OpenLab 2012 collects the 51 best posts from the science blogosphere over the last year. It’s an extraordinary collection, ably curated by Jennifer Ouellette and a team of reviewers. I’m honoured to have a piece in there. And here are the posts that narrowly missed out – lots of excellent stuff here too.
David Attenborough does a Shatner with this spoken word version of What a Wonderful World. He can make spoken word seem cool. Really, is there no end to the man’s powers?
A terrific piece by AV Flox, on sexism, life for women, and how she just wants to go for a walk.Also: why speaking out against sexism (like the Womanspace incident) is worth it: it’s for the bystanders.
Worms can pass a trait down for 100 generations…without using DNA
What is the correct way to die when you fall into lava? Hint: not like Gollum. Erik Klemetti discusses.
Doctors die differently. Amazing piece.
45 powerful images from 2011: Fukushima, war, revolution and more. (Note the ridiculous bar at the bottom. 285 rated them “WIN”.)
Japan’s nuclear gypsies: “We’re going to Fukushima. If you don’t like it, you can get off the truck.”
We could bombard Jane Austen’s hair w/ neutrons or X-rays or dissolve it in acid & atomize in a hot flame.
Is Britain a nation of climate sceptics? “You can’t read a singular view of the people off blocks of data, no matter how strong the methodology,” says Alice Bell.
“Let’s not call it prostate cancer” – fascinating suggestion, covered by Laura Newman.
Michael Specter’s great piece on placebos and the work of Ted Kaptchuk – behind a paywall, but well worth it.
How Universal Is The Mind? Would cognitive science be different if it developed in Japan/Korea?
Ostrich penis clears up evolutionary mystery. The ostrich penis scientists are baffled by the attention: “It’s been a surprise. Scientifically, this was a pretty sleepy study.”
What Really Happened Aboard Air France 447? Mind-blowing feature.
NEEEEEEEYAAAAAWWWWWWWW. What it’s like to fly down a mountain at 150 mph.
In this gallery of animal camouflage, there’s an octopus in every photo but you can’t see it.
Utterly chilling – some US companies are basically trying to patent the use of scientific evidence to save lives. By Chris Mims.
An utter failure of peer review: ESP proponents claim that ESP skeptics are psychic & use their powers to suppress ESP. And the journal asks for more experiments.
This is the price of churnalism, of uncritical health reporting – health at risk, bodies damaged. Dr Petra covers a horrible case of medical misconduct and journalistic malpractice.
So you’ve got a space rocket. Where do you launch it from?
An old post by Chris Rowan but well worth your time: ‘10 Million Feet upon the stair’
Turns out that throwing your head against other people is a bad idea. As NHL players learn.
Meet the chimp who sees sounds: high tones light, deep tones dark, just like humans
Robert Krulwich on how vowels control your brain and why frosh” sounds creamier than “frish.”
Scientific American defends Marie Curie – and Women Scientists – in 1911.
Since gaming has become mainstream, violent crimes have fallen. The rate of people exploding in a shower of coins, however, has gone up.
Surgeon to 40 women: I’m going to remove your appendix through your vagina. 22 women: No thanks
Did threat of fungi contribute to evolution of warm-bloodedness? Hmm… Nice hypothesis, but needs 2nd opinion, shurely
My old employers – Cancer Research UK – have slashed their research budget by 10%. Hard times.
We yawn harder when our families yawn, than when strangers do it.
Tighter efficiency standards may lead to bigger, more ironic vehicles
Deepest point in the ocean is deeper than previously thought. It’s REALLY deep.
Dear Newspapers: Individual Studies Do Not Exist In A Vacuum
Billion-Year Old Smart Bacteria That Perfectly Treat Cancer? No. Really, no.
Climate skeptics advise: Don’t mess with Attenborough
Two malarias, and one of them isn’t playing nicely
With ‘Google Earth’ for Mars, explore the red planet from home
The filth inside your mouth – visualised!
When the doctor has PTSD
Edinburgh pandas as “pointless as taking off the pants in order to fart”
Why cognitive-enhancing drugs probably won’t make you that much smarter. Interesting argument
Terrible NYT piece on just preserving the DNA of endangered species for later cloning. Yeah, the most difficult part of cloning extinct species is the expense. Not, say, everything else. Andrew Thaler says it best: “When it comes to rebuilding an ecosystem, genetics only gets you so far.”
Guppies avoid harrassment by hanging around sexy friends. Which is why I’ve handcuffed myself to Angelina Jolie.
Precambrian microfossils may be 1st animal embryos. Or giant bacteria.
Interesting analysis of how David Cameron’s team in Number 10 seem to have been bitten by the sci bug
To parasitise a mockingbird
On Twitter, I asked, “Is there an upper limit to how high mountains can get?” The answer is yes. Chris Rowan said, “For Earth, Himalayas about it – any higher and they collapse under their own weight.”
How did I not know this? In 2009, the extinct Pyrenean ibex was resurrected via cloning… for 7 minutes
Bedbugs: they have stab-sex with their mothers, brothers, sisters and fathers
Mussels, seastars and more: winners and losers in climate change
Silverfish rub themselves w/ pheromones of ants to pass unnoticed
Is the Higgs boson real? Ian Sample asks a bunch of physicists. Lots of “should be”, one no and one limerick
Lynne Quarmby on how scientists get a feeling for their favourite model organisms.
