I’ve Got Your Missing Links Right Here (11 April 2015)

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Top picks

“It is possible, according to many sources, to become invisible, but you must be patient, methodical, and willing to eat almost anything.” Kathryn Schulz on wonderful form about the science and history of invisibility. And here’s a second piece from her on the phrase “No, totally”.

Maryn McKenna on a “1000-year-old MRSA remedy”, discussing the fascinating lost science but also the significant regulatory hurdles to come.

This amazing street art only appears when it’s raining

A beautiful new piece from Oliver Sacks on life’s need for constancy, and the disorder of sickness

On the colours of alien landscapes, by Nicola Twilley

“Once they have listened to a nightingale in full voice, they yearn to hear that sound again. Its absence lessens our lives.” Helen Macdonald on our emptier springs.

The dark side of the moon. Nadia Drake on new evidence that our moon was formed when a Mars-sized planet crashed into Earth.

“It is easy to forget, when the sky goes dark, that an eclipse is an optical illusion.” A great account of not quite seeing an eclipse, by Lavinia Greenlaw

Veronique Greenwood explores the science of the perfect chips.

In light of the Rolling Stone debacle, Christie Aschwanden talks about how the “cult of narrative” trips up journalism, and Ivan Oransky asks if science is really better than journalism at self-correction.

BRONTOSAURUS FOREVER! Brontosaurus returns as a true dinosaur genus. The name, of course, comes from the Greek words for “IN YOUR FACE, PEDANTS” and “lizard”.


New monkey species revealed thanks to distinctive penis/scrotum

Fans of Southern Reach Trilogy may enjoy this study on fungi and… hauntings.

Marine protected areas help fish recovery

Glass Anchors Strengthen Sponges and Enlighten Engineers

Similar genes, very different parasites: Rob Dunn on humans and chimps

Did natural selection make the Dutch the tallest people on the planet?

Doc who did 1st penis transplant “surprised by the overwhelming amount of interest in the surgery”.

Desert-Dwelling Fish Can ‘Hold Its Breath’ for Five Hours

How a Quest to Find a ‘Unicorn‘ Changed One Man’s Life

Medieval Parasite-Filled Poop Found in Jerusalem Latrine

Why Do Fingernails Grow So Much Faster Than Toenails?

Giant pandas meet in the forest for secret panda parties

Death, the beach, and Humboldt squid

The latest exemplar of Yong’s Law of Maximally Ironic Wrongdoing.

Strange prehistoric fish was a master shredder

A clever shock-absorbing bicycle wheel adapted for wheelchairs.

The origin of “microbiome”: I agree with the conclusion that it has dual meanings, an ecological one and a genomic one

I’m glad I wasn’t the only one who disliked Gawker’s Food Babe “takedown”.

This is not a chameleon, walking. It’s a hyperrealistic body painting on two women.

Mapping All The Chemicals And Tiny Bacteria Living On Our Skin

Tardigrades return from the dead

Catastrophic forgetting also stands in the way of one of the long-standing goals for artificial intelligence”

“Catastrophic metamorphosis”: the worm that grows inside itself

You do you, hermit crab. Don’t even listen to what everyone else says.

Smiling changes how you view the world

The myths and realities of mental health

What do electrical currents do to brains? Elif Batuman on transcranial direct-current stimulation

Science by authority is a poor model for communication

In my dreams, the Audobon Society calls Jonathan Franzen a long list of bird names that sound like insults. Like slaty-legged crake and bearded tit. But this will do.


Aw, penguins are so adorabOH GOD WHAT IS THAT KILL IT WITH FIRE.

Why We Shouldn’t Force Alligators And Crocodiles To Wear Sashes That Say ‘Alligator’ And ‘Crocodile’

Well-meaning fools: “Swim free, baby turtles!” Wildlife authorities: “Er, those are tortoises and they can’t swim.”

Journalist’s guide to insect identification.

SeaWorld Responds To California Drought By Draining Animal Tanks Halfway

Study Suggests Paleo Dieters Lose Average Of Ten Pounds, Three Friends Per Month


“I realized the people telling me to read specific lists of books were people interested in upholding the status quo”

A couple of recommendations:

The Heretics, by Will Storr (aka The Unpersuadables in the US) is an incredibly perceptive look into the forces that drive people to believe in wacky things. Storr combines hard investigative journalism with a degree of compassion and self-deprecation that is rarely found in this genre. He’s also very funny.

“Why do obviously intelligent people believe things in spite of the evidence against them? Will Storr has travelled across the world to meet an extraordinary cast of modern heretics in order to answer this question. He goes on a tour of Holocaust sites with David Irving and a band of neo-Nazis, experiences his own murder during ‘past-life regression’ hypnosis, takes part in a mass homeopathic overdose, and investigates a new disease affecting tens of thousands of people – a disease that doesn’t actually exist.”

Love and Treasure, by Ayelet Waldman, tells three stories, set in differing time periods, united by a single piece of jewellery. Unlike many novels which use this device, Waldman’s constructs a whole that is truly greater than, and illuminated by, the sum of its beautifully constructed parts.

“A fugitive train loaded with the plunder of a doomed people. A dazzling jewelled pendant in the form of a stylized peacock. And three men – an American infantry captain in World War II, an Israeli-born dealer in art stolen by the Nazis, and a pioneering psychiatrist in fin-de-siècle Budapest – who find their carefully-wrought lives turned upside-down by three fierce women, each locked in a struggle against her own history and the history of our times. And at the centre of Love and Treasure, nested like a photograph hidden in a locket, a mystery: where does the worth of a people and its treasures truly lie?”