I’ve Got Your Missing Links Right Here (12 December 2015)

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Top picks

By me at the Atlantic:

A beautiful read about the death of a whale, by Rebecca Giggs.

Wonderful piece on the glory of “Bitten by orca“, “Rough housing and horseplay”, and other ICD codes. By Alastair Gee

Carl Zimmer profiles a Russian refugee who figured out how to find important new antibiotics by making bacteria happy

Who  makes the rules for outer space? Maggie Koerth-Baker on space law, space mining, and space pirates

Meet The Woman Who Made The Military Care About Climate. By Dan Vergano.

Language Log on Uhs, Ums, and other verbal quirks, featuring a table with a column called “UM per kiloword”.

The troubled quest to make an artificial heart. By Joaquin Palomino

The smartest thing I’ve read on driverless cars, by Adrienne LaFrance

“The world is on fire but at least we got a scrumptious acronym in the process.” Robinson Meyer with the funniest piece about the Paris climate talks. (And here he is again with one of the most helpful.)

How to Stop a Bird-Murdering Cat. Cool story about intuitive amateur solution, later validated by research. By Conor Gearin.

The Absurdly Complete History of Animals Parachuting From the Sky. By Andy Wright

Plants and lichens on a concrete wall used to be a sign of decay, but soon they might be a sign of sophistication. By Rose Eveleth.

The wonderful Story Collider gets some love at the Guardian. Congrats to my friends Ben Lillie, Brian Wecht, Erin Barker, and Liz Neeley.

11 Amazing Ways The World Is Dealing With A Hotter Planet. By Virginia Hughes

They Helped Erase Ebola in Liberia. Now Liberia Is Erasing Them. By Helene Cooper

A wonderful history of, and philosophical musing on, encyclopaedias. By Justin Nobel.



Those blasts of radio waves from deep space? Not aliens. Instead, “flares from magnetars”. MAGNETARS.

Another study on trans-generational epigenetics. Getting a little sad when you can call for a study involving hundreds of people and it’s “bold”.

How loneliness wears on the body

The little fish that dies of old age a few months after hatching.

Syphilis is bouncing back. (Also, you own that problem, Spain)

Hawaii Supreme Court suspends permit to build giant R2-D2 head on sacred mountain

From starlings to Syrian refugees: Helen Macdonald writing beautifully about flocks

The Murky Origins of the Largest Dinosaur Museum in the World

How solar and wind got so cheap so fast.

Wisdom the albatross, banded in 1956, makes its return.

“Whatever differences exist “don’t add up in a consistent way to create ‘female brains’ and ‘male brains’

How a 5-Ounce Bird Stores 10,000 Maps in its Head

The first ‘neurolaw‘ case took place in 1924.

Soooo, what the US is looking for in the Paris climate negotiations is a legally binding… snooze button?

Whales are dying from a bizarre cause: Fish getting stuck in their blowholes

Very interesting on attitudes among Chinese citizens to cloned meat

Like me, these ants can jump with their legs and their faces.

Chris Hadfield in conversation with XKCD’s Randall Munroe

“You can generally avoid someone else’s bodily fluids, if you know you need to. But breathing is not optional.”

“To those who might be inspired to try baking with vaginal yeasts, Dr Roberts simply advises “don’t””

Open Season in Gene Editing of Animals

Driverless cars are like lifts

World’s Biggest Fly Faces Two New Challengers

Your happy friends will die just as early as you.

“I can still feel a ghost of its pressure thirty years later.” Jenny Rohn on sexism in science

This obscure law brought us nasal flu spray, the nicotine patch and the HPV vaccine

This Lonesome George doppelganger breeding project seems… dunno, like an exercise in denial?

Alligators Can Turn Armor Into Eggshell

On Pluto: “These are images where features smaller than a football stadium are visible.”

Global summit reveals divergent views on human gene editing

“I’m trying to teach the roboticists to think like a baby. And I mean that in a good way.”

A flesh-eating fungus that wrecks lives but that no one cares about

Fascinating examination of what foetal tissue is used to research

Protecting the organ that defines who we are as human beings”

Why Is the Human Vagina So Big?

Stumbling block on the road to a universal flu vaccine

Ruh-roh. Evidence of significant off-target effects for optogenetic studies?

No, suicide rates don’t peak during the holiday season

On the challenge of conveying scale in science writing

First dinosaurs arose in an evolutionary eye-blink

Infectious disease specialists – an endangered species

Microbiology labs face agar shortage due to dwindling seaweed harvests

A lake at the bottom of the ocean

How to control antibiotic misuse on farms: set international standards?

Public health experts guess the next Ebola

Biosensor-as-temporary tattoo that monitors vitals through your skin.

What makes Tom Hanks look like Tom Hanks?


Hulk smash puny committee

What Really Happens When You Get Shot

Star Wars: The Merch Awakens

Atlantic staffers choose the best books they read in 2015

Stop rebranding months as causes

An ode to the lightsaber

The Internet Isn’t Available in Most Languages

When Driverless Cars Were Deadly

Incredibly detailed paper sculptures resemble natural microbes