I’ve Got Your Missing Links Right Here (14 February 2015)

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Top picks

“This Incredible Hospital Robot Is Saving Lives. Also, I Hate It” – a tragic comedy by Matt Simon

On the hunting of the endangered Houbara bustard, and relationships between Pakistan and Saud Arabia. By Declan Walsh

“Last week I stood in the very space where Kawaoka’s ferrets fell ill.” Cassie Willyard visits the notorious lab that’s making flu viruses more infectious.

A parasitic wasp uses a virus to warp the mind of its ladybird host. By Carl Zimmer, obviously.

In Nevada, scientists reported ‘wild’ asbestos near Las Vegas and were threatened with legal action for their trouble. Great story by Deborah Blum

“They hide in your bed and breed on your face.” Rob Dunn on mites.

Great piece from Peter Aldhous on animal intelligence and how we study it, featuring crows, elephants, dogs, and cuttlefish. Also featuring Pig #3, an Einstein among swine.

How to sell the truth on vaccination. (Spoiler alert: the scientific facts aren’t enough.) Also by Peter Aldhous, who’s on a roll this week.

Insect sex proves that nature is NSFW. By Gwen Pearson

An argument against genetic exceptionalism, and fears of genetic testing. By Chip Rowe

How did a groundbreaking theory on consciousness become a pseudoscientific personality quiz? By Jason Goldman

The collected wisdom of David Carr, who will be much missed. See also: tributes from the NYT and Dave Wiegel


Scientists create contact lens that magnifies at blink of an eye

Sponges are among the simplest of animals, but look what they can build

SuperAgers with exceptional memories have five times as many von Economo neurons

Scientists quantify the amount of plastic being dumped in the ocean.

Nine planetary boundaries; we have transgressed four already.

Brilliant visualisation of infection rates before and after vaccines

Outbreaks are expensive. Should parents who don’t vaccinate pay a no-vax tax?

Why Are Animals With Prosthetics Upworthy When People Aren’t?

A thoughtful NYT essay about futile care that prolongs the agony of a dying patient. By Jessica Nutik Zutter

A new protein looks like Christmas lights and helps us track brain activity

Termites don’t look like superheroes, but they’re saving the planet.

This idea is really dangerous and stupid but by all means let this person tell you about it for the length of an article.

How to make desertification make emotional sense

Nice study, but the intro is wrong: Darwin did not care about the finches. They were not “an important clue” to him.

Most echinacea supplements “contain mostly rice and buttercup DNA, if they contained any plant material at all”

So, this panel recommended renaming chronic fatigue syndrome without talking to anyone who has it?

Hummingbird’s sweet survival trick: steal from sap suckers!

Seven reasons to care about NASA’s new satellite

How we beat measles in the ’90s — and why that work won’t now.

How the Toronto Star massively botched a story about the HPV vaccine

Serving the public interest: you’re doing it wrong. How press coverage of vaccine refusal makes matters worse.

For pufferfish, motherly love means slathering babies in deadly toxins

These neurotoxic sea slugs are plaguing the coastal waters of Argentina.

What have UN climate talks ever done for us? Here are eight things.

Chimps still stuck in research labs despite promise of retirement

Protein tweak boosts plants’ drought tolerance

Spotlights flip the switch on an evolutionary arms race between bats and moths

Emily Graslie tracks down the glorious bird calls of the Amazon

Two sophisticated mammals—one climbing, one burrowing—from the Jurassic

Red Cross Faces Attacks at Ebola Victims’ Funerals

Dogs recognize the difference between angry and happy humans


Yeah, this is roughly what I do when I listen to Hozier’s “Take Me To Church

Wait, how did Spidey get measles on his costume?

A perpetual black whirlpool

Photography captures shot of a drunk gorilla moments before the gorilla punches him out.

6 Famous Paintings That Look Totally Different From Behind

Astronomers Discover New Planet That Really Makes Earth Look Like ****

After 3 Years Of Raising This Panda In Captivity, Researchers Are Finally Releasing Her Into The Open Ocean!

Jesus heron” isn’t walking on water. It’s surfing on a hippo

“Australia’s oldest man knits mini-sweaters for injured penguins


The paradox of the introverted journalist

Seth Mnookin reviews Johann Hari’s return to journalism and finds it wanting

We’re great the way we are, level-headed self-assessments and all. Stop rewarding them for being jackasses.”

Men are “clearly worse” than women at getting freelance pitches rejected

Don’t plagiarize.

Ewen Callaway talks about using oral history to tell the story of Homo floresiensis

Not Everything Should Be Crowdfunded