// Latest Posts

Groundhog day in the hothouse

On 6 August Will Steffen and others published a paper entitled “Trajectories of the Earth System in the Anthropocene”. The paper explores “the risk that self-reinforcing feedbacks could push the Earth System toward a planetary threshold that, if crossed, could prevent stabilization of the climate at intermediate temperature rises and cause continued warming on a …

Science and trust: Some reflections on the launch of the International Science Council

The Ecologist published an article on 19th July about the launch of a new International Science Council, ISC, entitled “Paris launches the International Science Council with aims to rebuild trust in science”. ISC is a merger of the “International Social Science Council (ISSC), formed in 1952 to promote the social sciences, including the economic and …

Cells and coincidences: Some holiday musings

We are on holiday and I was reading the delightful book by Tim Birkhead, The Wonderful Mr Willughby: The first True Ornithologist. I had bought it because Francis Willughby had connections to Wollaton Hall, a Hall I see almost everyday when I walk to work at the University of Nottingham, where Willughby’s papers are kept. …

Are we all alarmists now?

Over the years I have written many posts about extreme weather events on the one hand and quite a few on so-called alarmism on the other. This was in the context of working on issues related to climate change communication. Some years ago, when writing an article on communicating climate change, I included a sentence …

Air con and the apocalypse

I have recently spent a lot of time in official spaces, GP surgeries, hospitals etc. Where in the past one would sit with a window or door open, there is now air conditioning. In Eye Casualty the other day, I heard the head nurse tell a junior: “Didn’t you read the memo? We are not …

Synthetic biology: Modelling joys and fears brick by brick

Carmen McLeod, Stevienna de Saille and I recently published an article in which we used findings from a LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® workshop to show that scientists’ (synthetic biologists’) views of risk and responsibility are much more ‘societal’ than one might expect. This means, involving them in a new form of science governance (RRI), which itself involves new …

Epigenetics and sociology: A critical note

I recently read an interesting article by Michel Dubois, Catherine Guaspare and Séverine Louvel entitled “De la génétique à l’épigénétique: une révolution ‘post-génomique’ à l’usage des sociologies”, which appeared in the Revue française de sociologie, 59(1), 71-98 (2018). Dubois et al.’s ‘critical note’ is intended to introduce French readers to English works that explore the boundaries between …

Bacteria, metaphors and responsible language use

A lot has been written about the war on bacteria, especially in the context of antimicrobial resistance. Some articles reflect on the metaphor of war in medicine and in microbiology more generally, others deal with the metaphors of bacterial communication and communities. A few papers look more closely at the way bacteria are anthropomorphised in the …

The vertical rod in the center of the DNA molecule

A while ago I read this tweet by Kindra Crick: “Odile Crick, my grandmother, drew the first published diagram of #DNA It was 65 years ago #onthisday, as a diagram in the first of the three papers published in @nature on the structure of DNA. (Watson & Crick, Wilkins et al, Franklin & Gosling) #SciArt …