I’ve Got Your Missing Links Right Here (25 April 2015)

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Top picks

This piece on the psychology of cuts in movies, by Jeffrey Zacks, features the work of one Professor Cutting. It’s also fascinating.

Ancient viruses, hidden in the genome, “spring to life in the earliest stages of the development of human embryos”. By Carl Zimmer.

Hidden viruses could act as maps for forensic biologists looking to identify unknown bodies. By Rebecca Kreston.

The rumours were true: Chinese scientists have begun modifying human embryos using CRISPR. Carl Zimmer explains how we got to here and what the developments mean.

“Scientists should spend more time analyzing apes’ behavior in precisely those places where humans are disrupting their lives.” We are now part of their world. By Emily Anthes.

“Technology is making it harder to differentiate between the people we perform and the people we are.” Smart Megan Garber piece on surveillance societies

How Philippe Jeandet tasted 170-year-old shipwrecked champagne. “Expert tasters described it as “cheesy”.” By Allie Wilkinson.

“There’s actually no such thing as big science; we should really be calling it big engineering.” Tim Requarth on the failings of the Human Brain Project

“A short checklist called the Static-99 weighs facts about a sex offender’s past in order to predict the likelihood of future crimes.” Those ten questions can mean a lifetime behind bars. By Peter Aldhous.

A unique rendition of Bach’s Prelude No 1

A volcanic eruption timelapse: “Like a violent sunrise—clouds piling six miles skyward; flecks of lightning—that evokes the creation of a planet.” By Adrienne LaFrance

Being invisible is “great fun” but it’s an eerie sensation. It’s hard to describe.” Welcome Erika Engelhaupt to the Phenomena club!


An incredible data visualisation of bird migration

People don’t know what real scientists look like. Neither do scientists.

Conservationists turn tiny New Zealand island into bold wildlife experiment

On Animal Deaths and Human Anxieties—a look at mass wildlife die-offs

DNA editing in mouse embryos prevents disease

Blessed by Science: How Genetic Medicine Changed a Strictly Religious Community

I don’t do ironing, but I would if it meant killing the eggs of flesh-burrowing flies.

“The Man Who Drank Cholera and Launched the Yogurt Craze” – a Nautilus biography of Ilya Metchnikoff

Are probiotics BS? A podcast.

‘Wellness Guru’ Belle Gibson lied about having brain cancer, profited from lying about bogus cancer cures. “I would like people to say, ‘Okay, she’s human.'” Got it. You’re human. Barely.”

Video catches space geckos playing

Check out Hakai Magazine—a new science magazine on coasts and the people who live there.

A review of The Vital Question: Why Is Life the Way It Is, by Nick Lane

Billions of blue jellyfish wash up on Pacific beaches

Because of their hydraulic limbs, tarantulas become uncoordinated at high temperatures.

Blastoff McRocketboots: name of pet fish at Mars expedition simulation in Hawaii

Chimpanzee ‘personhood’ case sows confusion

Fascinating history of the stethoscope or, as it began, the rolled-up tube.

Congrats to Craig McClain who got a starfish named after him. “McClain’s six-armed fleshy star”. OO-ER.

On the natural history of New York’s rats

First ‘living figure’ in published paper – automatically redraws as outside data comes in

Glaciologists stockpile ice cores to preserve the temperature record for a post-glacier world

Wolf spider gets squashed—and hundreds of babies emerge

Spiderlings pierce her abdomen with their mouthparts and over the course of several hours drain her innards.”

Hippos spray their poo – and that’s actually a great thing for the environment.

Is that viral photo of a *quadruple* rainbow real? Yes! Here’s how it works

Oldest stone tools (3.3m yrs) may put end to theory that complex tool-making began with genus Homo

Is the sound of knuckle-cracking caused by a gas-cavity forming, or bursting?

The day Darwin stepped into a cage with an orangutan.

Lorna Dawson has pioneered methods to help convict criminals using the dirt from their shoes

“My focus is to change people’s relationship with science, from one of observation to one of active contribution and participation” – Ariel Waldman

“The issue I was asked to address is whether killer robots violate either a right to life or the “laws of humanity”

“Watch us turn a point of light into a planet.”

What is the biggest swamp in the world? It’s an oddly difficult question to answer

The Disease That Turned Us Into Genetic-Information Junkies


Gorgeous timelapse of recent total eclipse over Svalbard

Facts: Yoda first appeared in a 14th-c illuminated manuscript



Virginia Hughes talks to Open Notebook about how she found and crafted her superb story on “sleepyheads“.

Google’s Other Big Research Project: Curbing Its Own Prejudice

Tina Packer on the evolution of Shakespeare’s female characters

Beware the narrative that makes your life easier, and absolves you of responsibility for your own actions

Congratulations to Elizabeth Kolbert for the Pulitzer Prize for her book, The Sixth Extinction!