National Geographic

I’ve Got Your Missing Links Right Here (24 November 2012)

Top picks

One woman’s craving for sleep led to the discovery of a mystery sleep-inducing chemical. This is an amazing piece. Virginia Hughes is science writing royalty.

Attack of the mutant pupfish: a spectacularly written feature by Hillary Rosner on a bold approach to conservation—hybridising species to save them

Excellent longread on a 50-year quest to find cases of “laughing death” (kuru), which led to the discovery of prions

Animal vision evolved 700 million years ago. This is a *beautifully* written post by Lucas Brouwers. Highly recommend

Where is your mind?” Tom Stafford on the fine line between cultural & neural networks

Don’t miss Charles Seife’s investigation into how drug company money is influencing scientists.

Nature takes a hard look at its own sexism & commits to do better. Massive kudos to them for this

If you’re 27 or younger, you’ve never experienced a month when the global temperature was colder than the 20thC average

Yet more evidence of Retraction Watch’s continuing effect on scientific integrity. Congrats to Ivan Oransky and Adam Marcus

Check out Gaia Vince’s radio series on the anthropocene.

NatGeo GIFs: it’s like wonder on a loop.

Feather by feather, scientists reconstruct primitive wing of Archaeopterx, a prehistoric bird. By Carolyn Johnson

The story of the portable beetle, with handles that termites can hold, as told by Matthew Cobb the style of Kipling. And then, a follow-up story on a handled wasp!

Hunt for life under Antarctic ice heats up. This is a marvellous quote: “This is the very pinnacle of the science I’ve been doing since the turn of the millennium. Now guess if I’m excited.”

Mankind isn’t a gender-neutral term. Let’s use humanity instead, argues Annaleen Newitz. Lovely piece on etymology

Vaccines: because it’s great when babies don’t sh*t themselves to death. A hard-hitting chart.

Mind-blowing Jennifer Frazer post: Zombified bacteria are a thing.

Troubled bonobo facility reinstates controversial researcher, Sue Savage-Rumbaugh. Great coverage from Kate Wong.

 

Science/news/writing

Coming soon: Africa, a new 6-part Attenborough series.

British physicist jailed for smuggling 2kg of cocaine into Argentina, says he was duped by bikini model

It’s the final stretch for Ethan Perlstein’s attempt to crowdfund his research on meth addiction. And here’s more cool crowd-funded science, on beetles that dupe super-organisms

DNA has been around for billions of yrs — but that doesn’t mean scientists can’t make it better.

Where did it go? Scientists ‘undiscover’ Pacific island

Bats adjust squeaks to focus sonar http://t.co/l9K0uj3E

DROPBATS! Ancient tree-wombat behaved like a koala http://t.co/nUDCTcvV

Counting white animals against a white backdrop from a helicopter, over 100,000s of sq.kms, is actually pretty tricky”

It is frankly amazing that the guy behind the “Things I Learned as a Field Biologist” blog is even alive.

Self-filling water bottle that condenses water from the air, modelled on namib desert beetle

Here’s a campaign to stop animal rights groups who are targeting firms that transport animals for medical research

Carin Bondar launches a new web series on animal sex

‘Lonesome George has relatives’

Bora Zivkovic on expertise. I love the point about the difference between a good writer and a seductive writer.

Oliver Morton on the Martian organic molecules scientists have already found and studied

In case you need to sort gorilla sperm from human sperm… Jennifer Ouellette on telling one sperm from another

Physicist Paul Davies is back with his ideas about cancer. Except they’re hogwash. See these rebuttals from Genotripe (“…article offers no new insight & crucially, no actual evidence.”) and PZ Myers.

Google engineer turns vacuum cleaner into dirt-cheap book scanner

Nutrition recession: Families struggle to eat healthily amid rising food bills and shrinking budgets

Gamers prove equal to surgeons in operating robotic surgery tools. But they keep dragon-punching my spleen.

Excellent post by Melanie Tannenbaum on the psychology of the Petraeus affair – much better than the usual tripe in this vein.

Why being able to hold your booze might not be a good thing, but could lead to targeted interventions

Man CT scans and 3D prints own skull, makes art of forensic facial reconstruction

To horn or to sneak? It’s all about balls. Tom Houslay on beetle sex lives.

Winter to be cold, say Met Office to press, with tremendous weariness

The science of the moustache

Gorillas & humans last shared a common ancestor 10m yrs ago— how do we know that? Nice explainer

“It is quite usual that an amputated penis is tossed out of an open window, where it may be captured by a duck.”

The cost of basic lab equipment is absurd. Can 3D-printing help?

