// Latest Posts

Francis Willughby and me

You have probably all heard of Newton or Halley or Hooke or Pepys … But have you heard of Willughby? I had, vaguely, but I did not look hard enough. They were all early members of the Royal Society (founded in 1660) and involved in a little scandal to which I’ll come later. But first …

The concept of net zero hangs in the balance

‘Net zero’ has been in the air for a while and I let it waft over me without taking much notice. However, a few days ago I read Ken Rice’s thoughts on this matter on his And Then There’s Physics blog. He argues against a “recurring narrative that the concept of net-zero is flawed”, saying …

Science, philosophy and metaphor (a post by Andrew Reynolds)

Soon a book will appear that will be of interest to life scientists and metaphor scientists alike. It is by Andrew Reynolds and entitled Understanding Metaphors in the Life Sciences (December 2021; please click through for more information!). It is one of the many interesting books in Cambridge University’s Understanding Life series, including, for example, …

Geoengineering metaphors: 2011 and 2021

I recently saw this call for papers for a Preconference at the 72nd Annual Conference of the International Communication Association on May 25, 2022 “The Science of Science Communication: Mapping the Field”. The invitation starts with this paragraph: “The beginning of the new century’s ‘Roaring 20s’ is determined by global crises around climate change, biodiversity …

Science, politics and integrity

On 12 October three things appeared in my Twitter timeline: a report, an academic paper and an interview, all dealing with science and politics in the context of the management of the coronavirus pandemic. Most importantly, there was the House of Commons report which showed for all to see what a shambles the UK government’s …

Post-Brexit gene editing regulation

Some of us are old enough to remember the controversies surrounding genetically modified or engineered foods and crops that raged in Europe (which included the UK) around the turn of the millennium. Some of us are even old enough to remember debates about recombinant DNA in the seventies (for those who don’t, I recommend Matthew …

IPCC reports, climate change and language work

This blog post is not about climate change communication. It is about what I call the ‘language work’ carried out by scientists when writing the various IPCC reports. Introduction On 9 August 2021 the first part of the Sixth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, namely the Contribution of Working Group 1 …

Covid, cowering and cowardice

We all remember Boris Johnson saying in March 2020 that we should take covid on the chin, followed by him saying in April that year that Covid was an invisible mugger that one should wrestle to the floor. This metaphorical framing of the virus as a physical assailant and of those having to deal with …