Top thirteen picks
“It may seem nonsense to think of the (probably sceptical) intelligence with which you interpret these words as something on a par with plate tectonics or photosynthesis. But dam by dam, mine by mine, farm by farm and city by city it is remaking the Earth before your eyes.” A beautiful piece of writing on the impact of humans on the planet, probably by Ollie Morton.
A beautiful piece about two twins, joined at the head, who might share a mind. By Susan Dominus
An awesome idea from David Dobbs – The Best American and British Rejected Magazine Stories. His response to Robert Krulwich’s amazing speech, and what veteran journalists can get out of the new ecosystem.
How Not to Be an Asshole: A Guide For Men by Chris Clarke. An excellent, must-read post.
“The virus releases an enzyme that literally makes the animal dissolve.” Carl Zimmer on zombie viruses & biotech
Matt Wedel talks about the world’s longest cells in the nervous systems of sauropods. A great example of blogging your own research.
Why life is like Lego, and why it matters for the search for aliens, by Lucas Brouwers
Yes, there’s still a global extinction crisis, despite what a recent Nature paper (and the subsequent coverage) might suggest. Meanwhile, in the NYT, one of the peer reviewers of the disputed paper identifies himself
A very cool post on sleep habits around the world, by Jessa Gamble.
“For one individual, this breakthrough was… more than 27 years old.” Curing paralysis – again. An amazing story by R. Douglas Fields.
Addictive, hilarious, illuminating blog from @Rachelvspublic, a woman who works a debt collection line for a mortgage lender
In the war against spam, scientists buy lots and lots of Viagra.
How ads implant false memories. A fascinating and worrying piece by Jonah Lehrer.
“Perhaps after 34 years it’s time for us to confess that we invented cello scrotum.” On pigeons, guitar nipples, migraines, Picasso and an idea retraction. Too Hard for Science? E. O. Wilson–A Vertical Map of Life on Earth
I’d always wondered… Rose Eveleth looks at why people sometimes think their mobile phones are ringing when they’re not.
Ben Goldacre on the ‘angst-inducing context that surrounds every piece of academic research you read’
I missed this detail but the “data” in the infamous Kanazawa post on black women was based on n=3. Meanwhile, Khadijah Britton looks at his claims (with a wonderful lede), and Scott Kaufman dismantles Kanazawa with data.
Pilot whales: social creatures in dangerous straits
Among 369 systematic reviews of traditional Chinese medicine, not a single one disclosed funding info, 29% had statistical errors, and 46% were published in journals with an impact factor of zero.
How To Set Someone On Fire – the Neuroskeptic looks at whether you can set fire to petrol by dropping a match on it.
“A mouth that looked like a camera-shutter-of-doom.” Brian Switek on anomalocariids, which got bigger and lived later than anyone thought.
Electrons are near-perfect spheres. “If an electron was size of solar system, it’d be out from perfectly round by less than the width of a human hair.” And terrifying…
Even tiny bits of exercise are associated with increased fitness. Like furious typing, right?
Erika Check Hayden reflects on the unpleasant taste of hype by reflecting on two very different Science papers – arseniclife and the RNA/DNA differences one.
The genetics of IQ and the politics of IQ testing, by Stephanie Zvan.
The brain: like a Twitter network but “more clustered, less efficient”. Cool live hashtagging experiment
Scicurious retracts her post on mobile phones and dying bees. If only everyone could admit their mistakes with this level of grace.
Nature cares not for cute – Giant water bug photographed devouring baby turtle
Same genes may be involved in domestication of dogs & pigs – and bonobos! (Paywall)
“You immediately grasp that something is fishy with this fish.” Brandon Keim interviews Hans Fricke about coelocanths
“BOOM chicka wow wow.” Alligators flirt by way of infrasonic booms.
Obama recognises that nerds are the future, tells UK govt.
Anti-abortion group drafted in as sexual health adviser to government. Oh dear.
Tracking whale sharks with astronomical algorithms, by Brandon Keim
On artists, liars and “Chronic confabulation” by Ian Leslie, whose new book about liars has just come out
New Bacteria Lives on Caffeine
Good idea, important cause: WordsMatter praises good media reporting on mental health issues & challenge the bad.
Smallpox will get to survive for a few more years at least
‘Lingodroid’ robots evolve own language to plot in secret, I mean, speak to each other
New Lancet study on sex-selective abortion in India shows that it’s highest among richest, most educated families
Lioness steals camera; makes her own film
“[We’ve] missed a huge fraction of the [fungi] kingdom (perhaps even approaching half).” Wait, HALF? By Jennifer Frazer, on a study that I highlighted last week.
Journey to the Centre of the Earth – too hard for science? by @cqchoi http://is.gd/tIB0Z3
Major initiative launches to develop apps to help autistic people communicate
Publication bias: male PIs are more likely to bury unwelcome study results than female PIs
Textbooks being rewritten. New Scientist on when scientists get it wrong.
Optogenetics – the science of controlling brains with light – explained in a video
A Toronto couple is keeping their baby’s sex a secret so the child won’t be constrained by gender roles
Ancient DNA retrieved from hairs in fossil sloth poop
A 135-year old scab creates a smallpox scare at a museum.
Pope talks to sky. Sky finally talks back.
Should we just let athletes use performance-enhancers? Why we’re dopes about doping
World’s best Tetris player. No really. You can’t imagine how good he is.
“Literally Unbelievable” – How Facebookers interpret Onion articles
Gorgeous satellite view of erupting Grimsvotn
Just wonderful. There is nothing left to learn. List of problems solved by MacGyver
From now on, when commenters point out typos without saying anything else, I’ll simply reply with this
How bloggers can enhance the brands of established media institutions
“Deadly New Virus Found To Be ‘Real Squiggly’”
These are not normal… Plush statistical distribution pillows!
Stanford scientists announce that evolution will occur on Thursday; human arms to become 4-6 inches shorter
Amazing high-speed video of bumbling and stumbling parasitic wasps.
Correlation win! Suicide rates associated with proportion of low notes in country’s national anthem
Please come into journalism and take over
Chris Mims on how the rise of Apple is just like the rise of mammals
A good interview about science journalism, and the problems of having to hype stories, not to the public, but to editors.
Interesting debate, told by Storify – is education what journalists do?
“Being an expert in social media is like being an expert at taking the bread out of the fridge”
Unpaid intern wins £1025 from publisher for 5 wks work after taking case to tribunal
From site analytics to discovering an unreported homicide in one hour, via Twitter and Facebook.
Scientific Communication all-you-can-eat Linkfest
Behold Encyclo: @NiemanLab’s encyclopedia of the future of news. Great idea, well-executed
In an iPad vs paper match, iPad users finished articles quicker & retained more info when reading on paper
Slate versus the em-dash. Should writers use them sparingly?
“You have to love it.” For Some, Blogs Also Pay the Bills
Author finds Chinese edition of her novel has photo of stranger