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

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Top picks

Mao Tse-Tung’s Four Pests campaign: a public health win but an ecological & economic disaster. By Rebecca Kreston.

Why the Plan to Dig a Canal Across Nicaragua Could Be a Very Bad Idea. Deep take by Greg Miller.

The horseshoe crab’s blue blood has saved our lives again and again. By Alexis Madrigal.

The Terminator score has a 13/16 time signature–a Slate investigation.

Augmented reality helps amputee enjoy a good night’s sleep without phantom pain – for the first time in 48yrs

The Society of Mutual Autopsy–a hilariously named 19th century club, motivated by snobbery and science. By Vaughan Bell.

Jon Mooallem journeys to the centre of the world. In California.

“It’s as if the authors drank brain soup before writing.” Christian Jarrett ably dismantles that Atlantic piece on neuroscience and negotiations with Iran.

How a rebel psychologist challenged one of the 20thC’s biggest & most dangerous ideas. Will Storr on typically fine form for Matter.

Blind people have more nightmares than those who can see. Fascinating post by Virginia Hughes.

Malcolm Campbell on how naming his son Connor in France is like naming genes after video games

Wonderful piece on the grandeur of descent by Tom Chivers: a tribute to his son, Billy, who is 4 billion years old

A tiny crystal from 4.4 billion years ago found in Australia is ‘oldest scrap of Earth crust’

Reductionism! Determinism! Straw-man-ism! Great piece form Kevin Mitchell about the ridiculous straw men that people use when discussing studies on the genetics of behaviour.

The jewel wasp uses its sting to feel (and taste?) its way to the brain of a cockroach. More parasitic glory from Carl Zimmer.

The empirical case against solitary confinement. Wonderful Aeon piece by Shruti Ravindran.

Who infected whom? A method for deducing microbial relationships is edging its way into the courtroom. Good piece by Shaoni Bhattacharya

Two plants seem to lack a chloroplast genome: a simple alga & a giant parasitic flower that smells like rotting flesh. By me.



Neanderthals cleared of driving mammoth and woolly rhino stampedes over Jersey cliff edges

“It’s basically a dolphin trying very hard to be a walrus

Clumps of 3,600-year-old cheese found with Chinese mummies. It’s still good, right?

Two ant invaders fight it out using chemical warfare

A ship sinks, an ecosystem is born.

What it’s like to be at the bottom of the sea, in the worlds of recently departed explorer Peter Rona

Nice piece on the indoor microbiome–the microbes in the buildings that we live and work in

Seals have amphibious ears that can hear well on land AND in water

68 million tons of crashing rock and debris can be surprisingly hard to find.

Terrifying giant birds actually crushed seeds rather than horses.

African Bullfrog eats 17 young spitting cobras

Rafting fire ants use their babies as life preservers

Glowing microbes are enticing fish to munch on plastic & garbage

Nutt’s attempt to make an alcohol substitute seems amusingly blind to the reasons why people drink.

The sad tale of Giant Isopod No 1 and his inexplicable hunger strike.

“Among the unlabeled specimens was an old stuffed tortoise w/ “James” inscribed into the shell.” It was Darwin’s.

“Moving on to freezer-related matters; specifically, a bunch of frozen crocodile spines

Crisis in Madagascar: 90 Percent of Lemur Species Are Threatened with Extinction

NASA finds 715 new planets. They’re just showing off now.

Interesting new book from Nathalia Holt about how the two Berlin patients shaped the course of HIV research

Congrats to everyone who made the Wellcome Trust book prize shortlist. Note also the even gender split. It IS possible, Royal Society!

Lisa-Anne Gershwin is the queen of jellyfish. Bec Crew interviews her and it’s great.

Suns & beaches don’t sound like the stuff of nightmares but the patient said these dreams were unspeakably horrible”

GMOs, Silver Bullets and the Trap of Reductionist Thinking

More problems with oxytocins research. Are we even measuring oxytocin when we “measure oxytocin?”

The 5 creepiest ways plant diseases mutate flowers

Are conceptual replications part of the solution to the crisis currently facing psychological science?

Indonesia has established the world’s largest sanctuary for manta rays. Gorgeous photos

Asteroid crashes into moon, creates “the largest, brightest impact we have ever observed” on its surface

Publishers withdraw 120 computer-generated gibberish papers.

Great interview with the amazing photographer Paul Nicklen

Flight of the horsetail spores—Jennifer Frazer on the surprising movements of plants

“[They found] four unhatched eggs encircled by 70 dead lemmings.”

Fear suppressing neurons found

Can we solve the regulatory impasse over faecal transplants if we view the “transplant” as a tissue, not a drug?

The Mini-Museum: A Desktop Box with Dinosaur Pieces, Apollo 11 Spacecraft, the Moon, and More



An ode to the unfortunate female bedbug, and her… traumatic experiences.

The Onion on our continuing inability to solve the hardest problem in science.

Absurdly realistic oil paintings of crystals.

Whale-watching tourist gets tail-slapped on the head by a whale. DUUUUDE.

“I am the mayor Calgary needs, not the mayor that Calgary deserves.”

XKCD on timezones I could kiss Randall on behalf of journalists everywhere.

Watch as snowflakes grow under a microscope.


Deliberate ghost ships of the future

Girls robotics team mistaken for the cheerleaders. Powerful op/ed.

Science journalist Miles O’Brien writes about losing most of his arm through the most banal of accidents.

This Toy Story theory is probably not true but I want it to be

A great primer on data journalism, for The Open Notebook.

In defence of listicles, by Emily Bell.

What’s the most common rhyme in pop music history?