I’ve Got Your Missing Links Right Here (21 June 2014)

Sign up for The Ed’s Up—a weekly newsletter of my writing plus some of the best stuff from around the Internet.

Top picks

Aatish Bhatia analyses a water-repelling plant in his backyard under an electron microscope to see how it works.

U.S. says 75 government scientists possibly exposed to anthrax. Julie Steenhuysen has the scoop at Reuters. A powerful reminder that lab accidents do happen, which paints the ongoing debate about gain-of-function flu experiments in an interesting light.

Amazing story; beautifully written. Calling Back a Zombie Ship From the Graveyard of Space. By Kenneth Chang.

How does a chicken tell time. By Ferris Jabr.

The passenger pigeon genome the complicated reasons behind the downfall of the most populous bird in North America. By Carl Zimmer.

Italian psychologist who wrote “manual on persuasion” is now peddling dangerous stem cell treatments. By Arielle Duhaime-Ross

A tree hitched 18,000km from Hawaii to an island near Madagascar. Great story from Emma Marris.

Which scientists make heaviest use of PNAS’ “Contributed” backdoor route? Peter Aldhous investigates

Where do new ideas come from? From old ones. By Virginia Hughes

Annalee Newitz on 10 scientific ideas that scientists wish you would stop misusing


Pit of bones hints at piecemeal evolution of the Neanderthal face

You can lose fat by reducing your number of fat cells or shrinking them, and that difference matters.

“We have a propensity towards seeking the most common carcinogen in the world.”

Oldest case of schistosomiasis found in 6200-y.o. skeleton

Dietary advice since the 1970s has steered us away from saturated fat. What if that was wrong?

Have you ever driven a car with you mind? This guy has.

Sexiness driving speciation: Hooded crows & carrion crows look very different, but their genomes are 99.7% identical.

“How did a chimp virus become one of the most common sexually-transmitted diseases in humans today?”

Sad account of what it’s like to be a student in a psychology lab that openly pushes for terrible practices

Earth’s most abundant mineral finally gets a name

“Highlights: Red-footed tortoises were successfully trained to use a touchscreen.”

Spiders eat fish on every continent except Antarctica

Fascinating study mines centuries of Old Bailey records to show our growing intolerance for violence

Tidally locked planets! A beautiful metaphor for you and your loved ones, from Ann Finkbeiner.

3 bacteria seem responsible for ‘white band disease’ that has kills the Caribbean’s reef-building corals.

Dali masterpieces were inspired by Scientific American

Critics question ethics of an HIV trial allowing pregnant women to receive treatment that falls below the standard in their country.

SeaWorld’s research record is “pathetic”, grossly exaggerating what they claim to have learned about orcas

Why building bigger roads actually just makes traffic worse

WildLeaks, the WikiLeaks of poaching, has received more than twenty tips so far

Personalization purports to be uniquely meaningful, yet it alienates us in its mass application”

Five neuroscience patients who changed the way we think about the brain.

Obokata had trained at Harvard—so Wakayama says he didn’t think he needed to ask to see her notebooks or raw data”

Bachelor party stumbles on Mastodon skull.

How horned frogs’ tongues cling to giant prey

Before Hitler, whom did people use as the embodiment of evil?

Synthetic biology isn’t making genes “from scratch”, so can the hype


Trampolines, slides, and nets mounted 20-180 ft above the bottom of an abandoned mine in Wales.

A black bear wanders onto the NIH campus and, of course, a parody twitter account is born

Last son to Krypton

Bald eagle euthanised in Freedom. God bless America.

“All water in the ocean has at some point been part of a dinosaur.”

Man tries to slap opossum, learns what a porcupine is

Oratorical Type, An Alphabet Made out of Carved Books


Mike Daisey and a Redemption of Chances

A lot of social science reporting is spectacularly bad, says reporter + social scientist Jane Hu.

Free speech is a bad excuse for online creeps to threaten rape and murder. By Jessica Valenti

What happens when Stephen King publishes a novel with the same title you used for yours? This.

I talk to Open Notebook about how to interview difficult people

This is a really good analysis of why big-name newspapers are screwing up online.