I’ve Got Your Missing Links Right Here (13 December 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

Nine things I wish people understood about anxiety. Highly recommended, by Kady Morrison.

TIME have gone and ruined a years-long run of mocking by choosing a really good Person(s) of the Year: the Ebola fighters.

10 controversies in climate change that are more interesting than, “Is it happening?” Compiled by Alice Bell

“After hibernating for much of the past 7yrs, the New Horizons spacecraft awoke today on Pluto’s doorstep.” By Nadia Drake.

“A distinguishing feature of Ethiopia is that both religion and science are bred in its bone.” Great piece by Amy Maxmen

“No one, not even the dozen or so groups who intensively study [stem cell] reprogramming, knows how it happens.” Great state-of-the-union feature by David Cyranoski

“Drunk driving, then you wake up.” Maria Konnikova on the science of misheard lyrics.

Do we protect nature for nature’s sake, or for our own? Michelle Nijhuis on bridging the conservation divide

An interesting call for microbiologists to ditch the term “pathogen“. Solid case here.

There is a bird called the cinereous mourner, and its larvae look like caterpillars. Carl Zimmer discusses.

A new study shows that most exaggeration in science/health news comes from scientists and press releases. Ben Goldacre writes about how to fix the problem. And Mark Henderson and Virginia Hughes have the best reactions—both own their responsibilities as PIO and journalist respectively. (My own brief reaction.)

“There’s a subversive wind in the Tree of Life, whipping DNA this way & that, between species, across kingdoms,” says Ferris Jabr, the amazing process of horizontal gene transfer.

Parasitic Trypanosomes Contain Nature’s Only Chain Mail DNA. Fascinating by Jennifer Frazer



This is basically about using fossil penguins as themometers.

What makes a pufferfish stay puffed?

To avoid multiple threats, leopards have to be crafty cats

After 14 years & $1.2 billion, the NIH just cancelled a massive study of kids’ health

The birth of a dinosaur footprint

Randomised trial: Gay political canvassers can soften the opinions of voters opposed to same-sex marriage in 20mins

“[It] was one of the longest-running & most rigorous tests yet of cloud seeding… It worked–sort of.”

People who know more about antibiotics & antibiotic resistance are more likely to misuse antibiotics. Because people.

A huge flock of bird papers was released this week. Here’s the best piece I’ve found on them, by Megan Scudellari.

Going, going… Nature explores the unknown unknowns of threatened species

PubPeer: “Scientific peer review is broken. And we’re fighting to fix it with anonymity”

“In some regions of the central Pacific there is now 6 times as much plankton-sized plastic are there is plankton” And yet, that’s still less than expected.

How a butterfly come to masquerade as a dead leaf

Fighting off orcas, humpback whales use adult “escorts” that try to protect calves not their own

Spider sensor knows when you’re talking

A Bunny-Sized Dinosaur Was First of Its Kind in America

The most detailed nerve images ever recorded are also the most psychedelic

This bus can’t get enough of your crap.

“I may have many crises but reproducibility isn’t one of them. Science is always wrong.”

The science of farts

Global deaths from malaria drop by almost half. Amazing.

A guide for journos on covering fMRI neuroscience studies. Essential.

The filefish camouflages itself by smelling like the corals it eats

“A 52 year old woman suffered from a strange problem: she saw dragons wherever she looked.”

Never has a meaningless list been so thoroughly quantified to such little effect

How pterosaurs filled their lungs

Billionaire does the hard cell

io9 has the best headline on Discovery Channel’s atrocious anaconda show

Delighted that Gary Schwitzer found funding for his excellent watchdog site. Lord knows health journalism needs it.

After a disaster, scientists get by with help from their friends. A story of recovery.

A twopart lesson in drawing judgment.

Why Poor People Stay Poor: Saving Money Costs Money

How a trapdoor spider builds its “door”

“The most venomous snake is the one that bites you.”



The Daily Habits Of 5 Highly Successful People

Entries in Sony’s World Photography Contest – the faceless portrait at the end is my favourite.

That’s no small moon

This Christmas tree is controlled by electric fish

World’s Oldest Woman Just Pleased Every Other Human On Earth When She Was Born Now Dead

Pygmy seahorses: highly camouflaged and smaller than a paperclip.

Oh yay, it’s the satirical BMJ Christmas issue! “Study supports the theory that men are idiots



Greenpeace activists damage Peruvian heritage site to send environmental message

Toys are more divided by gender than they were 50 years ago

Why James Cameron’s Aliens is the best movie about technology

Idiot punches hole in Monet painting, gets 5 yrs jail time. They fixed the painting

Gene Weingarten says that the UVA Rolling Stone story is “the worst screwup in the history of modern American journalism”

A visualization of Wikipedia rabbit holes

A ‘working’ podcast on being a person who writes dictionary definitions

Malcolm Gladwell accused of plagiarism.

Kathryn Schulz’s best books of 2014

Two Christmas gift guides for science-y people, one compiled by Nadia Drake for Wired and another from me for TED

David Wolman talks about the origins and craft behind his *amazing* story about the L’Aquila earthquake trial

The Twitter account that unravels time.

On Rolling Stone and the limits of fact-checking

Rolling Stone just wrecked an incredible year of progress for rape victims