapons of war? Chris Chambers discusses.

Mass killings can haunt elephants for decades. By Virginia Morrell. Unsurprising, but good to have solid evidence.

Linnaeus’s Asian elephant was wrong species. Wonderful piece of historical detective work, featuring Rembrandt! By Ewen Callaway.

To be conscious, you need to be a single, integrated entity with a large repertoire of highly differentiated states.” Interesting read by consciousness researcher, Christof Koch

Our knowledge of polar regions is almost totally based on summer research, which is a problem. Holly Bik on the hipster bacteria that hate the tropics.

Sewing…in SPAAAAAAACE. I love pieces like this one by Christie Aschwanden Helen Fields about the complicated nature of mundane things in extraordinary situations.

Supreme Court argues about what clothes are, featuring “scabbards”, “jousters” and “space people”. By Megan Garber


This is fascinating: Scientists reward authors who report their own errors, says study

A photo of a fly with what look like ants on its wings has gone viral. Morgan Jackson is not convinced.

All models are wrong but some are dapper. A calendar of “climate models

“Don’t think that replications can save psychology; only theory can do that,” argue Andrew Wilson and Sabrina Golonka.

The future of the robotic leg, by Scicurious. We’ve come a huge way, but still have far to go.

Joe Hanson on the past, present and future of the Nobel Prizes

Plastic has become braided into the life of the ocean.” Good overview of our plastic problem.

You’re full of crap. (This is a really nice piece about the chemistry of you.)

Embryonic gene can reset biological age of adult cells, improving healing abilities.

Henry Nicholls, purveyor of panda prose, starts a new Guardian blog called Animal Magic

Notability“, my butt. “A scientist having their own Wikipedia entry means diddly squat.”

The “new ligament” that has just been “discovered” in the human knee, was discovered in 1879. It’s new in the same way that the light bulb is new.

How Monkeys Watch Movies and People Tell Stories—a new study on narratives in humans and monkey.

So the cheese industry (Big Cheese!) has been funding crap studies to debunk the cheese-nightmares connection

“Jones and his co-authors put turtles into a wind tunnel. They chose turtles because they’re popular”

Cool-looking documentary on antibiotic resistance coming out next spring, featuring the inimitable Maryn McKenna.

Elusive Borneo bay cat photographed via camera trap, confirmed to be brown, four-legged, basically a cat.

A piece about the secret language of surgery, by Dr Kneebone.

Precision gene editing paves way for transgenic monkeys

Brian Switek has cornered the fossilised animal sex beat.

A long story about 23andme. The author’s pseudonymous to protect her daughter’s privacy.

What Does Sperm Whale Sonar Sound Like?

A Toronto hospital is building a poo bank.

Lythronax—the “king of gore”—is an awesome dinosaur name. Well done, palaeontologists. Well done.

Meet the little-studied giant forest hog—the king of pigs.

Nutrient recovery reactor turns human excrement into high-quality phosphorus rich fertilizer

Colourful Lizards Reveal the Pros and Cons of Being a Hideous ‘Bearded Lady’

“It belongs in a museum!” Auction block dinosaur stirs controversy at a palaeontology conference.

Blinky the crab has three eyes.

What’s the most common nightmare? The answer is surprising.

Starfish dying in huge numbers from a disease that makes them disintegrate into white goo

A social priming finding with direct replications! Some of them *are* rigorous after all.

Splendid toadfish is splendid

Dismember, dismember, the haunch of a zebra

Deinocheirus mirificus finally gets a body. Also, it’s name means “terrible hands that look peculiar”. Palaeontologists can be jerks sometimes.

Did stabby saber-teeth evolve for Smilodon sexytime?

Antibiotic Overuse on Farms: Is the Opinion Tide Turning?

Leigh Cowart’s love letter to bats. $$ may be required.

What’s cooler than a venomous, duck-billed mammal that lays eggs? A giant one!

China’s Forbidden City Built with Giant Stones Slid on Ice

1/3 of herbal medicines contain no trace of the plant they’re meant to; little more than “powdered rice & weeds”.

Why do metastatic breast cancers start resisting frontline drugs? Some clues from 2 new studies.

Looking nature in the mouth, by Brian Switek

Attenborough on Alfred Russel Wallace: “For me, there is no more admirable character in the history of science. He also unveils a statue of Alfred Russel Wallace & his giant teaspoon

A lovely example of empathy in sci-comm, featuring David Kroll.

In between science cheerleading & onanistic curmudgeonliness, Gary Marcus treads the right middle ground. Recommended.

Apparently, this is an “invisibility cloak” that can make a teddy bear disappear. Guys. It’s a box.

Dead man walking – how muggers size you up from your walk.

The Maybe-Murder of Yasser Arafat. Thorough analysis by Deborah Blum.



10 famous literary insults, updated to reflect Buzzfeed’s “no haters” rule.

Metaphors: doing it wrong. (See the introduction to this paper.)

Pink fairy armadillos. Too cute.

“Do meerkats conduct wrestling matches?” Yes.

Poincare’s “Hairy Ball Theorem“. Stop sniggering.

Drunken French teenagers abduct a circus llama called Serge and take him on a tram ride

Stunning Portraits of Siamese Fighting Fish

This mouse is my hero.

Twitter Bio Generator

Healthy breakfast eater’s life still sh*t.

An epic Twitter debate on the taxonomy of sandwiches

The perils of being a stock-shot model

Bookmarking this Calvin and Hobbes strip for future internet arguments.

New Documentary Reveals SeaWorld Forced Orca Whales To Perform Nude

Stunning photos: The Science Behind Earth’s Many Colors



Advice to young people trying to get into journalism

Blockbusted. A tribute.

Aspiring writers“: read this flowchart, and then this post.

Apparently, Beowulf doesn’t start with an “Oi!”

Hilda Bastian’s 6 tips to protect yourself from data-led error in science writing

Good long-form writing tips from Bobbie Johnson of Matter.

Interesting survey on the economics of freelance science journalism

San Francisco is going to become Gotham City for a day for one kid

A town in Norway is seeing sunlight in the winter for the first time thanks to giant mirrors.

There’s no such thing as a ‘student journalist’

Tim Carmody’s vision of Greenwald, Keller and the future of journalism makes a lot of sense.

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