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Summertime

A year or more ago we were doing our weekly shop, and I found a shopping list in the trolley. Not ours—evidently somebody had been to the shop, got their stuff, and left their list behind (by design or accident is not recorded).

For some reason I was intrigued by the list, and kept it. Over the following months and regular shops I collected a few more such lists, for no other reason than it tickle Continue reading

Posted in lamb chops, list, shopping, Shopping lists, wine | Comments Off on Summertime

Resilience and the Nobel Prize

In case you’ve been asleep, this week has seen the number of scientific women winning Nobel prizes spike: two won this year. I don’t consider this simply as a moment of pure celebration for the cause of women in science, as I wrote elsewhere, pleasing though it may be. It means that the number of women winning in Physics has increased to the grand total of three, and in chemistry to five. Marie Cu Continue reading

Posted in Barbara McClintock, Cold Spring Harbour, Equality, Evelyn Fox Keller, maize, Research, transposition | Comments Off on Resilience and the Nobel Prize

Diversity? Who needs your diversity, we already know we are the smartest people in the room.

I am a member of an exclusive club. We, in our club, decide who the smartest people in the world are. The club, naturally, only contains white women who are below 5 foot 3 inches in height; 1.61 meters for you Europeans out there. I’d like you all to take a special note of me including the metric and the Imperial as this shows I am not biased!

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Posted in CERN, sexism, Strumia, Women in science | Comments Off on Diversity? Who needs your diversity, we already know we are the smartest people in the room.

Academic freedom and responsibility: why Plan S is not unethical

Since its announcement on 4th September the European Commission’s plan to make a radical shift towards open access (OA) has caused quite a stir. Backed by eleven* national funding agencies, the plan aims to make the research that they support free to read as soon as it is published. This is a major challenge to the status quo, since the funders are effectively placing subscription journals off lim Continue reading

Posted in Academic Freedom, Open Access, Plan S | Comments Off on Academic freedom and responsibility: why Plan S is not unethical

Sometimes science needs to take a backseat

Science is based on fundamental, objective truth. So sometimes, in support of science, it is necessary to step back and take a moral stand. Here is my letter to Nebraskan Senator Ben Sasse (republican, Judiciary Committee). Since I have no other way to reach out to Dr. Blasey Ford, I will tweet this link to her in full support of courageous testimony this week.

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Posted in harassment, Politics, sexual assault, truth, women's rights | Comments Off on Sometimes science needs to take a backseat

What Does Creativity Mean to You?

When I was at school, careers’ advice – at least at my girls’ grammar school – was essentially non-existent. Perhaps boys’ schools did better; after all, for my generation of women, ‘careers’ weren’t a matter for serious concern. I certainly believed, as I expect many of my peers did, that going to university would lead to a few years of random work followed by marriage and housewifery with a chil Continue reading

Posted in Career advice, education, Lord Aberdare, Science Culture, William Blake | Comments Off on What Does Creativity Mean to You?

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 | Comments Off on Library day in the life 2018

When truth meets “feelings”

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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 | Comments Off on When truth meets “feelings”

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 | Comments Off on The Buzz of the New

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 | Comments Off on In which I question an assumption: do fiction readers really dislike scientific detail?

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.

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Posted in Hollywood women, Pacific Standard Productions, Reese Witherspoon, Ron Rash, Serena, Serena the book, women in films | Comments Off on On Serena (not the Tennis player) and the Smokies. Read the book, avoid the film.

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 | Comments Off on Open access deposits to Europe PubMed Central – building skills

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 | Comments Off on In which I drift

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 | Comments Off on Hard Work

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.

Serena

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 | Comments Off on On double standards – in Tennis and otherwise