Comments on qualitative methods in the humanities and social sciences

I while ago Chris Toumey (Toumey@mailbox.sc.edu) wrote a guest post for this blog, announcing his new book on nanotech and the humanities. A reader had a question that Chris didn’t have time to answer at the time. This post is an answer to that question. *** Regarding my book on nanotechnology, Nanotech and the Humanities, …

Science and Metaphors

Today I gave a lecture on responsible innovation and responsible language use (via Skype) to biochem and synbio students at the University of Oxford. After the lecture, one student asked whether there was a good go-to book on science and metaphor. I hummed and hawed…. There is of course some stuff, but not a really …

Science and trust: Some reflections on the launch of the International Science Council

The Ecologist published an article on 19th July about the launch of a new International Science Council, ISC, entitled “Paris launches the International Science Council with aims to rebuild trust in science”. ISC is a merger of the “International Social Science Council (ISSC), formed in 1952 to promote the social sciences, including the economic and …

The vertical rod in the center of the DNA molecule

A while ago I read this tweet by Kindra Crick: “Odile Crick, my grandmother, drew the first published diagram of #DNA It was 65 years ago #onthisday, as a diagram in the first of the three papers published in @nature on the structure of DNA. (Watson & Crick, Wilkins et al, Franklin & Gosling) #SciArt …

Making science public: Taking stock

When we wrote our ‘Making Science Public: Challenges and Opportunities’ research project some six or so years ago, various scandals had rocked the unspoken contract between science and society, universities and their users (BSE, MMR, climategate etc.). This contributed to a widely held perception, and I stress perception, of a lack of public trust in …

The Carbon Neutral Lab: Science, culture, values

This week we held our yearly Synthetic Biology Research Centre (SBRC) Strategic Advisory Board Meeting. The meeting took place in the Carbon Neutral Laboratory which houses the Centre for Sustainable Chemistry. This building has become quite famous because it burned down last year, was rebuilt and opened this year. I should say from the outset …

Science, culture and cultural differences

Athene Donald recently published a thought-provoking blog post on culture and science. This post was itself motivated by discussions she has had with the Science Advisory Council for the Department of Culture, Media and Sports and a question posed by a member of this advisory council, Geoff Crossick, namely: ‘What do you mean by science?’ …

Sock puppets, muzzles and the impact agenda

This is a post by JOHN HOLMWOOD A new threat to the contribution of university research to public debate has been identified. This derives from Cabinet Office rules that would prevent bodies in receipt of grants from Government from lobbying. It has been suggested that this could muzzle academic research. Ironically, the rules derive from …

Ash dieback (Chalara), free trade, and the technocracy of biosecurity

This is a post by Judith Tsouvalis, one of the research fellows on the Making Science Public team. In March 2012, tree and plant health became a matter of national concern in Britain following the discovery of an East Asian fungus called Hymenoscyphus fraxineus at a nursery in Buckinghamshire, England. The ash saplings infected by …