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Working From Home

Hugh Kearns wrote this week

Posted in COVID-19, home-working, Impostor syndrome, Science Culture, technology | Leave a comment


Do one day at a time.
If you can’t do a day at a time, do an hour at a time.
If you can’t do an hour at a time, go minute by minute.
If you can’t do minutes, do seconds.
If you can’t do seconds, do moments.
Do moments, all you have to do is moments. Continue reading

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In Time of Crisis – Be Kind

In A Time of Crisis

You might think that our present, extraordinary and challenging global circumstances might call for ‘patience, flexibility, practicality and ability to withstand misfortune’. All of those traits do indeed need to be practiced now as we, individually and collectively, try to traverse a landscape that changes every day (so far, always in a bad direction). In fact the full quote t Continue reading

Posted in Coronavirus, education, isolation, mental health | Leave a comment

What is it like to go dating for the first time?

In the video, I explore what it is like to go dating for the first time.

With thanks to Kate Smurthwaite (who introduces me here and who taught me stand-up comedy), City Academy (through whom I took this course) and The Comedy Pub (where we performed).

Thanks to my friends and family who attended and/or helped me to write the jokes. Most of all, thanks to the Funny Sckool Graduates (you know who Continue reading

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In which we home-school science: introducing #HomeSci, a social media experiment

Joshua channeling his inner boffin at dress-up time

From this coming Monday in the United Kingdom, all schools are closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This means that many parents will be working from home and looking after their children at the same time. And not just looking after them, but having to support their education too. Other countries are or have already faced school closures.

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Posted in Domestic bliss, Joshua, Research, Scientific method, Teaching | Leave a comment

Why it matters

There’ve been a few times during the last couple of weeks, as we’ve been shutting down our labs to an accompaniment of tragic news reports of horrible human suffering around the world, that I’ve asked myself whether struggling on with an on-line version of my class on Quantum Properties of Materials is worthwhile. I’ve convinced myself that it is, and here’s why:

My s Continue reading

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In which the pandemic unfolds: a postcard from The Big One?

Epidemics are works in progress. At any given moment in time, you can’t know how they will end. They are a curve on a graph of ultimately unknown trajectory; when you are just a dot on a growing curve, you can’t see where line will go when it has yet to be drawn. Or to use another metaphor, as I remarked on my Cosmic Shambles blog back in late January when there was all to play for:

W Continue reading

Posted in Epidemics, Nostalgia, Scientific thinking, staring into the abyss, work-life balance | Leave a comment

Preliminary lessons from a global pandemic


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) map of COVID-19 infections as of March 8, 2020

1)         All humans on this planet are one species, with a genetically identical composition. The Coronavirus doesn’t distinguish between any of the so-called “races” on our planet, and because the genetic make-up of people with different levels of skin pigmentation is essentially the same, and t Continue reading

Posted in CDC, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Coronavirus, COVID-19, infections, pandemic, Research, science | Leave a comment

Do We Need International Women’s Day?

It’s International Women’s Day. Another year when many of us are thinking how amazing it would be if we didn’t need such a day any longer, specifically celebrating women, because people of whatever gender, colour, age, health status….. were celebrated according to what they’d actually done. That the day is still needed tells us how far we are from equality. One day – as somebody once wisely said – Continue reading

Posted in allies, equal pay, Equality, part-time, promotion, Women in science | Leave a comment

The Coronaviral lie detector

Screen Shot 2020-03-01 at 2.38.02 PM

Coronavirus cover from the Journal of Biological Chemistry’s virtual issues.

Back in Oct. 2019, the Washington Post’s Glenn Kessler had counted 13,435 lies or false claims by President Donald Trump. They came in all shapes and sizes, large and small, significant and irrelevant. Continue reading

Posted in Coronavirus, lies, Research, science, scientists | Leave a comment

Building Resilience Throughout a Career

How do you develop resilience? This was a question I was asked recently by a mid-career researcher. Not, please note, someone just setting out, but someone who was already well-established. This problem is ubiquitous and does not go away just because of seniority. Academia – though one might say all of life – has pressures from every direction and surviving these pressures is inevitably going to b Continue reading

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A Holistic CV

Just recently at a dinner for heads of the Cambridge colleges the issue of the toxic culture some research students find themselves in was raised. We all know the issues exist and, in this context, the question was what could our colleges do to assist. Where it is the relationship with the supervisor that has gone wrong, and the student is willing – by no means guaranteed to be the case – to raise Continue reading

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Hierarchies and the Power Imbalance

It is perhaps helpful, if depressing, that stories of harassment and bullying in many spheres now reach headline status.  Helpful because it means these issues get an airing instead of simply lurking in the long grass. Just this week there have been the resurrection of accusations of bullying against the former speaker John Bercow, and the resignation of a high profile MSP for inappropriate (for w Continue reading

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It’s Not My Brexit Either

I am trying to decide whether to remove the Twitter ‘Scientists for the EU’ twibbon from my profile. I still am a scientist and I’m still pro EU, but there’s no longer quite the same message to be conveyed. Fellow OT blogger Stephen Curry has written eloquently how January 31st was not about his Brexit, so I won’t repeat his arguments, with which I wholeheartedly agree. I do, however, have to deci Continue reading

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This is not my Brexit day

It is 31st January 2020 and as of 11 pm tonight the UK will no longer be a member of the European Union. We have arrived at Brexit day.

U2 and the EU

But this is not my Brexit. I did not want it. Continue reading

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