I’ve Got Your Missing Links Right Here (19 September 2015)

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Top picks

From me at the Atlantic:

A Visit to Amsterdam’s Microbe Museum, by me in the New Yorker

This piece on dead, dying, and resurrecting trees is quintessential  Helen Macdonald: nature writing suffused with poetry; the world around us, and the emotions it provokes within us.

Love this piece. Ostensibly about whether an ancient plague was Ebola, but actually about how we’d even tell. By Simon Davis

Really good piece on a continuing study on the evolution of lung cancer, by Henry Scowcroft

Remember that paper on the Holocaust, epigenetics, and how stress cascades across the generations? It’s rubbish. Read this excellent piece by Ewan Birney on what it means and doesn’t mean.

Ann Finkbeiner looks at indigenous knowledge of Cascadia quakes, and why local people refuse to leave the region.

The women-led Black Mamba ranger unit has reduced poaching in South Africa’s Kruger National Park by 3/4

Researchers Have Made A Major Cancer Breakthrough You’ll Somehow Never Hear About Again. Once again, a parody site nails it better than most news outlets.

A wide-ranging piece on science, philosophy, and… look, just read it. By Simon Critchley.

Very interesting piece on the debate about testing Ebola vaccines *for chimps* on chimps. By Caleb Hellerman

An ode to tardigrades, by Cornelia Dean

“Q: [Would it have] been better if we never discovered hydrothermal vents? A: That question haunts me” Brandon Keim interviews Andrew Thaler on deep-sea mining



Behold the mighty sage grouse: dances flamboyantly, annoys Republicans, flies at 60mph, shags robots.

Everybody’s got the fever/ That is somethin’ you all know/ Fever isn’t such a new thing/ Fever started long ago. A cultural history of fever

The $12mm Longitude Prize for whomever dreams up a novel, portable drug-resistance detection device: will it be enough to deal with antibiotic resistance? By Maryn McKenna

No, there’s no evidence that you can catch Alzheimer’s. A good corrective from Kelly Oakes

Interesting Amy Harmon piece on a dying woman’s choice to invest her hopes in brain-freezing 

“Trying to identify animals caught in the frame feels more like a session of Chat Roulette than meaningful work.” On being a crowdsourced zoologist.

This is a human sperm that was grown in the lab

Species That Had 25 Million Years To Evolve Pathetically Snuffed Out In 8 Years

Bats perform $1 billion in corn-protecting services.

Groups are better at detecting lies, which is handy when there are werewolves about.

Er… this piece on “orca-patterned wetsuits” to deter sharks… guys, that’s just countershading.

All the rubbish people said (and still say) about what separates humans from other animals: a farce in 12 acts.

Welcome to Not Doomed Yet: Robinson Meyer’s new newsletter on climate change, for The Atlantic. Great name, great idea.

How zombie spiders modify webs for wasp overlords

Who owns the bones of Homo naledi?

Do babies even know when they’re Skyping with someone?

Sperm Whales’ Language Reveals Hints of Culture

“First, you have to understand that boobies are dicks”

4 ways polar bears are dealing with climate change

In praise of wasps, even when they sting you in the testicles

Apparently this is what you might find when flipping over rocks in Australia

The psychology behind our fascination with mobsters

Skin Microbes Help Clear Infection

Following the Homo naledi discovery, Nadia Drakelooks at how other animals treat their dead.

If you’re white, science says you’re probably a racist. Now what?

Pluto is HAWT

Geel, Belgium, where for 700 years ‘mentally ill’ boarders have lived with residents

“I knew something was wrong when I took a bite of a falafel sandwich &it hung in my mouth like tasteless cardboard.”

P.Sherman, 42 Wallaby Way, Sydney.” “WHAT?” “I SAID P SHERMAN, 42 WALLA…” “SPEAK UP, I CAN’T HEAR YOU.”

Utterly absurd person accuses Rebecca Skloot’s book on Henrietta Lacks of being pornography, because cervix.

Carolyn Johnson on bad gene tests, using the amusingly abbreviated MTHFR gene as a case study



How foul weather and physics can turn a crane into a tragedy

Fleeting Wonders: A Meeting of the Secret International Tortoise Assembly?

Seal spotted surfing humpback whale in Australia


Who Decides What Makes a Poem Great? Megan Garber on an interesting debate over ethnicity and “best”.

“App gives college students the option to only report a sexual assault if someone else is raped by the same person.”

Very smart analysis of the new iPhone news

The Meanest Email You Ever Wrote, Searchable on the Internet

Sculpting Identity: A History of the Nose Job

Housewives, tranquilliser use and the nuclear family in Cold War America

Kathryn Schulz’s earthquake story was easily one of the best this year. Michelle Nijhuis asks her about the craft behind it