// Latest Posts

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 …

The social construction of science: What does it mean?

40 years ago science was still carried out in an ivory tower, scientists were highly respected bearers of truth and certainty and labs were mysterious and closed spaces.* Then came along some young and enterprising social scientists and showed that scientists are human, labs are places of messy human practices and science is fallible. Science …

Climate change metaphors: Crimes, detectives and fingerprints

For quite a few years I have written about metaphors in climate change, such as the metaphors of the greenhouse and the footprint. There is one metaphor I overlooked, and that is the one of the ‘fingerprint’. While the carbon footprint metaphor was used in order to get people to act on climate change, making them …

Triangulating the history of science communication: Faraday, Marcet and Smart

This post first appeared on the History and Philosophy of Language Sciences blog. I am reposting it on the Making Science Public blog with permission, where it can rub shoulders with other posts relating to science communication. ••• The 19th century was a time of monumental change in science, industry and also communication. In this …

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, …

Cars and cancer: Metaphorical musings on the occasion of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine

Metaphors are weird. They are crucial for the expansion of human knowledge. However, they don’t really impart knowledge. They only tell a story. And that story can only be understood by people who already have some knowledge. When I say ‘life is a journey’, I expect people to understand that metaphor, as people generally know …

How has Science Communication Research Developed? Results from a Citation Analysis

This is a guest post by Mike S. Schäfer (University of Zürich) & Adrian Rauchfleisch (National Taiwan University). The article summarised in this post first appeared in the Journal of Science Communication. This post contributes to the ‘science communication‘ strand of this blog. It can be read together with an older (2012) post which reports on how Rick Borchelt …

Epigenetics: Grappling with definitions

Definitions of epigenetics are notoriously slippery. This does not seem to hamper basic research. But it might hamper public understanding. The words ‘epigenetics’ and ‘epigenetic’ have undergone quite substantial changes in meaning over time, leading up to a meaning which is now popular but open to misinterpretation. This history and increasing confusion has been charted, …

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 …