// Latest Posts

Human genome editing summit, London, 2023

Ceci n’est pas un blog post. As I have no time to write anything proper for a few weeks, these are just some notes and pointers. This non-post is ‘about’ the Third International Summit on Human Genome Editing which took place at The Francis Crick Institute in London from 6 to 8 March. I couldn’t …

Cancer, metaphors and Bond villains

There are metaphors that utterly change how we see the world and there are metaphors that change how we see microscopic bits of it. There are metaphors that are constitutive of theories in philosophy and science and there are more ephemeral ones that provide glimpses of new phenomena. I am just reading a book by …

Can metaphors hinder scientific progress?

This is a guest post by Jack Morgan Jones. He is a postgraduate researcher at the University of Manchester’s Philosophy Department with an interest in truth and practical rationality, as well as agency and constructivism. *** It’s readily acknowledged that metaphors can help an educated public better understand a scientist’s technical work. But questioning the …

Bird flu – then and now

Current news about a world-wide bird flu outbreak brought back memories of 2005, dubbed then “The year of bird flu”. In an article I co-authored that year with Christopher Halliday, we noted that “[l]ately, fear of disease has been fuelled yet again by the emergence of a new highly pathogenic virus strain of avian influenza …

Climate change and health: Early and late warnings

Last week I saw various tweets from the Wellcome Trust announcing a new funding scheme that will support research on the impacts of #ClimateChange on human health, centring on communities most at risk (an announcement that by the way, was illustrated with a tryptic of photos of lone individuals dealing with a flood, a fire …

Making Science Public: Reflections on a decade of blogging

Ten years ago, I was walking down the corridor in the School of Sociology and Social Policy building, when I bumped into Adrian Mateo, who was then Faculty marketing manager. I knew him from various engagement events related to projects I was involved in at the time. We chatted a bit and he suddenly asked …

Gene drive communication: On bombs and bullets

In a recent article for Scientific American, the zoologist and author of a recent book on the history of genetic engineering, Matthew Cobb, lays out the pros and cons of ‘gene drive’. Gene drive is a new genetic technology that could be used to wipe out whole species of insects that transmit, for example, malaria. …

Artificial intelligence, dark matter and common sense

In my last post I wrote about a new type of deep learning network, the chatbot ChatGPT, which has stirred up a lot of debate, including between me and my sister. We were skyping and I mentioned the blog post and she said: “Oh, I have just read something in the New York Times that …

Artificial Intelligence: Education and entertainment

I have heard about artificial intelligence or AI for decades, but I have never really played with it. I guess this is the same for many people. We might have AI all around us, but at the end of 2022 it became much more tangible – we had it at our fingertips. A company called …

Making Science Public 2022: End of year round-up of blog posts

This is now the 10th time that I have written an overview of the blog posts I have published over the preceding year. Phew! How time flies. Strangely, this year has been quite productive. I have posted more stuff about Covid, of course, but also about monkey pox, as well as about climate change, gene …