The sky is falling and the trees are crying: Reflections on extreme weather

For some weeks now, I wanted to write something about ‘rain bombs’, a relatively new weather/climate phenomenon and metaphor – but I didn’t get round to it. Then, last week, when I sat down to write, thoughts about strong rain were displaced by thoughts about fire and heat. In the end I decided to write …

Understanding metaphors in the life sciences – a book review

I recently wrote a review of a fascinating little book, Understanding Metaphors in the Life Sciences, by Andrew Reynolds. It appeared as part of the rather excellent series Understanding Life, published by Cambridge University Press and should be read in conjunction with another book in the series by Kostas Kampourakis entitled Understanding Genes, which came …

Covid metaphors: Three chapters and a special issue

When the pandemic began and I listened in to the chatter on the news, I started to think about the metaphors people used to talk about this devastating global event. I wrote quite a few blog posts on language, communication and metaphors. I also began various more academic activities which led to a special issue …

Covid metaphors: Around the world in eight articles

When the Covid-19 pandemic began in 2020, Martin Döring (Institute of Geography, University of Hamburg) and I (Institute for Science and Society, University of Nottingham) began to assemble and then edit articles dealing with its metaphorical framing around the world (not the whole world, of course!). Covid-19 killed millions of people and caused huge distress …

Lockdown, freedom and responsibility

Two years ago, we learned a new word: ‘lockdown’. This was in fact an old word which acquired a new meaning during the Covid-19 pandemic. That new meaning gradually changed over time. Now ‘lockdown’ has more or less lost its meaning and just stands for something to be avoided at all cost or something that …

Superimmunity

From the start of the pandemic in the distant spring of 2020 linguists and communication researchers have kept an eye on language. They observed the emergence of new words, such as ‘covid’ and ‘covidiots’ and the increase in use and understanding of older or jargon words, such as pandemic, coronavirus, lockdown, social distancing, bubbles, and …

Gene drives and metaphors

I have been writing about developments in the biosciences for twenty years. In that time, I have covered a wide variety of topics, such as cloning, genomics, the human genome project, the microbiome project, faecal microbial transplants, synthetic biology, epigenetics, genome editing and now gene drive. I was lucky enough to get many reflections on …

Pandemics, time and learning

I was reading a thought-provoking article by Katherine J. Wu, Ed Yong and Sarah Zhang in The Atlantic, entitled “Omicron is our Past Pandemic Mistakes on Fast-Forward”. As a metaphor-collector, I loved the first paragraph – which was all about speed: “With Omicron, everything is sped up. The new variant is spreading fast and far. …

Making Science Public 2021: End of year round-up of blog posts

We are coming to the end of a another pandemic year, and time seems to expand endlessness towards an uncertain horizon. That means quite a few of my blog posts this year were still devoted to covid and the pandemic, but I also wrote about genetics, climate change and some other incidental topics. As usual, …

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 …