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“On the face of it, earthquakes seem to present us with problems of space: the way we live along fault lines, in brick buildings, in homes made valuable by their proximity to the sea. But, covertly, they also present us with problems of time.” The peerless Kathryn Schulz has a beautiful, terrifying piece in the New Yorker about the really big one—an earthquake that will, at some point, destroy a sizable chunk of coastal Northwest America. (And here’s a follow-up from Eric Holthaus at Slate.)
Nine years ago, we threw a machine at Pluto and this week, it skirted past the dwarf planet within 72 seconds of its predicted time. And look at the pictures it took! Nadia Drake wrote about the incredible achievement, about Pluto’s moon Charon, and about what the images mean (as has XKCD). The New York Times has an interactive that shows what happened. Robinson Meyer tells the origin story of Ralph, the camera that took the new photos. Adrienne LaFrance writes about the women behind the programme. Michael Ruane writes about the long wait of mission scientist Andy Cheng. And John Wenz interviews the two children of the man who discovered Pluto.
“Hides are places designed for watching wildlife, but they are equally rewarding places to watch people who watch wildlife.” Helen Macdonald muses on hiding from animals.
“The history of M.E. is akin to locking an entire orphanage in a cellar and bulldozing the house.” Reporter Brian Vastag writes an impassioned open letter to the NIH director about life with ME, and the lack of funds for studying it.
First robust genetic links to depression emerge, but it’s the way they found those links that matters. An important study, covered by Heidi Ledford.
“The point is simplicity. And in Toki Pona, simple is literally good. Both concepts are combined in a single word: pona.” Roc Morin on the world’s smallest language.
“They’re like vampire beetles wandering in the ant nests.” Carl Zimmer on a sophisticated social parasite.
18th century scientist injects his penis with gonorrhea to prove that it’s the same disease as syphilis. It’s not. Also, he screws up the experiment, and gets a penile lesion named after him.
Polar bear metabolism cannot cope with ice loss
Tiger trade crackdown causes surge in lion bone sales. Ugh, humans are the worst.
350+ scientists sign a letter calling out the publisher of Science for repeatedly reinforcing harmful stereotypes
Prosthetic legs through the ages
“That raises one obvious question: Are baby elephants tasty?”
The mystery of the Kazakhstani sleeping sickness
A lovely tribute to a late scientist who shoved maths onto sea shells
Say hello to the newest dinosaur: feathered, winged Zhenyuanlong, a close relative of Velociraptor.
How today’s anti-vaccination movement traces back to Victorian England
This sanctuary in Laos protects bears from gall bladder poachers.
“Not only did APA psychologists deem the torture programme ethical, but they also gave it a patina of legitimacy”
Camera hack reveals black leopards’ hidden spots
The New Laws of Explosive Networks reveal how the Internet grows, how viruses spread, & how financial bubbles burst.
Slate debunks a study that predicts a “mini ice age” by 2030
A male fiddler crab’s claw can account for half his total body weight.
Behind every natural history museum is a second museum, where the carcasses are kept.
New study connects the explosion of fish diversity to event that took out the dinosaurs
The majority of Philippine forest turtles were just found packed in a warehouse.
“What you should fear is a computer that is competent in one very narrow area, to a bad degree.”
The Myth That Academic Science Isn’t Biased Against Women – excellent analysis of flaws in the Ceci/Williams study
Pandas are carnivores. Yet they can survive eating only bamboos. Scientists now know why
This bear is the hero we deserve, but not the one we need right now.
We have reached peak internet. All of it has been leading to this glorious moment and it should now stop.
Love this: a script that creates a fake comment form on your site.
The amazing leaping Arowana fish – in slow mo
11 scientists who are transforming how we treat disease, see the brain
He learned to dive so he could look for his wife’s remains after the 2011 tsunami in Japan
Why careless nudges are no more welcome in environmental policy than at domino toppling
Science writers and editors talk about the art of the lede.
Drug companies put ‘organs-on-chips’ through their paces
Why the “Gilmore Girls” fandom lives on