Photograph Courtesy of The Opte Project
Photograph Courtesy of The Opte Project

I’ve Got Your Missing Links Right Here (21 Nov 2016)

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Top picks

From me at the Atlantic

“The qualities we want in a child or in society can’t be had by tweaking a few nucleotides. There are no short cuts.” Nathaniel Comfort on the long history of trying to make designer babies and why CRISPR doesn’t change that.

The slightly sad tale of America’s lonely, overworked, only full-time forensic pollen analyst. By Elon Green

Even when diseases are eradicated, the world can remain one lab accident away from their reappearance. Important piece by Maryn McKenna.

No More Research Chimpanzees, Says NIH. Dan Vergano reports.

The woman who got impregnated by a bullet, and other science stories that are total lies. By Rose Eveleth.

“The blood that ran through that street also runs through me.” A beautiful piece by Nadia Drake on science writing in a time of atrocity.

Plight of the Funny Female – Olga Khazan on why the humor of men is appreciated so much more than that of women

Neuroplasticity won’t turn you “into a broccoli-loving, marathon-running, disease-immune, super-awesome genius.” By Will Storr.

This paper, by Bobbie Spellman, is the single best summary of psychology’s replication crisis.

A gleeful tour through the origins of English, and its delightful abnormalities. By John McWhorter

On the Martian, a blade made from flint, and our inventiveness. By Craig Childs


Scientists discover how ocean fish magically disappear. Now the Navy wants to know

Different parasitic worms can raise or lower female fertility

Vocal cords grown in the lab stretch, vibrate, and make sound in scientific first

Meet Phylliroe: the sea slug that looks and swims like a fish

How the Last Ocean on Earth Will Die

A safety measure that could overwrite CRISPR-derived gene drives

Hiding in the center of our galaxy are stars that formed just after the Big Bang. Here’s how astronomers found them

Some success in saving frogs from the fungal apocalypse

Tomatoes taste good because we slowed down their biological clock

Derek Lowe riffs off the story I wrote on communicating better about drug-resistant bacteria

Fraudulent science papers have 1.5% more jargon than unretracted ones. That’s like saying some farts are 1.5% stinkier

The devil’s finger fungus cannot hear your screams or pleas for mercy

On PSA, Otis Brawley is spot-on: “Of 11 trials, all say there are harms from the test & only 2 say it works,”

One last-resort antibiotic with no mobile bacterial resistance gen… wait, never mind.

More DNA from those mysterious Denisovans

Long-sought biological compass discovered

A new neuroscience paper on the brain responses of neuroscientists to seeing neuroscience papers

A ‘supergene’ turns these male birds into female impersonators and parasites.

This bird disrupted a telecommunications network by stuffing an antenna full of acorns

Cats to blame for spreading disease to California sea otters? Not so fast, says research:

A radical new approach to stroke rehab using video games and robots


A newspaper written entirely by mental health patients

The Onion’s Seaworld coverage is the best

“If our free speech isn’t in jeopardy, why won’t my TA let me spend all of class yelling “F**K BRIAN” at Brian?”

Nobel Prize for physics awarded to man who successfully connected to free wi-fi

On Star Wars and a new way of making movies