// Latest Posts

Firebreak

About a month ago, when I thought the government was about to announce a ‘circuit breaker’, I wrote a blog post about that metaphor. Now the Welsh government has announced a circuit breaker but has called it a ‘fire break’. That means that I now have to write a quick post about the ‘fire break’ …

Synthetic biology, engineering biology and responsible innovation

Between about 2014 and 2018 I have been involved in the social and communications side of ‘synthetic biology’. I was especially interested in synthetic biology with relation to ‘responsible innovation’ or ‘responsible research and innovation’ or RRI (here are some blog posts). Since then other issues have pre-occupied my mind and I lost a bit …

CRISPR, the Nobel, and women in science

I wrote my first blog post about CRISPR, gene editing or genome editing on 24 March 2015. It was entitled “From recombinant DNA to genome editing: A history of responsible innovation?” And I have written quite a few more blog posts about this new biotechnology since then. I knew that sometimes in the distant future …

Sleepwalking into pandemic polarisation

I was musing about emerging talk of a division between experts when it comes to dealing with Covid-19. This has been in the air for a while but came more to the fore after the publication of two open letters by two groups of experts. As an article in the British Medical Journal, entitled tellingly …

Dimmer switches and circuit breakers

Since the beginning of this pandemic I have been writing blog posts charting the metaphors used to think and talk about it. Most of these metaphors are based on well-known experiences of floods, storms, wars and journeys – or air, water, earth and fire. However, I have recently noticed some other metaphors which are a …

Metaphors and realities: Coronavirus and climate change

We have been surrounded by global disasters this year, inflicted on us by ‘invisible enemies’. These invisible enemies have been made visible in two ways. In the case of the pandemic, disaster metaphors related to floods, fire and storms have made the coronavirus visible. In case of climate change, real floods, fires, storms and droughts …

Who killed granny?

A trend seems to be emerging, albeit not a failsafe one, in the management of the coronavirus pandemic. There are countries/nations/regions like New Zealand, Germany and New Mexico (and these are just the ones I sort of listen in to) that have done something right when it comes to dealing with the spread of Covid-19. …

Mutant algorithms

I was talking to a friend in the United States. She told me the story of a friend who normally just talks about motherhood and apple pie, but suddenly wondered about algorithms. So, my friend asked me how I would explain algorithms. That reminded me of discussions I had a year or so ago with …

Gene drives and societal narratives

Some days ago, I came across an interesting virtual conference (HT @Sarah_A_Hartley) about gene editing which includes a session on ‘societal narratives’. I have written quite a bit about societal narratives of gene editing, but more recently I became involved in the issue of ‘gene drive’, that is, “a system of biased inheritance in which …

The meaning of lockdown

The other day, my father in Germany, who is quite old, phoned me and asked what lockdown meant.* ‘Lockdown’ is now used in Germany instead of more native words like ‘Ausgangssperre’ (exit barrier, if you like). He especially wondered about the ‘down’ bit, as he understood the ‘lock’ bit and also had heard about ‘locking …