I've got your missing links right here (10 March 2012)

By Ed Yong | March 10, 2012 3:00 pm

Top picks

Eliza Strickland has an amazing piece on the millionaire who’s on a quest to dive to the deepest spot in the oceans. Meanwhile, Al Dove writes about James Cameron’s Marianas expedition, which he calls “the biggest deep sea exploration news in 50 years”

A *beautifully written* Economist piece on the dim future for nuclear power by Ollie Morton

This feature on TED and other ideas conferences is hilariously scathing and sorely needed. Meanwhile, Megan Garber has a really sharp analysis – TED makes ideas smaller – which also applies to the “big-idea” brand of non-fiction.

How easy would it be to manufacture the mutant flu strains from scratch? Great and important piece by Carl Zimmer.

Dippy-style! How Did the Biggest Dinosaurs Get it On?

John Hutchinson – remember the elephant sixth-toe study? – has a new blog about his work called “What’s in John’s Freezer?”. And it’s really cool work. First up: CT-scanning a giraffe leg. I love the juxtaposition of “femoral head” (technical) and “white thingy” (less so)

The 1st ebook reader was created in the same year as the 1st exoplanet was discovered. Sean Carroll brings em together

Nature’s most perfect poop.” Tom Hayden implores you to “behold the copepod fecal pellet…Imagine the convenience”

What is a flame? A science communication challenge

“25 Things You Should Know About Word Choice.” – Essential advice for all writers.

The world’s dumbest uses for QR codes

The house sparrow “is native to humanity rather than to some particular region.” Lovely piece by Rob Dunn.

We can rebuild you. We have the technology. But we can’t give you hair, apparently. BBC on our bionic future

18/19th-century bodysnatchers “fought each other for ‘a monopoly over the cadaver trade’ – more goodness from the Chirurgeon’s Apprentice.

We’re underestimating the risk of human extinction – a cogent argument for why we’re all doomed

“There’s no way out of this one.” Entire nation of Kiribati to move to Fiji because of rising sea level

Decision-Making Under Stress: The Brain Remembers Rewards, Forgets Punishments by Maia Szalavitz

An interviewer asked Neil Tyson about the most astounding fact he knows. The result is absolutely wonderful.

“And it will fail.” Doctor Zen on why people are overselling the connectome and why it won’t solve the riddle of the brain, the universe and everything.

This is very good. Michael Thompson on what journalists can learn from the scientific method

Prosthetics throughout the ages. Love the one with an built-in fork

What can novelists learn from neuroscience? Jonah Lehrer interviews Charles Fernyhough.

A few months ago, I wrote about a study, published in PLoS ONE, which failed to replicate a seminal and highly cited experiment by psychologist John Bargh. Bargh has now written a post on his own blog decrying the replication while launching ad hominem attacks at the scientists behind it, PLoS ONE, and me. The reaction has not been pretty. I’m hoping to write a bit more about this, time allowing. I’ve written a follow-up. Also, have a look at the comments in Bargh’s piece (including from me) for a critique of his various accusations. Daniel Simons says that it’s a “primer for how not to respond when someone fails to replicate your work.” Neurobonkers discusses the “one-man rampage” and notes that “science gets interesting when science gets replicated.” On a related note, here is an important post on the value of replication in psychology

News/writing/science

Bristly sea snake discovered and scientists don’t know what weird spines do. My guess is drag reduction, like shark denticles

Novelty-seeking in humans and bees seems to be based on some of the same genes.”

“Look out, mate! It’s the chimp fuzz!” Chimps have police too.

The QWERTY effect – can a keyboard layout affect how you perceive meaning of words? Not sure but there’s a cool use of Amazon’s Mechanical Turk for experiments.

Careful Erasing Those Memories, Says the Memory Master. Eric Kandel’s caveats on memory pills

Scientists solve puzzle of contorted dinosaur necks by studying decaying chickens

Tigons, ligers, leguars, and jagupards, oh my!

I wrote a piece about an important new story on cancer evolution. My ex-colleagues at Cancer Research UK also have a good version up on their blog.

Project calls citizen scientists to map all of Africa’s mammals.

MIT students have a charm school to make science and maths students more socially graceful

This is important. Bone marrow and kidney transplants form unrelated donors without need for immunosuppressive drugs.

Extraordinary image of a man & a dead shark from Time magazine wins Pictures of the Year International contest.

Incoming! Largest solar storm in 5 years is due to hit Earth, could disrupt power girds, satnav. Bring your umbrellas.

The gorilla genome was finally published.

A review of an ebook about a radiation spa, by Ann finkbeiner.

Warning: Ben Goldacre get tenacious when bored. Sloppy reporters should send him toys to avert his Sauron-like gaze

Nothing like a good scratch. A brown bear manipulates a barnacle-covered rock to take care of an itch. First instance of tool use?

Nodding syndrome leaves baffled scientists shaking their heads – a sub-editor’s getting a raise for that one.

MIT offers pirate certificate.

Glass sculptures produce realistic ‘Predator’ camouflage

Hey remember how no one ever got distracted from paper books or failed to finish one? Me neither. Nor Alexis Madrigal.

A wicked bad idea: National Geographic hunts bluefin tuna for entertainment

Dorothy Bishop slams an old brain-scanning paper that’s had a lasting negative impact. Russ Poldrack – one of the authors – graciously discusses the problem paper.

