National Geographic

I’ve got your missing links right here (11 May 2013)

Top picks

“I was swallowed by a hippo.” A hungry, hungry hippo.

Beating parasites with parasites – Wolbachia bacteria makes mosquitoes resistant to malaria parasite

Lord have MERS. New coronavirus gets a name, inspiring a funny rant from Crawford Killian and a powerful piece from Helen Branswell on a Canadian SARS survivor who has gone to help with the new virus.

What you do is who you are – great piece by Virginia Hughes on twins, rats & the emergence of individuality

In the NYT, a new weekly Carl Zimmer column. The first one is on the imminent cicada invasion. The second one will follow in 17 years.

This moth completely smashes the record for highest frequency that animals can hear. My piece for Nature.

The Luckiest Village in the World – a beautiful tale of the small village where almost everyone won the lottery.

An exquisite, refreshing evisceration of The Great Gatsby, by Kathryn Schultz

Some English words have staying power, may go back 15,000 years to an Ice Age language.

Killer whale rams dolphin into the air with its head

Any two Europeans are likely to have many common ancestors who lived around 1,000 years ago” – very cool research from Peter Ralph. And more from Carl Zimmer, who is unimpressed by your links to Charlemagne.

Our Solar System turns out to be deeply weird. By Robert Krulwich

With these advances, killer robots will be able to feel you trembling beneath their cold yet sensitive fingers

“An arcane & eldritch item of fashionable nonsense in the shuddering slush-pile of human evolutionary rubbish” – on the aquatic ape theory, by Henry Gee.

Wonder if we’ll survive an eventual global disaster? Check out Annalee Newitz’s new book – Scatter, Adapt, and Remember: How Humans Will Survive a Mass Extinction.

Amazing macro shots of animal eyes. Beautiful. Can you work out which ones are human?

Mind-boggling footage of a falcon killing a duck in mid-air, from the falcon’s perspective.

 

Science/news/writing

Mercury rising, foxes descending

This is what a meaningless study looks like.

How Poachers Stole 10% of an Entire Tortoise Species…and What Happened Next

The anthrax was the result of aural terrorism… earlier the patient had attended a drum circle”

SciCurious talks about WEIRD studies. Especially as regards…your virginity.

Research team fishes the DNA of ancient unfossilized creatures from the sea floor

Nice art project, but the science is utter bollocks. You cannot actually do this. We can barely tell someone’s eye colour from their DNA, let alone facial structure.

Whoa, red flag! The Guardian’s breathless piece says bacteria cause 20-40% of chronic back pain, and that antibiotics could cure these. A surgeon says the discovery is worth a Nobel Prize. But the Indy reveals that the surgeon runs a private spinal surgery clinic & paid for the launch? HMMM.

Mental Health Researchers Reject Psychiatry’s New Diagnostic ‘Bible’, by Maia Szalavitz. But, hang on, says Ferris Jabr. Contrary to recent headlines, NIMH is not abandoning or rejecting the DSM.

Symmetry study deemed fraud. “Few researchers tried harder than Robert Trivers to retract one of their own papers.”

“Who’re you calling a Neanderthal?”

200 million years of feather evolution in 3 minutes

Neuroscientists from Obama’s BRAIN initiative meet to say “we’ve got the cash, now what?” And a white paper with their views on the challenges facing neuroscience.

Bristly nectar-nabbing bat tongue in super slow-mo

The Atacama “alien” is a human foetus, aborted under horrific circumstances.

 

 

Huh/wow/heh

Astronauts reflect on seeing Earth from space

A really long blog post

Bishop’s Knife Trick – Directors Cut

Google uses NASA+USGS satellite pics to show how Earth has changed since 1980s

Antarctica’s last sunset until August

Break through 2 months of Antarctic ice in 5 mins

A visit to the lab of one of the world’s leading electron microscope photographers.

“They look like upside-down cacti that are blown from glass” – on Antarctica’s icy death-fingers

Wonderful. The Onion’s guide to preventing Twitter hacks.

XKCD What If? answers the question “how high can a human throw something” in giraffe units

“Boob plate” armour: a poor choice for the safety-conscious female warrior

Bioluminescent leaves as art

Journalism/internet/society

Medium launched a tech section aimed entirely at women, edited by Arikia Millikan. It’s called Ladybits.

Nicholas Hytner’s “Othello” at London’s National Theatre, with Adrian Lester and Rory Kinnear, is the best Shakespeare production I’ve ever seen. The Economist lays out why it’s great.

I talk with the Knight Science Journalism fellows on the nature and history of science blogging

Everything I thought I knew about the origins of the QWERTY keyboard was a filthy lie

“The writer’s first job is to help me understand, not to dazzle me… The lead sometimes belongs buried.”

Two fantastic pieces on a new Science Writers’ Handbook.

What a week of groceries looks like around the world — a fascinating photo essay.

There are 4 Comments. Add Yours.

  1. Graham Coop
    May 11, 2013

    Peter Ralph actually did most of the work; I just make the tea.

  2. Brian Schmidt
    May 11, 2013

    If the Wolbachia bacteria also kills malaria parasite species that infect other animals and not just the ones that infect humans, then it could have a devastating impact on the environment. Probably still worth doing, but not worth ignoring.

  3. Adrian Morgan
    May 14, 2013

    I’m really quite stunned that you’ve included a report on the “ice age language” story in Top Picks, given the cold reception this story has received from linguists, and your outstanding bullshit detection record.

    I assume the link to the Independent spinal surgery story was correct at the time of writing, but it looks like the Independent have moved it. It’s here now.

    The white BRAIN paper looks, from here, like a literal white paper. I mean, it’s blank; there are no words on the screen below the banner.

  4. 4u1e
    May 15, 2013

    Hungry Hungry Hippo: not really funny in the context of the death of one man and life-changing injuries for another. Just a personal opinion, of course.

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