Search for ""

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 …

comments 1

Astrogenomics: Integration and inspiration

I should have blogged about embryo editing in Russia. I should have blogged about Netflix’s ‘Unnatural selection’ series on CRISPR and genome editing. I should have blogged about prime editing, but life is getting in the way at the moment. That doesn’t mean I don’t look at twitter once in a while (au contraire!). So, …

no comments

Blueprints, postmen and a bit of metaphor archaeology

At the end of June, the NHS announced a new gene therapy for haemophilia B. Gene therapy replaces a faulty gene or adds a new gene to correct a mutation (genetic fault). People with haemophilia B lack the blood clotting protein factor IX and can bleed severely from even a slight injury. Some therefore need frequent …

no comments

Hunting for AI metaphors

Thousands of articles and blog posts have been written about generative AI, especially ChatGPT. Some or these, especially blog posts, are about metaphors. As a metaphor hunter (see image!) I feel a bit ashamed that I haven’t done much on metaphor and AI. A little bit yes; for example, on what metaphors ChatGPT uses about …

comments 2

Vaccine hesitancy in Europe: A conceptual exploration

Many things changed rather fast when the Covid-19 pandemic spread around the world at the beginning of 2020. There were new social phenomena, like ‘social distancing’, a so-called non-pharmaceutical intervention intended to stop the spread of the coronavirus. There were new scientific and bodily phenomena, like quickly developed vaccines, so-called pharmaceutical interventions intended to stop …

no comments

Genes, trains and eureka-moments

I was in the process of writing a blog post on metaphors in genetics and genomics which was getting longer and longer and I had some personal stuff to deal with. So, I stopped. I might come back to this another time. In the process of writing, I discovered that trains have been quite an …

no comments

Making science public 2023: End-of-year round up of blog posts

The year 2023 began with a bang. Suddenly there was a new form of ‘artificial intelligence’, and by ‘new’ I mean a form of AI that even I could use and vaguely understand. There was, it seems, some monstrous machine (called LLM) gobbling up everything we have ever produced in science, literature and art and …

no comments

What are metaphors (for)?

I have been thinking about metaphor for a long time. But I have never brought my core thoughts together in one place. Here we go… and of, of course, they are not just my thoughts…they are inspired by a myriad of thinkers from the 19th century onwards, including, of course, George Lakoff and all those …

no comments

The language of life meets large language models

Between about 2014 and 2018 I was involved in the social and communications side of ‘synthetic biology’ as part of the Synthetic Biology Research Centre (SBRC) here at the University of Nottingham, which uses engineering biology approaches to understand and then modify industrially-relevant bacteria. I wrote my last blog post on synthetic biology in 2020. …

no comments

Synthetic embryos: Science, communication, clarification

Earlier in the month (June, 2023) I saw some headlines saying things like “Scientists say first synthetic human ’embryo’ created” or “First reported synthetic human embryo sparks ethical concerns, creates questions” or “Synthetic human embryos created for first time using no eggs or sperm”. These headlines appeared soon after an exclusive article on the matter …

no comments