I’ve Got Your Missing Links Right Here (29 November 2014)

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Top picks

A surprisingly fascinating list of people’s favourite numbers, compiled by Alex Bellos. (Click The Full Results for a spreadsheet)

Important piece on rings of cheating scientists who rig the peer-review system, by Ivan Oransky, Adam Marcus, and Cat Ferguson.

The man who discovered PSA explains why it’s a terrible cancer screening tool, and why scientists behind some recent trials are behaving very badly. Christie Aschwanden also takes on cancer screening at her debut at 538.

“So what looks like anthropomorphism, the universe described in human terms, is really humans following the rules the universe follows.” Ann Finkbeiner on top form.

40 yrs ago, Donald Johanson discovered an incredible fossil called Lucy. Now he reflects on the find

Jay Piatek has collected two-thirds of the oldest piece of Mars on Earth. Fantastic story by Eric Hand.

Can the way hospitals are designed improve the experiences of staff and visitors, and even the recovery of patients? Fascinating piece by Lucy Maddox.

“At one point not so long ago, we were willing to take away a person’s freedom — perhaps the ultimate sign of disrespect — for innocuous behaviors considered “abnormal.” And yet, at the same time, we went to great lengths to remove and preserve and label and, yes, respect these people’s dead brain tissue.” Virginia Hughes on the best brain book she’s ever read.


Bullet-proof armour and hydrogen sieve add to graphene’s promise

Carl Zimmer reveals how museum collections can help us plan for the future

How the sons of undocumented Mexican immigrants, w/ no resources/knowledge, built a ROV & won a national competition

A tiny spider that takes down ants helps save woods from developers.

DNA seals case in porpoise-less killings

Species of deep-sea angler fish caught on film for the first time.

This vulture microbiome study is terrible, as are reports like this. Of many problems, the biggest is that the dominant bacteria in vulture guts, Clostridia and Fusobacteria, are portrayed solely as bad things; they’re actually very diverse and often beneficial.

Coral “seeds” grow 25 times as fast as they would in the wild. Can they save our reefs?

How towering termite mounds breathe.

Annalee Newitz talks about her “backwards meta” brand of web journalism

Google’s latest: A spoon that steadies tremors for people with tremors, Parkinson’s Disease

A recent study about the significance of decadal birthdays turns out to be a lot of dodgy stats.

Being paid kills nearly 100 Swedes a year.”

Interesting piece from Chelsea Wald on whether webcams and other tech obviate the need for zoos

“Once you saw them, it was hard to un-see them.” Nadia Drake, talking about galaxies

The surprisingly interesting science of phantom traffic jams

“The “telepathy” technology remains so crude that it’s unlikely to have any practical impact.”

This probiotic supplement may not be misogynistic, but it’s still pseudoscientific nonsense.



“We feel your nerdly pain. Even if we have no idea what you’re talking about in this case.”

You can only spell out the names of 13 elements if you use just element symbols

This Man Has Agreed To Be Murdered To Ensure A Second Season Of ‘Serial’

An outdoor tree cathedral is being grown in Italy, its roof & walls made of soaring branches



Neil Gaiman: Why Disney’s Sleeping Beauty doesn’t work

Excellent piece on the price of accepting a hostile online environment as the norm

An excellent lay language science writing guide

The US Supreme Court is about to tackle online threats for the first time

Most suicide hotlines “have a specific person each shift whose job it is to listen to persistent masturbators”

Why saying grace can matter, even for atheists.

Everything you need to know about fact-checking and surviving it.

“Twitter can hone your skills as a writer” says Steven Pinker