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I’ve got your missing links right here (22 October 2011)

Top picks

Dam it all to hell. Controversy over the damming of the Mekong The independent Berkeley Earth project finds no basis for climate sceptics’ claims. Again. Great write-up by Ian Sample.

Richard Conniff on using DNA from rhino horn to put a poacher in jail

F**k Yeah Fluid Dynamics – a wonderful blog, and not just for the name.

How economic inequality is (literally) making us sick – an important piece on an unspoken issue by Maia Szalavitz

Virginia Hughes on the science of punny funs

Megan Garber on why David Foster Wallace’s piece on cruise ships is so good. Garber is great herself; I think Wallace would approve.

Celestial Camouflage – joyous Robert Krulwich post about images that look like planets but are really…

Scicurious tears apart a paper about the Pill and relationship satisfaction, and the ensuing media coverage.

“I thought this is the part when everyone says: “Who cares about fungus?” But everyone said: “Holy crap, really?” Adam Rogers on the story behind one of the best science stories of the year. A must-read for people who care about writing, journalism, science or good things.

Really exciting news about a new malaria vaccine that could halve the risk of the disease. In the NEJM: “It’s increasingly clear that we have the first effective vaccine for parasitic disease in humans.” Meanwhile, in Nature: “Trial results are promising but marred by poor efficacy against severe forms

The Open Notebook opens its notebook of successful pitches. A must-read for aspiring writers.

OMG, it’s GFP: How glowing cats (& other fluorescent critters) help biomedical research, by John Rennie.

From plankton to Lenski to Google Books – Brandon Keim the world’s great long-term datasets

An Adelie penguin steals stones from its neighbour’s nest and is caught on film.

A terrific in-depth Atlantic profile of EO Wilson and his latest altruism fracas.

In which Razib Khan wonders if Neanderthals simply lacked leadership. Great, thought-provoking post

Phrases I was not expecting to read: “a fairly rococo penis”. A wonderful dragonfly story in the NYT.

A wonderful tale of rafting rodents. This is the sort of narrative news style I try to bring to this blog. Look how much better it is than the typical BBC version.

News/science/writing

“[One] came to the film with a container of Toshiro Mifune’s ashes. [He was] removed from the survey.” Robert Krulwich on right and left.

These Millipedes Can’t Hear, So Why Do They Sing

Let’s send grave-robbing surgical robots into space to create new satellites out of old ones

Seeing and not believing: how we learned about the egg and sperm

Why flamingos are really minus green, not pink

‘Biggest ever’ study on mobiles still suggests no cancer risk, shocking absolutely no one who actually knew the research

Spies to use Twitter as a crystal ball. Invaluable intelligence being acquired on the secret lives of cats, trolls. ”

A really sad story about a privately owned wild animal collection, whose residents had to be killed when their owner released them and shot himself. Susan Orlean on the tragedy: “Wild Animals Don’t Want To Be Owned”

 Stunning new Archaeopteryx fossil shows that birds evolved feathers before heads.

Mountain beavers developed tough, volcano grit-busting teeth. There’s a vagina dentata joke here somewhere

This is basically a randomised trial of moving people into better neighbourhoods

Facebook friend tally is associated with differences in brain structure? That sure sounds dodgy, but the Neuroskeptic says it’s an extremely good paper.

10 scientific words that originated in sci-fi

What would you do with massive hollowed-out nuclear mountain

Parasite Turns Wasps Into Outsider Zombie Queens

Gut bacteria can decrease drug effectiveness

If I talk bullsh*t, it’s because I’m doing it for you. Awwwww. Jonah Lehrer on how friends can ruin memory.

Scientists sort out the secrets of bubble-rafting snails

In which Robert Krulwich inspires students about the future of science journalism (and calls me a sick man)

Author’s concern over changed language in her PLoS ONE paper led to withdrawal/correction

Behind the scenes of BBC’s latest natural history spectacular, Frozen Planet

Sceintists re-enact mummification process using body of Devon taxi driver

American Academy of Paediatrics to parents: “limit TV consumption by children under two years of age”

A thorough, balanced and informative review of Steven Pinker’s new book by Vaughan Bell.

The Story of Spigelia genuflexa, or, Why Biology Needs YOU

The real doctor who fact-checks House:

What Woody Woodpecker Can Teach Us About Football

Don’t overgeneralize about 2.5 billion people. Razib Khan reminds us that India and China are very big indeed

“The predominant mood among the scientists is one of intense curiosity.” Mission to look for life in Antarctic lake

 

Heh/wow/huh

“God is the artist. I just find the Ninja Turtle in his work.”

Moon NOT Made of Cheese explains famed cheese denialist Sean Carroll.

Sacha Baron Cohen’s new character: Lord Monckton

“If you win the weekly competition, your RNA is synthesised and scored by how well it folds.”

“We hope this will help to remind others to avoid eating raw slugs,”

The wonderful winner of the ‘Dance Your Ph.D.‘ contest.

Just because you can’t see it… Great conservation campaign

Science reporting has been distilled to its basic essence

Sperm donors are “less subject to fatigue” and score higher on “self-directedness”. Oo-er.

On common names.

“If you’re into mucus, it’s a fascinating mucus.” Secrets of bubble-rafting snails

 

Journalism/internet/society

Seth Mnookin has launched SciWriteLabs to explore the fact-checking debate. Round One with David Kroll and Vincent Racaniello; Round Two with Adam Rogers and Ivan Oransky

A list of words that have different meanings for scientists and the public spawned a Google Docs list of terms. But Alice Bell pulls a sceptical face

Was the 7 foot ‘monster slipper’ really a PR stunt

Google changes mind. Google + will support pseudonyms

Pastors convince 3 London women to stop taking meds & pray away their HIV; they die

David Dobbs on parallels between structure in Schubert, Led Zeppelin and long-form writing

Secrets of a death-row chef

5 thoughts on “I’ve got your missing links right here (22 October 2011)

  1. “Forget it. Look, we can’t have mysterious groups of anonymous people just going around changing the names of large groups of cnidarians just because T-Ball Nation can’t tell the difference between bilateral and radial symmetry”

    (from On Common Names)

    That link a definite “heh”. By the time I got to that part, I was hearing the voice of Dennis the Peasant (Monty Python, Holy Grail)

    Listen. Strange women lying in ponds distributing swords is no basis for a system of government. Supreme executive power derives from a mandate from the masses, not from some farcical aquatic ceremony.

    Kind of a pity that Google has changed their policy to allow pseudonyms. I was feeling rather clever at having circumvented their policy by using a long-term pseudonym that has a “history”. Now I’ll have to register under my real name and pretend it is a pseudonym-that’ll show ’em.

  2. The link behind “Berkeley Earth project finds no basis for climate sceptics’ claims” doesn’t go to anything relevant to the subject.

    “Sacha Baron Cohen’s new character: Lord Monckton” doesn’t go to a link with Sacha Baron-Cohen in it.

    And “Seeing and not believing” offers us, “Humans can’t help having their preconceived beliefs take precedence over the facts.” If that were actually true scientific progress would be impossible.

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