I've got your missing links right here (17 July '10)

By Ed Yong | July 17, 2010 12:00 pm


I spoke at a Science Blogging Talkfest earlier this week – I had a great time and was honoured to feature on a lot of the attendees’ picks for favourite blog. There’s a transcript of the entire event here as told through Twitter, a nice write-up from Noodlemaz, and an audio recording at some point. In advance of the event, Alice Bell did a set of four great interviews with British bloggers Daniel Macarthur, Imran Khan, Mun-Keat Looi and Jenny Rohn.

I did a photoshoot with some other science journalists for Geekcalendar, a (non-nude) initiative looking to raise money for Libel Reform. Have a look at some outtake photos here.


Two great pieces from Brian Switek: one on Prolibytherium, the mammal with a butterfly face, and another on Saadanius, a new fossil primate

The Queen’s executioner beetle is the latest beneficiary of a great common name, as a result of a wonderful Guardian competition.

The oil spill has stopped apparently. There’s too much to link to but the best place to find out more is Deep Sea News.

The BBC says that plants can “think and remember”. Ferris Jabr tears them a new one in Scientific American, but shows how plants are sophisticated anyway.

The exoplanet Osiris orbits so close to its star that its atmosphere is being blasted away, giving it a tail, says 80beats.

A world of viruses, lurking in your intestines, exposed by Nature News

“Apparently we have learned nothing…” Climate scientists were warned to keep a distance from the media by the IPCC, according to Andy Revkin. They were also sent a “media backgrounder” that’s absolutely fascinating. Chris Mooney illustrates what the letter could have said.

The Earth’s had some work done. She’s now 4.467 billion years old, compared to the previous estimate of 4.537 billion years old. Doesn’t look a shade over 4 billion, but getting a bit oilier of late…

Just 15 of the world’s biggest ships may now emit as much pollution as all the world’s 760m cars, says the Guardian.

Amazon river dolphins “are showing up in record numbers on riverbanks, their flesh torn away for fishing bait”

“For a quick summary of the last 25 million years in human brain evolution, just watch how our brains change between infancy and adulthood,” says Brandon Keim in Wired.

“Marketing departments everywhere have been left scratching their heads and wondering how exactly you go about marketing an unappealing tube of brown powder if you can’t call it Slim-Fast.” Martin Robbins on new food labelling regulations.

Carl Zimmer talks about the world’s strangest life-saving transplant – faecal bacteria.

Why Johnny can’t name his colours: Melody Dye gives a great first-hand account of her own research in Scientific American.

They found the Higgs bosooh wait, they didn’t.

Did Archimedes build a “flaming steam cannon”? Well MIT scientists certainly have

“A game similar to tag may prepare gorillas for real conflicts over food and mates,” reports Ian Sample.

Matt Soniak dissects the complex vacancy chains of hermit crab real estate.

Bob Holmes has a great New Scientist feature on the next-generation of genetically-modified animals and the advances they could herald.

Ars Technica has an excellent piece on confirmation bias in science and how to avoid it, with a footnote on climate denialism.


A clam attacks and kills an oystercatcher, surely making it an oystercatchercatcher. Darren Naish has the story.

One of the most evocative space images of all time – a haunting use of light and shadow

A Periodic Coffee Table, with embedded samples of all the elements. Yes, even the toxic and radioactive ones.

A great Oatmeal cartoon explains how the male angler fish becomes a pair of degenerate balls.

Best sign ever.

In which we (and Gillian McKeith) learn that you cannot simply delete things on the Internet.

It would take 134 cans of Red Bull to kill me. You?

Sharktopus. I don’t really need to elaborate.


The Pepsigate fallout continues with Obesity Panacea and the Primate Diaries leaving too. Check out OP’s new digs and follow Eric on his exile tour. Meanwhile, Abel Pharmboy asks two excellent questions about the farrago, I chip in with comments, and John Pavlus talks about the time he quit ScienceBlogs. And please follow and support some of the excellent writers who have struck out on their own – Skulls in the Stars has the full list but here are my personal picks:

I love Ben Goldacre’s idea of a unified news repository in which each news story gets a unique ID and anyone can add or upload a full press release or quote to that story’s page, add a link to a primary source, vote these up or down, or add a link to media coverage of that storuy.

A lovely piece by Andrew Marr about why it’s a great time to be a young journalist.

Writers have to read this interview with Rebecca Skloot, which reads like a masterclass in structure and narrative.

Stan Carey jumperates to my defensitation after some readers decide to debate the use of orientate vs orient. Stan’s blog Sentence First is my find of the week. Along similar lines, the Guardian discusses whether ‘data’ is singular or plural.

Oh dear – have scientists solved the chicken or egg problem? No. Thoughtomics and Why Evolution is True tell us why.

“Agreeableness [correlated] with ‘wonderful’ and negatively correlated with ‘porn’.” An analysis of blogger word use, covered in BPS Research Digest.

Should newspapers publish full interview transcripts online? Ezra Klein says, “It’s a no-brainer.” You get incoming links from other niche media sites, you make use of the web’s lack of space limitations and you prove transparency.

Blogging isn’t dead, says Cory Doctorow. I agree. Look, I’m doing it right now…

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Links, Uncategorized

Comments (5)

  1. “The BBC says that plants can “think and remember”. Ferris Jabr tears them a new one in Scientific American, but shows how plants are sophisticated anyway”
    I knew the title was hyped up, still a very interesting story. And I always played with Mimosa pudica in the botanical garden 😀

    I am sorry but the best sign ever is THIS: http://www.flickr.com/photos/egotiator/4667216566/

    Uhm, 115 cans of Red Bulls would kill me. But I am pretty sure one would be enough if thrown with appropriate speed and aim

  2. Sorry Ed, Walter’s sign wins over yours…! 😉

  3. JuJu

    The links that dont work:

    Saadanius, a new fossil primate
    The exoplanet Osiris
    Chris Mooney illustrates what the letter could have said.
    Cory Doctorow piece links to Saadanius article

  4. Wonderful, as always.

    The Boson thing had me lolling…

  5. jdmimic

    Great post, lots of cool stuff here. I did want to comment about the thinking plants, though. Karpinsky made a nice response to the article, pointing out a flaw in the review of the article. As he stated, he carefully defined what he meant by “thinking” and “remembering” in his paper, using accepted definitions. His data supported the conclusions based on those definitions.

    Secondly, while I am not arguing that plants do indeed think and remember, I would say that dogma can be a dangerous thing. The arguments presented to refute the idea of thinking plants basically seemed to me of the superficial dissmissive of the very idea without a serious examination of the concept. Pretty much everything that was said about plants to indicate they can’t think applies to animals as well. The difference is that we know we think, or at least we think we do:). IF plants think, it is certainly vastly different than the way we think and simply cutting and pasting human definitions and concepts will not work. Another big problem is that the botanists wound up saying in effect, “we don’t know what they are doing, so they can’t possibly be thinking.” How does one go from “I don’t know” to “absolutely not”?

    In conclusion, this topic like many others is highly dependent on the definition of terms. To discount the idea of thinking plants, one must first have to have a clearly defined concept that is agreed upon by all concerned in the discussion (especially since Karpinsky clearly defined his terms when he proposed it).


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