// Latest Posts

Science communication: Does social science help or hinder?

On 20th December Alice Bell tweeted a science communication story that made me laugh out loud! And then it made me think. Here is the story “Drunk suit fell over getting on the tube, exclaimed ‘Gravity! That’s physics! That’s the cleverest thing!’ and then started asking people in the carriage if they love physics and …

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 …

Science, life and meaning

Sheila Jasanoff has published a new book entitled Can Science Make Sense of Life? This is a big question to which the answer, according to Betteridge’s law of headlines must be ‘no’. The title sets the tone for the book and opens up specific expectations for its readers. What expectations readers have depends on what they understand …

Why we should care about the language we use in science

This post first appeared in the ‘On Society’ blog at BioMed Central and is reposted here with permission. *** Brigitte Nerlich and Carmen McLeod at the Synthetic Biology Research Centre at the University of Nottingham have given ‘Responsible Research and Innovation’ a new twist, by focusing on responsible language use. As everybody knows by now, words matter in politics as …

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 …

Blueprint, a broken metaphor?

Three things came together that made me write this post: observing an increased discussion of the blueprint metaphor in genetics and genomics around the publication of a book called Blueprint, reading an old article by George Gamow, and reading a footnote in a forthcoming book by Philip Ball entitled How to Build a Human. The …

Investigating the public’s role in AMR – as represented in the UK news media

Today, 8 November 2018, I read the following headline in The Guardian: “Rise of antibiotic resistant bugs ‘could lead to 90,000 death’” (Online version: “Antibiotic resistant superbugs ‘will kill 90,000 Britons by 2050’“). Not: “Adopting simple measures can help to prevent 90,000 deaths from antibiotic resistant infections”…. Why does this matter? Here are some thoughts/findings. …

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 …