I’ve Got your Missing Links Right Here (07 February 2015)

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Top picks

Thousands of people are ordering viruses from Eastern Europe to deal with intractable bacterial infections. Azeen Ghorayshi on the long-discussed promise of phage therapy and why it’s slow to catch on.

This NatGeo cover story by Joel Achenbach on why people doubt science will never stop being timely

Stunning explainer from Carl Zimmer on why measles is so contagious (and why Ebola is not).

“I was totally pro-vaccines, really, until Dr. Taylor.” Virginia Hughes asks her mum why she never got vaccinated

“It’s much easier to scare people than it is to dispel fears.” Seth Mnookin on talking to vaccine resisters

“Their memories were vivid, clear—and wrong. There was no relationship at all between confidence and accuracy.” Maria Konnikova on our misplaced faith on our inaccurate emotional memories.

“The water in my heart has fallen” and other expressions of mental illness in non-English languages. By Maanvi Singh.

“It is a cold, wet, sharp, splashy, slush-creating, hypothermia-inducing abomination, a wrongness falling over the world. A better name for it would be “airborne depravity.”” Kathryn Schulz ranting magnificently about the phrase “wintry mix”.

Harper Lee is publishing her second novel, a sequel to To Kill a Mockingbird. Megan Garber has a thoughtful analysis of the news.

A 21st century tragicomedy: one man’s quest to rid Wikipedia of exactly one grammatical mistake

Shock as UK MPs reach sensible decision reached over mitochondrial replacement. WHERE WILL THE SENSIBLENESS END? Ewen Callaway explains the science behind the technique; Mark Henderson writes about how the vote is a triumph for public engagement

I’ve really enjoyed Doug Emlen’s ANIMAL WEAPONS—a book that’s ostensibly about extreme teeth, antlers, horns, and other armaments, but is also a great primer on evolution


“You could kill somebody’s baby. I don’t like using that line, but now it’s getting to the point where I have to.” Babies too young to be vaccinated are now at risk of measles.

Woman cured of immune disease by one of her chromosomes shattering & reassembling

How fungus-growing termites are preventing desertification in Africa

The rise of CRISPR gene editing.

Oooh, the excellent Rob Dunn has a new book out: THE MAN WHO TOUCHED HIS OWN HEART

South American 1,000 kg rodent could bite as hard as a modern tiger!

This is fantastic. How scientists are using LEGO to handle insects

On the problem with precision medicine

Debunker: No, women’s voices are not easier to understand than men’s voices.

Croc and hippo play tug-of-war with a sad wildebeest as the rope

How to preserve a coelacanth

Chimps can learn “dialects” (aka food grunts) from other chimps

“He sounds a bit like Dickens going off on one of his endless sentences about, say, muffins”. On ye olde sci writing.

Inside the bunkers where the US will obliterate its chemical weapons

“When you write to a stranger on the internet, you aren’t just writing to a stranger on the internet”

Watch a chimp as he does his “rain dance”

“Few people would describe bedbugs as most beautiful or most wonderful.“

When Monkeys Surfed to South America

Venom library to store poison from Australia’s deadliest creatures. The late fees are murder.

5 GIFs that explain herd immunity

Case report of rapid weight gain after faecal transplant

“Participants who made the follow-through movement had an easier time learning to compensate for the force field”

Evolutionary biologist Robert Trivers, disgracing himself

The Scientific 23: an interview-filled site to give kids a look at the lives of scientists

How to study, and save, migrations by airlifting deer.

Due to delays, only 40 percent of Ebola donations have been received by affected countries

“When the pair resurfaced, the bigger seal was skinning and eating its companion”

“So why do some creatures seem to blink out of the fossil record only to be revived?”

Tiny frogs contain big evolutionary surprise

The just world hypothesis—why believing that the world is fair makes you a terrible person.

Boomerang effect: heavy media coverage of Measles outbreak normalises vaccination refusal.

You can sue a parent who doesn’t vaccinate. But you’re not going to win.

Do dolphins mourn their dead?

V-formation flying: rare example of a reciprocal altruism

Poaching leaves many young elephants orphaned. Here’s how they rebuild their lives

Building Robots With Better Morals Than Humans

This Carl Zimmer post: (a) is about the downfall of our inner viruses; (b) has a photo of Carl’s spirit animal.

The Trip Treatment: Research into psychedelics, shut down for decades, is now yielding exciting results

“As the fear of [Ebola] ebbs, Liberians slip back into their daily, tactile rhythm.”

How London Zoo worked with a US carpet company and fishing communities in the Philippines to fight plastic pollution

Carl Djerassi, chemist who developed birth control pill, dies at age 91

Ebola Drug Trial Is Halted for Lack of Patients

Here’s how we’re ruining one of the world’s largest lakes

Maria Konnikova on the science of changing false beliefs. “It’s depressing.”

Unboil an Egg and other failed Toni Braxton songs.

New x-ray technique reads snippets of charred scrolls that survived Pompeii eruption

Why GM is the natural solution for future farming


Whale completely misses some guy because it’s too busy sieving krill or whatever whales do.

Baby chameleon hatching

Sylvia Plath picks her nose.

“His Facebook page states that he is a life coach” is the best possible punchline to this story

Elegant Montages Show the Beauty of Birds in Flight


And I was like, here’s a history of the quotative like.

For Years, The Washington Post Tried to Interview a Cow

Made almost entirely of vines, this Japanese bridge must be rewoven every 3yrs

Huge congratulations to my friend Maryn McKenna, who’ll be giving a TED talk next month on antibiotic resistance.