Making plants science: The role of herbaria and images in botany

This is a one-off Guest Blog by Maura C. Flannery, Professor of Biology, St. John’s University, NY, reflecting on, what one may call, ‘making the private life of plants public’, or more precisely the use of herbaria, photography and art in botany, as well as issues of truth and trust. The blog is related to …

Big Data: Challenges and opportunities

With increasing frequency one can read announcements welcoming us to the age of Big Data (put the phrase “welcome to the age of big data” into google and you’ll get over 488,000 results). Reading about two recent events in particular sharpened my awareness of this new era, namely a big data event at the British …

Metaphor, image and now visualisation: Darwin’s tree of life

Yesterday I came across this tweet: “Richard Dawkins ‏@RichardDawkins Zooming into the Tree of Life. Magnificent piece of software, brilliantly intuitive visualisation of the tree of life http://bit.ly/PJyox3 Retweeted by Eric Sawyer” This led me to a fascinating interactive and fractal representation of the tree of life (or phylogenetic tree or evolutionary tree) created by …

Images and visualisations: Technology, Truth and Trust

This is a GUEST blog by Andrew Balmer (University of Manchester): I recently co-chaired (with Brigitte Nerlich and Annamaria Carusi) an ESF conference on visualisation, hosted by the University of Linköping but actually held in Norrköping, Sweden. It went swimmingly, with a variety of interesting and instructive presentations and posters, from philosophers, sociologists, anthropologists, nanoscientists, …

‘See through science’

I was recently reminiscing about Venice, where I have been many times, soaking up the sunshine, the colours and little miracles in glass (about which more later).  So I started to think about science and glass, and the title of a famous 2005 booklet produced by James Wilsdon and Rebecca Willis popped into my head: …

Seeing like the Mars Curiosity Rover

In my last blog I talked about metaphor as ‘the mind’s eyes’, as metaphors make us see something as something else, which enables us to think about something in novel ways, extend our knowledge and in the process shape both science and society. In this sense metaphor can be said to be a mental technology …