First randomised controlled trial to show spinal cord regeneration in dogs

Nice campaign from Parkinson’s UK – fund research by sponsoring a C. elegans worm for £5/mth

Great website on the incredible Burgess Shale by the Royal Ontario Museum

JNK Nature paper has 3 corrections and counting… Very rich comment thread

BBC makes absurd decision to axe the great popular science radio show, Naked Scientists

On this story on apes and midlife crises, virtually *every* outside comment I’ve seen about this ape-midlife-crisis story has been skeptical & critical

Breast Checking mitt loses fight to prove credibility

‘Super-Jupiter’ Dwarfs Solar System’s Largest Planet. Jupitest?

How birds are used to monitor pollution. They’re like canaries in the coa… wait.

Science isn’t necessarily hard, nor scientists necessarily clever, and both tropes are unhelpful.

Which Bond villain schemes might actually have made economic sense?

Fascinating paper: how the Mian of Papua New Guinea use rivers to represent space & time how education is changing it

This is a thing? DESTROY ALL TICKS. Evidence mounting that tick bites cause unusual allergy to meat

Relocating rattlesnakes as conservation tool for homeowners?

A teacher’s perspective on the study on neuromyths held by teachers

Skeleton might be Richard III; DNA results delayed from December to January. So… winter of discontent?

 

Heh/wow/huh

Picture taken at London’s Natural History Museum. “We are evolving.” Charles approves.

XKCD on heatmaps

In which Dean Burnett single-handedly fixes the British economy

“They have pictures on the boxes that mean science.” Humans buying any sh*t with ‘immune system’ written on it

Beautiful Chinese leopard wins wildlife camera-trap photo prize

“Using your brains to think of an idea? That’s the old model.” The Onion on social media “gurus

WTFs from textbooks.

Excited frog is excited.

Robot spider seeks missing legs

Spiders from Mars! (made of dry ice)

“Irrational hatred of fruit” and other hidden motivations of video game characters

Second cutest book ever! ZooBorns has new book of dangerously adorable baby animals.

Gaze in wonder at Professor Walter Lewins’ best chalk lines.

No fair, I wanna ride a capybara.

Mechanical Arthropods and Insects Made from Watch Parts and Light Bulbs

Oh HAI, baby mantis!

Public shaming.

 

Internet/journalism/society

On dead pigeon’s leg, an unbreakable code

Writer/journalist and scientist are among kids’ dream jobs, proving again that kids are morons ;-)

Della Thomas has an interesting post and survey on self-promotion via Twitter. Here’s my simple guide

Are Japan’s ninjas heading for extinction? Or are they just hiding?

The John McAfee story is unbelizeable

The next generation of touchscreen tech or the emperor’s cumbersome new clothes?

Freelancers, find a home for your science story, by reading what editors want

What does war sound like now?

How many times should the government rebuild at-risk areas? The “retreat” quote is chilling.

Here are 10 golden rules of Twitter

A Q&A about MATTER, the new long-form science publishing initiative

Portraits of politicians made from collages of bits of pornography.

Lord McAlpine plans to Sue 10k Twitter Users

Dystopic, awful read on a possible future for Twitter

This is a shocking example of men who hate strong women. Also: terribly written. Skip to the letter at end

There are 6 Comments. Add Yours.

  1. Callum Hackett
    November 24, 2012

    As a pedantic linguist, I’d just like to point out on the “mankind” question that, as interesting as the etymology of the word is, using it as a basis for current use would constitute what is known as the etymological fallacy, which is rather analogous to the naturalistic fallacy – words are subject to such radical change over the centuries that appeals to their origins make no rational sense in precisely the same way that it would be unwise to base human culture on how our various psychological traits evolved. It only takes a short time to think of some counter-examples – consider “hysteria” for example. That derives from Greek “belonging to the womb” and if any part of language is going to count as horribly sexist, it’s surely going to be a connection between wild emotions and women. But does anyone *today* actually make that connection in their heads when the word is uttered? No, and because of that, we don’t need to change our usage. Now, I’m not saying that the same is the case with “mankind”, and I actually prefer “humanity” just for the sake of making my own political statement in the same way that people use “she” as a catch-all pronoun instead of “he”, but appeals to etymology are not the basis of rational argument.

  2. Callum Hackett
    November 24, 2012

    And now I bothered to read the entire article and saw the caveat at the end which makes my comment redundant – I got bored with it before. :P

  3. Emily
    November 24, 2012

    I always look forward to your Missing Links, and this was one of the best.

    But FYI: the Burgess Shale link is broken.

  4. Tony
    November 25, 2012

    Alas the Burgess Shale link is bad.

  5. Janice Bryant
    November 25, 2012

    Link to the Burgess Shale website is broken.

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