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 …

Brains, organoids and cultural narratives

For a while now I have been observing developments in neuroscience, stem cell research and tissue engineering, in a rather desultory fashion. Behind my back things began to happen and grow. Organoids In 1989 the journal Science reported on research into ‘organoids’ (or, as the OED defines them, the “growth of cells or tissue in culture …

‘3D printing with atoms’ and ‘Open day’ – an update

This post is one in a series of posts about a graphic novel, ‘Open Day’, created as part of a project on 3D printing with atoms, funded by the EPSRC and led by Phil Moriarty. Previous posts by Phil and me can be found here. The novel was scripted by Shey Hargreaves and illustrated by …

Antimicrobial resistance and climate change: Communication, governance and responsibility

Last week I was reading some tweets from an international science communication conference held at Dunedin, New Zealand. As I have blogged and written about hype, I was particularly interested in tweets about a fascinating Roundtable convened by Tara Roberson entitled: “Can hype be a force for good? – Debating the benefits and drawbacks of science …

Making science public: Our edited collection

As our Making Making Science Public programme has come to an end, it’s time to take stock across all projects and beyond. This is exactly what we have done in an (open access) book coming out with Manchester University Press in January, entitled Science and the Politics of Openness: Here be monsters. The chapters in …

Making science public: Taking stock

When we wrote our ‘Making Science Public: Challenges and Opportunities’ research project some six or so years ago, various scandals had rocked the unspoken contract between science and society, universities and their users (BSE, MMR, climategate etc.). This contributed to a widely held perception, and I stress perception, of a lack of public trust in …

Collision, collaboration and communication

The other day I read an article on why academics are losing relevance in society. I noticed that it contained a picture of a celebratory cake with the inscription “Here’s to the first direct detection of gravitational waves” (after two black holes collided). This event happened in 2016 and was widely celebrated around the world, …

Science and metaphor: Some historical perspectives

Over the last thirty years or so I have written about metaphor and its importance to language, thought and social interaction. In the last fifteen years, I have focused in on the relation between metaphor and science, especially science communication. However, only recently has it dawned on me how little I actually understand about metaphor …

Making lasers public: The European X-ray Free Electron Laser

Last weekend, my mum phoned me from Germany to tell me about the new x-ray laser inaugurated in Hamburg (as I later learned this is the European X-ray Free Electron Laser or XFEL) and asked me whether I had heard about it and whether I could explain what it did. I hadn’t and I couldn’t. …