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I’ve Got Your Missing Links Right Here (28 February 2015)

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Top picks

Two boys from either side of the Iron Curtain, united through a love of birds, turn a no man’s land into an ecological success story. This piece from Phil McKenna is one of the best I’ve read recently. I cried at the end.

The time everyone “corrected” the world’s smartest woman, and she was right. A great piece about the Monty Hall Problem.

The Science of Why No One Agrees on the Color of This Dress. Adam Rogers explains.

An Italian surgeon claims that he can do head transplants. It’s complete nonsense. Virtually every new organisation covers it terribly. Azeen Ghorayshi at Buzzfeed does it right.

You think you’re safe and then–BAM–an octopus leaps out of the water and kills you.

Mars Missions Are A Scam. Dan Vergano tells it like it is.

Science routinely reinforces the public’s mistrust with our everyday foibles.” Hope Jahren with some harsh truths about science communication.

Patients with bionic hands control them using thought alone. Lovely piece by Alok Jha

On icebergs, by Donovan Hohn, in Moby-Duck. I highly recommend this book.

Jessica Wapner’s piece on circumcision is a great exercise in thinking one’s way through convoluted evidence where there may be no right answer.

Eyelashes in mammals are always roughly 1/3 as long as the eye’s width. Why?

“It’s one of the world’s most startling ecological calamities – the story of how cotton soaked up an entire sea.”



On the learning styles myth

“She moved with a kind of liquid speed underwater.” An obituary for “Shark Lady” Eugenie Clark

Killer chytrid fungus has been confirmed throughout Madagascar

Significant move: psychology journal bans p-values.

Games are to AI researchers what fruit flies are to biology — a stripped-back system in which to test theories.” New AI plays old games like Pong and Space Invaders.

How sign language is developing new signs for modern words

Avoid Killer Gerbil Headlines Like A Cliche

Baby sea turtles starved of oxygen by beach microbes

“I guess you can make hypothesis about anything & a ‘hypothesis’ about ‘potential’ isn’t very strong.” Carl Zimmer on a new paper about whether Ebola can go airborne.

When did dinosaurs learn to fly?

This is nonsense. You cannot reconstruct a person’s face from DNA at a crime scene.

Dragonfly eyes see the world in many colours.” This is wrong. Extra opsin genes doesn’t mean seeing more colours.

Frontiers, throwing its reputation onto a spike

The fantastic transformation of subway cars into artificial reefs

The six challenges the world faces in trying to fully wipe out the West Africa Ebola outbreak.

“If any creature needs the publicity a “day” can provide, it’s the pangolin.”

Rob Knight’s TED talk: How our microbes make us who we are.

The bladderwort packs its genome in the same way that I don’t pack my bags.

You’ve handled brains; it’s not like silly putty that you can pull through a hole.”

Autistic people spark Twitter fight against Autism Speaks

“I would never be motivated by money for anything”, says shady climate scientist receiving fossil fuel industry money

The deeper issue with the UCLA superbug crisis: how likely it is to happen again.

Toronto Star retracts HPV vaccine story




Nearly Frozen Waves

“In the 19thC, everyone used standing desks. [It] was a great century that didn’t have any problems.”

Best selfie ever, by Buzz Aldrin.

This Wisconsin house is perfectly ordinary if you ignore the 55-ton boulder forcibly embedded in it

Soul-terrifying emails for writers



“He didn’t lack the time to read. He was simply choosing not to.”

Aeon Ideas: the cool topics of Aeon fused with the discussion style of Quora.

“I wanted to tell him that inspiration is a joke and is about as meaningful as a bartender’s smile.”

Comics fan dies of unexplained causes. Family gets obit to list cause of death as “uppercut from Batman




5 thoughts on “I’ve Got Your Missing Links Right Here (28 February 2015)

  1. Dante and George Carlin, for two (me for 3*) would, I think, fully support the idea of comic and/or metaphorical COD pieces in media death notices.

    * something like, ‘Area Man Mortified By General State Of Things’ [‘It took him a few years even after his teen years before he recognized the Whole Thing is at best a set-up for a stand-up or late-night comedy bit, or else and exercise in utter pointlessness’, said his second ex-wife. ‘By the time his balding pattern got to seriously mocking the shape of his head, he’d already pre-paid his funeral expenses.’].

  2. Constructive suggestion (I hope): I have no wish to criticise, but it would improve the utility of this excellent series if you would identify those links that immediately open a video or sound file before people open them. The analogy would be “NSFW”, which these links in many cases are in a literal sense, but you might prefer to use a different marker, as that one has, shall we say, history.

  3. Hey Ed, the link for the Eugenie Clark article points to the learning styles article. (btw, thank you for recognizing Eugenie Clark, she’s been a hero of mine since I was a child!)

  4. From the bladderwort genome article:

    lacked the “junk” DNA (regions of DNA that don’t directly code for proteins)

    Somewhere, Larry Moran sheds a tear over misuse of the term “junk DNA.”

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