I’ve Got Your Missing Links Right Here (01 February 2014)

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Top picks

I’ll be giving a TED talk at TED2014 on mind-controlling parasites. I’ve been critical of some of TED’s science talks in the past, but the sci portion of this year’s line-up is particularly solid. This should be fun.

Skunkbear–NPR’s new science Tumblr–is wonderful. Fun, fascinating, and proper crediting!

Flying snakes flatten themselves into a ribbon to glide. Amazingly, they go 4.2 metres forward for every metre dropped. Wingsuits and flying squirrels only manage 2.

We know there’s Neanderthal DNA in the genome of non-Africans. But which genes are affected? 2 new studies weigh in, and I cover it for Nat Geo News.

New study shows how antioxidants speed up the growth of lung cancers. My new piece for The Scientist

Synthetic biology firms shift focus to making food additives and fragrances. Cool story by Erika Check Hayden.

Wow. Children born blind can learn to see as teenagers.

The brain of HM, the most famous neurosci patient, has been sliced, diced & uploaded to the cloud. By Virginia Hughes.

Huge congrats to the talented Jennifer Ouellette, whose new book on the science of self–Me, Myself and Why–is out now. It’s funny, intelligent, and fascinating.

Online game plugs citizen scientists into real biochem lab. See also Brendan Koerner’s wonderful piece on EteRNA

Good piece by Jonathan Eisen on the microbiology of the built environment and studying, not killing, the microbes around us.

Found Mike—a beautiful story about mental health and simple acts of kindness.

The drugs we give our pets are often based on the shoddiest of evidence. Peter Aldhous investigates and is displeased

Evolution seems less like a march towards complexity and more like a meandering stroll.” Excellent piece by Amy Maxmen.

This leech can survive being dunked in liquid nitrogen. By Douglas Main.

An Indonesia volcano is spewing out electric-blue flames. Pics by Olivier Grunewald.

Rather than fearing bacteria, we’re trying to understand how they contribute to our built environment. By Jonathan Eisen.



Try not to have a heart attack on the weekend.

People don’t “snap”, and seven other myths of mass murder.

Shirley, a patient who sits on Cancer Research UK’s clinical trials committee, talks about why she got involved

Concentration camp records suggest Nazi scientists planned to release malaria-carrying mosquitoes from airplanes

Man pleads guilty to smuggling 40,000 piranhas into NYC. Also: look how pathetic the street value of a piranha is!

How the brain responds to the tiniest fragments of speech; ignore the mind-reading hed,

First monkeys with customized mutations born; CRISPR gene-editing tech is maturing quickly.

The Evolution of the Metre

From a dead mouse to trillions of microbes.

Mysterious undersea crop circles are the work of poisonous gases and dying grass.

NASA basically made a Transformer that transforms from a rocket into a telescope

Beelzebufo–a prehistoric frog that was basically a giant hopping mouth

Science and journalism make the complex simple; in clumsy hands, simplistic. Nathan Comfort on genetic determinism.

It’s like Blackfish never happened.

DNA from a plague victim’s 1,500-yr-old tooth sheds light on the Plague of Justinian.

Tiny unicellular algae turned into beautiful, miniature works on art

Notl lotl axolotls.

Here’s an interesting piece on procrastination that you should read later.

The whistleblower who helped to expose cloning fraudster Woo Suk Hwang breaks his silence

“They created 2 strains of a hypothetical parasite…” Why ‘Sexual Mind Control’ Is Rare in Nature.

Our Fastest Cameras Are Now 10 Billion Trillion Times Faster Than the First Cameras

An even easier way of making stem cells: just squeeze them or pop them in acid.

The real Dilophosaurus had no frill or venom like Jurassic Park’s version, but looked nastier

X-ray videos of moles swimming through couscous.

Without seminal fluid, male mice can still father offspring but they’re less fertile and their kids are fatter.

“Housed in this single appliance is the most comprehensive &hard-won collection of frog skin secretions in the world”

We Discovered Too Late That Tortoises Are Expert Landscapers

Use of ‘fish aggregating devices’ could be unsustainable

Lumpsucker fish: lumpy, sticky, adorable.

Postpublication “Cyberbullying” and the Professional Self

Creation of the world’s first Peanut Butter and Jellyfish

On cold showers, loneliness, and more problems with John Bargh’s data. See also this.

Dorothy Bishop on what educational neuroscience actually is.

What it’s like to be the only female volcanologist to work in North Korea


Badass deer gets shot in the neck and kicks the stuffing out of the hunter

Life finds an eBay: Buy Jurassic Park Velociraptor cage, get free raptor

Videos from the hilarious Bad Ad-Hoc Hypotheses Festival are online!

CONVINCING FACTS! about vaccines. (The deficit model, not working since at least 1923)

6-Day Visit To Rural African Village Completely Changes Woman’s Facebook Profile Picture

Artist photographs himself slain by movie posters in subway to highlight depiction of violence.

If Newspaper Headlines Were Scientifically Accurate

Weather geeks have it tough.

Man vanquishes shark, stitches up leg, hits pub

Eureka is not a word that scientists say. Here’s what they really say.

XKCD: Is there any way to fire a gun so that the bullet flies through the air and can then be safely caught by hand?

XKCD on Alice and Bob

Doves of peace released by Pope is set upon by a gull and a crow.

Wonderful. National flags made from national foods. Never has patriotism been so delectable.

The Deep Dark Fears Tumblr: sweet, terrifying



Woman with muscular dystrophy applies for fashion model as joke gets job

Fraudster paid UK government to help promote fake bomb detectors

Deborah Blum talks about her book on poisons, film adaptation, and how she organises her research

The botmaker behind some of the web’s silliest stuff

Carl Zimmer on writing: Don’t build ships in a bottle.

Utterly terrifying aerial shots of razed Syrian neighbourhoods. They look like ashtrays.

How I lost my $50,000 Twitter username – an interesting tale of web security

Shouting “Stay With Me!” at dying people doesn’t work. Alas, Hollywood. (“Cancel the apocalypse!” would probably work.)