National Geographic

I’ve Got Your Missing Links Right Here (05 May 2014)

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Top picks

“Science is often too slow, and life too fast.” This is an amazing story about girls with “Syndrome X“, who seem stuck in permanent infancy, and a scientist’s quixotic (and possibly futile) quest to study them. Virginia Hughes offers a textbook example of covering uncertain science, with a protagonist who is fascinatingly painted but never glorified as an iconoclast.

Measles is latest virus to be turned into a weapon against cancer. John Timmer shows exactly how to cover a promising cancer treatment

Why people persist in believing things that aren’t true, by Maria Konnikova.

A beautiful piece from Philip Ball on beauty & science

“The best thing about llareta is what it looks like. It’s like nothing else.”

Eric Michael Johnson has a methodical response to Nicholas Wade’s new book on race: “wrong in its facts, sloppy in its logic & blatantly misrepresents evolutionary biology”; Jennifer Raff looks at the ‘scientific façade’ of genetics in the book; H Allen Orr dives deep into its flaws.

Great reporting on IVF techniques involving three people, as a way of curing mitochondrial diseases. By Ewen Callaway

The comb jelly uses a “completely different chemical language” to build its nervous system than every other animal. Amazing discovery, as told by Carl Zimmer.

“I cared for my son, but something was off. Where was our joy?” DeLene Beeland on postpartum depression.

Coatis are now also called “Brazilian aardvarks” because someone edited their Wikipedia page and no one noticed

Everything Science Knows About Hangovers—And How to Cure Them, by Adam Rogers.

Cassandra Willyard interviews her husband about why climate change is the anti-story. “Conflicts: I am married to the interviewee, and he paid for my burger, fries, and beer.”

 

Science/news/writing

How NYC used bad reviews on Yelp to track down never-reported foodborne illnesses.

Unless you have celiac disease, gluten sensitivity is just in your head.

A lot of the reporting, and the quotes, about the placenta microbes story have been terrible. Jonathan Eisen breaks out his “overselling the microbiome” award.

Microbes scoff at ‘universal’ rules of DNA code

Stephen Ornes on carpenter bees making perfect circles in his deck.

The top 10 new species discovered in last 12 months

A real risk of the rise of antimicrobial resistance: drug-resistant HIV

How an experiment with Scotch tape led to a Nobel prize.

The most vexing variable in the search for E.T. By Nadia Drake, on the Drake Equation. “Devised by my dad, Frank,”…

There are nerves in the skin that respond specifically to soft, gentle touch. Could they be involved in autism?

The Longitude Prize is like the Hunger Games for science, says Alice Bell. It’s a waste of time, says Philip Ball. But we should give it some latitude, says Stephen Curry.

Dimetrodon: it’s not a dinosaur. It’s not a “mammal-like reptile” either. It’s not even a reptile.

A snake species that went missing for 78 years lives on an island only accessible with military escort

When thinking in another language affects your moral judgments.

“Welcome to the 29th Annual Exhibition of the British Tarantula Society, the Crufts of the spider world”

Could mutant virus strains escape the lab and spread? Is the research worth the risk?

Steven Poole on the (pseudo)science of humour

Wild mice will run on a wheel. So will frogs, shrews, and… er… slugs.

From oxidation to nuclear plant spunk explosion in a few easy steps

Plug your writing into this scanner and watch a virtual Carl Zimmer chastise you repeatedly.

“Fast Repetitive Tick (FRT)”. Herring communicate by flatulence.

The pun headline! The random capital! The sad lack of commitment to swearing in a paper title!

Baby mammoth in a suitcase

Chris Chambers trumpets psychology’s ‘registration revolution’. This, and the new issue of registered reports from Brian Nosek, is a great example of a field holding itself to account. But Q&A by psychologist Simone Schnall on her negative experience with replication, and whether an adversarial approach benefits science.

Medical scans reveal slipshod brain extraction job

613 days on Mars and Curiosity is still cleaner than my car.

Nimble amoebas battle for world supremacy

The pen is mighty. But for mice, there is no pen. There is only pee.”

Simultaneous 3D imaging of all the nematode’s neurons

Gorgeous site design: Aquatilis, a 3-year jellyfish expedition looks rather wondrous

This viral photo isn’t a “drop” of seawater.

Researchers retract paper because company complains it’s hurting profits

A hilarious account of the not-that-hilarious Personal Genome Project UK email fiasco

Scientists work out how to make matter from light, 80 years after theory first published.

Is the new dinosaur uncovered in Argentina *really* the biggest ever found? Maybe. Maybe not. And does it even matter? By Brian Switek.

Fecal transplant study fails to improve ulcerative colitis

Say hi to the new National Center for Totally Legit Research No Really.

After XKCD’s Randall Munroe tried to work out how much data Google stores, they sent him a puzzle.

 

Heh/wow/huh

The anatomy of a gummy bear

Fantastic Fungi: The Startling Visual Diversity of Mushrooms Photographed by Steve Axford

HAHAHA! There was a secret Monty Python joke in a recent Game of Thrones episode.

