National Geographic

I’ve got your missing links right here (13 July 2013)

Top picks

The Brain Scoop series by the incredible Emily Graslie, which I only just discovered this week, is just wonderful. I watched these for about an hour. They’re witty, infectiously energetic, and fascinating looks at natural history museums. Here are some favourites on platypus, the skinning of a wolf, giant flying squirrels, and the “overflow skull storage room, which is redundant since the entire museum is overflow skull storage”.

An insightful attempt to understand the bigfoot genome, the woman who created it, and how an honest attempt at science can go horribly wrong. By John Timmer.

Manatees, dolphins & pelicans are dying en masse in a Florida lagoon, and no one knows why. Top piece by Nadia Drake.

We have scent & taste receptors throughout our bodies that are actually smelling & tasting. By Veronique Greenwood.

The horrible psychology of solitary confinement. This Brandon Keim piece is loaded with terrifying stats.

A wonderful nerdy love song. Plus: kitten.

Stop talking about the “female Brian Cox“; here’s how to really support women science presenters. By Gia Milinovich.

Did you miss the cicada invasion? DON’T WORRY. Now, it’s time for the giant cicada-killer wasps…

17 microbe species, all new to science, that collectively nurture the immune systems of mice. By Carl Zimmer.

“When we target chemophobia, are we punching down?” Fantastic piece on science communication by Janet Stemwedel, inspired by Chris Clarke.

Do you want to read 3,000 words on the evolution of the scrotum? Sure you do.

The original Buzzfeed: bumblebees use sound to eat.

It pains me that we still need to defend the use of metaphors in science writing, but Caleb Scharf does a great job.

Lovely essay in Aeon Magazine on islands, birds, the role of selection vs. chance in evolution, and how politics and personal biases have shaped evolutionary theory. By Lewis Spurgin.

Wow. Eye-opening piece on the inability to patent magic tricks

Joss Whedon on getting stuff done.

Pancreas in the brain, livers growing on kidneys, bones growing in bowels. By Virginia Hughes.

The wonderful story behind the worst video game ever created

Interesting new studies about maternal antibodies & autism, by me in The Scientist.

 

Science/news/writing

Glass sponges are totally bizarre, and climate change is changing what we know about them

Prostate cancer’s got some nerve.

I stumbled across this brilliant post from last year by Trish Greenhalgh: Less Research Is Needed

Awesome! A summer programme gets kids to print + study dinosaur bones, at the American Museum of Natural History.

Mammals mums might influence babies’ sex.

“Why Has the Number of Scientific Retractions Increased?” New study tries to answer

A metaphor for science, by Ben Lillie’s cat.

Crickets fight more violently when other crickets are watching.

“Anyone can play at being a homicidal user of chemical compounds,” says Deborah Blum.

Octopus survives frigid waters via blue blood.

What Ant Colony Networks Can Tell Us About What’s Next for Human-Engineered Ones. By Deborah Gordon

Razzle dazzle ‘em. An illustrated history of unbelievably camouflaged ships

All young ants are massively constipated and only poo once.

WTF? Decapitated Worms Regrow Heads with Memories Still Inside. By Elizabeth Preston.

A profile of Fiona Fox and the Science Media Centre by Ewen Callaway.

Director of heroic “Fukushima 50” dies

Good explainer on HPV cancers in men, by Maggie Koerth-Baker

Science Builds a Better Pie

Caterpillars Can “Blink” A Fake Eye

Claims of Lake Vostok fish get frosty response

Ancient Dinosaur Birds Were Infected With Hepatitis B

Making babies in space: hard to conceive? By Oli Morton.

Coal burning in China… may have cut more than 5yrs of life expectancy [from] 500 million people”

Choir singers harmonise their voices AND their heartbeats

Turkey’s science agency says evolution is ‘too controversial’ and rejects science school.

How should doctors talk w/ patients about impossible decisions?

Exactly rocket science: Rockets are seeding the skies with clouds!

A brief history of the quest to find another Earth

Right whale wrongs surfer

While constructing additional pylons, gamers are getting a working knowledge of cancer

A sad reminder that organ engineering is still an infant science, as prone to tragedy as it is to miracles

Hawk-Eye at Wimbledon: it’s not as infallible as you think

Hipster toad has weaponised moustache

Slate published a defense of alcoholism that attacks Maia Szalavitz, the best addiction writer out there… who then eviscerated it.

