I’ve Got Your Missing Links Right Here (5 September 2015)

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Top picks

By me in the Atlantic, this week: The $1 foldable, pocket microscope; the phantom road that shows how traffic noise affects birds, and the animal that’s a colony of living jet engines with a shared nervous system.

I visited Micropia, Amsterdam’s microbe museum, and wrote about it for the New Yorker

An incredible year-long investigation from Bryan Christy shows how ivory poaching funds terrorism.

Brooke Borel on the hidden challenge faced by marijuana growers: a regulatory tangle that deprives them of good pesticides

“The world’s longest yard sale runs for nearly 700 miles along a vertical line connecting Alabama & Michigan”. By Helen Rosner.

RIP Oliver Sacks. Here’s Robert Krulwich’s moving tribute

Their village is going to be swept away, but the people of Newtok, Alaska have nowhere to go. By Alana Semuels

The Summer That Never Was – not a whine about the weather, but a rather beautiful lament about hope and expectations

A vaccinated man has been shedding virulent polio for 28 years. What does this mean for eradication? By Maryn McKenna

Why are there fish 8,370 metres below the ocean surface but none at 8,400 metres? By Rebecca Helm

“It’s just this kind of situation that prompted Scotland Yard to form a team of super-recognizers.” By Erika Engelhaupt.

What To Do When Someone Gives You A Giant Squid: Call in a bunch of favours and buy loads of rubber gloves, basically. By Hayley Campbell


Internal replications aren’t the solution to the replication crisis in psychology

Chimp that attacked a drone with a stick planned ahead

New journal aims to publish from ‘all stages of the research cycle’.

The bizarre beasts living in Romania’s poison cave

Pre-registering big drug trials resulted in fewer drugs having a positive effect.

Join the Club – How Ankylosaurs Evolved Their Formidable Tails

Can the Chinese Government Get Its People to Like GMOs?

Mice fed a diet high in saturated fat show shifts in their gut microbes and develop obesity-related inflammation.

“All normal sensory perception in humans is hallucinations constrained by sensory input.”

Weaver ants as biological control agents outperform pesticides

Mental illness flooded into New Orleans as the storm waters receded.”

Three cheers for the pink Galapagos land iguana

One of the great debates in neuroscience: are all neurodegenerative diseases caused by prions?

The Oliver Sacks reading list

Six will enter, one will leave (this year-long NASA experiment)

Rare diseases emerge from decades of neglect.

Why don’t elephants explode? Why don’t giant shrews exist?

Coffee bats, farm chimps, and other wild animals making do in developed habitats

Genome editing has huge potential but we need an open-ended ethical debate: a statement from funders

Intellectually disabled people often get antipsychotics in absence of mental illness

Extinct toad got better

First new prion disease for 50 yrs? Cool, but also PNAS Contributed paper. Outside commenters are sceptical

Seabirds are vital to the health of the oceans. 90% of them are filled with plastic.

Stunning microscope images of live cells doing their thing, and a profile of the scientist who invented the scope in question


All the things we apparently hate

Beautiful photos of birds catching fish

A live interview, interrupted by a blue whale

IAU: ‘ice-age unit’. A cool idea from XKCD



Google Shot the Serif.

“My first reaction was despair. My second was: My son sleeps just like that.” On the migrant crisis

Harry Potter and the Phantom Menace

Title: **** Nuance. Abstract: Seriously, **** it

India’s stepwells: “an entire category of architecture slipping off history’s grid”

“He’s known in some circles as the guy who can save bits of history right before they disappear.”