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I’ve Got Your Missing Links Right Here (20 July 2014)

Top picks

“As one obscure genetic condition after another was ruled out, the Mights began to wonder whether they would ever learn the cause of their son’s agony. What if Bertrand was suffering from a disorder that was not just extremely rare but entirely unknown to science?” This piece by Seth Mnookin is one of the best of the year.

Do you have kids? Do you want to do some fun experiments with them at home? Actual experiments that will teach them what science is like, rather than lame baking soda volcanoes? Alom Shaha has you covered with this wonderful new site.

It’s been a terrible week for biosafety in the US. After smallpox vials were found in the back of some random freezer last week (!!!) Maryn McKenna speaks to the leader of the smallpox eradication effort, which ended 34y ago. The CDC released details of three blunders that potentially exposed staff to anthrax and unintentionally shipped H5N1 influenza virus. Helen Branswell considers if the next error could lead to a pandemic. The CDC director promised “sweeping change in our lab culture” lest there be sweeping death from lab cultures. Shortly after, the six smallpox vials turned out to be part of a poorly labelled disease pick-n-mix. Perfect time, then, to dismiss all the inaugural members of a long-serving biosafety board

Bariatric surgery seems to work, but why? Virginia Hughes investigates, and segues into the fascinating guts of the Burmese python.

This is an important paper on the unacceptable scale of sexual harrassment in science fieldwork, by Kate Clancy, Robin Nelson, Julienne Rutherford and Katie Hinde. Of the respondents, 64% experienced sexual harassment and 20% experienced assault, women disproportionately so.

“It featured web-like diagrams of lines connecting nodes, a hallmark of research that analyzes networks. But each node, rather than being a plain dot, was the head of a burly, red-bearded Viking sporting a horned hat.” Mapping the social networks of Viking mythology. Fascinating piece by Veronique Greenwood

“Its weirdly powerful cells storm the uterus like an invading army and commandeer a woman’s body for nine months to keep her fetus alive.” Amazing piece on the placenta, by Denise Grady.

A double-bill of Carl Zimmer features. 1) Can we predict evolution? In the short-term, yes, a bit. 2) 114 years after blood types were discovered, we still don’t really know what they’re for.

Proving how old the world’s oldest people are is really hard. By Rachel Nuwer.

AV Flox explains why Science’s cover featuring headless transsexual women is deeply problematic. And Andrew Thaler analyses the same in the context of three other connected events on gender and science.

Bilbo Baggins is still a girl: Lovely meditation from Michelle Nijhuis on the fluid nature of stories.

Catherine Brahic on new discoveries about amazing “electric bacteria“.

 

Science/news/writing

If a food has an historic, objectionable name, should we change it? Maryn McKenna makes the case

A defence of the role of natural talent in genius.

By end of the century, snowshoe hares’ fur will mismatch the environment up to 8 weeks/year

“In 8th grade I wanted to be a forest ranger.” Today, this guy is growing poplars to spin into carbon fiber

Exosuit aims to open up hidden undersea world to researchers

Lab safety needs to be more open in the face of risky flu research

Joep Lange, former president of the Int’l AIDS Society who died on MH17, was “an extraordinary leader, scientist and humanitarian.”

“We should not take away the freedom of the individual to choose to die,” says Stephen Hawking

Wheat: because evolution hates genomicists.

Discovery Channel’s Shark Week continues its proud tradition of being a useless font of made-up garbage.

Nuclear-powered laser creates mini lightning bolt on Mars.

A defence of Facebook’s recent experiment, by bioethicist Michelle Meyer + 32 others.

Why the Amazon flows backwards.

FLASH! AAAAH! Experimental ‘pulse radiotherapy’ kills cancer cells while sparing healthy tissue

Girls love science. We tell them not to

Jumped the… Shark dies after large sea lion gets stuck in its throat

A love letter to the wonderful Belize Zoo

There are no ring species, argues Jerry Coyne.

A hilarious comment on that atrocious “people don’t like thinking” Science paper

HAIL HYDRA, the shape-shifting Dr Manhattan of the animal kingdom

“For starters, it’s a bad idea because you’re eating people. Why are you eating people!?”

US folks can catch the wonderful Joy Reidenberg’s new show SEX IN THE WILD on PBS at 10pm ET.

The strange history of using organ-shaped plants to treat disease

Zero-gravity does weird things to snakes.

What if Lucy was based on other totally wrong things?

Really looking forward to Paige Williams’ upcoming book THE DINOSAUR ARTIST, following her amazing New Yorker story on dinosaur smuggling.

The “people only use 10% of their brains” myth started when a self-help author attributed some fictitious beliefs to a psychologist. Of course, that would never happen anymore, *cough*…

The famous “ego depletion” effect in psychology disappears after looking at 199 studies and accounting for the small size of most of them (PDF).

“When we asked people who they’d like to hear more from on climate… some simply replied: Women.” So, here are 20

Animals as 3D printers including bees genetically modified to print concrete.

Remarkable Macro Photograph of a Hummingbird by Chris Morgan

Engineering a worm that can’t get drunk

Should research fraud be treated as a crime? T

Treetop Camera Traps Catch Animals In Their Most Candid Moments

Duke launches a $40m stem cell trial for autism on what seem like pretty tenuous grounds.

Newly found four-winged dinosaur had extremely long tail feathers, possibly used as a brake in flight. A large Microraptor. So just: Raptor?

Amphibians have used the same swim stroke for 270 million years. It’s nothing newt.

World’s most endangered seal spotted wrestling an octopus

A great video about research on memory engrams

This wave pool can make 90ft-high waves and creates a microcosm of the ocean.

Fascinating/disturbing article on the use of psychotropic medication on zoo animals

Meet the forgotten woman who made microbiology possible

How better hearing aid tech allowed Kathleen Raven to pursue a career that involves listening to people a lot

Some fun facts about piranhas.

The real winner this World Cup is Toxoplasma gondii

“The creature has weaponized bubbles.”

The real source of the replication crisis

A Pack of Zoo Wolves Escapes…Right Into A Polar Bear Enclosure

 

Heh/wow/huh

God Pledges $5,000 For Cancer Research

Pubmed, I’m not sure you should be indexing this “journal”.

Great blue heron eating a gopher

Every library should have a woolly rhinoceros

“He either has NO USE for MAGIC BEANS or so many of them that he can just dispose of them. And he really wants a cow.”

These guys: disrupting the world of scalding.

Directed evolution of a full professor.

Study: Humans Only Animals Capable Of Recognizing Dim Shadow of Former Selves In Mirror

Slightly Above Average Moon gets great PR rebrand

 

Internet/journalism/society

In which David Kwong pulled off a magic trick on the TED stage that crossed over into that day’s NYT crossword

Maybe this is like the end of Watchmen, where all the world’s nations unite to confront this idiot.

David Mitchell publishes a new short story in tweet form.

I took the Myers-Briggs test and I got Tyrion Lannister!

David Remnick’s take on Ukraine, Putin and MH17 in the New Yorker

Driverless cars could be used as “lethal weapons”, warns govt agency in country w/ 310 million guns.

A handbook for responsibly tweeting breaking news

Feynman Excuses Bingo!

Okay, so who edited the Choco Taco Wikipedia page from Congress?

 

 

 

2 thoughts on “I’ve Got Your Missing Links Right Here (20 July 2014)

  1. At least 98% of readers who clicked on the “David Mitchell publishes a new short story” link expected it to be about the comedian.

    The David Remnick article seems to have been removed. The link is correct; it’s just not there anymore. (Or maybe there’s some temporary weirdness at the New Yorker.)

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