Latest posts

Setting a new record for lateness… the 2017 top ten

As we approach 2019, it’s about time I got around to sorting out 2017’s best pictures(!). Readers, I present to you: my top ten photographs of last year. So, in no particular order, we have:

Simon Pagenaud in turn 1, Honda Indy Toronto

Simon Pagenaud in turn 1

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Posted in 2017, Hobbies, lateness, Photography, racing, travel | Comments Off on Setting a new record for lateness… the 2017 top ten

Town Called Malice

Charles and the Big Boys

I went to a gig on Friday night.

That in itself is probably worth a blog post, but this gig was a bit special because the Younger Pawn was playing bass in a band called Charles and the Big Boys, and they were supporting an apparently well-known act playing in Islington.

I’d managed to keep the date free from work trip commitments and childcare duties (which again is a post on its own), and Continue reading

Posted in London, Music, offspring, Pawns, personal, proud dad, Science-less Sunday | Comments Off on Town Called Malice

We Need to Work at Breaking the Barriers

Leaders in science are generally those who are excellent at their science, but no one may have checked their leadership credentials. Someone like Lord Rutherford may have got away with barking instructions at his underlings (for which loud voiced behaviour Peter Kapitza nicknamed him ‘crocodile’), but such behaviour is frowned upon now. The trouble is, it may still happen. Whether barking equates Continue reading

Posted in bullying, chemistry, Equality, Royal Society of Chemistry, Science Culture, Women in science | Comments Off on We Need to Work at Breaking the Barriers

In which I evolve (or possibly, devolve) as a scientist

Tangled up in blue

Last Thursday was a normal day. After a few hours at my desk working on a grant application and a paper revision, I ran to the tube station, threw myself into a train down to the main campus, trudged a mile or so to a remote building near Russell Square and sat through a two-hour Faculty teaching committee meeting.

Back up north, feet considerably sorer, I ate half of my lunch Continue reading

Posted in academia, careers, Nostalgia, The ageing process, The profession of science | Comments Off on In which I evolve (or possibly, devolve) as a scientist

Graveyard of old habits and opera house of emotions

I’m a big fan of the “Tomorrow’s Professor” blog from Stanford University. Their motto is “Online faculty development 100 times per year” and during term time, 10 minutes of reading a handy tip about how to be better at my job is sadly all the professional development I can manage to fit in. 

Last week’s topic was Change Leadership in Higher Education. The Continue reading

Posted in education, Materials Science | Comments Off on Graveyard of old habits and opera house of emotions

Worrying about Deserts of Nothingness

Recently a website calling itself UKRI Observatory published two blogposts analysing information obtained by them under FoI regarding assessments of EPSRC Centres for Doctoral Training. The point the blogpost was making was that it appeared at first sight that many of these highly competitive and extremely financially valuable centres were not performing particularly well. Analysis of what the cal Continue reading

Posted in Centres for Doctoral Training, EPSRC, PhD students, Research, Science Culture, Science Funding, training | Comments Off on Worrying about Deserts of Nothingness

Ten papers for ten years

Scientific paper clip-art

Scientific paper clip-art

Blogging Beyond is about ten years old now

To celebrate, here are ten papers I like, in chronological order by publication date. Each is accompanied by a short justification for its inclusion in this list. 

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Posted in Blogging, Favourites, papers, science | Comments Off on Ten papers for ten years

The Lure of Procrastination

Why do you procrastinate? Since most people are guilty of this failing at least some of the time, few readers are likely to say ‘what me, I never do!’ I believe the reasons are many and various but I must admit I hadn’t thought the remedy lay in taking on a mentoring role. But apparently there is some evidence to suggest that, by mentoring someone more junior, it is possible to rebuild confidence Continue reading

Posted in coffee, internet, Research, Science Culture, seminar, students | Comments Off on The Lure of Procrastination

Scientific archives workshop 2018

I attended the Second Workshop on Scientific Archives held at the Carnegie Institution for Science, Washington, D.C. on the 13 & 14 August 2018.

The first Workshop on Scientific Archives was held at EMBL in 2016, and was organised entirely by Anne-Flore Laloe, the archivist at EMBL. It was (I think) the first time that archivists working in the scientific area had come together internationally Continue reading

Posted in Archives, C-CAST, Research data | Comments Off on Scientific archives workshop 2018

To Be or Not to Be a Role Model

When you grow up what do you want to be? That is a familiar enough question but I’ve never heard of anyone who expected the answer to be ‘a role model’. Yet there are those who have an expectation that women who become visible in the hard sciences should automatically step up to the mark to help the next generation. Don’t get me wrong, I am all in favour of women supporting other women, wherever t Continue reading

Posted in academic housekeeping, Donna Strickland, Equality, inspiration, Women in science | Comments Off on To Be or Not to Be a Role Model

Tears for lives and an ideal lost


Mindlessly meandering down Dodge

Tears flowing like blood oozing from an arterial wound

Lies and lunatics, spiraling out of control

And all decency unmoored, with no captain at the moral helm


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Posted in America, anti-semitism, hatred, racism | Comments Off on Tears for lives and an ideal lost

Balancing science and the need to be politically active

Many fine articles have been written on the need for scientists to find the right “work-life balance.” Most of the time, the meaning of a work-life balance is equated with identifying a healthy balance between the need to dedicate significant time and energy in one’s scientific career together with spending time with one’s family. Finding the “right balance” has always been a difficult and m Continue reading

Posted in assassination, elections, murder, nationalism, racism, science, scientists, Trump, white supremacist, work-life balance | Comments Off on Balancing science and the need to be politically active

Will I not be ‘Important’?

This is the troubled question Jeremy Baumberg asks rhetorically in his recent book The Secret Life of Science when he discusses the vexed question of what happens if he decides not to attend some conference, along with

‘Will I no longer be seen as a significant actor in the discipline?’ and

‘Will I not be party to conversations that build a mutual support club?’

Jeremy – a colleague of mine in Ca Continue reading

Posted in conferences, display, Science Culture, travel | Comments Off on Will I not be ‘Important’?

Rock Lobster

This list is written on a crumpled Post-It note.

I like it. Crisp, business-like, no nonsense. Actually scrunched up to be discarded when it had served its purpose.

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