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Brigitte Nerlich

Brigitte Nerlich

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Posts by Brigitte Nerlich

The pause

About three years ago, in 2013, I became aware of discussions around the ‘pause’ (a period of relatively little change in globally averaged surface temperatures) and since then I have been observing goings-on around this new talking point in the climate change debate. I was a bit surprised by how much trouble a wiggle in …


The Nuffield Foundation on Bioethics will soon report on a project that critically explores “how current public and political bioethics debates are affected by ideas about naturalness and how this correlates with academic discussions relating to the concept”. This made me think, especially as I am working now as a social scientist with a team …

Synthetic Biology; or the Modern Prometheus

When waiting for a plane, I was randomly musing about synthetic biology, responsible innovation and stories – this is the result. Once upon a time there were Mary Shelley and her husband Percy Bysshe Shelley. Mary wrote Frankenstein; or The Modern Prometheus (first published in 1818; now available in twitter-form, as tweeted by Katie Reeves); …

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Climate wars

At the end of August Barry Woods asked on Twitter when the phrase ‘climate wars’ was first used and Warren Pearce ‘paged’ me. I was on holiday, so I didn’t have time to properly look into this. I still haven’t got a lot of time, but I have started to dig a bit. When you …

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Snapshots of the unknown – some holiday souvenirs

On holiday at the English seaside I read two very different books: a popular science book on Aristotle’s biology by Armand Marie Leroi (The Lagoon, 2014) and a novel by Jules Verne about a sea voyage to the North pole (Les Aventures du Capitaine Hatteras, 1864). While reading these books, I also came across an …

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Infectious futures

On Sunday (9 August) I did something for the first time. I went to a ‘con’ or convention: the Nine Worlds Geekfest 2015. How did this happen? A few months ago, Lydia Nicholas from Nesta approached me with a fascinating project. In collaboration with Joshua Ryan-Saha, the Assistant Manager of the Longitude Prize, she had …

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Carbon pollution

As a linguist I have been interested in ‘carbon compounds’ for a long time, that is, phrases that combine the word ‘carbon’ with other words to form new units of meaning. Using lexical carbon compounds, we can talk about anything, from ‘carbon awareness’ to ‘carbon zealots’. ‘Carbon pollution’ is one of these compounds which pack …

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Science, hype and fun

In one of my early posts for this blog I talked about hype and about how hype can be used honestly and fraudulently. In one of my later posts I talked about CRISPR and how scientists are trying to deal with this gene editing technology responsibly. So I should have known better! Following the fun …

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Pluto and pareidolia

As everybody knows by now, New Horizons has been flying past Pluto and has beamed down astonishing images. One of these shows a peach or bronze coloured planetary object with a lighter pattern on the side that I first saw as a ‘heart’. Many others did so too, including NASA (it will now name this …

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