I've got your missing links right here (03 September 2011)

By Ed Yong | September 3, 2011 12:00 pm

Top picks

Via the IOM’s report on vaccine safety, we have “lost yet another battle in the war over vaccines” says Erika Check Hayden

Plumes & Pathogens: Human fascination w/ birds can jeopardize our health, by Rachel Nuwer, reporting from Asia’s wildlife markets

NYT on how the psychology of misidentification is forcing an overhaul in police lineup procedures

Can there be anything nerdier than calling out Simon Pegg on the etymology of the word nerd? No.

Aussie farmers killed the thylacine because they thought it’d kill their sheep. Except it couldn’t have

Must-read post by Sean Mcarroll: Ten things everyone should know about time

What do whale sharks eat? While studying the giant fish, Al Dove stumbled onto a cool mystery

How would you explain the meaning of right and left to an alien, without pictures or gestures?

Scary Disease Girl” Maryn McKenna describes life on the infectious disease beat. Much wisdom here for aspiring writers.

Does neuroscience threaten the concept of free will & do philosphers care? Great feature by Kerri Thomas

Spider mites disable host plant defenses, then spin their own

India’s attempting the biggest biometric project of all time, involving all 1.2m of its people. Is it worth it?


How to Make a Transparent Mouse with a Few Simple Ingredients

In female-empowered cultures, gender gap in spatial reasoning vanishes

From a behavioral economics point of view, the field of financial advice is quite strange

Cancer-killing viruses zero in on tumor cells. Phase I trial only, but cool method

Coming soon to a procedural drama near you, the “body liquefaction unit”. From cadaver to mush in 3 hrs.

Happy words trump negativity in the English language. British people not trying hard enough.

Hurricane Irene from start to finish, in timelapse satellite images

Fighting the scourge of boring ledes

How bacteria travel round the world

Specific parts of the human brain are tuned to the sight of animals

Boarding a plane by row is the worst possible way, worse than random boarding. What’s better?

Polio returns to China, and it probably came from Pakistan. Neither of those facts is good.

On Steve Jobs and the creativity of anger, by Jonah Lehrer

Adventures in British roadkill

The Golden Ratio: lies and more lies.

How would you feed astronauts on a five-year Mars mission?

Vaughan Bell beautifully explains what a “we’re-simulating-the-brain” project is *actually* going to do

Are antibiotics killing off beneficial bacteria for good?

Et tu, Science Magazine? A chemical free crusade from Deborah Blum.

Why do women get more autoimmune diseases than men?

On vaccines: scientists can’t stop doing science because of crazy people, says Hannah Waters

Keep your frozen heart beating inside a box. Then sneak it under the floorboards of a literary convention

Big prehistoric cheetah killed next to ancient humans. And that’s it.

NASA orbital debris office is struggling to keep up with space junk problem. Space broom deemed unfeasible

The US considers wild chimps to be endangered but captive chimps to be threatened.

Yeah, yeah, let’s capture the asteroid and mine it. What could possibly go wrong?

The balloon volcano is the world’s first major geo-engineering field-test

We had Kate Winslet learning how to pipette“. Contagion Spreads Truths about Bioterrorism


The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows. Is brilliant. For fans of the Devil’s Dictionary and the Meaning of Liff

I wonder if Alex Wild is seeing too much in this “moth with mural wings” but do let’s have that PhD project!

On the coastal walk I did this week, I found *thousands* of these tiny snails clinging to grass stems on the path

If you’ve never run through a room filled with white balloons, you haven’t lived.

The Onion’s take on the “8.7 million species” story is about as sensible as much of the actual news reporting on it

What an amazing world we live in – winners of BBC’s annual ecology photo prize

In which Matt Parker proves – PROVES, I say – that Captain America films cause natural disasters in New York

Movies of stars breathing

Best conflict of interest statement ever: “I have no conflict of interest and I am also not Jack the Ripper


Newspapers, and thus journalism, are saved! YAY! Because we’ll burn it for fuel! Er…

Darren Naish says Inside Nature’s Giants (Raw Anatomy in the US) “might actually be the only thing on TV worth watching.” He’s not wrong.

