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To the end

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, there was a Webstory. And that Webstory grew and prospered, at least for a time. And the Curator of the Webstory strove to breathe live into it, but with one thing and another the interval between updates grew longer and longer, until it languished around Chapter Fourteen, and all had given up hope.

Or so it seemed.

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Posted in A momentary lapse of reason, Don't try this at home | Leave a comment

Soul Music

We all have parts of our characters – beyond our work-face – that we feel are important to us. Be it that we like poetry, going for walks or collecting teaspoons, we feel this hobby or habit in part defines us. How much so, what the balance is between personal and professional, is likely to shift during life, not least because there may be periods when the personal gets squeezed out by other aspec Continue reading

Posted in Communicating Science, Desert Island Discs, piano, Radio 3 | Leave a comment

In which we’re in business: Cat Zero officially for sale!

Just a quick note to say that my upcoming third lab lit novel, Cat Zero, is now available for pre-order on Amazons near and far (UK and USA)!

Still with placeholder cover featuring the neighbour’s cat Sergei!

There should be a Kindle edition too.

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Posted in Lablit, Writing | Leave a comment

Prayer works–or does it? Shall we ask the murdered?

No sooner had I penned my piece exposing the hypocrisy and weak-kneed leadership of Republican Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan, when he has made new headlines with another smug, holier-than-thou, awful and divisive statement–that is also wrong.

Following the horrific church shooting in a small Texan town, in which at least 26 people were murdered by rapid gun fire, Mr. Ryan was criticized fo Continue reading

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Joshua is at that delightful age when he is yet too young to be able to reliably, unaided, clean and dress himself, yet old enough to resist getting ready to leave the house in the morning.

When he was younger, he might not have helped me when I was trying to get his coat and shoes on, but at last he wasn’t actively thwarting our attempts to catch the 7.44 from Gravesend, by throwing his other s Continue reading

Posted in Joshua, Me, Nonsense, personal | Leave a comment

Getting to Grips with Writing

How did you feel when your supervisor first asked you to draft a piece of writing, whether it was a journal article or perhaps your thesis itself? Excited or terrified? Was it any different the next time and the next? Do you still feel anxious or is it all a piece of cake now? Writing is so integral to the scientific process, yet is also often treated as incidental. Communication skills courses ar Continue reading

Posted in co-author, Communicating Science, communication, Lisa Emerson, Thesis | Leave a comment

Paul Ryan, it’s time to go home

It has now been a full year since the elections that brought a morally reprehensible person into the White House. By now, any remaining negligible hope that the man who was elected president might “pivot” and show even a semblance of the type of moral leadership expected from the holder of this position has drowned in the swamp that he so hypocritically vows to drain.

In the course of Continue reading

Posted in Donald Trump, election, hostage video, Jason Chaffetz, Mitt Romney, moral clarity, Paul Ryan, president, Republicans, tax reform, USA, White house | Leave a comment

Higher Education Through the Looking Glass

I feel as if the Higher Education sector has somehow stepped through Alice’s mirror. Everything is topsy-turvy and has been for some time.  It is hard to know where the next attack will come from. Labour peer Lord Adonis started the university football, with accusations about Vice Chancellors’ high pay and a suggestion that academics didn’t work over the summer (I have already attempted to debunk Continue reading

Posted in Brexit, Daily Mail, David Lammy, Festival of Ideas, Research, Science Funding | Leave a comment

A danger to science and so much more

Recent polls demonstrate that a shocking number of Americans believe ridiculous conspiracy theories. For example, nearly 1/3 of Americans believe that the Federal Drug Administration in the US deliberately withholds new drugs that target cancer from the American public. In addition, a full 25% of Americans still believe that former US President Obama was not born in the US (the “birther cons Continue reading

Posted in conspiracy theories, Conway, education, facts, Obama, science, science Trump, truth | Leave a comment

It’s Time to Break the Silence

One of the pleasurable duties of being Master of a Cambridge College is getting a chance to talk to a wide cross section of people across the dinner table. This week it was the College’s Scholars’ Feast, a feast which means what it says: it is our annual thank you to our amazing group of scholars, whose numbers swell each year. They are a stimulating bunch to talk to.

I was struck by being asked t Continue reading

Posted in Barbara Stocking, education, Equality, harassment, sexual misconduct | Leave a comment

Why we need to better educate the public about science–and stop bill “S. 1973, The Basic Research Act”

The 20th and 21st centuries have arguably been the “Golden Age” for science in the US and other developed countries. Within a generation we have gone from people routinely dying as a result of simple bacterial infections to the power of antibiotics in preventing most deaths. We have gone from polio, smallpox and even chickenpox to vaccinations that largely eliminate disease in immunized people. Ev Continue reading

Posted in bill S. 1973, biomedical research, CRISP/Cas9, Darwin, education, enzymes, funding, grant review, medical advances, National Institutes of Health, National Science Foundation, NIH, NSF, peer review, Rand Paul, Research, science, taxpayer advocate, The Basic research Act, vaccinations | Leave a comment

Thin slicing a thin-skinned president

A wonderful elementary school friend who I haven’t seen for over 40 years recently drew my attention to a Canadian journalist and author named Malcolm Gladwell. I first read his book “Outliers,” a book that examined how the very most successful people in a variety of fields (from computer gurus like Bill Gates, to star hockey players, to airline pilots) managed to climb to the top of their respect Continue reading

Posted in Blink, Gladwell, Outliers, Politics, president, Research, science, thin slicing, Trump | Leave a comment

Thinking about Compassion

Compassion. That seems to be a word that is much in the air around me recently. I alluded to it in a recent post in the context of the need for self-control, but have discussed it more extensively in the past on this blog. Compassion is all too often absent in academia where competition, one-upmanship and self-importance can rule the roost. It was therefore heartening recently, when participating Continue reading

Posted in Equality, jerks, leadership, Science Culture, students | Leave a comment

Dusty Files and Old-fashioned Methods

It’s that time of year again when lecturers dust down their files, refresh their memories, and stride out to inspire the next generation of freshers keen to take down their every word. Except, it’s not like that any more. That was how it used to be; I still have the files to prove it. Indeed, the first lecture course I ever gave was essentially identical to the one I had myself received as an unde Continue reading

Posted in demonstrations, education, lecture notes, lectures, Powerpoint | Comments Off on Dusty Files and Old-fashioned Methods

On harassment, the power differential and a modicum of hope

Anita Hill 1991 Testimony Senate

In 1991, I came down with a sudden stomach bug. As is common when I am too ill to think, all I could manage was planting myself in front of the television in an effort to keep myself mildly distracted from reality. Rarely do I have such precision in remembering my various illnesses, but I remember this day so particularly because I spent it watching Anita Hill testify about being sexually haras Continue reading

Posted in Abuse of Power, Anita Hill, Marchant, sexual harassment, Weinstein | Comments Off on On harassment, the power differential and a modicum of hope