National Geographic

I’ve got your missing links right here (20 April 2013)

Top picks

WOW! Iron traces in fossilised bacteria could be the signature of a specific EXPLODING STAR?! Alex Witze blows my mind.

When it comes to writing about dinosaurs, fellow Phenomena blogger Brian Switek is unparalleled. Enjoy his new book, My Beloved Brontosaurus. And here’s an interview.

One of the last obstacles to eradicating polio: finding & vaccinating Nigerian nomads. Fascinating Ewen Callaway piece

Wringing out a washcloth in space. Just the most wonderful thing you will see all day

Snow-capped turquoise ice rises from the oldest freshwater lake on Earth

Find one Earth-ish planet, get a second one free. By Phil Plait.

Neurodiversity: just because a PC is not running Windows doesn’t mean that it’s broken,” by Steve Silberman.

Why A.sediba is like the blind men touching the elephant. By Eric Michael Johnson.

Why did menopause evolve?

Beer, dopamine and brain scans make an intoxicating mix – SciCurious analyses a tenuous study that people fell over themselves to cover.

Stunning interactive graphic about exoplanets.

Cancer researchers revisiting people who responded exceptionally well during “failed” trials.

Congrats to the Everyday Sexism Project for a year of good and important work

Why grad students should blog (and maybe try their hand at journalism). Totally agree with this piece by Maria Konnikova. Related: a minor epiphany about why being a journalist has made me a better scientist than being a scientist ever did.

Astonishingly, some idiots at the Independent thought it was appropriate to run a press release from Andrew Wakefield – discredited front-man of the MMR-vaccine controversy—on its front page. While a measles epidemic is happening right now in Wales. Mark Henderson takes them to task, as does Martin Robbins. Meanwhile, an ex-editor of a paper that ran an anti-MMR campaign says he’d do it all over again. No, you didn’t “listen to your readers“, you unrepentant pissant. You screwed them over.

Lab-grown kidneys transplanted into rats & make urine (just not that well, yet). From me.

Why do humans cry? You know, besides internet commenters? Vaughan Bell explores.

How we colonise each other with bacteria, by Veronique Greenwood at the New Yorker.

Something in my eye! 3D sonograms let blind expectant parents “see” their babies

Does the SfN stand for Society for Neuroscience or Shhh! Frickin’ Naysayers! The president of the SfN sends out an unbelievable email telling neuroscientists to stop moaning about the BRAIN Initiative. Because money. Justin Kiggins responds. Nature News also has a report, with clarification from Swanson.

A new era in Mars exploration, by Burkhard Bilger.

Wired’s anniversary collection looks awesome, w/ pieces by Steve Silberman, Amy Wallace, William Gibson and more.

 

News/science/writing

A 25 year old man died with measles in Wales. Get the jab.

Apparently half of koalas have chlamydia.

Don’t miss great wisdom on science writing from Helen Pearson and David Dobbs

“We have an 11-yr-old son who should have got the MMR jab in 2003” – thoughtful piece by Jon Butterworth.

On Dead Salmon, Drugs, and “Lighting Up” the Brain

A new dinosaur—Dahalokely—was Madagascar’s lonely little thief.

Broadening the Beam of Compassion – when the father of conservation met up with animal rights activists.

Some Icelanders Are Accidentally Dating a Relative and Now There’s an App for That

HA! Desperate linguistic contortions to describe non-significant results

Just How Damaged Are NFL Players’ Brains?

The power of ‘you’? Science policy below the line. Great piece by Alice Bell.

Neuroplasticity is nothing special, it’s just what brains do. Hearts beat, lungs breathe, brains change

The Jaguar Shark is now a real species… but slightly less man-eating

Making vaccines that do not need refrigeration by encasing them in egg-shell like casings

Oregon’s new state microbe is brewer’s yeast!

Often hilarious conversation with fraudster Diederik Stapel.

Hares can’t adjust changes in coat colour to keep up with altered seasons & changing climate.

Is ‘cost-effective’ science leading us down blind alleys?

Excellent update on H7N9 flu by Declan Butler.

Tooth-like structures on the skin of a rare fish might act as high-velocity water-flow detectors.

Strike One: Fishing boat from China ran aground on a Philippines coral reef. Strike Two: It’s filled with more than 2,000 frozen pangolins

Would Jurassic Park’s raptors really have hunted in packs?

