// Latest Posts

Turning bacteria into passwords

A few days ago, I had the pleasure to meet two enthusiastic members of the first Nottingham iGEM team: Vikram Chhapwale, who specialises in computer science and AI, and Chris Graham, an emerging expert in biochemistry and genetics. Both are undergraduates studying at the University of Nottingham. Chris and Vikram are part of a seven-member …

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. …

Putting the colour into 3D printing with atoms

A while ago Phil Moriarty and I started a project, namely, commissioning a graphic novel to make public an EPSRC funded project on 3D printing with atoms. I have written two posts about this here and here and Phil has also talked about this here. Progress has been a bit slow because university bureaucracy put …

Hurricane Harvey: Some reflections on climate change communication

Hurricane Harvey has hit Houston and its aftermath is causing extreme flooding. This made me think… I remember sitting in an airport lounge in 2005 somewhere watching Hurricane Katrina unfold on TV screens and beginning to think about climate change as a social issue. A year or so later I started to notice the spread of a …

Milton and Galileo: Affinities between art and science

I don’t know much about John Milton and Galileo Galilei. However, I have stood beside Milton’s Mulberry tree at Christ’s College, Cambridge and beside Galileo’s chair and lectern at the University of Padua – and felt some affinity with the poet and the scientist. I didn’t know though that there was actually a connection between Milton …

Making science popular: Science communication in 19th-century France

Some weeks ago I saw a tweet in my timeline which contained an engraving of an iguanodon skeleton. The skeleton had been exhibited in Brussels and its picture appeared in the 1883* issue of the French popular science magazine La Science Illustrée. This made me think of an old blog post of mine entitled “Making Science Picturesque”, where …

False balance

Last week an appearance by Lord Lawson on the BBC Radio 4 Today programme caused somewhat of a stir. This was not the first time this had happened. The same happened in 2014. In both instances the BBC invited Lord Lawson to talk about climate change. In both cases this was greeted with a chorus …

Tracing the contours of the consensus debate in climate change: The sequel

In August 2013 I wrote a blog post on the issue of ‘consensus’ in the context of climate change. This topic had been put into the climate communication spotlight by a paper published in May 2013 by Cook et al. entitled: ”Quantifying the consensus on anthropogenic global warming in the scientific literature” (for more background, …

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 …