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

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Some news

Hi, I got a job! As of September, I’ll be joining The Atlantic as their new full-time science staff reporter. I couldn’t be more excited to join a team whose work I’ve long admired and an organisation that prizes curiosity, thoughtfulness, and integrity. I’ll still continue blogging here at Phenomena, so Not Exactly Rocket Science (and the Saturday links) will live on.


Top picks

Extraordinary Jon Mooallem story about two guys who meet prisoners on their day of release, to stop them from “blowing away in the wind”

Amy Maxmen on CRISPR—the gene-editing technology that may make or break the world. And here’s her e-book on the mistreated heroes of the Ebola response: a great bit of journalism.

There’s an escape release in every car trunk, thanks to one woman kidnapped and locked in hers. By Sarah Laskow.

“To my first pronounced patient: your time of death was five minutes earlier. I’m so sorry for the delay.” Shara Yurkiewicz on the awful uncertain business of calling someone’s death.

The skeleton flower goes from white to translucent when exposed to water. By Kate Sierzputowski

Every year, a shadowy cabal holds a secret meeting in an undisclosed city to choose Pantone’s “Color of the Year“. By Claire Cameron

Epigenetics: “It’s not heretical, it won’t upend Darwin, or give you supernatural powers.” By Adam Rutherford.

Rose Eveleth is just pumping out one great piece after another right now. Here’s one on the agonising choice between severing or salvaging an injured limb. And another: when pelvic floor exercises meet the quantified self.

The Long, Strange Trip to Pluto, and how NASA nearly missed it, by Kenneth Chang. And summing up a week of amazing Pluto science, here’s Alex Witze

A beautiful, moving, thoughtful essay about women and the “midlife crisis” from the immensely talented Jessica Zimmerman.

On the sad (and so far failed) quest to artificially inseiminate the last female Yangtze giant softshell turtle. By John Platt.

Amazing true crime story from Russell Brandom about comic books and… well, just read it.


No, this viral image does not explain the history of numbers

Tiny Ocean Plants Geoengineer Brighter Clouds

“The peer-review will take place in real-time, with responses to the work by other scientists also published online.” On James Hansen’s upcoming paper predicting terrible sea level rises.

Men who harass women online are quite literally losers, new study finds

This beautiful sea sapphire can make itself invisible in an instant

“What colour is this song?”

Dolphins. Are. &%$£holes.

Non-carnivorous plants murder bugs, use their corpses to pay other bugs for protection

“Your master clock is on Boston time, but your liver might be in Tokyo.”

After Ant-Man, more amazing insect superhero movies

On the psychology of the whites of our eyes

Why did complex life arise only once? Why two sexes and not three or four or 12? Why do we age and die? A review of Nick Lane’s book The Vital Question

“I don’t think any of us are holding our breath for success”. On the huge amounts of money being thrown into the hunt for extraterrestrial life. Nadia Drake has more coverage, featuring her dad!

Spy cameras fitted to endangered rhinos to stop them being butchered by poachers

This squid won’t stop staring at you. Also, what’s up with the quiff?

A common hospital infection may originate in meat—and become antibiotic-resistant on farms where the meat is raised.

A reflection on what Sacks teaches us about dying.

The highest-ranking rooster has priority to announce the break of dawn”

Major advance in search for effective & safe malaria vaccine.

Meet Kepler 452b, the most Earthy planet Kepler has spotted so far.

So awesome: pythons, boas and other constrictors don’t kill by suffocating prey. They induce heart attacks.



In a densely forested part of Indonesia lies an abandoned church shaped like a giant chicken

PHEW. Shark narrowly escapes attack by Australian.

This gallery of beautiful moths is a moth-see, hahahahahahaha, dies inside.

Someone added lightsabers to a sequence of fighting chipmunks and I don’t need to see The Force Awakens any more.

Everything I am afraid might happen if I ask new acquaintances to get coffee



Hackers remotely kill a Jeep on the highway — with me in it”

Instagram: a “calm technology”.

Reddit Can’t Be Fixed

The Secret Service Internet Threat Desk: their job is to read the comments. Pray for them.