// Latest Posts

Science, Technology & Culture: In memory of Christopher Johnson (1958-2017)

Almost 20 years ago, I was working at the Institute for Science and Society located in the Law and Social Sciences Building (then called the Institute for the Study of Genetics, Biorisks and Society). I don’t know how it happened, but somehow I must have come across somebody telling me that people were establishing a …

Genetics and genomics – when metaphors begin to matter

I remember in the not so distant past standing in the Wellcome Sanger Institute in Cambridge admiring the huge sequencing machines and chatting about public engagement with colleagues before giving a talk about genomics and metaphors. I also remember writing some things about gene editing and metaphor. In my mind all this related to basic …

Mutant words

I was listening to the BBC Radio 4 Today programme on this sunny morning of the 19th of December when I heard the phrase ‘mutant strain’, used in reference to a new strain of the SARS-CoV-2 virus which is apparently spreading in the South East. My ears twitched of course, as they did with ‘mutant …

Making Science Public 2020: End of year round-up of blog posts

The year began quite innocently, with me blogging, for example, about gene drives. What are gene drives? Who cares about them? And so on. This has now turned into: Who cares? 2020 has been steamrolled by one big event: the Covid-19 pandemic. This meant that many of my posts were devoted to it, that is …

Covid anthropology

This is just a quick announcement about an open access triple set of special issues of Anthropology in Action about the new coronavirus and the ways we live now, published by Berghahn, London: “Almost one year into the pandemic the ‘no-touch’ world of COVID-19 is transforming our intimate lives, perhaps permanently in many ways. Edited by Andrew …

One day in twitterland: Metaphor, memory and amazement

People have all sorts of opinions about Twitter, but for me, so far, the experience has been positive; never more so than when it comes to ‘interdisciplinarity’. I work across the humanities, social science and natural sciences and follow people from what one may call all walks of science. I also work across science and …

An injection of metaphors

I hadn’t intended to write a blog post this week. So this is only an attempt to not let an important episode in the Covid and metaphor saga pass by without recording it for posterity. Others will have to do the difficult work of actually analysing what was going on. On 9 November, Monday afternoon, …

The social and metaphorical life of viruses

Metaphors are an essential part of science, from doing basic science to engaging in popular science communication. They can be used sporadically; they can be used more systematically to conceptualise a topic, for example the structure and function of DNA; or they can be used in a veritable firework sprinkled across one article. I once …

Minimal genomes, maximal assumptions

This is another guest post by Massimiliano Simons who is a postdoctoral researcher at the department of philosophy and moral sciences at Ghent University. He is also a member of the Working Group on Philosophy of Technology (WGPT) at KU Leuven, Belgium. *** Ten years ago the J. Craig Venter Institute announced the birth of …