I’ve Got Your Missing Links Right Here (21 February 2015)

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Top picks

“Above all, I have been a sentient being, a thinking animal, on this beautiful planet, and that in itself has been an enormous privilege and adventure.” Oliver Sacks has terminal cancer and is going out in a blaze of poetry and beauty.

This video on epigenetics, as explained through Beethoven’s 5th, is a masterpiece of explanatory science communication, from Kerri Smith.

The endangered dead“: a great feature on the threats facing natural history museums. By Christopher Kemp

The gorgeous typeface that drove men mad and spurred a 100-year mystery. By Kelsey Campbell-Dollaghan

“Why do you want to talk about this embarrassing corpse?” Tom Bartlett on the brutal response to the Human Brain Project.

Ebola’s not over yet. Maryn McKenna talked to a front-line worker in Liberia about what stands before the endgame.

The first person to get a heart transplant received a chimp heart. He died. An incredibly historical story by Lindsey Fitzharris.

“These discoveries do not sit well in a world in which sex is still defined in binary terms.” – Claire Ainsworth with an essential piece on the biology of sex and gender.

500 million years ago, this critter had a really bad day: Ivan Semeniuk on a treasure trove of ancient fossils in Canada.

“In the 1970s, scientists discovered that evolution had produced its own ice-seeder: Pseudomonas syringae, a bacterium.” Ferris Jabr on the microbes that make rain and snow.

A beautiful illustrated essay about the zombie bone-eating worms by Deb Chachra

“The monkeys who didn’t turn into humans: they must be gutted.” Pitch-perfect satire on evolution, from Philomena Cunk.

Electro-fishing” puts river dolphins at risk in Myanmar


Artemisinin-resistant malaria taken hold in Myanmar and been found within 15 miles of Indian border.

For James, “college” tastes like sausage & “yogurt” like hairspray. Meet the man who tastes words

Sun damage keeps happening for hours after exposure, new study says

10 scientists who should have biopics made about them.

Is Scurvy The New Diabetes?

Why do Asians have extra Neanderthal DNA?

Anti-vaccination: wrong but not irrational. Tom Stafford on the science of decision-making and the battle between facts and emotion.

Some extremely dodgy behaviour from the editor of two autism journals

What made these 492-million-year-old fossil rings? Scientists want YOUR terrible, kooky theories!

Ants have “toilets” in their nests

Much respect to Chris Mason for this humble, detailed response to criticism over the plague result in the NYC subway paper

MIT’s self-assembling chair

Nature journals to offer double-blind peer review.

When disgust gets in the way of public health advances.

The “Putin has Asperger’s” story highlights the stupidity of psychological diagnosis from a distance

The leafy and weedy sea dragons get a new relative: the ruby sea dragon!

New Photos of Dwarf Planet Ceres Reveal Mysterious Bright Spots

The “illusion of causality” and why erroneous beliefs aren’t easily overturned

“The group matches children in need of prosthetic hands & fingers with volunteers able to make them on 3-D printers”

Why popcorn jumps

Penguins lack taste.

Mary-Claire King’s Pioneering Gene Work, From Breast Cancer to Human Rights

The race to find a cure for Ebola

Blood transfusions show early promise as possible Ebola cure

Egyptian docs think anal exams can detect “chronic homosexuals“—a horrifying piece

Pig MRSA,” from feeding antibiotics to hogs, is back, and researchers say it is a “serious hazard to humans.”

John Ioannidis on the 10th anniversary of his seminal paper “Why most published research findings are false”

Sex in space would be terrible

Jonathan Eisen awards the Overselling the Microbiome award to Jason Tetro for some weapons-grade microbiome BS about kissing and partner choice.


What Happened Will Not Surprise You.

Physics. Uh-huh

This is probably the most accurate portrayal I’ve seen of what science is really like. (Oldie but goodie)

100 years of glorious NatGeo maps


How to Do Everything on YouTube, and why those instructional videos matter.

A review of Helen Macdonald’s H Is for Hawk: “so good…it hurt me to read”

“In the dark, she fumbles with the keys, unlocking a 3rd door. Behind it is the Internet.”

Everything is Generative: Redux. John Pavlus updates one of my favourite ever posts on advice for creators.

“It’s just good journalism, kind, hard, and honest.”

How a major newspaper bungled a vaccine story, then smeared its critics