I’ve Got Your Missing Links Right Here (25 January 2014)

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Top picks

11,000yrs ago, a dog gave rise to an immortal, free-living contagious cancer. It mutated like crazy, then slowed down. By me.

This is a truly wonderful post on the 5 best puncutation marks in literature, from a colon in A Christmas Carol to a pair of parentheses in Lolita. Kathryn Schulz always delights.

Becky Cliffe takes a look at that sloth/moth paper that I covered, and finds it wanting

What’s healthier: living in the country, or in a city? Neither. Great piece by Annalee Newitz.

Drug tweaks the way DNA is packaged to erase fear memories in mice. Virginia Hughes on some very cool research.

Carl Zimmer gives you a *gorgeous* tour of the cutting edge of neuroscience, and new technologies for mapping, visualising & connecting with the brain

Female journalists aren’t just getting misogynistic heckling from anonymous trolls, but activist organisations too. Important piece by Amy Wallace.

Psychology is changing fast. Here are 5 of the biggest changes in the field’s practices. By Chris Chambers



Everything you ever wanted to know about faeces, via Wikipedia

Athene Donald on the cost of speaking out against sexual harrassment.

Most robotic hands look like… well, hands. This one is a beanbag.

The deadly “Spanish” flu of 1918 originated in China.

“How did Fukushima fallout influence local Japanese marine life? Answer: Not too much.”

One of my favourite blogs, Inkfish, has moved to Discover. Congrats, Elizabeth Preston!

Do plants get cancer? Spoiler: yes, but they don’t care.

10 yrs into its Mars mission, Opportunity finds signs of water from 4 billion years ago.

This Frog Just Wants Love. Instead He Gets The Kiss of Death From A Bat

In fruit flies, bands of brothers make for healthier females.

Plant-killing fungi boost rainforest diversity by keeping dominant species in check.

Parasitic, incestuous, itchy mites that hatch adult offspring.

The dirty secret behind ball lightning is dirt

“I came into work this morning and the phones were ringing,” Because supernova.

Tasmanian devils are getting more disease-free refuges from their contagious cancer.

“[Black widows] metered venom quantity, delivering 1.8fold more venom per bite when pinched on the body versus a leg”

Humans: great at detecting the smell of fat

New river dolphin species IDed in Brazil; formed when cut off from the Amazon. 1st of its kind in a century.

Baby moray eels are absolutely terrifying.

I agree with Cassandra Willyard: stop giving frauds airtime.

Good Nature editorial on fraudster Woo Suk Hwang’s attemtps to regain respectability. Much more work to do.

How Assad, enabled by the United Nations, could be creating a polio epidemic in Syria and beyond.

Another virus involved in bee deaths? Note paragraph 6 basically contradicts headline

Sensible critique of the Markrams’ “intense world” theory of autism, by Uta Frith

The enduring mysteries of the X chromosome

Intensive care is… well, intense. 1/2 patients have psych disorders afterwards

Frankenspider! Why does this spider make fake spiders?

Matthew Cobb takes a critical look at a recent story about ant/bee/wasp queen pheromones

Meet Phronima – the parasite that inspired the Alien movies.

Before you try to become smarter by electrifying your brain, read this

Tail whips, face bites, locked horns and headbutts. Brian Switek on fighty dinosaurs

Meet Zarafa, the giraffe that inspired a crazy hairdo

The men who starved in WW2 to help the starving survive

No, Jane Austen Was Not a Game Theorist. Using science to explain art is a good way to butcher both.

The same molecule is involved in aggression in flies and mammals.

The British amateur who debunked the mathematics of happiness.

Now *Lewis Wolpert* gets busted for plagiarism. Now that’s a… development.

What if “natural” foods came with a list of ingredients?

The fascinating origins of 10 colour names

Maria Konnikova on the science of praise


Incredible pictures of three tawny eagles in a battle for a snake

Footage of owlfish vs. black-eyed squid, w/ grisly narration.

Onion: Do you have synaesthesia?

This piece on London’s Tube lines is exactly right.

“A Brazilian woman was hospitalised on Wednesday after a porcupine fell onto her head”

How much space would all the world’s viruses take up if you collected them together?

Dennis Hlynsky uses visual effects to trace the motion of animals

UKIP councillor blames recent storms and floods on gay marriage. In response


Loving @KickAssLedes. Pure writer porn.

Do What You Love is a secret handshake of the privileged”

The Wellcome Trust is opening up their pic library, with over 100k images licenced free under CC-BY

Oxfam: The richest 85 people in the world have as much money as the poorest 3.5 billion

This 16th century book can be read in 6 different ways

New plugin kills viral headlines. Swaps “Will Blow Your Mind” for “Might Perhaps Mildly Entertain You For a Moment”.

Clive Thompson on the similarities between cinema and long-form writing

Hilarious! Princeton study predicts Facebook will shed 80% of users by 2017. Facebook responds

Utterly depressing piece on building a huge media brand by shafting photographers. Again.

A story about a golf putter morphed into one that outed the identity of a transsexual woman. The ethics of the story have been heavily debated.  Josh Levin at Slate has probably the best reaction, Paige Williams summarises the rest, Jezebel goes over the ethical problems, and Gawker has a go at the reporting.

Bloggers are journalists, according to the US courts.

“People’s intuitions about longform were wrong.” They love reading longreads on phones.

“The death of expertise is a rejection not only of knowledge, but of the ways in which we gain knowledge”

On the childish outing of pseudonymous blogger Dr Isis by Nature editor Henry Gee, try this by Michael Eisen, Isis’ response and David Westcott’s analysis.

No, Beijing isn’t screening a fake sunrise because its smog is so bad.