National Geographic

I’ve got your missing links right here (16 November 2013)

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Top picks

“’I think it’s fair to say I’ve studied more dinosaur faeces than most,’ she says modestly.” Great piece on Karen Chin, who’s the world’s leading expert on dinosaur dung. By Eliza Strickland.

Fourier transforms are everywhere. Aatish Bhatia explains what they are with amazing clarity. Man, that guy’s good.

How molecular autopsies could save the living. Fascinating piece by Jeanne Erdmann.

An essential piece on why breast cancer screening is a triumph of marketing but not of evidence-based medicine. By Amos Zeeberg.

John Hawks and Lee Berger have been doing an amazing job of live-tweeting their own expedition that’s digging up hominid fossils! Here’s a great write-up by Andrew Howley at Nat Geo, and a video.

Domestic dogs originated alongside European hunter-gatherers, from a breed of wolf that is probably extinct. By me.

“On a basic factual level, Gladwell doesn’t seem to know what he’s talking about.” This one’s about the Beatles, but I love that Malcolm Gladwell refutations are now a genre.

26 stories from women who’ve had abortions. Frequently heartbreaking, sometimes uplifting, required reading.

This is fantastic. The presence of acacia trees is linked to the number of traffic fatalities.

Argentine car mechanic dreams up tool praised for enormous potential to save babies in poor countries

Why does wine get legs? Wonderful video by Dan Quinn. And Robert Krulwich’s thoughts on the video are well worth reading.

“The conflation of faith as “unevidenced belief” with faith as “justified confidence” is simply a word trick,” says Jerry Coyne.

A touching history of the taxidermy of Jumbo the elephant. Don’t miss Henry Nicholl’s new Animal Magic blog at the Guardian.

OOH, now *that’s* an interesting idea. Was Archaeopteryx in the process of *losing* the ability to fly?

HA! The brilliant Neuroskeptic goes all Ambrose Bierce on neuroscience.

Such deep roots you have: really cool study on the evolution of the Little Red Riding Hood story, by Alan boyle.

How the western black rhino went extinct, by John Platt.

Cetacean needed: Why did Russia, a country w/ so little use for whales, kill 180,000 of them, 50 yrs ago? By Charles Homans

This animated comic is utterly beautiful, and drenched in childhood nostalgia.

Each step we take is an arrested plunge, a collapse averted, a disaster braked.” – on Paul Salopek’s epic attempt to trace the footsteps of humanity in a long walk

This chat between Ben Lillie, Ann Finkbeiner and Hope Jahren is the best ever obituary for Luis Alvarez.

 

Science/news/writing

You really don’t have to fear the brown recluse.

As a first step, “it will be a symbolic act but symbolism matters.” Bryan Christy on the USA’s destruction of its ivory stockpile.

Lyme bacteria show that evolvability is evolvable

Do dodo bones belong in a museum? Compelling piece by Jack Ashby argues “Not always.”

Good piece on the farcical scramble to work out what the BRAIN Initiative actually is, months after it was announced. By Helen Shen.

Scientists list the top ten irreplaceable nature reserves on Earth. I’ve been to two; eight to go.

Richard Lenski blogs about his new paper on his 50,000-generation evolution experiment

Terrifying new twist on rubber hand illusion, featuring you tongue.  is terrifying stuff

Infants develop rare bleeding disorder after parents refuse vitamin K shots, CDC reports

First case of new bird flu H6N1 found in 20-year-old woman

A new study, in which a researcher let a sand flea grow inside her skin

You could totally print your own realistic, life-size woolly mammoth skeleton.

Some Dead Satellites Refuse to Go Quietly to Their Graves

A #sciencespark collection by Ben Lillie. What got people into science?

How the Mosses That Got Run Over by a Glacier Survived Their Ordeal. By Jennifer Frazer. Featuring “Will It Blend: The Moss Edition”.

Doing it right: a nice story of how a journal helped me to get a better story

Carl Sagan means absolutely nothing to me.” Erin Podolak calls for a little less hero worship in sci-comm.

There are 636,120 ways to be diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (#PTSD), apparently

Chemoprevention and the race against malaria resistance in Africa, by Amy Maxmen.

So long, and thanks for all the fish. Dolphins. No.

There was once a ‘walrus whale’

How to Destroy a Pile of Chemical Weapons

Gigantic cave has its own weather

How our minds went viral

The hottest guppies stand out from the crowd.