Greenfield dodges scientific scrutiny of her scary scientific theory. Again
Creativity Linked To Rule Bending
Brazil: Amazon deforestation declines to record low
All the whales of the world ever, part 1
Can you measure bacteria by spitting on your iPhone? Maybe. Sort of
How much of global warming is our fault? At least 74%
Sunken treasure: the deep sea mining renaissance.
What single quality predicts a good doctor? Curiosity.
Drug companies are bad – especially when it fits the news agenda.
The Deep-Sea Find That Changed Biology
Depressing stat of the day: “agreeable men” (a.k.a. nice guys) get paid less. But nice twist at the end.
The first year anniversary of arseniclife picks up steam.
Septin proteins build ‘cages’ around microbes to prevent them from infecting other cells
Shara Yurkiewicz on failing the unfailable exam
Henry bit off Mildred’s tail and 25 yrs later, he has fathered 11 babies with her at the age of 111. (He’s a tuatara)
Guardian’s series on the basics of statistics. 1st one on sampling
A big nest of baby dinosaurs
“I wonder if the Observer will be doing article on difficulty Nigerian Royal Family have getting money out of country?”
Oh sure, the problem is with the zoos. Not the fact that you *own* two chimpanzees. Christ.
Carl Zimmer takes a look at the ethics of your germs
World’s first cell race, with video.
“Every single patient I have found in media coverage of Burzynski for the past 10 yrs, w/ a sole exception, is dead.”
How to give yourself hallucinations with a radio and two ping-pong balls.
This is the “most environmentally destructive government to hold power in this country since the modern environmental movement was born”
There are 23 remaining Hainan black-crested gibbons… and counting
A crowdfunded inflatable solar-powered LED lantern for disaster relief.
Watch a fleet of flying robots assemble a 20-foot indoor tower
Are dragons an atavistic memory of “snake/raptor/cat” primate alarms? Not convinced, but I love the hypothesis.
“Dmitri Mendeleev’s business card and Ernest Rutherford’s potato masher”. Excellent
XKCD on living up to your potential
Googly eyes in the wild
Children’s drawings of monsters, painted realistically
Onion: global warming may be irreversible by 2006
I think I’ve found the problem with your vehicle. You have a mako shark stuck in it. Happens.
Avatar: a poem
Every science news story ever.
World AIDS Day 2011 in photos
Outsourcing on the Death Star
Could Ian McKellen tell you how to change a flat tyre and make it sound good? Yes. Yes he can. (At 1:55)
Professor Ian Shoelace’s site on optimised shoe lacing
Jess Zimmerman’s alternative headline for this is perfect: Guy hallucinates animals everywhere
Onion: “I need to give equal consideration to the person telling me what I want to hear before I side with him”
Hard-hitting journalism: “Man stumbles on rather large pear in Sutton”
Angry Birds Evening Gown Worn To Gala By Rovio Executive’s Wife
67-year-old woman teaches prisoners to knit as personal transformation. Wardens worries about needles
David Whitehouse writes a curmudgeonly Huffpo piece about how science journalism is going downhill. Paul Raeburn writes a much better riposte, arguing that it’s not: “His criticism echoes down the line as if it were coming to us via a bad connection from the 20th Century.” Meanwhile, Keith Kloor points out that Whitehouse left an important element out of his piece…
“It may seem thankless at times, but the army of online commentators who point out the errors, the inconsistencies and the confounding factors, and from time to time just scream ‘bullshit’, have the power to hold the press to account,” says a Nature editorial.
Very cool Guardian data viz on how Twitter spreads rumours & the knock downs that follow false ones
Pro-Virginity, Anti-Feminist Folks Make The Purity Myth Trailer Terrifying
Women write about sexism, told to calm down. Man writes about it, trends on Twitter.
Spam now makes up only 70% of the world’s emails. That’s down from a year ago, when it was 90%. Yay?
The world’s first mugshots, introduced by French criminologist Alphonse Bertillon in the 1880s
Analysis confirms: Twitter did not incite rioting. You don’t say. It’s a social media tool, not f**king Loki.
I deeply, truly, desperately want this technology to fail.
The SHERP students from NYU’s science journalism course built an iPad app. In. Their. Free. Time. The future of journalism belongs to people like them.
Twitter improves your journalism
Some US papers to give up printing on Mondays and drop their paywalls that day
Telegraph investigation shows examiners tipping off teachers about future exam questions. The bit about hammering exam technique is chilling
Alexis Madrigal on Clay Shirky, on the future of news. Yes, I know. I spoil you
“Mythbusters” cannonball accidentally blasts through suburban bedroom
Funeral urns with an iPod aesthetic.
“You have this precious, incredibly privileged thing… the reader’s attention” Why William Langewiesche is so good
Tricks and tools for taking fast, accurate notes and capturing scenes.
“Behind the scenes, Facebook is now in the Total Information Awareness business.”
What is this “blog” you speak of? 10 yrs ago, MSM catches wind of “web-logs”
Top 10 Most Hilariously Geeky Fake Twitter Streams
“When you take the friction out of sharing, you also remove the value.”
Are you an abomination of a person? Do you enjoy board games? If so, Pogromly is for you.
Remarkable read about a woman who built a school for India’s “untouchables”
The original draft memos for the iconic opening monologue from Star Trek