Look, I have a homepage. I wanted a site that pulls together my various social media stuff as well as a record of my other writing and speaking engagements.
Top twelve picks
“Dead world at sunset.” I’m not going to spoil the topic but just read this, okay? This is beautiful, lyrical and amazingly tight writing, of the kind that makes me want to be a better writer. Hats off to Jessa Gamble. My favourite thing in a week of top stuff.
“Forming, finding or defending a vacuum-sealed echo-chamber online is extremely difficult, if at all possible.” Bora Zivkovic destroys the “internet is an echo chamber” meme
“Cognitive science is full of crap – except when it’s not. Which makes it like most science, only more so” – a cogent analysis and defence by David Dobbs
“Does school science still divide people into “pure scientists, applied scientists & failures”? By Alice Bell
A beautiful ode to the photon, by Lily Asquith
“The mere existence of whales suggests that is possible to suppress cancer many-fold better than is done in humans.” Carl Zimmer on Peto’s Paradox
“Followers of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahido Churches believe they should maintain a home for all of God’s creatures around their places of worship. The result? Forests ringing churches.” An amazing post by Delene Beeland on the “church forests” of Ethiopia
“In the 1970s, he transplanted an entire monkey head onto another monkey’s body. And, for a short time, the severed head lived.” By Hannah Waters
In a medical detective tale worthy of House, a top plague scientist dies of… the plague. It’s more surprising than you think.
“The aim is so simple that the complexity and magnitude of the undertaking is easy to miss. Starting from scratch, with new computer tools and more data than has ever been used, they will arrive at an independent assessment of global warming.” Great Ian Sample feature on Richard Muller, the Berkeley Earth project, climate science & open data
No one puts baby in a cohort! Mark Henderson on a new study that’s recruiting 100,000 UK babies (paywall). Meanwhile, Helen Pearson writes about the “study of a lifetime” – a group of thousands of Brits whose health has been tracked since 1946.
What made scientist/murderer Amy Bishop snap? Amy Wallance has the story.
Lab to red carpet: an NYT piece on famous actors with science backgrounds, including Natalie Portman (here she is on Pubmed – she’s the fifth author). And from Wikipedia: “Due to her sci pubs, Portman is among small number of actors w/ a finite Erdos-Bacon number”
Oscar science: based on movie-star faces, we now prefer younger, more feminine women… and men
“Comment Is Free… sometimes what they publish is worth every penny of that.” ZING! Language Log destroys a piece which claims that languages with good spelling systems have no word for dyslexia.
The strange history of tropical neurasthenia, a “relatively short-lived colonial affliction”.
Terrorist taunts may tell attack timing. “”It is very possible we may be identifying the linguistic predictors of bin Laden himself.”
Obama orders investigations into 1940s experiments that deliberately infected Guatemalans with syphilis and gonorrhoea
“A large crowd of bystanders & a tired operator led to a mistaken direction of exploration.” Early neurosurgery failures, by Emily Anthes (the piece, not the failures).
“I’d always dreamed of walking into a room stacked ceiling to floor w/hippo skulls.” Hannah Waters on museum collections.
An orchid parasitising a fungus, by Lucas Brouwers
Here’s a great idea: let’s save practically no money by cutting 100% of the government’s poison control centers.
Are 10,000 buttons safer than one fancy screen? At this Russian nuke plant, yes. By John Pavlus
It’s not your imagination, that guy really IS taking a long time to buckle his %&$@ seatbelt. By SciCurious
China’s “heavenly horse“. And by “heavenly”, I mean “parasite-riddled”.
“Infested by the Wizard of Oz” – Vaughan Bell on delusional parasitosis
The “greenhouse effect” that’s actually cooling the world.
Mo Costandi on the increasingly shaky ‘broken mirror neurons‘ theory of autism
Visions of Africa shaped eye evolution.
Give postdocs a career, not empty promises, urges Jenny Rohn
Blum on Boom – why explosions in science class can be excellent
How many clocks of life are there?
By our powers combined, we are Global Virus Response Network
What was disgraced cloner Woo Suk Hwang doing in Libya? This story just keeps on giving.
They “superglued the [mantis shrimps] to Plexiglass & dropped stainless steel balls on them” by Matt Soniak
Even ideas – such as swimming strokes – conjure up colours for some synaesthetes
Costa Rica announces 2.47 million acre marine reserve
If we told you what this press release was about, we’d have to shoot you.
Hipster science (“My data don’t need to fit to your ‘model’.”)
You can order flesh-eating beetles through the post! Comes w/ free frog to start the skeletonising fun
XKCD on cladistics
Man draws perfect circle in less than a second. Man is nerd Jedi
C3P0 reminds “parents of earth” to make sure their children are “fully immunized” in awesome ’70s PSA
Golden-haired spider that looks like an ant. Nature! Hell yeah!
Psychologists – they’re all just screwing with each other.
A poster for Brian Cox’s next series?
Physics troll (not Internet kind) explains how physics ought to work
Heh. Scientists – all you do is stick PINS in stuff.
DRAAAAAAAAINAGE. Awesome geo-art
James Delingpole, the gift that keeps on giving
“The success of MORDOR will open up the majority of the bone specimens previously not available for sampling”
Arnie, in calling for fossil fuel termination, quotes Conan: “Crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and hear the lamentations of their women.”
Gladwell, proven spectacularly wrong on social media, dismisses critics as pajama-wearing bloggers in Brooklyn. Really, Malcolm? You are critiquing us on sartorial grounds?
And the misleading headline of the week goes to the Independent. Based on this, the Knight Science Journalism Tracker says “Many Brit outlets do seem markedly fond of starting readers off with caution- and irony-free hyperbole, and then as a story proceeds titrating its consumers back to reality.” Great. Just great. England f**king expects, okay?
The Battle for Control – what people who worry about the internet are really worried about
A hive for long-form journalism on the Internet.
Fox News kept out of Canada by law saying that you can’t lie on broadcast news
I’m in the middle of a chain retraction
It’s the Inequality, Stupid. A great infographic.
When manning up involves pushing women out
Wow. German defense minister Guttenberg resigns after losing his PhD for a plagiarized thesis. Ivan Oransky has the story.