I’ve got your missing links right here (3 August 2013)

Top picks

In the struggle to save the orange, some farmers are turning to genetic modification. Amy Harmon brings us a thoroughly reported, nuanced and insightful piece into the issues around GM—a refreshing sight in a cloudy area.

Is ethical research possible on orphans w/ disabilities in a politically unstable country? Astonishing Virginia Hughes story.

The 60 foot long jet powered animal you’ve probably never heard of. Amazing video, and I love Megan Garber’s analysis.

Tamsin Edwards argued that climate scientists shouldn’t be advocates for particular policies, and kickstarted a huge debate. I liked Doug McNeall’s contribution, which includes lots of links.

“What seems to be missing is an applied science of science communication.” Spot on, by John Timmer. Note: applied. Biomedical sciences have basic, translational and clinical research. Sci-comm only has 1 and 3.

The Hole in Our Collective Memory: How Copyright Made Mid-Century Books Vanish. By Becca Rosen.

A history of pale blue dots–photos of Earth, taken from space. By Amy Shira Teitel.

“I have become enamoured with reality.” Lovely meditation on autism, parenting & finding science.

“Let no one mourn this extinction.” – Mark Siddall on the loss of the guinea worm

Zoos have a hell of a time getting cheetahs to breed. Clues from cat social lives might explain why. By Jason Goldman.

A large meta-analysis finds strong link between changing climate & conflict at all levels, from assault to civil wars. By me.

Scientists find genetic associations for a number of smells, opening the prospect of personalised recipes for food

The face of brain-eating amoebas will give you nightmares

“When a single genetic mutation first let ancient Europeans drink milk, it set the stage for a continental upheaval.”

Archaeopteryx’s Evolutionary Humiliation Continues. By Carl Zimmer.

Spiders are gorgeous. Here are the most exquisitely weird ones you’ll ever see.


RIP David Dickson, respected science journalist and founder of Scidev.net

Cool story about the ancient DNA rush of the 1990s, as precipitated by Jurassic Park.

Scientist plans on eating a lab-grown burger in front of journalists. Quote from this story: “The spectacle could eclipse the science.” You. Don’t. Say. Does he get to become Khaleesi if he keeps it down?

A 38% drop in AIDS deaths in Africa, 2005-11

Taking a sock off in space is revolting.

Faecal transplants need a facelift.

Amid Sensationalist GMO Swamp, Stellar Journalism Rises.

Newly discovered dwarf lemur has skin flaps that look like green felt gloves. Oh wait…

Alice Bell on being “pro” or “anti-science”.

Nice to see Bob Paine getting more recognition for his life’s work. (Here’s my profile of his dynasty.)

Mike Russell’s thoughts on the origin of life are always worth listening to.

Spiders May Have Personalities, and Some Are Bolder Than Others. Featuring colour-coded spiders.

Naked lady crocus infected by smut fungus.

Sounds horrific; actually beautiful: the gastric rainbow

When young damselfish are exposed to predator smells, they grow bigger fake eyes on their backs!

Ugh. Exciting new duelling dinosaurs headed for auction, not museum.

Seen from above, humans travel almost everywhere on Earth’s surface. Amazing video.

The “lake” at “the North Pole” no longer exists. Why context matters when you talk about climate change.

Forensic science has revealed the grisly details of Inca child sacrifice: sedated for weeks with cocaine and alcohol.

The misunderstood butcher bird just wants to hug you with some thorns

NASA on how they prevent bacterial contamination of other planets.

Two papers come out on the evolution of monogamy, and they contradict each other. Carl Zimmer and Seth Borenstein did good takes.

New potential solution to problem of snakebites in remote areas

Remember that technique that makes brains transparent? Another group published a cheaper, simpler method a little later

The creepy real-life tale of a neuroscientist, cyanide, and a murder most foul.

“We need a 21stC definition of cancer instead of a 19th-century definition”

More wolves –> fewer elk –> more summer berries –> more grizzly bears.

How Ferris Jabr became a master swardsman.

Optogenetics implants “false memories” into mouse neurons.

Scientist whose work was used to prevent ban on pesticides that harm bees joins company that makes them. Uh-huh.

History Mystery! How did a walrus end up in an old London cemetery?

Moms, Are Your Autoantibodies Causing Autism? Good analysis by Emily Willingham.

Personal genomes may help students learn genetics

So, some flies can spread eye diseases.

Parasitic wasp gets a free ride on a damselfly


Breathtaking photos document the construction of the world’s largest self-anchored suspension bridge

A robot that does parkour. Well, a fair amount of face-planting but it’s still pretty cool.

When 408 hot-air balloons took off from the same field at the same time.

Wow, these explosive wall murals are amazing

The dexterity of the osprey

X-rays of spacesuits.

Paper birds? That doesn’t sound that impressivHOLY CRAP.


Congrats to Bug Girl, who’s moving her excellent blog to Wired.

A more informed news media: The need for “knowledge-based reporting”

The journalist who started the petition to put Jane Austen on the £10 note was rewarded with rape & death threats.

I like the idea of the “Triangle of Responsibility” in this chat on sci-comm and physics w/ Sean Carroll

It Now Appears Possible to Hack a (Fancy, Japanese) Toilet

“He periodically ran for president of the world, always unopposed”

Wanna learn how Robin Henig crafted her superb end-of-life care story? Support the Open Notebook’s crowdfunding campaign

An interesting debate on whether science journalism in newspapers is stuck in a ghetto. See my comment.

How to get a job via Twitter

“-bag” insults have to be the silliest in common usage. Here’s a post about their etymology.

Interesting discussion of assigning credit in science writing, following a cock-up of mine. My response in comments

Tips for breaking into science writing by six top science writers, at Open Notebook.

On the etymological origins of the word “dongle“. There are seven leading theories!