Reddit, can you blow my mind in one sentence?

Timelapse shows the birth of a supercell thunderstorm

This swimming feather star is the most relaxing video you’ll watch all week.

Awesome shot of a mosquito emerging from the water.

 

Journalism/internet/society

A guide to not being an inadvertent jerk to people with disabilities.

Amazon is basically two steps away from poisoning the city’s water supply and trying to block out the sun.

An utter gut punch. Massive fire at the Glasgow School of Art

Why “Days of Future Past” was such a turning point for comics.

“It’s going to be insanity.” Bingo nights are apparently huge among Swiss 20-somethings.

A scene-by-scene breakdown of the narrative choices in Frozen. Just. So. Good.

On the rise of ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Book Traces“: A site where people upload pictures of old books with interesting marginalia

“Because of the long lead time before publication… the character I used in the lede died.” So bury the lede.

If you stake your reputation on data-driven stories, you’d better know your data. Interesting critique of bad data journalism. Also: a Prezi guide to bad data journalism

“I don’t think it’s possible for a television show to be any better than The Good Wife.”

Slightly More Than 100 Fantastic Pieces of Journalism

 

 

 

There are 7 Comments. Add Yours.

  1. Texan99
    May 24, 2014

    I’m sure you meant your title to read “May 24″? For a moment I feared you had decided to take the week off, which you should never do, by the way. Your public depends on you.

  2. bomoore
    May 24, 2014

    Re: Syndrome X – Neoteny? Juvenalization due to domestication of humans?

  3. Jeff
    May 24, 2014

    “It’s not a “mammal-like reptile” either. It’s not even a reptile.”

    Yes, yes it is. “Reptilia” is an invalid group because it’s paraphyletic (i.e. includes various taxa and their most recent common ancestor, but not all of that MRCA’s descendants), but inasmuch as it means anything, it means an amniote that is neither a bird nor a mammal, not just anapsids and diapsids. Since Dimetrodon was an amniote and not a mammal, it most certainly was a reptile.

  4. brymo
    May 24, 2014

    Re the Brazilian aardvarks. A crustacean got its scientific name in honour of a Polynesian goddess who only exists on the internet. See Wikipedia talk page for Kiwa hirsuta.

    [Ha! That's brilliant. I wrote about that crab when it was announced and hadn't heard about the ensuing discussion. Thanks - Ed]

  5. Bones and Behaviours
    May 27, 2014

    ‘Jeff’ ignores that the cladistic definition of Reptilia includes endotherms such as birds according to all its definitions.

    The Wade book is speculative, and makes ridiculous (as in untestable) claims, for example attributing the speed of adoption of the telescope to a genetic difference(!)

    However I don’t get why Raff’s review (or that of Fuentes, which she repeats in her own words) is uncritically praised. Since there is no fixed number of races (and in this context ‘exist’ is a matter of construct validity, not of the usual definition,) Raff’s argument is her own aesthetic distaste of dividing a human species that is itself arbitrarily and fuzzily defined relative to fossil hominins – hence all that introgression around the world. (One human race?)

    It is obvious that a genetic cluster is not the same thing as a concept that is based upon phenotype (or a phenotypic cluster.) But nor are ethnies or languages, which hasn’t stopped the labelling of clusters according to geographical correlations. Likewise Wade chose K=5 because it correlates well with the ‘geographical’ or ‘major’ races of classical and modern non-Western physical anthropology. It isn’t just a matter of his being uncomfortable thinking of clines – its appropriate labeling. In Anglosphere genetics terms like ‘Western Eurasian’ and ‘sub-Saharan African’ are widely regarded as a kind of code word.

    People in her own comments are providing counterpoints such as the dodgy definition/description of a subspecies (the example someone raised in the counterpoint I read, was lions.) But other than the rather trivial disagreement over Structure, she was just repeating the US-centric radical anthro line. What is striking is that their own tone is authoritative and dismissive regarding taxonomic definitions, although such concepts have no fixed definition. Remember that ‘exist’ is a matter of construct validity in this context; the implication is that mainstream but inconvenient subspecies definitions are misrepresented as invalid.

    The best review of the Wade book was by far the Winegard’s contribution.

    http://www.epjournal.net/wp-content/uploads/EP1205090520.pdf

  6. Noumenon72
    May 28, 2014

    Thanks so much for the Frozen link. I mean, I liked the Dimetrodon one, but I feel really lucky that you included a non-science one I didn’t see anywhere else.

  7. Jeff
    May 28, 2014

    While it’s been proposed to create a clade version of Reptilia defined as “all amniotes closer to Lacerta agilis and Crocodylus niloticus than to Homo sapiens,” very few biologists actually use that definition. In general we use Sauropsida, which is divided into Anapsida (turtles) and Diapsida (everything else). If we feel the need to talk about reptiles, we put quotes around “Reptilia” to emphasize that it’s not a taxonomic group but a lay term.

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