1 in 1000 sea monkeys are males. Yet another mystery in the evolution of sex

 

Heh/wow/huh

From badass to adorable in half a second

Do not argue on the internet.

Best book cover ever

A coffee mug.

This is what the Iron Throne from Game of Thrones is *meant* to look like.

UFOs, Bigfoot, ghosts: settled.

Meanwhile, metal dinosaur invades Paris.

Heh. Genetics.

All academics should write their bios like this one – brilliant!

Images of science. A thing, made by Ben Lillie.

Just out for a nice drive in the country and WAIT WTF??!?

A Namibian dune gecko licks the dew off its eyes

Portrait of a leafy seadragon

Q: How many sharks does an average sharknado contain? How many are ejected/5-minutes? A: I can’t count that high.

 

Journalism/internet/society

This disaster relief ad campaign, which says that Facebook likes don’t help, has 5000+ Facebook likes

“I refuse to accept that the only good response to an imperfect technology is to abandon it” – Alexis Madrigal.

Cross-sections of bullets are beautiful and terrifying in equal measure

We’d like our $1.7 million book advance back

Evan Ratliff talks about his new e-book, The Oilman’s Daughter, and about the ambiguity that good non-fiction writers embrace.

A good beginner’s primer on Criticising Science Writing like a Pillock.

Survey shows that the UK public thinks it lives in Newspaper Land, rather than the actual world. Also the Royal Statistical Society doesn’t understand the meaning of “top”.

“How do you decide what will be a story in the first place?” Joe Palca: “The one that amuses me most.”

An ode to blankets: “How they uncover, communicate, and mediate life and death”

Skeptics shouldn’t have lined up with Mail to call psychic a fraud

 

 

 

 

There are 7 Comments. Add Yours.

  1. Bora Zivkovic
    July 13, 2013

    Evan Ratliff link is all about testicles, again ;-)

  2. Walter S. Andriuzzi
    July 13, 2013

    I’m a bit surprised hardly anyone is talking about this, it looks quite noteworthy: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-23269778
    -wsa

  3. Christopher
    July 13, 2013

    Um, psychics ARE frauds. Do we need to gather evidence for the rest of human existence and repeatedly show that psychic powers, remote viewing, auras, psychic surgery, big foot, angels, and all the other related garbage is pure bunk?! Hot readings, cold readings, ear pieces, whatever. It’s still fraud and since we don’t live in the Marvel or DC universe, but in reality, I’m pretty sure we can assume every psychic out there in la la land is merely fleecing the rubes out of their money without doing peer reviewed scientific studies about each and every one of them.

  4. Alex Marshall
    July 13, 2013

    thank you Ed Yong for the round up of your favourites, I am really enjoying reading them.

  5. Kelly Miller
    July 14, 2013

    Ed,

    Thanks for putting these out every week. You always find the best stuff to read.

  6. Jo Brodie
    July 14, 2013

    @Christopher – it’s more that the term ‘fraud’ can be taken to imply intentional deceit, which is perhaps quite difficult to prove, rather than ‘wrong’ which is a lot easier to deal with. We skeptics would probably have been on firmer ground if we’d stuck to ‘wrong’ but as soon as you start assuming that someone is acting in bad faith then things can get problematic.

    It’s true that psychic ability doesn’t appear to be real, but many people offering their ‘skills’ in this area may genuinely believe that they can do it. It’s not straightforward to apply ‘fraud’ here however mistaken or nonsensical the ideas are (and I do think they are nonsensical).

    Jo

  7. Torbjörn Larsson, OM
    July 19, 2013

    @Jo: I can’t see how it isn’t even more fraud if you accept the premise that these people believe in what they are doing.

    Because we know empirically it doesn’t work. And they choose to reject that or not even look for best practice, so they are outing themselves as acting in bad faith. At least a scammer is honest about his scam.

    I like Robbins, but in this case he is blaming the victims for being “sloppy”. Ironically it is the unknowing fraudsters that are that. And we have to expect better from self-appointed “helpers”. (Yes, I know there is no common quality system. Hence the fallback to jurisdiction.)

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