I've got your missing links right here (29 October 2011)

By Ed Yong | October 29, 2011 12:00 pm

Top picks

A fantastic post on the dogged passion of scientists: Internet Porn Fills Gap in Spider Taxonomy, by Meera Lee Sethi

Threefold variation in UK bowel cancer death rates! Wait, that’s less than what you expect from chance, by Ben Goldacre

A lovely piece on the mind of the octopus and what it’s like to study them

Turn the lights off and your speakers up. Ready? Now watch this video of Earth from the International Space Station

This is wonderful. Two scientists – SciCurious and Kate Clancy – critique a paper on their blogs and the author responds on her own blog. Technical but civil comments ensue. Great.

Human population growth: more “bacterial than primate”, by Elizabeth Kolbert.

Why biology is in dire need of some viral marketing (and why the creationists are winning at SEO), by Kevin Zelnio.

An important piece on views of evolution in the Muslim world & why young-earth creationism is absent

Brutally scathing report says polio eradication isn’t going to happen any time soon. By Maryn McKenna

Love the tyrant, not the hype: A must-read post by Tom Holtz on the real reasons why T. rex is so damn interesting.

“You don’t want to be the science writer who asks a famous astronomer ‘so are u telling me there’s a telescope in space?” Cassie Willyard on why science writers need to ask dumb questions.

A beautiful creative combo of science & cathartic writing: “Time+brain chemistry heal all wounds” by Christie Wilcox.

Carl Zimmer asks about the biggest cell. A great conversation ensues.

Great feature on sequencing the Black Death genome, by Ewen Callaway

Very good piece by Erika Check Hayden on why sequencing Steve Jobs’ genome couldn’t save his life, and the limits of modern genetics.

The book marketplace is more about “selling objects… than propelling the arguments they contain.” Excellent analysis by Megan Garber

Virtual wolf pack show that ambush is possible without planning or cooperation

6 guys in a capsule – great Wired piece on a 520-experiment in isolation, that simulates a trip to Mars

Dolphin Curiosity: Knowledge for Knowledge’s Sake. I love Paul Norris’ blog on animal intelligence.

Educate a woman, educate a nation: why women’s education is key to slowing population growth. Really important concept.

Bacteria threaten cave art – but some scientists disagree with “keep cave closed” tactic. Cool story by Carmen Drahl.

An excellent deep-digging feature on the mislabeling of fish from the Boston Globe.


Looming gaps in satellite coverage could create an important gap in climate data

Killer whales in captivity are NOT a 13th Amendment problem

Killer Whales Migrate Thousands of Miles to…Exfoliate?

 Cookie-Cutter Cat Not As Cute The Name Sounds

The neuroscience of ‘pissing yourself with fear’

$10m prize for sequencing 100 centenarian genomes in 30 days. Well, they should be easy to catch…

First patient receives novel gene therapy for type of blindness. Good luck to him!

Mass Species Loss Stunts Evolution for Millions of Years

Was Archaeopteryx an early bird? The debate about this iconic fossil critter continues. Brian Switek gets the nuance in the debate, unlike most journalists who opted for a simple turn-around narrative.

Declan Butler dissects the malaria vaccine announcement from last week. It’s still important, but how important?

The Royal Society has made all journal articles over 70-years-old free-to-access

The arsenic debate that matters: conflicting studies fuel arsenic debate

Swans and stem cells: winners of this year’s Imagine Science Film Festival

Cognitive Chaos May Fuel Marijuana’s Side Effects

21% of “high impact biomedical journal” studies have honorary/ghost authors

The UK’s National Cancer Director orders an independent review of breast cancer screening programme. Good. Necessary.

Does Time Exist? The definitive debate. Check out comment 20 for a clear lay explanation!

Universal HPV vaccination for boys recommended by CDC advisory panel.

This is big, important and potentially worrying. Non-invasive fetal genetic screening debuts.

Tasmanian Devils Might Survive Cancer Scourge

Two parasites, one host in a new blog called Nothing in Biology Makes Sense

One of the 7 billion humans has just brought the number of Javan rhinos down to 50

The Iceman genome cometh

Argument over RNA editing study deepens

Before flight, did dinosaurs use flap-assisted incline running? Great videos on the evolution of flight, via Carl Zimmer.

This might be the earliest Western childbirth image (and it was found by a blind student)

The Empire of Death, The World’s Monuments to Human Skeletons

“I wanna be like you-oo-oo.” Orangutans develop different cultures like humans.

People are better at golf if they’re told that their club belonged to a pro

Peer review is f***ed up – let’s fix it

Why Do We Keep Going Back to Jurassic Park? Other than the fact that Hammond keeps on sending us.

EyeTracker – tech that allows paralysed ALS patients to draw with their eyes

“An ignorance about genetics so profound that I may lose hope in humanity”: Emily Willingham on the Huffington Post’s shocking science section.

Naming gives us the illusion that nature is fixed, but it is as fluid as the language used to describe it”

“We knew our predictions were little better than guesses, but we continued to act as if each prediction was valid.” Don’t Blink! The Hazards of Confidence

People with strong involuntary digust reactions are more likely to be conservative, oppose gay marriage.

