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Right on: the only museum dedicated entirely to human rights

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Technology and hands-on exhibits make the Canadian Museum for Human Rights accessible for visitors of all ages

When I last visited family in the city of Winnipeg, Canada, I had the opportunity to do a tour of the outside of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights (CMHR), as it was not yet opened for the public. On this visit, 2 years later, this one- Continue reading

Posted in Assiniboine River, Canada, Canadian Museum for Human Rights, education, Forks, Holocaust, Holodomor, human rights, Manitoba, Red River, Winnipeg, women's rights | Leave a comment

Where are the Wild Places of our Souls?

I’m not sure if it’s unconsciously deliberate, but this year – as last – I took a fascinating book about our countryside to read during my week’s holiday away from Cambridge. This year I went to the south end of the Lake District, to a part that was mercifully free of coachloads of trippers. Indeed it seemed devoid of even serious walkers and the p Continue reading

Posted in book review, George Monbiot, Lake District, natural history, rewilding, Robert MacFarlane | Leave a comment

In which nature imitates science – number 327

Sometimes when you look at something from a different angle, you see something you’d never otherwise have noticed.

We’ve been trying to grow melons in the greenhouse, without much success: hundreds of female flowers have unfurled, but only a handful have set fruit. Meanwhile, we haven’t been very good about keeping the vines tidy Continue reading

Posted in Domestic bliss, Gardening, Scientific thinking, Silliness | Leave a comment

Pre-prints: just do it?

There is momentum building behind the adoption of pre-print servers in the life sciences. Ron Vale, a professor of cellular and molecular pharmacology at UCSF and Lasker Award winner, has just added a further powerful impulse to this movement in the form, appropriately of a pre-print posted to the BioarXiv just a few days ago.

If you are a research Continue reading

Posted in Open Access, science, Scientific Life | Leave a comment

Why Such Tepid Governmental Aspirations?

The Government talks about ‘naming and shaming’ to close the pay gender pay gap, aspiring to close it within a generation. It is perhaps worth remembering when the Equal Pay Act came into force – 1970! 35 years on and we’re still only aspiring to close the gap within another 20 years. This is not aspirational thinking, to say the least. Why do gend Continue reading

Posted in Athena Swan, culture change, Equality, gender pay gap, Women in science | Leave a comment

In which we recommend a classic lab lit novel in honor of the Pluto flyby

The big day is finally arrived: in just a few hours, we are about to get our closest look yet at Pluto. Call it what you will – planet, dwarf planet, even the last word in that classic American solar system mnemonic (“My very educated mother just served us nine pizza-pies” – sung to the tune of “Swannee River“) & Continue reading

Posted in Lablit, Writing | Leave a comment

Busy, busy, busy – the Pan Am games are here!

As of Friday, Toronto and places near it are officially in the throes of the 2015 Pan Am and Parapan Am Games. And I find myself with (a) a full media photographer’s credential, (b) access to every single competition venue, and (c) a distinct lack of time to take advantage of it.

My involvement is the end of a somewhat confusing story involvi Continue reading

Posted in Hobbies, Pan Am games, Photography, Toronto | Leave a comment

Public Speaking Challenges

Technical glitches during talks are all too common, but never easy to cope with. Recently I had a simple talk to give, one which could safely be brought along on a memory stick to the event: I was giving a brief talk to a CUSPE meeting on ‘Effective Policy to Bridge the STEM Skills Gap’  in which I had only a handful of slides with some relevant da Continue reading

Posted in after-dinner, Communicating Science, disaster, iPad, pockets, Science Culture, speech | Leave a comment

A Basketful of Metrics?

For those who were involved with any aspect of REF2014, it had similarities to a slow speed nightmare. For those embroiled in preparing the submissions, not only was it extremely, ridiculously time-consuming, but it was also a heavy burden of responsibility because the potential financial stakes were so high. I have no idea what it was like to be o Continue reading

Posted in HEFCE, James Wilsdon, REF, Research | Leave a comment

Who the hell will tell me who my father really was?!

This angry question, uttered repeatedly by the protagonist of Bualem Sansal‘s courageous and thought-provoking novel, translated into English as “The German Mujahid,” has been permanently etched in my brain.

The story follows the day-to-day chaos in the life of Malrich, a young and poorly educated Algerian immigrant in a Parisian Continue reading

Posted in Algeria, Bualem Sansal, genocide, Holocaust, housing projects, Islamic fundamentalism, mass murder, Paris, reviews, The German Mujahid | Leave a comment

How Do you Spend your Time?

Those of us academics working in UK universities will be familiar with the requirement to fill in forms every so often, accounting for how we spend our working week. Somehow we are supposed to account for every minute of that (ha ha) 37.5 hour week the Research Councils believe we work. When I attempt to do this I always feel defeated by the catego Continue reading

Posted in form-filling, references, Science Culture, TRAC analysis, Universities | Leave a comment

Data not shown: time to distribute some common sense about impact factors

It’s that time of year when all clear-thinking people die a little inside: the latest set of journal impact factors has just been released.

Although there was an initial flurry of activity on Twitter last week when the 2015 Journal Citation Reports* were published by Thomson Reuters, it had died down by the weekend. You might be forgiven for thinki Continue reading

Posted in Open Access | Comments Off on Data not shown: time to distribute some common sense about impact factors

That dumb flag – It’s time to let it go

I miss my home town. I miss the sound of cicadids on a summer evening. I miss the construction of a fine, Southern sentence. I miss running around in bare feet. Continue reading

Posted in Confederacy, Confederate flag, Dylann Roof, Heritage not hate, racism | Comments Off on That dumb flag – It’s time to let it go

What Next after Tim Hunt? (#just1action4WIS)

Last week the world erupted into a storm of outrage over remarks Sir Tim Hunt, Nobel Prize winner, made in Korea. Unacceptable, indefensible remarks. He has been made to resign from positions and committees for which he has worked so hard. An extraordinary number of column inches (virtual and real) have been devoted to demonising the man. As someon Continue reading

Posted in discrimination, Equality, personal responsibility, Royal Society, Science Culture, Women in science | Comments Off on What Next after Tim Hunt? (#just1action4WIS)

In which we kill the messenger: is Twitter dystopian?

In the past week there has been a lot of talk about sexism in science. I don’t want to rehash any of the arguments (though you can hear some of my views on Radio 4 and in the Telegraph). One might summarize it like this, just to set the stage:

1. Some silly, ill-thought-out comments were made by a high-profile scientist in a very public venue Continue reading

Posted in The profession of science, Women in science | Comments Off on In which we kill the messenger: is Twitter dystopian?