Is STS trivial? Chris Toumey reflects on writing a book about nanotech and the humanities

This is a guest post by Chris Toumey, a cultural anthropologist who has observed and studied developments in nanotechnology for many years. Chris and I have known each other for a long time, and his work and words have always inspired me. He has just published a book entitled Nanotech and the Humanities: An Anthropologist …

Public Understanding of Science – the 1960s

At the end of last year I wrote a blog post about a book in which Sheila Jasanoff asks ‘Can science makes sense of life’. She answers this question in a rather bleak and negative way. However, questions about the nature of science and the nature of life have stayed with me ever since, which …

Making Science Public: End of year blog round-up, 2018

2018 is the year that the Leverhulme Trust funded programme ‘Making Science Public’ really ended (today our director Sujatha Raman is submitting the final report to the Leverhulme Trust). My last post on the programme, entitled ‘Making Science public: six years on’, mentioned one of the most important milestones of our work, namely the publication with Manchester …

Making science by publicity stunt: The case of the CRISPR babies

Science is supposed to be a public, systematic, consensible, evidence-based and collaborative enterprise. It’s also supposed to be carried out responsibly, not recklessly. Making science in public and making science public are complex processes. Making public science normally doesn’t consist in presenting fellow-scientists and members of the public with a ‘fait accompli’. This is however …

Minimal biology

This morning (3rd November) I saw a tweet by @BrisSynBio announcing “Max Planck-Bristol Centre for Minimal Biology announced @BristolUni & @maxplanckpress partner to pursue game-changing research in the emerging field of #minimalbiology to address some of the most complex challenges in fundamental science”. I became curious and read the whole announcement, balking a bit at the pressreleasish …

Science and trust: Some reflections on the launch of the International Science Council

The Ecologist published an article on 19th July about the launch of a new International Science Council, ISC, entitled “Paris launches the International Science Council with aims to rebuild trust in science”. ISC is a merger of the “International Social Science Council (ISSC), formed in 1952 to promote the social sciences, including the economic and …

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 …