Designer babies? Not again!

Preface: I had just put the finishing touches to this post and I was doing the washing up, when I heard on the six o’clock news that the paper I’ll talk about below has now been published in Nature. I’ll still publish this post though. It would great to compare the pre-paper news coverage with the post-paper …

Metaphors for many goals: Discussing research in interactional settings

This is a guest post by Rony Armon, a Research Assistant at the School of Education, Communication and Society King’s College London, specialising in Communication and Media, Qualitative Social Research, and History of Science. *** In a recent post Brigitte Nerlich reviewed some studies that seemed to suggest that even though metaphors are rampant in scientific discourse …

Signs and society: The Brexit bus

Some years ago, Roda Madziva, a former research fellow on the Making Science Public programme, wrote a blog post about the ‘Go Home Van’. This van combined visibility and mobility to tell migrants in London, framed as illegal criminals, to go home – wherever that might (im)possibly be. Roda and Vivienne Lowndes have also written an …

Musings on language and life, with special reference to ‘programming’

This morning I opened the newspaper and read an article about a new language that lets researchers design novel biological circuits. I mumbled something about this over coffee and my husband said, oh but wasn’t that old hat, we all knew that DNA was a language, code etc. So what was new? I looked again …

On books, circuits and life

I have recently been trying to understand CRISPR, gene editing and genome editing. While reading about these new developments in genomics, I noticed that in the avalanche of news reports reference is only rarely made to synthetic biology (on 5 January there were 188 articles on CRISPR in Major World Newspapers on the LexisNexis news …

On the metaphorical origins of gene drives

This morning I woke up to a bit of chat about ‘gene drive‘ – this year’s science breakthrough of the year –, first on twitter, then on the radio. This made me think about the use of terms like gene drive, gene driver, gene driving and where they come from. It also made me think …

Climate linguistics

In a recent news article about the origins and spread of the concept ‘climate denial’, the E&E reporter Jean Chemnick refers to me as a specialist in ‘climate linguistics’. Somebody asked me on twitter whether this field existed and some people searched my academia profile to find out more. I myself also googled around a …

Paddling in the shallow end of knowledge

This post was prompted by two things. I, a social scientist of sorts, recently tried to read two books, Smashing Physics by Jon Butterworth and Synthetic Biology: A Primer by Paul Freemont and Richard Kitney. I also listened in to some conversations where people spoke about how problematic they find it to understand social science …

Philae: Where space science meets language science

As those who care about that type of thing will know, Philae, the robotic lander on board the Rosetta spacecraft, will try to touch down on the surface of the Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko on November 12. While we await the next episode in this space adventure, another episode in an adventure here on earth is unfolding …