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I’ve got your missing links right here (16 April 2011)

I’ve been on holiday this week, so here’s a somewhat truncated and uncategorised version of the usual weekly links.

In literature and mythology, heroes and villains are often mirror images of each other. Andrea Kuszewski looks at the science behind that

The Human Brain Atlas, a map of gene expression in the human brain

You should all be reading SciCurious’s excellent blogging from the Experimental Biology Meeting 2011. Her hands have probably fallen off by now.

Spider-Man, Spider-Man, does whatever a spider can. Apparently, that includes being hunted, torn apart and eaten by children.

How Colin Firth became a published author in Current Biology, on a neuroscience study about brain differences between liberals and conservatives. Meanwhile, the Neurocritic pulls apart the results.

An amazing resource! Timetree lets you work out when any two species last shared a common ancestor. I last shared an ancestor with T.rex around 275 milion years ago…

When journalists do primary research, Ben Goldacre smashes.

Slate has a great two-part series on the top reasons for wrongful convictions: eyewitness misidentifications and false confessions

Eric Johnson discusses the allure of gay cavemen

The challenge of cryogenics – Jennifer Ouellette discusses zombie dogs, antifreeze proteins and, er, Demolition Man

How the psychology of blog commenting has changed in recent years

Cool transitional fossil shows how jawbones evolved into ear bones

Daemonosaurus? Really? Why not call it Evilsaurus, or Muhahahahahasaurus?

Atlantic writer taunts spammers; spammers hack his wife’s Gmail, send out mass requests for money

Duck sex: brighter-billed males are better catches because they have more sterile sperm

When Tim Radford gives you tips on science writing, you read them

Calls for more sharing of raw palaeontology data on the web

The genetic basis of a classic evolution example, the peppered moth

How a humpback whale song went viral

Why is polio so bloody hard to finish off?

How Fukushima is and isn’t like Chernobyl, by Geoff Brumfiel. Meanwhile, with Fukushima still in crisis and thousands of bodies still missing from the quake and tsunami, some guy decides it’s a great idea to create a video game of the whole affair

Heh. Everyone’s a critic. The first page of Infinite Jest, posted to Yahoo Answers, draws derision.

Great Scott! China bans time-travel movies. “Upset over a booming genre of movies and TV where Chinese citizens travel to a simpler time in the past, the government has put the kibosh on all forms of entertainment that make use of the plot device.”

Yes now you too can pay £215 to have a skeletal hand clutch at your neck

Scuttledfish: Noise in oceans leads to ‘severe acoustic trauma’ in octopus, squid

Nobel laureates in sciences at 25 times more likely than the average scientist to sing or dance, and 17 times more likely to be an artist

Extreme positions are the worst! A piece on why bloggers/columnists are pushed towards extremes

Turns out that grafting Steve Buscemi’s eyes onto any woman’s face sends you straight into the uncanny valley

The latest in Charles Q. Choi’s Too Hard for Science series – the meaning of dreams

Two bees or not two bees: on the genetics of bee sociability

Recreating Yuri Gagarin’s spaceflight on film. You should click on the link just to see that STUNNING first image.

You can attend Stanford’s Human Behavioural Biology course for free on Youtube, featuring Robert Sapolsky

A visual comparison of words in advertising for girls and boys’ toys. Unsurprising, but striking nonetheless

A fish-driven robot. This thing needs some sort of attack claw on the front

Gosh. How flattering/mortifying. People clearly don’t have enough to talk about.

8 thoughts on “I’ve got your missing links right here (16 April 2011)

  1. An amazing resource! Timetree lets you work out when any two species last shared a common ancestor. I last shared an ancestor with T.rex around 275 milion years ago…

    It gives me 324My for H. sapiens vs T.rex. What species are you?

  2. @Chris:
    275 million years seems to be the simple average of all studies, whereas 324 mya is the weighted average. Maybe Ed just preferred the simple average? Either that, or he’s a snake.

  3. Timetree is a great application.

    At the Michigan Skeptics Association’s Darwin Day celebration, I used TimeTree for one of my games. I picked two animals, and then the participants had to guess how far back the common ancestor lived (without going over)…sort of like how Contestant’s Row works on “The Price Is Right.”

  4. Nearly a billion years separates us from the ants (and other arthropods, I’m guessing). It’s a big number, but kinda makes me feel closer to those little bugs.

  5. Regarding the series on convicting the innocent, I’ve long been convinced that this sort of thing should be taught in schools.

    One thing I find irritating, though, is the author’s apparent projection regarding what is famous. You know how it goes: “X is famous” is so often code for “I have heard of X”. Personally, I have in fact heard of the Ronald Cotton case because I watched the John Cleese documentary on The Human Face a decade ago (and bought the video), but I’ve never visited the planet on which it’s identifiable to the general public as “the best-known eyewitness false identification of them all“.

    Regarding TimeTree, I wonder how comprehensive the creators would estimate the database of common names (like ‘cat’, ‘dog’, etc) to be. I’d say very good, but not so good that the average user can’t find an omission within several tries (it took me about four before I discovered the absence of ‘gum’ as a synonym for ‘eucalyptus’).

  6. Nice article regarding the jawbone / earbone. From what I understand, there is no such thing as a primitive ear. In other words, eyes can be simple (some horseshoe crab eyes, for example, do not need the brain in order to see) but an ear does not work until all its components are in place, so the ear had to evolve completely before it would work. Am I wrong?

  7. Ed – you scooped the Economist. THIS WEEK, they have an article that you touted LAST WEEK — the one about whether the judge’s hunger pangs influence sentencing…

    Well done!

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