I found a recent paper by Jude Fransman, about different perceptions of Public Engagement, enlightening and inspiring, and it led me to write a blog piece about it (link). I also interviewed Jude, and publish the transcript below, as it goes into much more detail than the blog, and also gives her perspective.Read More
Funding for British sport at the Olympics is pretty cut-throat. If your sport is unlikely to get a medal, you are likely to get nothing from UK Sport. So 1st to 3rd means money, 4th or below means none. This has been a spectacularly successful policy in terms of medal results, though controversial in wider terms of how it relates to levels of participation in sports, how the individual sports can develop sustainably, and how broad the funding should be in this all-or-none system.
The situation is a little similar for how research is funded at UK universities…Read More
Gene Editing is a technology that is increasingly impacting on society and our lives. What was hard to do became simple, and with that a host of new possibilities - and ethical issues - were unleashed.
In this dissertation I discuss the context of Gene Editing as a tool, and how it sits with other technologies. I argue that it's not a complete stand-alone technology, but rather that it completes 'the toolbox' that geneticists have been developing since the first cloning experiments in the 1970s.Read More
A farmer can remember what has happened last year and the year before, and can prepare accordingly. But what about plants? How can they pass on their experience to their offspring?
It turns out that they can and do, and by being prepared, the new plants will grow better than they otherwise would have.Read More
A story for children, about a young girl who accepted everything as true. Triggered by a family crisis, she starts to explore questions about truth, knowledge, evidence and belief. Written by Àngels Codina, Flora McCrone and Neil Stoker. Illustrations by Flora McCrone.Read More
First things first, in case you read no further: go and see Alice Anderson’s exhibition, Memory Movement Memory Objects, at Wellcome Collection. I found parts of it extraordinary, that I have returned to repeatedly. The curation, integrating strong design and careful lighting with the artist’s works, has produced effects that are aesthetically powerful and thought-provoking.
But I’ve struggled to write this piece, to express what it meant for me in the context of what it appeared to mean for the artist, and why it was in this venue.Read More
I'm interested in Citizen Science - where people take part in science research through non-traditional routes. Here I talk to someone, untrained in science, who’d worked on astronomy projects in the online Zooniverse platform in her spare time. Was she a technician, or had it become more than that?Read More
As a biologist, I’m used to the idea that elements combine to form simple and complex molecules in an orderly way, and with a ‘purpose’. How different it must appear to the geologist, who studies the rocks that make up our planet. While the basic tools that form these objects – matter and energy – are the same, the scale is massive, the forces and timescale barely imaginable, and here there is no guiding template, no enzymes to channel the way molecules combine, just a relentless chain of events.Read More
“His hands were deformed and useless, and he had foot drop and ulcers on his feet. And nobody had recognized that he had leprosy until about 3 months ago.” Professor Diana Lockwood on her work with leprosy, an ancient disease that is still with us today.Read More
I have friends whose idea of heaven – and mine of hell – is Power Ballad Night at the Electric Ballroom. They go, I don’t, and we are all happy. So I was puzzled by the five-part BBC radio programme Self orbits CERN, in which author Will Self walks the 50km route of the Large Hadron Collider that lies beneath the French-Swiss border, and essentially he spends 75 minutes telling us how much he hates the trip.Read More
I can count the numbers of video installations that have really engaged me on the fingers of Mickey Mouse’s right hand. So it was with little enthusiasm that I learned that two of this year’s four Turner Prize artists work mainly with film.Read More