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I’ve Got Your Missing Links Right Here (31 January 2015)

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Top picks

A stunning piece from Virginia Hughes on hypersomnia—a condition that makes people sleep for ages without ever feeling truly awake

New skull shows that Homo sapiens was living next to Neanderthals in Middle East 55,000 years ago, filling a major gap in our history between Africa and Europe. By Ewen Callaway. (And a related editorial)

BREATH: a film

A beautiful audiovisual piece about traumatic brain injury in veterans and an art project that’s helping them to heal. There are two paragraphs of text, and the first is incredible in how much story it conveys. By Caroline Alexander and Lynn Johnson

From the Department of Unintended Consequences: in some parts of Africa, mosquito nets that are meant to keep malaria out are being used to haul fish in. By Jeffrey Gettleman.

The word “abracadabra” was formerly used as a talisman against malaria. By Rebecca Kreston

“Some time in the late 1940s, a very patient, elderly beaver called Geronimo was put in a box, flown to an altitude of between 150 and 200 metres, and tossed out the side of an aeroplane. Over and over and over again.” By Bec Crew

Meet Bill Marler, the lawyer who’s making America’s food supply safer through litigation. By Wil S. Hylton

In Russia’s Far East, an orphaned female tiger is the test case in an experimental effort to save one of t”he most endangered animals on earth. By Matthew Shaer.

“Instead of catching a moon in the act of forming, scientists may have glimpsed a moon in the act of dying”- Nadia Drake on the sad kinda-life of Peggy, Saturn’s would-be moon

Why many Native Americans have concerns about DNA kits like 23andme: a well-reported piece on the clash between science and cultural tradition, by Rose Eveleth

Want to plan or practice a complicated surgery? Why not 3-D print your patient’s body parts? Great story by Karen Weintraub

Meet the glass-blower, squid collector, venom milker, and data mechanic in Nature’s tribute to the unsung heroes who make science work.

 

Science/news/writing

A fascinating look at the world of urban legends among clinical trial volunteers. By Neuroskeptic

“The idea that unconscious thought is sometimes more powerful than conscious thought is attractive”… but may well be wrong. Alison Abbott reports on a new study

This is what measles actually looks like

“The team hopes these extra cheaters will disrupt the tumor so badly that it will collapse.”

Op/ed: Obama’s Precision Medicine Initiative is “moonshot” medicine that will let us down

“Weather is a famously boring conversation, except when it suddenly isn’t: Why are people so fascinated by storms, even when they’re nowhere near them?”

People prefer letters that appear in their own names –they also prefer brands that start with those initials”

“These are the rocks that have been stolen & subsequently returned by visitors who came to regret their crime”

“Scientists have defined neurons responsible for excessive food consumption at an unprecedented level of detail.“

Laser-etched metal is so water-repellent that drops bounce off it.

The hugeness of the Andromeda Galaxy, one tweet at a time

““This report shows that Americans basically love science,” Kahan says. “Yet there is a kind of common wisdom out there that attributes public disputes over science to ‘distrust of scientists’. There’s no evidence for that.””

This spider combs its tiny silk threads to make them extra sticky

Judo spider finds armoured foe’s Achilles heel

Fourteen unique objects have now been 3-D printed on the International Space Station

This Nano Skin Could Let Us Watch Life at the Smallest Scales

In the 1970s, radical scientists thought they could change the world – if they could change science first

Secrets of the orchid mantis revealed – it doesn’t mimic an orchid after all

Sodium explodes in water, as every chemistry student knows. But we’ve been getting the reason wrong all this time.

Mystery childhood paralysis stumps researchers. Is it a virus, or something else?

“An artist takes advantage of muscle-mimicking polymers to manipulate sounds.”

This parasite is the leading cause of death in giant pandas.

Headcam captures goshawk’s-eye view of a hunt

Six-nanosecond-long clip captures laser’s path at 20 billion frames per second

Cleaning Up Water by Running It Through Dirt

A really weird collection of two-BILLION-year-old fossils. “Just what were these things?”

“I wonder if future adversarial collaborations could encourage the participants to specify, publicly, at the outset, what kind of evidence would make them change their mind.”

“The strongest team in the world would lose a tug-of-war with a six-year-old and a sack of bricks, as long as the sack had a firm grip.”

1,215 rhinos were killed by poachers in South Africa in 2014

“I was clearly the dumb Holocene guy trying out the Ice Age.”

Federal Lab Tweaks Baby Monkey Experiments After Campaign

 

Heh/wow/huh

Babies going through tunnels

No. Absolutely not. No.

A pretty awesome archery compilation

Onion: Natural Selection Kills 38 Quadrillion Organisms In Bloodiest Day Yet

Worlds within worlds: a compilation of macro photographs

 

Journalism/internet/society

Good analysis/review of Ex Machina

Factcheck.org launches a science channel

In which a woman absconds with the convalescent body of her famous DJ husband, and a private eye, hired by his kids, has to track them down.

A disappointing review of Tom Stoppard’s latest play on brain science and The Hard Problem of consciousness.