Must-read of the week: Carl Zimmer’s perfect profile of Neil Tyson. That last paragraph is just textbook. It appeared in Playboy and spurred some debate about where writers publish – some great comments here
What do Stephen Hawking’s peers think of him? A touching tribute from Alok Jha. “If I get a headache, I can’t work. But he seems to be able to produce stuff despite fantastic problems.”
Cloaking device makes time vanish. Neat animated explainer by Rose Eveleth.
Five experiments as hard as finding the Higgs, including the quest for the kilogram
What hybrid sharks mean (and don’t mean) for climate change & evolution:
A lost world found in an Antarctic sea vent. Featuring a ghostly deep-sea octopus and legions of the hairy “Hoff crab”. Don’t miss the Daily Mash’s take: “Creatures including octopus that radiates bad luck found in place where it is always night.”
The mathematics of Lego – great post by Samuel Arbesman, the latest addition to Wired’s blog network.
“It’s almost spooky,” says author. Brain electrodes fix depression long-term
The epic struggle to tunnel under the Thames, and how a clam inspired the solution
Wow. Every single 2011 front page headline from the pretend newspaper Daily Express. They’re sort of morbidly fascinating in one swoop.
The Tsunami and the Cherry Blossoms – poignant, beautiful and hopeful.
Most of the clitoris is internal. You should know this.
“Most astronomers gaze at the heavens and see stars. William Chaplin hears an orchestra.” Ron Cowen on the sound of the stars.
On the things that doctors say, by Shara Yurkiewicz
A stirring salute to anyone who has ever beaten, or learned to live with, depression.
Huge cone snail captured stalking, paralyzing, swallowing and harpooning a sleeping fish
A stunning feature on surfers by William Langewiesche. Look at how deftly he dances through the intro.
Your appendix could save your life. V. cool test of the idea that it’s a sanctuary for helpful gut bacteria, by Rob Dunn.
How two-toed & three-toed sloths independently evolved to hang upside down in trees
How octopuses can live in the Antarctica cold: editing.
Jonah Lehrer makes the case (based on fish) that ignorant/indifferent voters help democracy in a partisan age
The surprisingly mundane genetic secrets of very old people. Nice detail at the end.
False-positive HIV tests – the problem no one wants to talk abotu (true of many medical tests)
How Do You Make A Robot That People Will Talk To? Make It As Cute As Wall-E
Insects have evolved ears at least 17 times – what 50 million year old cricket and katydid fossils tell us about the origin of insect hearing.
David Attenborough: Frozen Planet not alarmist about climate change
Giraffes Eat Bones–and Other Things Kate Wong Learned on Safari
“Research about sex differences in the brain has been distorted by nonscientists to an extraordinary degree.”
Quack degrees fold throughout the UK.
The least important events of 2011
What are people looking at when they’re dreaming?
“Even though mathematics was beautiful and I loved it, I wasn’t a very good monk.” Gina Kolata profiles Eric Lander
Why doctors take the piss
NASA wants to power robots with microbes
“With depressive/anxiety disorders higher in women, it’s about time we looked to the lady rats.”
“Sneezing induced by sexual ideation or orgasm: an under-reported phenomenon”
Heroes of the hot zone – a veteran Chernobyl scientist meets Fukushima workers
Annals of Duh – 11 obvious scientific findings from 2011
Fluorescent rabies virus tracks how experience alters neural circuits
Is the media’s attention to climate change on the wane?
What has next generation sequencing done lately? A list of 2011 disease-causing mutations.
Zookeepers count every London Zoo animal in annual stock take. Surely it’s cheating to count ant colony as one?
All screening programmes cause harm, but some save lives. PSA testing probably only does the former.
A rousing rallying call to fight for access to science, from Kevin Zelnio to, well, pretty much everyone
What’s living in a single scoop of seafloor mud?
2.5yrs after completion, many publicly funded clinical trials remain unpublished
Razib Khan takes on a new paper on phantom heritablity
David Dobbs on the rush to see PTSD in returning troops
A new study on EBV and multiple sclerosis “reopens a debate that was heading toward a negative conclusion.”
Weightless flies have wanderlust
Does science need a universal symbol? What would it be?
Heh. “Lower Cognitive Ability Predicts Greater Prejudice Through Right-Wing Ideology”
An interesting thought-experiment on the free will question: do some people have free will and others not
APA legal threats forced blog to change title from DSM5Watch to DxRevisionWatch
Can listening to The Beatles’ “When I’m 64” make you younger? It can with researcher bias. The false positive problem
Clever spiders steal rivals’ dance moves
An infographic depicting religions, social networks and countries in comparison
How to circumvent peer review: publish in no-name journal. HIV-denier secures publication. In honour of Duesberg, I’m starting a new peer-reviewed journal called Proceedings of Drunk Tramp with Traffic Cone.
Stanfordicons: Cute robots will replace nighttime guards at South Korean prison
What is sexy to a dinosaur? Or pterosaur?
An Apollo astronaut posing with a Snoopy doll
Amazing reviews for Mr Men books
“I’m obsessed with Survivor and thought it would be fun. WRONG!!!” One-star review of Lord of the Flies, and others of the worst reviews on the internet. I especially liked “Just. Burn. It” for Animal Farm.
Ancient Greek punishments: the videogame. I can’t beat the Sisyphus level.
Survey reveals that 15% of people trust the Daily Mail. Just think: one of those people could live next to you or be talking to your children. We should put them all on a register.
Leaping devil-rays! Spectacular, but like most of Earthflight, best watched on mute w/ music playing
Oh sure. I bet you just sat there and impassively recorded data on your notepad
Inavertently funny sub-heading: “Mental dexterity and brain power deteriorates earlier than thought”
9-foot-tall supersoldier mourns Kim Jong Il
What happens when you give thousands of stickers to thousands of kids? Beautiful things
“The passage was clearly unsettling for someone with her penchant for both Ponies and accuracy.” Amy Harmon on the NYT’s greatest ever correction. Meanwhile, Harmon speaks to Seth Mnookin about autism & neurodiversity in the first of 3 interviews.
The Huffington Post starts a new science section, and the world dies of irony poisoning. Carl Zimmer considers whether they’ve turned over a new leaf. I look forward to future pieces such as: “50 sciencey reasons why what we said before was crap [SLIDESHOW]”
Meet Iraq’s youngest photographer. He is 8 years old
Why flaws in Chinese capitalism have created football players so bad they can’t even rig games
Ben Goldacre on traps in data journalism.
“Is perpetual outrage obscuring important issues or are important issues creating perpetual outrage?” – a great piece on Twitter storms and why outrage is sometimes justified.
“People are as hungry as ever for good things to read… length is no object.” Economist on Longreads.
Heh. First person to use their phone during a meal picks up the bill
How to write a bad pitch, featuring a roundtable of editors and a “New Caledonian cow”
PayPal: if you don’t like the violin you bought, smash it and we’ll give you your money back
A resolution to spend more time offline and daydreaming
Fearmongering Gets Started in 2012: Laacher See is Not “Ready to Blow”
The TSA: “So much inconvenience for so little benefit at such a staggering cost.”
A blog spoke, they listened: A look at groups that joined the Embargo Watch Honor Roll in 2011