The Prozac Yogurt Effect: How hype can affect the future of science

A far-travelling worm, and the scientists who are trying to pin it down

‘Cheetah’ robot sets speed record for legged robots – 18mph. DARPA. Obviously

Birds can evolve to cope with the lingering effects of nuclear incidents (great image and caption)

Amateur astronomers become the first people to flash the space station with a laser

“It would feel like being flicked in the forehead” – a penny thrown from a skyscraper won’t kill you

Did Neanderthals wear eagle claws as jewellery? Sure. Why not?

Hydra watch what they eat. Cool!

Brazil has 1.8 million species and one project wants to track them all

New research on overeating from Dr Burger, covered by Jonah Lehrer.

Mo Costandi on how marijuana affects the brain. Surprisingly, it has nothing to do with neurons.

“Dear Sir/Madam. The specimen you submitted is a tooth/bone from a horse/cow/pig/dog/goat. It is not a fossil

“Can you have sex so mind-blowing you can’t remember it?”

Spider silk violin strings have “soft and profound timbre” sez scientist. What’s the SI unit for profundity?

What the closure of an 111-yr-old monkey house tells us about the evolution of zoos

The lowdown on the Guardian memory experiment.

Wow! Fossil hermit crabs in ammonite shells.

Videos for kids on critical thinking – very cool. I wonder how well they test with kids.

Remember the story about fruit flies that self-medicate their parasites with alcohol? Alex Wild photographed the parasites

Carl Zimmer discusses gene therapy, epigenetics, and the scientific hype cycle

How Lauren Reid went from call-centre to science PhD after reading my duck sex post. I’m honoured. Also, this is a hilarious set

I love the slime-mould-bots! Chris Mims talks about the robot that navigates without a brain.

SciCurious on the week’s weirdest paper, showing that women with PMS are better at spotting snakes (refrain from the obvious joke…)

Patrick Clarkin muses on the meaning of Neil Tyson’s video and links it to primate behaviour

A day in the life of a London teenager with a bionic body.

 

Heh/wow/huh

In Brazil, police have recruited Batman

Instapaper Placebo! It pretends to save stuff for later reading, but doesn’t.

Awesome pics of a space shuttle flying by plane

A bookmark, but a really ingenious one.

Geek-tastic! Algorithm to sift through next-gen DNA sequencing reads called “All Your Base

“There is often an audible crack.” Just so you know – what happens when you break a penis

THE EIGHT KINDES OF DRUNKENNES” (The sixth is “Martin drunk”)

Yeah, this paper sounds MUCH more sinister than is actually is

How these magical long-exposure photos of fireflies went viral

Team-building exercises caused the extinction of the dinosaurs.

And here is an animal video that has made even ME feel slightly ill. You have been warned.

Sri Lankan man dies trying to break record for longest time buried alive. Tragicomic penultimate line.

Absorbing panorama of Angel Falls

Some GORGEOUS images of Earth from space.

 

Journalism/internet/society

Why the world needs to start embracing introverts. But not literally, of course. I need my space.

Twitter’s Secret History As the World’s Worst Tech or Media Business

The New Yorker is spot on in calling The Good Wife the “first great series about technology.”

Nine ways scientists can help improve reporting of science

Banter is a catch-all word for idiocy that warns the rest of us that Here Be Lads.”

Meet the guy who invented EMAIL. No, not email. Just EMAIL (TM).

Science journalists should be asking questions and deflating exaggeration,” says Ananyo Bhattacharya

Surreal argument: science publishers should deny Americans access to papers so foreigners can’t read them

“The train of change has not only left them behind but has turned against them”-  Women in the Arab Summer

Retweets are the digital equivalent of autographs.

Robert Krulwich on that Guardian 3 little pigs ad

If you only read one post about International Women’s Day, here’s a good one.

The Press Complaints Commission is going to shut down in the wake of Leveson. No one will notice a difference.

Science journalism under fire – worthy thoughts on climate coverage

Sexist remarks and wolf-whistles could become criminal offences

Andrew Stanton on how to create a good story – the most important & underused element is “wonder”. (No John Carter jokes, please)

Paying for science journalism – Mother Jones on Matter, a bold new start-up magazine.

What are the best ways to find international stories? By the Open Notebook.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Links

Comments (5)

  1. Ed- love (and follow) your work. Not sure if you came across it, but I also had a piece on the future of nuclear power in the US over at Ars Technica: http://arstechnica.com/#!/science/news/2012/03/chain-reaction-the-slow-revival-of-us-nuclear-power.ars

  2. I’m so glad I can say I’ve already seen that elephant video. #thankyouinternet

  3. Torbjörn Larsson, OM

    a cogent argument for why we’re all doomed

    If the argument is because Bostrom is now director of a “Future” institute, well yes. =D

    Bostrom is a philosopher, so he doesn’t present any empirical evidence what I can see. Only nebulous “certain future technological capabilities”, meaning he is a luddite repeating previous generations catastrophe theories by mumbling.

    The curtain that hides the mystery from questioning would be the Fermi question, which is too unconstrained to be of any value at this point. There are many scenarios that predicts current observations without dooming the observers.

    Look, catastrophe theories acts like conspiracy theories. Either you are intrigued by the unsubstantiated improbable by design drivel (because, say, mass extinctions are rare while of course every species goes extinct sooner rather than later), in which case you want to read it. Or you are not.

  4. Torbjörn Larsson, OM

    Oh, I forgot: As for the rest, awesome as always. I learn every time, and have other lolz too.

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