Public trust in science: Myths and realities

The March for Science has come and gone. There was no fuss; but there was wit and fun; and solidarity and conviviality. The march did what it set out to do: it got people talking about science and politics. During the march, some tweets jumped out at me. They focused on the thorny issue of …

Epigenetics, hype and woo

A couple of weeks ago I noticed a new twitter account: @EpigeneticsBs (short for ‘epigenetics bullshit’). Its mission is to make epigenetic ‘bullshit’ public, or as it says: “There’s a lot of #epigenetics pseudoscience & quackery out there. We RT some of it for your edification and entertainment.” These (re)tweets are produced by people working …

3D printing with atoms: Laboratory life

There is a long tradition of social scientists observing and analysing laboratory life. The most seminal book that has emerged from this tradition is probably Bruno Latour and Steve Woolgar’s 1979 Laboratory Life: The social construction of scientific facts (they changed the subtitle in 1986 to ‘the construction of scientific facts, as they became aware …

Something for nothing

This is a blog post about nothing in particular. It’s more a stream of thoughts and associations… But in the end I’ll be talking about Kepler and snowflakes and Pluto and its moon. Nix The other day I was talking to my sister. She asked in German whether I had an idea for my next …

Hybrids and chimeras: Mythology, history and science

Last week two papers were published about human and other chimeras, one in Cell on ‘Interspecies chimerism with mammalian pluripotent stem cells’ and one in Nature entitled ‘Interspecies organogenesis generates autologous functional islets’. The first one caused a bit of a stir in the newspapers. About 70 newspaper articles covered this potential scientific breakthrough in All …

Making Science Public: 2016 blog round-up

This has been a weird and momentous year. For me personally and, even more so, for the world. In June this year we celebrated the almost end of the Making Science Public programme, which I directed between 2012 and 2016. At the end of September I retired, after working for more than 25 years at the University …

Crowdfunding Science

This is guest post by Mike S. Schäfer, Professor of Science Communication at the Institute of Mass Communication and Media Research (IPMZ) and Director of the Center for Higher Education and Science Studies at the University of Zürich, Switzerland. Heather Richards was short of $3000, and she could still not realize her research project. The …

Molecular machines

As the BBC reported today: “The 2016 Nobel Prize for Chemistry has been awarded for the development of the world’s smallest machines. Jean-Pierre Sauvage, Sir Fraser Stoddart and Bernard Feringa will share the 8m kronor (£727,000) prize for the design and synthesis of machines on a molecular scale. They were named at a press conference …