Dark matter: A mystery metaphor that turns genomic junk into gold

I have become intrigued by a new metaphor, most recently used in an interesting Aeon Magazine article. The authors state that the human genome can’t be, as was so long assumed, a blueprint for building a human being, as “science has served up the confounding paradox that the bulk of our genome appears to be …

Big bang, inflation, gravitational waves: A journey through metaphorical space

Today, on Monday 17 March, scientists announced that they had found evidence for ‘inflation’ in the shape of gravitational waves (paper). In cosmology inflation refers to an exponential expansion of the universe that occurred for a fraction of a second just after the Big Bang. The link between the theory of the Big Bang, cosmic …

More heat than light? Climate catastrophe and the Hiroshima bomb

There has been some discussion on Twitter today (14 August) about the wisdom or otherwise of measuring the heat being retained by the Earth in terms of Hiroshima bombs. The analogy is presented by John Cook and Dana Nuccitelli on their Skeptical Science blog, drawing on an academic paper by Church et al to describe the heat …

Metaphors in science and society

I recently had an interesting twitter conversation with Alex Brown (@alex_brovvn), Peter Broks (@peterbroks), Bev Gibbs (@bevgibbs), Angela Cassidy (@ange_cass) and Sophia Collins (@sophiacol) about metaphors for the spread of knowledge and for science communication. I also read two interesting blog posts related to that conversation, one by Peter Broks and one by Alex Brown. …

When the limits of our knowledge collide with the limits of our language: Mixing metaphors around the Higgs Boson

I was sitting in the garden today (in the sunshine!) (Sunday, 22 July), reading the feedback page of New Scientist which featured some amusing metaphors and analogies for the Higgs Boson, which has recently been discovered at CERN. This made me think. Science and metaphors Metaphors and analogies are used extensively in science, both in …