A Blog by

I’ve Got Your Missing Links Right Here (17 January 2015)

Sign up for The Ed’s Up—a weekly newsletter of my writing plus some of the best stuff from around the Internet.

 

Top picks

An old question: is poker more a game of skill or a game of luck? Pete Etchell explores.

A theory in psychology meant to cure depression was instead used to justify torture. By Maria Konnikova

Ostensibly about white nose syndrome, but also a fantastic primer on bat biology. By Natalie Angier.

“The brain is mysterious, and I want to spend my life in the presence of mystery.” On Sebastian Seung’s quest to map the brain. By Gareth Cook.

“If the decision-making algorithm were to always choose the option in which the fewest people die, the car might avoid another car carrying two passengers by running off the road and risking killing just one passenger: its own.” Robin Henig on ethical robot programming.

“The loggerhead sea turtle nests moved in tandem with the shifts in the magnetic field.” By Carrie Arnold.

“The palaeo diet is built on nostalgia and erroneous notions of how evolution works.” By Christie Aschwanden.

The oceans are screwed. Carl Zimmer charts the various threats in the New York Times, and a companion blog post

A wonderful talk by Ben Lillie on lithium – an element that has inspired two rock songs and shouldn’t really exist.

 

Science/news/writing

Dystopian biology: Barbara Ehrenreich on the immune system, cancer, and the surprising agency of cells

1st baby giant tortoise sightings in 150yrs

Does the future of science depend on reporting the types of test tubes used?

How do you define the start of the Anthropocene: with pottery shards, or A-bomb fallout?

Bioluminescent flies have moved into an abandoned railway tunnel in Australia and reclaimed the night

How much should science publishers charge for racism?

More evidence for the harm in the “cult of genius” in math and science

Verifying the ripeness of an apple required its destruction – until now

Beagle-2 “successfully landed on Mars but then only partially deploy[ed] itself.” Haven’t we all, little probe? Haven’t we all?

A Q&A with an anthropologist who studies terrorists.

Highflying Geese Save Energy By Swooping Like A Roller Coaster

A silly BBC diet experiment got passed off as an important result

Somewhere, a nanotechnology professor is about to enter a world of hurt

The upside down tortoise enigma

The leatherback turtle grows huge by eating only jellyfish, which is like a human eating only cucumbers.

A study on oxygen and lung cancer gets dissected here

Why do zebras have stripes?

Crocodiles can gallop; alligators can’t. Here’s why.

Are (some) ocean calamities being oversold? Are claims of overselling being oversold?

On cat genomics: “The truth is there were more powerful people interested in dogs.”

A science reporter reflects on her coverage of the controversial cancer/bad luck story.

Why the Inside of a Camel’s Mouth Looks Like a Sarlacc Pit

Mercury might be the Highlander of planets.

In the early 20th century, 2 psychiatrists tested their “surgical cure” for schizophrenia on their own sons. It didn’t go well

“Their curves make boxfish more efficient swimmers than, say, a shoebox. But that doesn’t mean they make great cars.”

Snow isn’t as white as it once was, and it’s setting off a melting feedback loop.

Turns out that bee tongues are really cool.

What it’s like living in the coldest town on Earth?

“The obvious thing to do is to rear your maggot out in your body until it’s an adult fly. For science.”

Breaking bad news: how do you tell someone they’re dying?

The true cost of Ebola isn’t just illnesses and deaths; it’s the reversal of African economic growth

“Reiter and colleagues gave these super-weaners the extra title “double-mother sucklers”.”

Babies remember better if they take naps right after learning.

Don’t miss SciCurious’ Story Collider talk about heroes in science

Teachers are the real heroes of science-communication. Chad Orzel deconstructs a lamentable Neil Tyson tweet

This Q&A with Maryn McKenna on antibiotics in agriculture is also a preview of her next book. Excitement!

Montreal is getting “frost quakes“.

Malagasy proverb: Act like the chameleon: one eye looking forwards, one eye looking backwards

Ed Boyden has developed a way of blowing brains up to make them more easier to examine via microscopy.

FoxNewsFacts

A man named Doom helped create the first atomic bomb and we spoke to him”

“While “we won’t actively lie to viewers anymore” is an important step that I applaud…” On Discovery’s supposed change of heart.

“Syme and Salisbury let “treatment two” crocodiles bloat, float, and sink before burial.”

 

Heh/wow/huh

“We were climbing ice that isn’t going to be there next week.” Incredible photos.

The Four Undramatic Plot Structures

This guy beats Tetris in invisible mode.

“Yes all wizards, Harry.” Re-working the Potterverse with Hermione as the lead

New Climate Change Study Just 400 Pages Of Scientists Telling Americans To Read Previous Climate Change Studies

XKCD on location

You know the microbiome is big when it gets its own satire site

Ship Your Enemies Glitter

 

Internet/journalism/society

When a Twitter parody account isn’t actually a parody

All the longform articles nominated for National Magazine Awards

Sarah Jeong is covering the fascinating case of the US vs. The Dread Pirate Roberts (aka the Silk Road trial)

This memo is Act 1 of Toy Story 4. How will the action figures get out of this one?

A guide making life better for the freelancers in your life, wonderful snowflakes that we are.

This Algorithm Knows You Better Than Your Facebook Friends Do