I’ve Got Your Missing Links Right Here (20 December 2014)

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Top picks

The lizard was produced in the laboratory by mating two other species, and its creation defies conventional ideas about how new species evolve.” By Carl Zimmer

How to write a science feature. I’d quote a line but every one is golden. By Cassandra Willyard.

“We predict complete societal collapse within a year or so.” Jack Gilbert and Josh Neufeld on what would happen in a world without microbes.

Oversold prenatal tests spur some to choose abortions. Beth Daley on the awful consequences of false positives in screening tests

A lovely historical tale of communications technology versus oppression

John Colapinto profiles graphene-discoverer and frog-levitator Andre Geim for The New Yorker

The self-tracking movement is conceptually genderless, but in practice, it’s excluding women. By Rose Eveleth

Veronique Greenwood on the clever robots that package our food and how to hack your taste buds

You’ve beaten Ebola. Your next obstacle is prejudice. The latest of Erika Check Hayden’s excellent dispatches from Sierra Leone



The Carnivores Next Door. Michelle Nijhuis on the predators encroaching into our spaces.

The deepest living fish ever seen

“The precise part of the brain that gives people a sense of direction has been pinpointed”

Watch a man control two robotic prosthetic arms with his mind

Here’s how pearlfish call to each other from inside the bodies of other living animals.

Psychologists aren’t meant to do celebrity analysis… because of one case of celebrity analysis.

Henry the tuatara loses virginity at age 110

Birds avoid tornadoes, which they likely heard from hundreds of miles away

Oh STAP it, already.

Longreads Best of 2014: Science. I picked three nominees for this list (and I am also on it).

Scientists discover 38% of the Earth.

Why humans can perform surprisingly well after brain damage

Nature’s picks of 10 people who mattered in science this year. Kudos on the diversity, folks.

Ice pancakes the size of dinner plates floating on the River Dee in Scotland

Wisdom the albatross, the world’s oldest wild bird, lays an egg.

Wi-fi brain implants for robot arms

Parasite test shows where validation studies can go wrong, and how to do them better

Why do we see faces everywhere? A fun brain-scanning study of face pareidolia

The Big Kill: New Zealand’s crusade against mammals. By Elizabeth Kolbert.

The larvae of smooth fan lobsters surf on jellyfish.

Could the blood of Ebola survivors help to treat the infected? Let’s find out!

The Chance of a Collision in Outer Space Is Practically Zilch

He who smelt it dealt it, Mars

A genetically engineered mouse releases insulin when liver cells detect radio signal

Cockroaches have no problem seeing by starlight

Mapping how information flows around the globe identifies the best languages to spread your ideas

Check out Hannah Waters’ new blog, A More Human Nature. In which she will “look at nature through liberal arts lenses: art, history, lit, culture & tech”.

If antibiotic resistance continues unchecked, it could kill 10 million people per year and cost $100 trilllion. MERRY CHRISTMAS!

How elephants got their big brains.

Scientists are not that smart

A meteor shower on Mercury builds a thin atmosphere around the planet.

“Say hello to the bone-devouring-I-am-my-penis worm

Why There Would Have Been No Torture Without the Psychologists

Why is reporting on health and science so bad? Because the reporters can’t do their jobs.


“What if I made a lava lamp out of real lava?”

Deep Freeze: Six Astonishing Ice Caves

The Onion’s review of The Hobbit

Grand Canyon does its best ninja impression.

A GIF showing how babies grow up from single cells


“This post originally quoted Sanders as saying it takes him 5yrs to get on the dance floor. It takes him 5 beers.”

Slate dissects a year of outrage on Twitter

Longform.org’s picks of the best science stories of 2014

“When journalists hand the power to decide what’s news to the journals, they do readers a disservice.”

Megan Garber applies the broken windows concept to Uber

Journalistic outsourcing?! I spent this whole piece muttering “Wait, this is a thing?”

Slate: in praise of skipping. Never change, Slate.

Congratulations to the wonderful Kathryn Schulz as she starts a new staff gig at the New Yorker!

Not a great month for magazine fact-checking. First the UVA case. Now, this boy genius and his fictional fortune

How journalists should handle Twitterstorms

Australia shows how to respond to terrorism

Retraction Watch is a paragon of sci journalism; it’s great to see big cash landing in their laps

“The story of how a woman ruined a fresco and saved a town.”