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 …

Endemic confusion

A few days ago, I saw this tweet by Bill Hanage and smiled: “For some reason there seems to be a lot of talk about endemicity again. For the avoidance of doubt, omicron is not endemic right now in much the same way that the moon is not a hamster”. I read many of the …

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 …

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 …

Science Communication Research: Past Patterns and Future Perspectives

This post was first published by Alexander Gerber on the Public Understanding of Science Blog on 7 January 2021. It is cross-posted here with permission. This post provides an overview of a book Alex and his team recently published (open access) entitled Science Communication Research: An empirical field analysis. *** Just like other research fields …

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 …