Assembling a synthetic human genome: Science and the politics of openness

There has recently been some commotion in the field of synthetic biology about a meeting held at Harvard on 10 May 2016 at which scientists discussed the creation of a synthetic human genome. The meeting was a closed, invitation-only meeting. In a field of science that takes pride in its openness and transparency, this created …

Precision metaphors in a messy biological world

The promises of nanoscience and nanotechnology have been framed by a variety of future oriented metaphors, such as the those of the fantastic voyage or the master builder. The former metaphor has been especially prominent in early reports on the promises of nanomedicine, but it is still in use today. What happens when real breakthroughs …

The book of life: Reading, writing and editing

I have been observing the use of the ‘book of life’ metaphor in genetics and genomics since the year 2000, when it was used to announce that the human genome, our entire DNA, had been roughly sequenced. The Human Genome Project had begun in 1990 and was completed in 2003. Its achievement consisted in finding …

Science, hype and fun

In one of my early posts for this blog I talked about hype and about how hype can be used honestly and fraudulently. In one of my later posts I talked about CRISPR and how scientists are trying to deal with this gene editing technology responsibly. So I should have known better! Following the fun …

Science, sensationalism and the dangers of over-selling research

This is a GUEST POST by FREYA HARRISON. Freya works in Steve Diggle’s group in the Centre for Biomolecular Sciences at the University of Nottingham, where she researches the ecology and evolution of cooperation. She spends most of her time exploring how communication and cooperation help bacteria to cause chronic infections, but she is also …

Science in Public 2013 – Call for Panel Proposals

UPDATE: You can see the full Call For Papers including details of all the proposed panels at http://scienceinpublic.org/conference/  8th Annual Science in Public Conference, 22-23 July 2013 on ‘Critical Perspectives on Making Science Public’ Call for Panel Proposals The University of Nottingham is proud to host the 8th Annual Science in Public Conference, 22-23 July 2013. …

Making neuroscience public: Neurohype, neuroscepticism and neuroblogging

There has been a lot of debate recently about climate scepticism and climate sceptics. To define what climate sceptics are is actually quite difficult, but some may be described as (anthropogenic) climate (change) deniers, some as climate change doubters, some as critical observers of climate science, some as just sitting on the fence. There are …

Hype, honesty and trust

This week I am participating in a workshop on ‘Sociologies of Moderation: Problems of democracy, expertise and the media’* organised by Dr Alexander Smith at the University of Huddersfield. Alex starts working as a researcher on the ‘Making science public’ project next week from the University of Warwick. This week’s workshop will scrutinise the meaning …