Sail-backed crocodiles & the rise of the ruling reptiles

Crabitats! Project Shellter aims to build 3D-printed homes for hermit crabs

‘Sex and the Scanner’:  why MRI scanners don’t make for good sexy TV.

The first episode of Frozen Planet was incredible. Surfing penguins, the world’s most incompetent sea-lion, killer whales attacking seals with waves, and this epic wolf hunt.

How to get a job in Antarctica

How big was world’s population when you were born?



Study Finds Every Style Of Parenting Produces Disturbed, Miserable Adults

The beards! Oh god the beards! How the Joy of Sex was illustrated

Do NOT attempt to answer this question. Mind splode.

Man chases crab, crab gets hilariously awesome revenge on man

A strategic plan, to be stapled to the heads of all strategy consultants.

Dinosaurigami: how the hell did he do a Kentrosaurus???

“Responses of unwitting participants to balls unexpectedly thrown by an experimenter or propelled by a hidden cannon…”

Joss Whedon’s Much Ado About Nothing. At the end, Nick Fury recruits them all.

“The dictator was dragged from a big pipe and then some stuff happened”

HuffNo Tumblr

Being alive linked to autism

Kangaroo vs Emu: FIGHT!

The planet’s version of farting in the bath: an underwater volcano spews exotic lava

Confused grasshopper is confused



Open Lab 2011: Blogging Comes of Age. (I’m helping to judge and I quite agree. A particularly good batch this year).

Good round-up from Nieman Lab about getting tablet news to pay.

I’ve been playing around with ifttt.com – an essential tool for journalists and other heavy web users.

A great dissection of why Amy Harmon’s autism story in the NYT is so good – I love the description of writers leaving “gold coins” for readers.

Was It A Cat I Saw? Interview with, and essay by, palindrome king Barry Duncan. His record? 800 words

Someone hacked Israel’s biometric database in 2006. Now 9 million people’s personal info is on the loose.

A great piece on how Anonymous, the new Shakespeare movie, relates to science denialism

Intelligent Rival Imitator of Siri.” Android has a Siri, called Iris.

Why architects suffer from myopia, and some buildings look really weird

Three psychiatrists urge DC Comics to stop misrepresenting the mentally ill.

Cyborg no more! The BBC moves to human-edited Twitter feeds

The @Guardiantagbot will answer your queries to discover your weaknesses. Er, I mean, help you find content.

Brian Cox is wrong: blogging your research is not a recipe for

It’s time to admit that journalists are human beings, and they have opinions:

The European Geosciences Union is offering fellowships of 5,000 euros for journos to report on geosciences research. Disclaimer: I’m judging

What are the best “dumb” interview Qs that sci journos ask? Loads of great answers, plus some from me. Also: how to cover conferences.

How much energy does the entire internet consume?


Comments (6)

  1. Dave

    Your link in the Top Pick on ‘views of evolution’


    goes to a blank page in Earth magazine that claims: “Originally Posted: 01 Jan 1970”.

    That is interesting because it was before even Arthur Clarke is credited with having imagined an internet, but not very informative on the topic.

  2. Dale Sheldon-Hess

    About “Do NOT attempt to answer this question. Mind splode.”

    The answer is simple enough; none of the above.

    Suppose the answer is 25%: then, picking at random, you would be right 50% of the time. A contradiction. The answer is not 25%.

    Similarly, 50% give a contradiction because 50% is not equal to 25%. Neither is 60% equal to 25%.

    This is the same logic (just with more words) than in “True or false: This sentence is false.” Choosing any of the presented answers leads to a contradiction, so the answer is “none of the above”. Both questions are natural-language examples of Godel’s incompleteness theorem.

  3. Daniel J. Andrews

    The link to “Responses of unwitting participants to balls unexpectedly thrown by an experimenter or propelled by a hidden cannon…” is a 404 error. I think the link below is the one you want?


  4. Brian Cox is wrong, blogging your research is not a recipe for…. what?

    Blancmange ?
    It has to be blancmange.
    Blogging/blancmange seems like a natural combo, but will surely lead to spilled cream and broken electronics. Whilst Professor Cox is no doubt used to working with strange and dangerous forces, he is ill prepared for a Big Blog Blancmage Blow Up.

    or maybe I should have just clicked that link before forming an opinion on it.

  5. Jon M

    In response to the “impossible” question the answer is either zero or “none of the listed answers” depending on whether you can pick them.

    to be the answer an option must be correct and have the probability of choosing it equal to itself

    25% cannot be as there is 50% chance of picking it
    50% cannot be as there is 25% chance of picking it
    60% chance cannot be as there is 25% chance of picking it

    therefore picking at random 0% chance of being correct

  6. WetHippie

    The architecture link was quite enlightening. Really enjoyed reading that as it puts it in clear text why my wife, who is an architect, and I seem to be a polar opposites of what constitutes interesting and good architecture. I’ve forwarded that to her and waiting for the response :)


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