I’ve got your missing links (24 August 2013)

Top picks

“If you’ve never witnessed a whale necropsy, here’s how it works.” Superb, vivid account of a fin whale dissection, by Nadia Drake.

Is there danger lurking in your lipstick? The first of Deborah Blum’s new Poison Pen column at the New York Times.

A virus fragment from a Saudi Arabian tomb bat is a perfect match for MERS. Helen Branswell explains what that means

H7N9 flu moved from wild ducks to domestic ducks to chickens to us, swapping genes along the way. And its relatives lie in wait.

16 Things BuzzFeed Doesn’t Know About The Ocean. A great response from Christie Wilcox to Buzzfeed at its worst.

Dolphins: largely unexceptional. Jessa Gamble on Justin Gregg’s new book

The Onion at its best. Study: People Far Away From You Not Actually Smaller

Fascinating Aeon essay on technology, psychosis, and how a culture of hyper-reality made paranoid delusions true

Zach Weiner, you totally got me with this cartoon, you magnificent bastard.

I love Elizabeth Preston’s writing at Inkfish. Case in point: Multitaskers Make the Best Lovers, Say Tree Frogs

This is one of the best (and certainly the funniest) takes on the most recent recurrence of the “is psychology a science?” debate, by Vaughan Bell.

Parenting tips you can use: Burying beetles eat any young that pester them too much for food.

A beautiful piece on the NSA and security states, by Tim Maly.

Tahitian gender-bending bug avoids stabbing sex. Needless to say, I’d have covered this if I wasn’t travelling.

Remember that cute photo of a frog and umbrella? It, and many like it, are cruel, posed & unethical

Japanese scientists created eggs & sperm in the lab. Now, they have to work out how to use them safely and ethically. By David Cyranoski.


Dung beetles cut methane emissions from cow poo

When weedy rice takes up a GM rice trait, it does better. But see this skeptical take

Are some animals evolving bigger brains as they adapt to a human-dominated world?

Birds are blogging now.

A good piece on the limitations of optogenetics

10 hottest fields of scientific research, as determined by some secret sauce algorithm.

Horny, sexy sheep die earlier

Meet the woman who’s making cheaper versions of expensive lab kit.

Schadenfreude aphid

Male Humpback Whales Attract Mates by Singing in Chorus

Nicotine exposure in the womb gives baby rats addictive personalities

Scientifically accurate Finding Nemo is like an hermaphrodite Oedipus

Half of 2011 papers now free to read

A guide to the ravenous hellbeast that is the carnivorous caterpillar

Move Over, Mexican Jumping Beans – There’s a New Jumping Caterpillar in Town

Fairy circle mystery solved – again

Here’s how the rest of the world says “when pigs fly

Consciousness is a Process, by Virginia Hughes

A profile of Emily Graslie, the awesome host of the Brain Scoop YouTube channel

Nicky Clayton’s TEDx talk on thinking without language, with tango, magic, and birds!

That coffee-kills paper looks like yet another exercise in torturing a result from ambigious epidemiological data

On history of science in the BBC’s science programming. Definitely read the comments

A primer on reading phylogenetic trees

Fish farms –> groundwater extraction –> sinking land –> ridiculously fast sea-level rise

The kea is called clown of the mountains, if by “clown” you mean a Stephen King knife-wielding psycho”

The psychology of bad driving

How Much Of Every Element There Is On Earth

Two More Failures to Replicate High-Performance-Goal Priming Effects.

Weird antennae: the ant-mugging fly and the phantom midge larva

NASA engineer” does not mean “not a kook.” Delightful debunkery of secret science from Matthew Francis.

Luminous Escargot Display. Timelapse Video of Hundreds of Snails Tagged with LEDs at Night

Can Worms Create Their Own Imaginary Oceans? Can Oysters?

Why the number 2.9013 will go down in the history of bad science

Horseshoe crabs may have saved your life

The smallest known genome, and they just keep on shrinking.

Bumblebrag: What the flapping of bumblebee wings looks like…. at 5,000 frames per second

“I Am Chelsea Manning”: Why Gender Isn’t So Easy to Identify

Don’t believe the hype about those dueling dinosaurs that are going up for auction.

Here’s why mosquitoes can’t transmit HIV

“Are Forensic Experts Biased by the Side That Retained Them?” That’ll be a yes.


Watch This Sinkhole Swallow a Chunk of Louisiana Bayou Whole

XKCD on “increased risk

Beautiful photos of frog eyes.

The Onion’s tribute to Elmore Leonard is the best thing they’ve done for ages

Amazing 3D imaging of live social insect colonies

A Planet of People Waving at Outer Space

All Of Your Memories Implanted In You 5 Minutes Ago When Universe Was Created

A GIF of the noble, majestic moose

New museum exhibit lets you listen to a tree’s heartbeat

Look what you’ve done. Even this fly thinks you’ve screwed up.

This XKCD goes out to all the history-of-science fans.

Do nothing for 2 minutes.

Wikipedia’s “featured articles” as a printed book

What would it be like to eat a teaspoonful of star? “Everything about it would be bad.”

If only exoplanet names were actually like these

20 Seconds of Tetris Madness – the greatest achievement in the history of computer gaming?

The equation for the perfect bulls**t equation


A far bigger issue than embargoes: Scientists like the gag order of the Ingelfinger Rule

A Reddit threat: What is a “dirty little (or big) secret” about an industry that you have worked in, that people outside the industry really ought to know?

Ever wondered if your article is the seed of a book? Helen Fields gets the lowdown for Open Notebook

The story I cannot edit“: Lisa Adams prepares her kids for life without their mum

Unremarkable men walk 40 miles for no particular reason

OED: “We literally cannot see what all of the fuss is about.”

David Miranda, schedule 7 and the danger that all reporters now face – must-read from Alan Rusbridger at the Guardian.

Britain exists, and the NYT is ON IT

A glorious riposte to grammar prescriptivists.

Awesome term: “competence porn

China has a shortage of organs for transplants because it’s executing fewer prisoners. O_O

Which way is the BBC biased? Some actual research