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Brigitte Nerlich

Brigitte Nerlich

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Posts by Brigitte Nerlich

Dark matter: A mystery metaphor that turns genomic junk into gold

I have become intrigued by a new metaphor, most recently used in an interesting Aeon Magazine article. The authors state that the human genome can’t be, as was so long assumed, a blueprint for building a human being, as “science has served up the confounding paradox that the bulk of our genome appears to be …

Fermenting thought: An new look at synthetic biology

I have become involved in a new project related to synthetic biology. The University of Nottingham has received funding for a big Synthetic Biology Research Centre. I am a social scientist within the new team and in charge of keeping an eye on ‘responsible research and innovation’. This is not what this post is about …

Mind change: Some thoughts on the moral implications of metaphors

This quick post was prompted by Andrew Anthony’s article in The Observer on Susan Greenfield’s forthcoming book Mind Change and subsequent exchanges on twitter. Some background Metaphors are essential to the development of science and indispensable to science communication. I have been fascinated by metaphor for a long time, well before I became fascinated by …

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Rosetta and the rubber duck: How we got to know a comet

I can’t really let Rosetta pass by without a little blog post… This was brought home to me when Alasdair Taylor tweeted on 2:21 PM – 6 Aug 2014: “Sexiest, crazy bonkers, rubber duck, chaotic town, Disneyland, big roller coaster, scary ride: all terms used to describe #Rosetta”. This made me curious about how people …

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Black sky research

A few days ago I chatted with an industry-based innovations manager who, in passing, mentioned the word ‘black sky research’. We didn’t get a chance to explore this concept further but the phrase stuck in my mind. Then Philip Moriarty tweeted a link to an article on the threat of the impact agenda to blue …

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Thinking with animals: The microbe

This is a GUEST POST by Richard Helliwell, a PhD student at the Institute for Science and Society, who participated in a workshop on Thinking with Animals at the University of Nottingham on 20th June 2014. What does it mean to think with animals, in particular to think with microbes, my ‘animal’ companion of thought? …

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Publicness and Öffentlichkeit – some linguistic musings

Since Roman times, the word ‘public’ has been deeply embedded in the English language, from republic to publican to public convenience; but it still causes problems, as we have discovered several times on the pages of this blog. ‘Public’ has multiple meanings; it is a staple of academic inquiry; but it is not a word …

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You say regulatory science, I say mandated science; let’s call the whole thing off?

One issue of contention after the Circling the Square conference was the apparent confounding of science with regulatory science. I finally took a bit of time to dig into the history and use of the concept of ‘regulatory science’ and a related concept, ‘mandated science’. I should stress that there are whole courses on ‘regulatory …

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Science, sensationalism and the dangers of over-selling research

This is a GUEST POST by FREYA HARRISON. Freya works in Steve Diggle’s group in the Centre for Biomolecular Sciences at the University of Nottingham, where she researches the ecology and evolution of cooperation. She spends most of her time exploring how communication and cooperation help bacteria to cause chronic infections, but she is also …

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