Planet Earth

I've got your missing links right here (9 July 2011)

Not Exactly Rocket ScienceBy Ed YongJul 9, 2011 4:00 PM


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To much deserved fanfare, Bora Zivkovic launched the new Scientific American blog network, featuring 47 blogs and some of the best writers around. Several personal favourites are now on the site and demand your attention including Jennifer Ouellette, Eric Michael Johnson, Jennifer Frazer, Hannah Waters, Lucas Brouwers, Kevin Zelnio, Charles Choi, Christie Wilcox, Darren Naish, SciCurious, Jason Goldman and more. All of this prompts PZ Myers to declare that " is dead". The big journalism story this week: the Guardian revealed that the News of the World hacked the voicemails of murdered girl Millie Dowler and deleted messages, prompting false hope in her parents and possibly perverting the course of justice. That was the first of several revelations that culminated in the paper ending its 168 year run, as a result of the ensuing scandal. Here's as good a summary as you'll get of the whole scandal by the man who broke the story: the awesome Nick Davies. The Guardian has predictably the best coverage of the continuing story. "I am a feminist, because skeptics and atheists made me one," says Rebecca Watson about the Richard Dawkins furore. If you haven’t caught up with this, read Rebecca's post and John Rennie's summary. It absolutely nails what this debate is about: "Simple human decency, not some special consideration.” Some argue this is a storm in a teacup; it’s not. It’s about the repeated trivialising of women’s experiences from a position of ignorance. Also worth reading: Pal MD who urges us to “apply our thinking skills to everyday problems, not just our pet inconveniences,”an open, jointly-signed letter to Dawkins by Stephanie Zvan and others, and several letters collated by Skepchick. A skull found in the Richmond garden of David Attenborough has been identified as a Victorian murder victim Wonderful piece from my Cancer Research UK colleague Kat Arney about how cancer quackery hasn’t changed in a century, despite how much we’ve learned. On the politics of panda censuses, featuring Wen Jiabao and a lot of panda poo, by Henry Nicholls. Sea holds treasure trove of rare-earth elements. But should we mine them? Interesting article on the debunking of "social contagion" studies. Reports of infectious obesity and divorce were grossly overstated. We're more likely to view an act as intentional if we disapprove of it. Fascinating stuff by Dan Jones. For every AIDS death US awards $69000 in grant funds. For every MRSA death, $570. Maryn McKenna discusses the worrying numbers. Antimicrobial Wipes and Soaps May be Making You (and Society) Sick. Wonderfully witty piece by Rob Dunn. Sally Adee dons a pair of specs that see right through people and reveal what they really think of you The nuclear industry stinks. But that is not a reason to ditch nuclear power, argues George Monbiot. A difficult topic, but a compelling argument. 123 yrs ago, Edison recorded a woman reading Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. Today, scientists have resurrected her voice "It reminds me of Christmas morning" – Ian Sample’s feature on the shuttle & interview w/ two veterans Last year: Arsenic life. This year: Chlorine life? From Carl Zimmer News/science/writing Was Raptorex - the pint-sized tyrannosaur - actually a baby Tarbosaurus? This paper says so, and here’s Zoe Corbyn's write-upI'm not racist, but... Wonderful stuff from Robert Krulwich on Darwin, hula hoops, the secret to Mt Rushmore and thinking thoughts that no one has thunk. Take this chance to read an excerpt from Mara Hvistendahl’s book Unnatural Selection Ever wonder what a wombat the size of an SUV would look like? How do you find out why a 1.5-meter-long endangered sea turtle is having epileptic fits? “Light works as if it’s a drug, except it’s not a drug at all." Light bulbs tweak melatonin Weapons developer has a sandwich on a suitcase bomb What do chimps and dolphins have in common? Besides plotting against you? Nectocaris - inspiring “WTF?” moments among paleontologists since 1976 Vaughan Bell ably takes down Naomi Wolf’s piece on porn, dopamine and “rewiring the brain”. "We are not entitled to opinions on whether there is a “dopamine hole” in the brain," says Paul Raeburn. All animal genome stories look like this: X genome sequenced; reason why X is cool; maybe genome tells us why; squint into horizon. BORING. You want to reach young audiences? Stop thinking about them as ‘audiences’, and involve them, argues Alice Bell. The man who ate the moon. Well, a bit of it anyway An ambitious venture aims to create a mouse for every geneSabercats are on the move. Sabercats are loose. Cancer survivor goes home with lab-grown windpipe The real message from the German E.coli outbreak is that our food production systems are crazy-vast. The end of E. coli as a single species? "Why is measles on the rise? Just blame anyone but us!" Paleontologists unveil the skull of "the most fearsome predator the Earth has seen" A thought-provoking interview of a Huntington's disease mutation carrier A smartphone add-on that can detect cataracts. The terror of Ug99 - Plant diseases, farmer suicides and the coming hungry future Ace Ben Goldacre piece on a disgraceful drug study as marketing tool trial of epilepsy drug gabapentin A wonderful NYT op-ed about the relevance of Grimm's Fairy Tales. Cricket-based thermometry (I also love the category "Macgyver tips") "Vets are in a unique position to try stem-cell treatments for quality-of-life problems." Emily Anthes on stem-cell treatments for racehorses "For several decades now, biologists have been puzzling over sex." Carl Zimmer looks at why. Polar bears trace their maternal roots back to... Ireland? Darwin's use of Tree of Life metaphor was an "urban myth." Interesting PLoS Biology paper Against Neuroethics: Vaughan Bell argues against brain-based exceptionalismHeh/wow/huhThe Miliband loop, or When media training and incompetency collide... with hilarious results A daily puzzle testing your Google search skills. Man rides motorcycle without helmet to protest against motorcycle helmets, crashes, dies. A tick in pet owner's eardrum I am perhaps not taking this Google Circles thing *entirely* seriously Onion: "Greenpeace releases rescued dolphins into forest" In new Warren Ellis comic, UV light reveals hidden speech balloons with the characters' thoughts Monkey grabs camera, photographs himself. Wonderful pic Stunning photo: Big-Eyed Snake in Madagascar Journalism/internet/society There’s a bit of a ruck going on at the Guardian over Ben Goldacre’s paper on proportion of incorrect dietary health claims in newspapers, and his attendant column. James Randerson criticised the paper and the column, Goldacre responded, Randerson responded back, Goldacre wrote a new piece and Randerson responded again. Strangely affecting. Joseph O. Holmes’s Fascinating Photos of People Texting The Joy Lock Club – a fascinating piece on the competitive lock-picking movement Some of the aid offered to Japan following the Fukushima disaster has been quite bizarre, not useful "Ugandan police... declared the party in Kampala illegal and confiscated a birthday cake and the presents." How Twitter exposes Google's limitations. Good overview of Google's multiple warfronts "It's tantalizingly close to the opposite of real journalism.” Jay Rosen skewers he-said-she-said reporting again, and CNN’s "leaving it there" style. This was a spectacularly clever way of getting hired using Twitter. It's not whether social media can start revolutions, but whether our leaders behave as if it can. Excellent Bobbie Johnson piece The excellent Jo Marchant lays out her storytelling techniquesLetters Of Note – a wonderful blog, aptly named. A lovely, smile-inducing post from Everywhereist on lessons learned from 2 years of blogging South Korea's Making the Switch to Digital Textbooks Wonderful artsy animated GIFs show process of making beer. David Dobbs deconstructs the writing of his great story "My Mother's Lover." Ananyo Bhattacharya champions the role of trade press in science journalism Social media background checks.

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