Getting down to zero – John Barrow, Charles Seife

It’s fun to try and write about things you really don’t know about, but best not to do it too much of the time. That’s why biology comes up here a lot. Here’s a thing about physics and maths, for a change, though. I’m always interested in the areas – often featured in popular books […]

Rethinking nature, and everything else, with Bruno Latour

I‘ve been thinking about Bruno Latour just lately, never a thing to try unless you feel wide awake, and that led me back to this first take on his Politics of Nature. As this little piece indicates, I tend to find him a wild mix of intriguing insight and passages which leave me feeling I […]

“We really thought it was the most important problem” – DNA 30 years on

I’ve seen quite a few DNA anniversaries now – 25, 30, 40, 50 and (this month!) 60. Seems a good time to revisit the first one I saw at first hand, as it were. I’m struggling a bit here – trying to be a good reporter while frankly star struck. (James Watson! Sidney Brenner!) And […]

Where does the order come from? Stu Kauffman’s Investigations

I’ve always found Stuart Kauffman fascinating, although his thinking can be hard to grasp (for me). Here’s one old attempt to get hold of it. He hasn’t published at book length since, but he’s still thinking about these things, as in this recent piece. Re-reading, I am reminded of a more recent thinker about origins […]

Inarticulate Science – beyond the deficit model

This small piece originally ran under the heading “Translating the Language of the Lab”, but I’d steer clear of the translation metaphor now, at least without careful elucidation. It records early stirrings of useful UK research on public understanding of science. I liked the book because it came out of an education department and the […]

Is science multicultural? Taking sides in the science wars.

The so-called “science wars” generated more heat than light in the ’90s. They did, though, encourage you to work hard to figure out what you actually thought about science. I do recall working quite hard (as I’m a poor philosopher) on this piece, which tries to adjudicate between two authors who’d normally be taken as […]

Science, society and co-production of knowledge

She speaks of “coproduction” of knowledge, which appeals because “it gets away from the ‘it’s all society, stupid’, or ‘it’s all science, stupid’, types of formulations”. This long piece is a profile, not a review. I’ve posted it because it includes lots of interests that underpin what the writing here tends to be about. A […]

Madmen and monster makers – scientists in literature

Review of an old favourite – Roslynn Haynes excellent survey volume From Faust to Strangelove. There’s a lot to cover, but she manages it very well. A book that stayed on my shelf for ready reference. On they march, the fictional scientists. The best are well intentioned but misguided. Some are simply intent on knowledge, […]