Talking organelles: A riot of metaphors

A few days ago, somebody tweeted an article on organelles and somebody else tweeted an article on how worms regenerate their bodies. I was just in a slump of Brexit malaise when I saw this and thought, “oh, there is life outside Brexit at least in worms and cells”. So, I started to read an …

Open Day: Planning, talking and inking

This is a re-post from Charli Vince’s blog. It continues the story of ‘Open Day’, a graphic novel about 3D printing with atoms and university life. You can read about how Open Day came to be and how it has been developing here. *** Open Day has been chugging along since the project began many, …

Phage and fiction

We have known about bacteriophages for over a century. I myself became vaguely aware of them around 2004 when I started to be interested in bacteria and antimicrobial resistance and later on when my mother had Clostridium difficile, a health-care associated infection related to antibiotic use. However, I never actually looked more closely at phages until Carmen …

The vertical rod in the center of the DNA molecule

A while ago I read this tweet by Kindra Crick: “Odile Crick, my grandmother, drew the first published diagram of #DNA It was 65 years ago #onthisday, as a diagram in the first of the three papers published in @nature on the structure of DNA. (Watson & Crick, Wilkins et al, Franklin & Gosling) #SciArt …

The microbiome: Images and visualisations

On Monday 26 June I went to Oxford to participate in a workshop on the microbiome organised by The Oxford Interdisciplinary Microbiome Project (IMP). This was what one might call a meta-workshop. Its aim was to find questions that social scientists can sensibly ask about the microbiome, or in the words of the organisers, this …

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 …

The mystery of the missing Martians

When the present is depressing and the future uncertain, it is sometimes nice to retreat to the past, especially to past futures. I recently tried to distract myself from the present by staring at Venus, Moon and Mars illuminating the evening sky. I then led my eyes wander around the internet and I inadvertently came …

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 …

Camille Flammarion: Making science popular

Life on this planet is currently crazy, chaotic and confusing. In this context, I was thinking – wouldn’t it be nice to be able to poke one’s head out of the earthly firmament and look at the heavens beyond. This thought popped into my head because I had once seen an image depicting something like …