News Most interesting post of the week: Maryn McKenna talks about “vaccine-derived polio”, an "unintended consequence of success" Holographic telecommunicator. It’s low-res, monochrome and jerky, but seriously, it’s a holographic telecommunicator. Tom Chivers sets aside his sense of humour to write an amusing explanation of why headlines about a “liberal gene” are being liberal with overstatement. “The hunt for earth-like planets is an epic endeavour... a perfect case study for the way that science at the bleeding-edge operates. It's a shame the media aren't doing a better job of conveying this to public.” Martin Robbins has a planetary gripe. Welcome to World of WarmCraft. A climate change computer game tries to bring the planetary challenge of global warming to new audiences. “Evolution in action, audible to the naked ear." A cool new study on Galapagos finches, a iconic to evolutionary theory as they ever were. From Zoe Williams, a great interview with Carl Djerassi, the inventor of the Pill and the man who changed the world for women. Ignoring warnings from 1950s movies, scientists grow giant insects in the lab. Ah, isn’t it nice when a large international meeting actually produces the right result and everyone largely agrees. 200 countries join forces to stem the loss of Earth’s life. But wait, says George Monbiot. "There is one problem: none of the journalists who made these claims has seen [the declaration]... The evidence suggests that we've been conned." “For dolphin mothers, successful parenting is as much a matter of having good friends as it is good genes,” writes Brandon Keim. This is big: the US Government says that genes (human or otherwise) “should not be eligible for patents because they are part of nature.” More after the jump...The number of papers being retracted is on the rise, for reasons that are not all bad. Robin Lloyd and Steve Mirsky have a great writeup of a debate about Rosalind Franklin, one of the co-discoverers of DNA’s structure. In it, Nick Wade espouses the view that Franklin wasn’t wronged because...er... she didn’t know she was being wronged at the time. Right. Amazon speeds up economics experiments but more importantly, it’s less likely to recruit WEIRD volunteers. A fascinating Wired feature on the Global Seed Bank: Nature’s backup. “Hope built on a lie isn’t hope at all." Beautiful post by PalMD on talking to patients about prognosis NYT: Europe’s Plagues Came From China. I too have Chinese ancestry, moved to Europe, and killed millions of... no wait. They all look the same? Here’s why. Where climate myths come from: a great video from Peter Hadfield, who writes more here. A history of anti-vaccination movements, dating back to the 1850s. Diana Gitig at Ars Technica describes a Moebius strip made of DNA origamiDid baby sauropods run on two legs? Did their predators stand around laughing while being cuted out? "I know that I do not suffer from Autism. I suffer from a lack of understanding and support." & 25 “things I know about autism” over at Steve Silberman’s blog. Brian Switek is tired of seeing naked dinosaurs. Maybe he should put his binoculars away, the big perv. Jesse Bering narrates an evolutionary tale of the fattest ape: us. “Is it time to start countering climate denial at the local level?” asks Chris Mooney David Kroll takes a walk in the footsteps of caricatured evil as he puts himself in the shoes of Big Pharma RIP Leigh Van Valen, evolutionary biologist behind the Red Queen hypothesis Sometimes, science can go screw itself. Anomalocaris may not have been a superpredator? “Do mummies have a right to privacy?” asks David Dobbs. That’s the Egyptian kind. Polar bears: are they threatened or endangered? And either way, are they just screwed? “Vaccines save lives; fear endangers them. It's a simple message parents need to keep hearing.” Heh/wow Greg Foot is a legend for this: how to make Big Ben strike 13Ants create a gecko. From the Daily Mash: “Science cannot defeat cancer AND produce a magical see-through space coat, experts have warned.” Tired of arguing with anti-science crackpots who can barely pass a Turing test? Nigel Leck was and created a bot to pester climate denialists for him. From Chris Mims. Want an early Christmas present idea? Buy the Zooborns book. Raising awareness of conservation through the medium of unbearable cuteness. “Meerkat celebrity Aleksandr Orlov has murdered and partially eaten several of his lower-status co-habitants' offspring, it emerged last night.” The Daily Mash, of course. An incredible giant jellyfish caught on video. Gaah! My brain! An awesome illusion. George Takei versus a douchebag The European Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2010 At the NASA Kennedy Space Center shop... The World Health Organisation’s ICD-10 manual of diseases and health problems includes “Very low level of personal hygiene”, “Bizarre personal appearance”, “Strange and inexplicable behaviour” and “Verbosity and circumstantial detail obscuring reason for contact” “Psst! Lean closer.... I have a secret... *closer*... you ready?... okay, don't tell anyone but OWLS DON'T REALLY CARRY POST, YOU MORON” The Atlas of Science: visualising what we know Blogging/journalism/internet Sophia Collins and Shane McCracken organised a great Beyond Blogging event that I’m very sorry to have missed. The event produced five ideas for future activities to improve science communication and I absolutely love the idea of the Media Support Network. A fascinating debate is raging in the comments of Angela Saini’s piece on whether bloggers devalue journalism. A timeline for newspaper extinction in every country in the world. The UK’s papers to go within the next decade. Sharks are “immune to every disease” says the BBC. They also have adamantium claws. They’re the best there is at what they do. One of those statements is true, and it’s not the one by the BBC. An interesting take on Google and peer review in the public sphere. James Harding says the Times paywall is a revolution for its journalism. I wonder if the reporters would agree? George Brock has an analysis of the newly released 10,500 subscribers stat. Another scientist suffers under the yoke of British libel laws. Invisible ranks: Jenny Rohn on the scarcity of female science ambassadors & pundits, and why it might matter. Climate scientist Simon Lewis on setting the record straight after he gets misquoted by the Sunday Times’s Jonathan Leake. A valuable lesson on combating shoddy journalism. Meet Soylent, the crowdsourced copy editor. Hint: it’s people! You undoubtedly know about this by now, but witness the hilarious and outrageous case of CrookSauce: a tale of an editor with a ridiculous attitude to plagiarism, and what happens when you underestimate the Internet Congrats to Rebecca Skloot, author of Amazon’s Book of the Year! That’s OVERALL by the way, not in a Science category. This is a massive win not just for Rebecca, but for science, journalism, good writing, racial equality, female role models, and perhaps most of all, for the Lacks family.