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Gut feeling: colonoscopies are a marvel of modern medicine

About 10 years ago, suffering from some stomach troubles, my family doctor recommended that I do a colonoscopy. I was barely 40 years old, and just the thought


Not even ‘pixelated’ — my ‘gut feeling’ is that these images showing my healthy colon are pretty high resolution images.

Continue reading
Posted in Colon, colonoscopy, doctor, gastroenterology, hypochondriac, laxative, Nu-Lytely, polyethyleneglycol, science | Comments Off on Gut feeling: colonoscopies are a marvel of modern medicine

Structural Biology: a beginner’s guide?

I got impatient waiting for my latest review article to come out, so here it is. The scheduled publication date has slipped twice now without the publisher getting in touch to explain why. The latest I’ve heard, after querying the editor who commissioned the piece, is that it will be out by the end of the month. But I’ve paid my £500 fee to make th Continue reading

Posted in cryo-em, nmr, Protein Crystallography, publishing, science, Structural Biology | Comments Off on Structural Biology: a beginner’s guide?

Looking After the Ada’s of the Future

Ada Lovelace Day (on Tuesday) is not just a day for celebrating one remarkable aristocratic woman who dared to break the mould the majority of her female colleagues were content to slot into, it is a day to look forward to a world in which women do not feel there is a mould that they are expected to occupy – be it in the world of technology, scienc Continue reading

Posted in #Just1Action4WIS, Ada Lovelace, Equality, ERC, microinequities, stereotyping, Women in science | Comments Off on Looking After the Ada’s of the Future

Moving Beyond a Silo Mentality

Wherever I turn currently I seem to come up against the questions that assessing interdisciplinary research throws up. Nature recently had a special issue highlighting some of the challenges and rewards, but taking a very broad brush approach. Its editorial headed ‘Why interdisciplinary research matters’ rather implied the discerning reader might n Continue reading

Posted in committee meetings, ERC, Interdisciplinary Science, refereeing, Research Councils, Science Funding | Comments Off on Moving Beyond a Silo Mentality

The Fresher’s Balancing Act

It’s the start of another academic year. For some universities, students have been in residence for some time; for others, such as Cambridge, freshers (undergraduates and graduates) are only now arriving. That of course goes for ‘Heads of House’ too, i.e. people like me who are Masters, Presidents, Principals and Wardens. Continue reading

Posted in education, experience, sleep, undergraduate, university | Comments Off on The Fresher’s Balancing Act

Lunacy and sanity

It’s less than 24 hours, so this still counts as a timely post.

I guess I had been primed because I had been thinking about it. But although I hadn’t set my alarm I found myself awake at 02:52 0n Monday morning – I can still see the digital display. And so I got up, checked out the window that the sky was clear and the moon visible (it Continue reading

Posted in science | Comments Off on Lunacy and sanity

Can We Get Beyond Quotas?

As people talk increasingly about the need for quotas of women on Boards and senior management teams of different kinds, it is worth considering not only whether this is desirable but whether it is viable. I am prompted to ask this question by an email from a senior civil servant seeking a diverse pool of applicants for such positions within a gove Continue reading

Posted in committee membership, Equality, head hunters, nominations, Women in science | Comments Off on Can We Get Beyond Quotas?

In which I get angry (again): Science, as vital as ever

Hopefully most of you have heard about the upcoming campaign that we at Science is Vital are frantically working on. The background can be found in our recent Guardian piece, and the fine details are on our website. But for those who are too busy to click, here’s the digested read:

The government is threatening cuts of up to 40% for science, Continue reading

Posted in Science Funding, Science Is Vital | Comments Off on In which I get angry (again): Science, as vital as ever


There’s a very real chance that this could turn out to be an actual blogpost. In the original sense of the word: a web-log of what’s been happening.

Posts have been rather sparse on Reciprocal Space of late. That’s not for a want of words. Continue reading

Posted in Change, funding, Guardian, Scientific Life, Times Higher | Comments Off on Ch-ch-ch-changes…

Book reviews!

An inner monologue, recently: “oh! I have a blog! I should write something. But the most exciting thing that happened this year isn’t really bloggable yet; the second-most exciting thing was the wedding in England of a very dear friend who would not want her wedding photos posted on the internet, and also that seems too long ago to write about now; Continue reading

Posted in book review | Comments Off on Book reviews!

The Lady and the Trump

This week, my family and I convened to do something very unusual: to watch television. And not just any television program — no, it was to watch the Republican presidential candidate debate. While I fully expected the debate to be ‘entertaining,’ perhaps I underestimated the sheer level of ignorance that I would encounter. In retr Continue reading

Posted in autism, Ben Carson, CDC, doctor, Donald Trump, education, ignorance, NIH, pediatrician, Rand Paul, Republican debate, Research, science, vaccine, vaccines | Comments Off on The Lady and the Trump

Why so Few (Still)?

If you ask a kid to draw a scientist, very often they will draw a ‘mad’ scientist with sticking up hair in a white lab coat, probably holding a test tube containing some evil-looking smoking liquid: an amalgam of Einstein and Frankenstein. Oh yes, and they’ll be male. Perceptions about this really don’t seem to be changing very fast. The L’Oreal Fo Continue reading

Posted in Change then Numbers, Elizabeth Blackburn, Equality, L'Oreal For Women in Science, nobel prize, UNESCO, Women in science | Comments Off on Why so Few (Still)?

Compartmentalising our Passions

As scientists, many in the world believe we are reductionist, breaking everything down into component parts. For some humanities’ scholars this can be equated to the fact that we can’t possibly be creative or, in Thomas Carlyle’s words (in 1833), that

‘The Progress of Science…is to destroy wonder, and in its stead substitute Mensuration and Numerat Continue reading

Posted in British Science Association, Communicating Science, CP Snow, Michael Berkeley, Music, Private Passions, Science Culture | Comments Off on Compartmentalising our Passions

Cervical cancer is not porn – Knox County schools shouldn’t cave to ignorance

banning books quote

My hometown has made the international news. Is this for the fact that Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero was one of the few Tennessee mayors to fully support same-sex marriage? Or for the fact that Ms. Dolly Parton, our great lady of helping increase literacy in the impoverished Appalachian area got her start in Knoxville? Continue reading

Posted in censorship, Knox County School System, Knoxville Tennessee, the immortal life of henrietta lacks | Comments Off on Cervical cancer is not porn – Knox County schools shouldn’t cave to ignorance

Multitasking in the Public Eye

I spent much of the last week in Belgium. A long-scheduled trip, I spent a couple of nights in Brussels and one in Leuven. With Cambridge-Brussels being easy and streamlined (usually at least) via Eurostar, this should have been a straightforward trip. In Brussels I was fulfilling part of my role as an ERC Scientific Council member by observing a ( Continue reading

Posted in BBC, British Science Association, Communicating Science, Justin Webb, LERU | Comments Off on Multitasking in the Public Eye