Accusations of fraud spur a revolution in scientific publishing. “PubPeer, which is becoming the Reddit of the science world…”

To Solve a Social Problem, You Need More Than a Theory — You Need a Randomized Controlled Trial

“Just significant” results have been around for decades in psychology — but have gotten worse

Kevin Bonham very neatly considers and rebuts the arguments for GMO-labeling

“Frontiers for Young Minds” – a neuroscience journal written for & reviewed by kids:

When used to describe animal behaviour, the word “promiscuous” is unhelpful and almost never right.

Dolphin-Killing Virus Spreads South, May Be Infecting Whales.

Sleep: when you literally rinse the crap out of your brain.

A Living Sabertooth

Johnson “advocates for scientists to use more stringent P values of <0.005″. Boom.

Why do humans hate poo so much?

Animals often move in ways engineers find counter-intuitive, like this incredible glass knifefish

What happens when an entomologist develops a fear of bugs?

US courts see rise in defendants blaming their brains for criminal acts

Nice, thoughtful piece from PZ Myers about how far research has come over the years

Are there words that are universally understood, across all countries and cultures? Linguists proposed one: “huh.”

 

Heh/wow/huh

Scientific paper title gets ever so slightly out of hand. Also: The bluntest title I’ve ever seen in an academic journal.

Globular springtail walks through a magical forest of slime mold. [photo: Dmitri Pavlov]

Watch the guy in the white shirt on the bike at the top-centre of the screen. Don’t stop till the very end.

Entire Alphabet Found on the Wing Patterns of Butterflies

When people say they’ve gone for a run, I ask if a predator was chasing them. Say it enough times…

Tiny green sea umbrellas!

Dinovember, when your plastic dinosaurs come to life

An amazing Masterchef parody.

A rabbit with some good life advice

First ever vid of rediscovered moss-mimicking mantis

I hope that Ross Piper’s new coffee-table book on the animal kingdom comes with glossy paper because I intend to drool all over it.

XKCD on dumb articles about how tech will change us

List of eponymous laws

 

Society/internet/journalism

Epic analysis of films that pass/fail the Bechdel test, by year, genre, director, country & more.

“For the First Time Ever, a Prosecutor Will Go to Jail for Wrongfully Convicting an Innocent Man”

Ruin porn resonates with us today because it is an unmediated experience in a mediated culture.”

Competitive laughing? Ironically, this just makes me want to cry

“How feminism hurts men”. A satirical role reversal that shows how ludicrous this sentiment is.

Before Twitter was named “Twitter”, suggestions included Throbber, Smssy, and Friendstalker

Brendan Koerner storyboards his narratives. Here’s how

I like Annalee Newitz’s theory of viral journalism and the “valley of ambiguity”

Man ate dog who saved him from bear.

Look, a shadowy cabal that decides whether buildings are tall. They’ve just decided on this.

Soon, you won’t need Internet access to read Wikipedia. You can get it by text message.

Aeon are making documentaries now?!? Is there no stopping those fine people?

The world’s oddest jobs, including a dinosaur duster.

 

 

There are 3 Comments. Add Yours.

  1. Brian Schmidt
    November 16, 2013

    Kevin Bonham’s argument is that if a solution to X does not also solve related problems Y and Z, then the solution to X is useless and shouldn’t be done. Proof: he’s saying that because industrial farming does some bad things, people shouldn’t oppose the introduction of exotic genes into the wild ancestors of domestic plants via GMOs in industrial farming.

    The only way I can understand why Kevin would say such a thing or that Ed would link to it approvingly is that they are so distracted by the many terrible arguments made by anti-GMO opponents that they cannot sort out some obviously valid arguments..

    I hate that I’m ranting over this, given the incredibly good quality of all the other links Ed’s provided to us.

  2. Syd
    November 16, 2013

    It seems the plastic dinosaur link is missing, which is especially troubling since I recently cared for Bruno, the stage right dinosaur, during a production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

  3. Walter Andriuzzi
    November 17, 2013

    Nice links as always Ed
    I especially liked Jerry Coyne’s piece. It’s a pity that English, currently the lingua france of science (as well as much else), has this ambiguity in the word “faith”. The confusion Jerry dispels would hardly arise it there were two different but both well-known, commonly used words to separate the two kinds of faith (as in my native language, Italian, where you’d say “Ho *fiducia* nella medicina e ho *fede* in Dio” to say “I have faith in medicine and faith in God”
    -wsa

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