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, …

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 …

Maps, books and jigsaws: The human genome is back

I was recently messing about on the news database Nexis when I came across this pronouncement from 1982!! “Weissmann appealed directly to the delegates for an international basic-research fund to determine how genes function and their relationship to disease. With current technology, he declared, mapping the entire human genome would require some 50,000 man-years and …

From ‘deadly enemy’ to ‘covidiots’: Words matter when talking about COVID-19

This article, by Ruth Derksen, is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article here. I thought it would make a great addition to the covid collection on ‘Making Science Public’ and I am grateful to Ruth for her permission to republish it. Dr. Ruth Derksen is a Senior Instructor  …

Walls, wars and waves: Some more thoughts on covid metaphors

The vaccination of the UK population has gone extremely well. There is still a race though between vaccinating against the covid virus and the emergence or introduction of new virus variants. However, fears of hospitals being overwhelmed by covid patients are dwindling. While this is going on, I noticed a metaphor that I had not …

The coronavirus: A global metaphor

In cognitive linguistics there is a long-running debate about whether some metaphors are universal or near-universal or whether metaphors are more culture specific. I don’t really want to get into that controversy here, but recent work by Ahmed Abdel-Raheem made me think about it again. In this post I argue that it might be good for …