An inordinate fondness for beetles: 30,000 in his collection

Bizarre Observer piece on the shadow biosphere. It might as well be about pixies. “We can’t explain this, so… magic?”

Galileo was a great scientist because he wasn’t afraid to admit when he was wrong. If only more of us did the same.

The Guardian looks at several big reports on climate’s effect on food in next few decades. Grim.

How the ancient Egyptians could soon be getting their genomes sequenced

 

Heh/wow/huh

This is incredible. A seasnake + moray eel ouroboros!

Stunning Portuguese man-of-war pictures look like psychedelic rock poster art. But, er, “other people will see vaginas and other crazy sexual organs”? Come on.

‘Spectacular’ bloom of Joshua trees underway

“Let us not bicker over such trivial matters as the actual death toll.”

How the world really works

Dinosaur beard is the best beard.

There are only 13 movie posters.

 

Internet/journalism/society

Must-watch for aspiring journalists—Adam Rogers from Wired talks about his adventures in science writing

Read Taylor Dobbs’ first-hand account of covering the chase after the Boston bombing suspects.

How do you build a tunnel for ships? And why has no-one done this before?

Boys’ clubs. Depressing.

Heartbreaking post from Lisa Adams about being a cancer patient and staring at her children’s future.

Things you can’t really crowdsource: a manhunt

The Verge just launched a science section. Meanwhile, Matter is partnering with Medium. Science writing is growing!

Alom Shaha: talking isn’t teaching. We need questions, as well s explanations

It looks like you’re trying to destroy an economy. Would you like some help with that?

The Guardian’s new GuardianWitness app opens reporting up to the users. Editors give assignments.

Self-censorship among Facebook users. Read in terror as you realised that the posts that get through are the good ones.

Thoughtful piece by Helen Lewis on language and Twitter

 

There are 5 Comments. Add Yours.

  1. Pete in NZ
    April 21, 2013

    Since the link telling me How the world really works is broken I’m now lost and clueless aarrrrggh

  2. Tony Mach
    April 21, 2013

    There are tunnels for ships. Of the top of my head:

    - The Tunnel de Rove near Marseille, France. It is the biggest, though, no longer open.

    - One tunnel in Besançon, France, under the Citadelle

    - The Malpas Tunnel, near Narbonne. Oldest ship tunnel, build in 1679. Inspired by a Roman drain tunnel. (What the Romans build with regards to bridges, viaducts, aqueducts, tunnels, inverse siphons, and so on is quite impressive, BTW)

    - Not a tunnel in the strict sense, the Canal Saint-Martin in Paris is very nice and open for tourists. I can only recommend it if one goes to Paris.

    And I take it there are lots more ship canals in the UK.

  3. Adrian Morgan
    April 21, 2013

    I reckon my favourite this week is the seasnake/eel ouroboros.

    Agree broadly with the Helen Lewis piece, but contrary to your summary it doesn’t mention Twitter. Relating it to words for people on the autism spectrum (which includes me): I personally cringe at “aspie” (and also at “autistic” used as a noun), but I accept that my personal distaste is not binding on other people.

    The Galileo article has been criticised for accuracy by sources I find reliable. I’m not sure the disputed points are the salient ones, but I think it’s worth noting.

    @Pete: Although the link is broken it’s a simple bit of detective work to figure out where it should go. (1) Observe that the URL given is the current URL conjoined to an SMBC URL. (2) Go to that SMBC URL and note that it still doesn’t work. (3) In a separate tab, visit a random SMBC comic in order to see what the URL format is supposed to be. (4) Having seen that the problem is a missing “.php” after “index” in the original tab, go back and fix it manually. (5) It now works.

  4. Pete in NZ
    April 21, 2013

    Cheers Adrian – I hadn’t thought of that
    http://www.smbc-comics.com/index.php?db=comics&id=2947

  5. Chris M.
    April 22, 2013

    Always fun to see the magical thinking that happens around “p<0.05", one way or the other. It's a convention that doesn't have a lot of basis in what is actually measured, but because it's convention people stretch to get there. Values in the general vicinity are worth reporting, and calling them "approaching significant" or other fuzzy wording is accurate, if entertainingly convoluted to downplay the non-significance.

    I've luckily not had to report a value over p<0.001, if I'm recalling correctly, thanks mostly to studying things that have shown large differences. I have p<10^-20 in a recent abstract.

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