Saturday links

By Ed Yong | May 22, 2010 1:39 pm

As you’ll probably already know, the big news this week is Craig Venter’s work on Synthia. Some say he’s created life; I think he’s merely plagiarised it (albeit in an admittedly very complicated way). Some of the best pieces on the work are as follows: Nature has eight glowing reactions; one of the scientists who worked on the project took questions from Reddit readers; the New York Times has a more reserved take; Ars Technica decides to focus on the paper’s technical achievements; Mark Henderson has a measured commentary in the Times; and Carl Zimmer argues that “it is life, ultimately, that recreates life from life”. The Daily Mail wrote some guff about I Am Legend, but I’m not linking to them.

Wired has some incredible reporting about a watershed case in the use of brain-scanning evidence in courtrooms.

Laelaps covers a study that confirms how thresher sharks use their massive tails to stun their prey.

600 light years away, a sun is eating a planet. OM NOM NOM. The Bad Astronomer has the story.

“WHAT… is your favourite colour?” Neurotopia covers a cool paper on colour preferences.

“I’m not sure if I’d be too pleased to wake up after a serious brain injury to find someone pouring milk in my ears, but then again, I’m not an Ancient Egyptian,” says Mind Hacks.

Law and Order shamelessly rips off the Henrietta Lacks story. Abel Pharmboy is quite rightly peeved.

Is organic food preferable to non-organic food? Not according to wild birds, who prefer protein-rich non-organic seeds, as covered in Ars Technica.

Earlier this year, I wrote about slime moulds simulating the Tokyo rail network. Now, the same trick has been used for America’s roads.

Forbes has an excellent piece about foods that masquerade as drugs, from supplements to probiotic drinks.

Andrew Wakefield: the Graphic Novel! Look for Wolverine to guest-star in a future issue, slashing credibility with his adamantium claws.

The New York Times wonders if an obsession with search engine optimisation will kill the clever headline. It starts, unpromisingly, by talking about the Huffington Post but there’s some sensible stuff in the closer.

Wired tells us that dementia caregivers more likely to develop dementia themselves. Odd. The mechanism isn’t clear.

The Times discusses the first press conference from the UK’s new science minister, David Willetts. He’s not a climate change skeptic and he supports blue-skies research. That’s a bare minimum standard for acceptability and somehow, I’m disproportionately happy that it’s been met.

Journalism students are apparently desperate for jobs in mainstream media, says the Guardian. Er, why? More interestingly, Journalism.co.uk talks about the portfolio career

COSMOS hilariously describes a trained turkey vulture, used to find the corpses of missing people and fitted with GPS as ‘low-tech’.

Pest numbers rise around farms growing genetically modified strains of Bt cotton.

God, the Telegraph’s science reporting is appalling. Once more with the evolutionary psychology.

And finally, Zooillogix considers the mechanics of death by rectal swamp eel. No, really.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Links, Uncategorized

Comments (12)

  1. Pest numbers rise around farms growing genetically modified strains of Bt cotton.

    The link is bad, Ed. Gave me a 404 . . .

  2. and the link to the colour preference story goes to the thresher shark story

  3. Surprised you didn’t include the matter-antimatter discovery. I would put that up with Craig Vetner as the two most important science stories of the month, maybe the year thus far?

  4. magetoo

    The link to the Tokyo rail network slime mold is broken too (there should be a “notrocketscience” in there).

    Also there’s some “good post thank you” spam there. I wonder if it would be possible to let readers flag comments as spam? Old entries attract that sort of thing on a lot of blogs it seems.

  5. Thank you for the link to the Henrietta Lacks/Law & Order post. You make be sound all proper and stately when you call me “peeved, quite rightly.” In fact, your words often even make me younger and better-looking.

  6. Kapitano

    death by rectal swamp eel

    Sounds like a heavy metal band. Also sounds like a variant on the old gerbilling urban myth.

  7. Luna_the_cat

    Regarding the “dementia carers more likely to develop dementia”, could we contemplate the possibility that this is related to “serious, chronic stress absolutely trashes brain function”?

  8. I think they did, didn’t they? If I remember correctly, that explanation was put forward well before others such as shared environmental causes.

  9. dande

    What is your take on evolutionary psychology????

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