Latest posts

Library day in the life 2018

This post is an account of what I did at work each day from Monday 17 September 2018 through to Friday 21 September 2018. The idea is to give an impression of the range of tasks I engage in. I’ve done it four times previously, starting in 2011. I explain more about ‘Library day in the life’ in my Library day in the life 2016 post.

Monday 17 Sep
I woke up feeling tired from my run Continue reading

Posted in Libraries and librarians, Library day in the life | Leave a comment

When truth meets “feelings”


And behind the curtain is…?!!!

As human beings, we are taught (perhaps except in the era of Trump) about the importance of respecting others, and being sensitive to their views and feelings. Overall, this is a GOOD thing, and while money may make the world-go-round,  empathy certainly makes the world a better place. But respecting sensitivities, as important as it is, should not usurp the t Continue reading

Posted in Darwin, education, evolution, religion, Research, science, sensitivities, truth | Leave a comment

The Buzz of the New

The start of the academic year brings its own opportunity for new year’s resolutions. All the usual: drink less coffee, snack less between meals, waste less time reading peripherally-relevant websites and answer all emails within 24 hours. Just like calendar New Year’s Resolutions they are unlikely to be adhered to. But this time of year – and yes I know Cambridge terms start later than most so ma Continue reading

Posted in academic year, education, sleep, Trinity Street | Leave a comment

In which I question an assumption: do fiction readers really dislike scientific detail?

My regular readers will know all about Fiction Lab, the world’s first book group devoted to discussing lab lit fiction. We’ve been meeting once a month for just over a decade at London’s Royal Institution to talk about novels with scientists as central characters. We try to get authors to join in whenever we can – and next month it’s my turn.

This is not my first rod Continue reading

Posted in Lablit, Scientific thinking, Writing | Leave a comment

On Serena (not the Tennis player) and the Smokies. Read the book, avoid the film.

“Read this book, you’ll love it. It’s set in Appalachia.”

This was what my reading guru said as she handed it to me over the summer.

Continue reading
Posted in Hollywood women, Pacific Standard Productions, Reese Witherspoon, Ron Rash, Serena, Serena the book, women in films | Leave a comment

Open access deposits to Europe PubMed Central – building skills

Blogpost by Kate Beeby and Frank Norman.

Our funders’ open access policies mandate deposit of all primary research articles into Europe PubMed Central (ePMC). We opt for the Gold (immediate Open Access) route when we can, but if the publisher offers no Gold option then we have to deposit the paper into ePMC with a 6-month embargo. In some cases, the publisher makes the deposit for us, in other cas Continue reading

Posted in epmc, Libraries and librarians, Open Access, skills | Leave a comment

In which I drift

Today as I walked to the lab from Belsize Park underground station, fallen cobnuts crunched under my shoes, and an obstacle course of shiny brown conkers scattered free from their deflated prickly cases. In the spent edges of Storm Helene, I could feel microscopic flecks of rain gusting against my face, almost more a temperature than a touch. The endless summer is finally winding down, and just a Continue reading

Posted in academia, The profession of science, work-life balance | Leave a comment

Hard Work

The fun philosophical part of the curriculum revision is over and we are now slogging through the day-to-day drudgery of where / when / what the content and learning elements should go / happen / be. And this is hard work.

For obvious reasons (that I have no other skills) I am in the Materials Physics sub-group, together with my colleagues Manfred FiebigPietro GambardellaLaura Heyderman and Se Continue reading

Posted in education, Materials Science | Leave a comment

On double standards – in Tennis and otherwise

I know next to nothing about the official rules of Tennis. I do, however, know a bit about double standards.


Societally, women are often expected to operate at a different standard to men. Usually, it is a higher standard. Continue reading

Posted in double standards, Serena Williams, sexism | Leave a comment

Being Educated but not Inspired

I’ve been away for a few wonderful days exploring the streets (and art) of Paris, a city in which I always regret I have never lived – as opposed to visited many times. One of my unfulfilled dreams was to spend a sabbatical there, but it never happened. Just a significant number of short trips associated with Pierre-Gilles de Gennes, his successor at ESPCI Jacques Prost, as well as various events Continue reading

Posted in education, inspiration, Paris, Tara Westover | Leave a comment

Ten Years a Blogger


Today is the tenth anniversary of my very first blog post. When I look back at that day in 2008 when I set out my stall on Reciprocal Space it seems a long time ago and a long distance away. It’s been quite a journey.

Some things haven’t changed. Continue reading

Posted in Blogging, communication, Scientific Life | Leave a comment

Thinking about Everyone’s Health

My last post dealt with an almost trivial – although symptomatic – issue of everyday sexism. This one deals with something of rather larger magnitude, but one that is much lower beneath the radar than it warrants: health, and health differentials by gender.
Earlier this summer the Lancet ran a story headlined ‘Patients’ sex may impact efficacy of immunotherapy in cancer treatment’ – in other Continue reading

Posted in Equality, gender, Londa Schiebinger, MRC, Research, research design, wellcome | Leave a comment

In which we enjoy: unique recycled goods from Upside-Down

I rarely engage in product endorsement, but I’d like to tell you about a company I’m just crazy about. (They aren’t giving me any money or discounts to write this review.)

Upside-Down is a Romanian company which recycles urban materials, such as truck tarpaulins and street banners, into beautiful products like wallets, folders and courier bags. I first encountered Upside-Down wh Continue reading

Posted in Writing | Leave a comment

To fail is to learn

After leaving school I worked in a library for a year and was in the music and drama section for six months. Towards the end of that time I was trusted enough that they let me prepare some orders for new stock. We needed to buy the orchestral parts for the Requiem Mass by Gabriel Faure. I prepared a standard order – six first violin parts, six second violin parts, four violas, four cellos an Continue reading

Posted in Books, management | Leave a comment

Come Fly with Me!

This week the Guardian ran a story which reeked of the Everyday Sexism Laura Bates has charted so excellently. The story referred to the airline TUI which had printed out badges to give to children boarding its flights. On one flight they took great care, apparently, to segregate the badges. Those reading ‘future pilot’ were handed out to the boys; the girls got ones labelled ‘future cabin crew’. Continue reading

Comments Off on Come Fly with Me!