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

I’ve Got Your Missing Links Right Here (30 January 2016)

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Top picks

From me at the Atlantic:

The Neurologist Who Hacked His Brain—And Almost Lost His Mind. This is Dan Engber at his very best. Superb journalism.

Glittering Blue: an incredible view of the Earth. Here’s Robinson Meyer to tell you what it all means

Nonsense paper on conspiracy theories gets widely shared by “skeptics”; I died of irony poisoning.

“You wouldn’t really die of anything. You would just stop being biology and start being physics.” Welcome back, What If?

A wonderful and ongoing series of dispatches from the ConspiraSea Cruise, a floating haven of irrationality.

In Defense of Flat Earthers, by Lizzie Wade. Yes, they’re obviously wrong, but that’s not the point. And more from Ben Lillie.

Ex Machina’s flaws reflect the flaws in modern thinking about artificial intelligence. By Martin Robbins.

Calories consumed minus calories burned: it’s not that simple. By Cynthia Graber and Nicola Twilley

Here’s a wonderful set of Bad Ad-hoc Hypotheses about Evolution, featuring me as a judge

European Go champion on losing to a Google AI: “If no one told me, maybe I would think the player was a little strange.” Next up: the world champion

Teens Aren’t Ruining Language. Adrienne LaFrance Can’t Even.

Hilarious, informative Q&A about Planet Nine, by Nadia Drake

Policing the microbiome is central to Eisen’s identity”. Lovely Wired profile of Jonathan Eisen.

Loving this science-in-action story from Hillary Rosner, on an awesome fossil site with a cool unsolved mystery

Excellent David Quammen explainer about Zika, this year’s scary virus


Why cheetah researchers spend a lot of time sneaking up on bushes

US government says Theranos lab poses ‘immediate jeopardy to patient safety’; they have 10 days to respond

Mastodons, ground sloths, and sabercats disappeared after the Ice Age. How did jaguars survive?

Chimps hunt monkey prey almost to (local) extinction.

Why leafcutter ants evolved into sophisticated farmers

Tardigrades get weirder: pretty much their whole body is a head

Using nuclear bombs to study sea turtles

What you should know about the birth defect tied to Zika virus

“The reality is that forensic science today is a strange mix of the high-tech and the outdated”

The extraordinary world of illegal bird killing

David Quammen heads to Chile to catch some cicadas

“The way prizes give disproportionate credit to a handful of individuals is an injustice to the way science really works”

Why Eric Lander morphed from science god to punching bag

Warm-blooded lizards switch on mystery heat source at will

Cat-gras syndrome: “the case of a man who believed that his cat was in fact a different cat”

TIL that the female nautilus has a structure called the “Organ of Owen

Death of a Yangtze Giant Softshell Turtle takes species 25% closer to extinction.

Alarming’ spread of Zika virus spurs global emergency response.

I’m a lichen this piece.

A wearable sensor that multiplex digitizes your sweat

Criticism of ‘research parasites’ moves NEJM in the wrong direction

Worst year ever for rhino poaching in Africa

Pet project hunts genetic links to behaviour by polling owners on their companions’ quirks.

New Tests for Zika in the Works

Genetics rewrites story of fish species trapped in single hole

Because of Zika, “El Salvador is advising all women in the country not to get pregnant until 2018.”

Bigger-brained mammals do better with a baited puzzle box

“Whatever you do, don’t name your new species after yourself. That’s tacky.”

Storks are building their lives in landfills, altering their migration patterns

Bee cum protects queens from STD

Three dead sperm whales wash up on Skegness beach

Jumping spiders can think ahead, plan detours

Bagworm moth cocoon is a tiny log cabin.

A “truly astonishing find” shows how ancient Babylonians tracked Jupiter’s movement across the sky.

The world needs a Zika vaccine. Getting one will take years

Did you know cheese, even mild cheddar, is considered gag-inducing in China?


Hahahaha screw you, nut graf!

On machine guns: “It is the most dreadful instrument that I have ever seen or imagined.”

8 Incredible Symbiotic Relationships From The Animal Kingdom

Tian Tian the panda, enjoying the snow

Why we picture bombs as black balls with burning wicks. (That’s not what they look like.)

How to fix Twitter: some excellent suggestions about changing the way replies and mentions work

I always thought Darth Vader’s lower faceplate looked like a harmonica.

Memories of a revolution that failed: the fifth anniversary of Tahrir Square

Adrienne LaFrance tried to send a telegram. It did not work.

Mushroom death suit” feeds on your corpse, grows mushrooms from it.