Having declared war upon pseuds, Google is now tackling that most nefarious of social groups – children

Why a lot of people don’t understand Creative Commons

“As web content [gets] dumber, the market for high quality content away from the web will continue to grow”

Amazon’s new @author feature changes (just a bit) what a book is all about

Casting calls for hosts of two new sci/engineering shows specifically call for *men* aged 25-45. Seriously. It’s 2011!


Comments (12)

  1. I am missing a link in the second top pick.

  2. Dave

    Your link to the ‘Scientific’ American on the thylacine does you no credit. The Gov’t had a bounty on the thylacine, so blaming ‘Aussie farmers’ is both imprecise and misleading (and those that raised sheep probably thought of themselves as graziers, not farmers). Furthermore, while hunting undoubtedly contributed to the extinction of the thylacine, the evidence seems pretty strong that it was disease that did it in – including wiping out the breeding colony at the Melbourne Zoo. Why not try reading Robert Paddle’s fine book “The Last Tasmanian Tiger: The History and Extinction of the Thylacine” (Cambridge University Press, 2002) and actually learn something about the extinction of the thylacine instead of pandering to your peers’ callow politics? Something similar, although far more gruesome, is happening to the Tasmanian Devil right now.

    I once thought highly of your blog but you seem to have an increasing number of poorly thought out links and posts.

  3. @Kereng/Brin – Thanks. Fixed.

    @Dave – It should come as no surprise to anyone that I do not know absolutely everything about the topics that are covered in these links. I can only vet them to tbe best of my ability, and trust on people more knowledgeable than me to point out any misleading or inaccurate information, for which I am grateful. If that imperfection is unacceptable to you, then I trust you will ride your high horse over to other blogs that better conform to your standards.

  4. Fred

    Once again, Missing Links has wasted three hours of my weekend. And I couldn’t be happier. I don’t know how you find the time to survey such a range of web sites but I thank you for your effort. I end up going from your link to another and another . . . . . . A delight for the intellectual omnivore.

  5. Thanks Fred. I appreciate it.

  6. Terry

    I second Fred. Thank you from another intellectual omnivore (great term!) for a blog that leaves me wanting more yet also satiated (for the time being).

  7. Amy

    I’m thirding Fred.

    PS: the link to the third article under Science/News/Writing isn’t correct. I’m dying to know why “From a behavioral economics point of view, the field of financial advice is quite strange”!

  8. Ausmith1

    India has only 1.2 million people? Surely you mean 1.2 billion?

  9. Interesting links again. Thanks! And a word for Ed against an unfair attack:

    It’s not like there’s any actual hard evidence packing the hypothesis that there even was a new disease killing the thylacines – let alone that it was actually *the* reason why the species died out. Even Paddle (who relies rather too heavily on selected anecdotes and likes mocking the actual scientists too much for my taste) says multiple times in his book that hunting alone would have been well enough to kill the species.

    In conclusion, while adding the disease as a possible contributor is a good idea, there’s no need to be arrogant about it. There’s simply no hard evidence to one way or another.

    And secondly, it was no Government who laid bounty on thylacine first. It was Van Diemen’s Land Company, a sheep- and cattle-raising enterprise on 1830. While nitpicking between “farmers” and “graziers” can continue, it was exactly them who paid for the killing. The Government bounty program only began in 1888, when the thylacine was already rare.

    As further reading, I’d recommend David Quammen’s The Song of the Dodo (1996).

  10. Dave

    Hi Ed,

    The only horse I ever willingly got on was on my honeymoon, and that was to humour my wife (and she has one leg permanently gimpy from having a pony fall on it). I was very sore at the end of that venture and had a new respect for horseflies. The SA link and especially the inaccurate and mindless comments may have put me in a high dudgeon, but your link sent me there.

    Extinction may be the norm, but current extinctions are a complex issue and just slagging ‘Aussie farmers’ or even people in general is rarely a useful way to understand how or why a species goes extinct in Australia or anywhere else. Our interactions with wild animals that may or may not eat us or our livestock are even more complex. I re-recommend the book on the thylacine and also David Baron’s “The Beast in the Garden”. More science and less emotive bigotry is the only high horse I now willingly climb on.


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