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

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Top picks

“Three days before Britain declared war, on September 3, 1939, Janet Vaughan received a telegram from the Medical Research Council. It read, “Start bleeding.”” Rose George on a woman who changed our relationship with blood.

The great Hillary Rosner on the beetle that’s killing North America’s forests, and what their incursion says about our changing world.

I love this Alexis Madrigal piece on doing talks from memory; it’s such a rewarding thing to do, and something I adored of the TED experience

“The paper describes a way to read the book of history in human DNA to a level of detail that is completely unprecedented.” Christine Kenneally on a fantastic new paper on Britain’s DNA

Prosthetic devices have long been created by men, for men.” A fascinating, top-class piece by Rose Eveleth

The most remarkable globe in the world is in a Brooklyn office building. Via Atlas Obscura.

This is a really interesting piece on how Apple works the three metals in its watches. By Greg Koenig

Mars One finalist talks about how ridiculous and flawed the whole affair is

Wonderful Arielle Duhaime-Ross piece on flatworms, memory, the revival of controversial experiments, and the Unabomber

There are craters on the side of the moon that *faces* us that we can’t really see w/o relying on gravity fields. By Nadia Drake.

The Palm Tree That Waters and Fertilizes Itself. By Liz Preston.



The devastating environmental impacts of poorly planned road building

A velvet worm’s slime cannon is like a garden hose

The “world’s forests are fragmenting into tiny patches”—more than 70% are within 0.6 miles of an edge.

How a grad student’s 3am blog comment became a paper that challenged a titan of economics

DNA does not explain The Dress

Whales pump nutrients upwards by eating at depth and releasing “flocculent fecal plumes” at the surface.

“I prefer my seafood without sperm, thank you”

George Church, a geneticist at HMS, believes the new study should not have been published”

G is for goddamned goshawk.

Insects Unlocked: a new photography initiative from Alex Wild.

Researchers track eye movements to sway moral decisions. Tiny effect; I agree with Churchland

Our cyborg beetle legions are almost ready for deployment

Nice paper on wild baboons showing social partners have similar microbiomes (as in humans, termites, b/bees…)

Why do we find it so hard to torture robots?

“When humans began building shelters about 20,000 years ago, we unrolled a welcome mat for other species.”

Artist Uses an Eye Tracker to Draw Portraits Using Only His Eyes

The NYT published a truly abysmal piece by Nick Bilton on phones and cancer, which distorts the evidence and quotes a noted quack. Phil Plait gets angry. Also here’s an explainer on phones/cancer that I wrote in 2011. It still holds.

Brilliant and lovely art-essay on race, comics, and how we see color.

These giant bomb-sniffing rats could save your life one day

The Newest Place on Earth

Quorum-Sensing Molecule Modifies Gut Microbiota

Why you should never, ever interrupt mating tortoises


The Only 31 Things Standing Between You And Your Dreams

Here’s someone tickling a platypus

A hilariously absurd passage from a 1969 popular science book. (Marginalia mine.)



South Korea is the plastic surgery capital of the world

A Side-by-side Comparison of the First and Last Frames of 55 Movies

Good roundtable on journalist/scientist relationships, featuring some familiar faces.

The head of Google’s “unconscious bias program” fulfils her mandate in spectacular fashion by calling out her CEO for unconscious bias.

Wait, you want your employees to discuss race relations with people who, by definition, haven’t had their coffee yet?

What, no YOU have dust in your eye.

“Apparently every Disney woman is a clone/direct descendant of some primordial creature with huge round cheeks”

How to Google Something You Don’t Know How to Describe