It’s All You

Well, to celebrate my return to the blogosphere (don’t pretend you’re not celebrating) and to welcome in the new year, I thought I’d do something light-hearted. So I’m going to talk about cancer. Yay!

This is a topic I’ve been thinking about writing on for some time. It’s a topic close to my heart both personally and professionally. But I’m not unique in that. Virtually everyone will have been affected by cancer somehow, whether directly or indirectly. Various environmental and age-related factors have seen cancer rising through the charts to become the number killer in the country. We’re still waiting for Gazza to turn up with some beer and fried chicken to try to reason with it… Continue reading ‘It’s All You’

Libel Reform

Well well well. Look who’s not dead! ME, bitches.

The guns of my scientific rage fell silent this year due to a spectacularly bad year with one thing after another. But I will be back with more shortly. This isn’t just a promise. It’s a threat. Yeah.

But I have just written to my MP about libel reform which is an incredibly important issue in the wider context but especially for those who care at all about STEM (see below). The current state of affairs is extraordinarily bad for STEM and needs drastic work. There are many who have dedicated much more time to the issue, have written extensively, and actually acheived a lot of support for libel reform. I advise reading their work to learn more. This is just the text of my own personal support for the cause.

Continue reading ‘Libel Reform’

Not As Human As You Think You Are

That’s right. This post is about how you are not the person that you thought you were. In fact, you’re only about 10% the person that you thought you were.

This week, I have been delighted to play host to a rather nasty bug that seems to be doing the rounds at the moment. As well as feeling generally pants, I did also manage to rather spectacularly essentially get sick in my own eye. This was as unpleasant and painful as you might think.

Of course, when we say bug we’re not really referring to hemipteran insects (thanks, Wiki!). We actually mean some microbial infection (usually a virus when we talk about having bugs). So as I sat on the bathroom wondering if I’d washed my eye with enough bleach to truly sterilise it (Legal disclaimer: please, please don’t do this at home. At least, not in my home), I found myself hating our microbial cousins. However, once my vomit-vision had cleared up my hostility also vanished, and I decided to write this post about the “point” of bacteria and viruses. It’s not so much going to be about the general biology, but more about how they impact positively on us humans.

Continue reading ‘Not As Human As You Think You Are’

I Say

One of the things that is almost guaranteed to make me want to set fire to a newspaper is when a story (or worse, a headline) uses the phrase “scientists say”. You can be fairly sure that what follows is going to be spurious, nebulous and any other negative words that end in -ous. However, whilst I do hold papers responsible for crappy reporting as it should be their duty to research their output, I also recognise that there probably is a misconception in the wider public about the “scientists say” myth.

To boil it down, it seems to me that this “scientists say” idea has, at its core, a misunderstanding of how the scientific community gels together and how ideas, experimental data and fundamental concepts all flow around and are interconnected. To be honest, it’s no surprise that people who aren’t scientists don’t just automatically know this. After all, you don’t know how an industry works until you are actually immersed in it yourself.

Continue reading ‘I Say’

Tribute (2nd Aug 1978 – 6th Nov 2010)

Not a standard post today. And I’m doing this more for my own sense of catharsis than anything else.

Continue reading ‘Tribute (2nd Aug 1978 – 6th Nov 2010)’

Mummies. Cancer. Bollocks!

Unfortunately, crappy science can come from all around. It is a particular slap in the face when it comes from your own institution and covers a topic you kind of care about.

And so, with a heavy heart, we must turn to look at Professor Rosalie David’s recent headline-grabbing, stillborn offering in the maternity ward of science. You may well have seen the recent reports in the papers that cancer is a “man-made” disease. The source of this story comes from a University of Manchester press release publicising a recent publication in Nature Reviews Genetics by Prof. David, who is at the University.

I know that I have bashed the way the national press handle science stories before, but in this instance I don’t think that they’re particularly culpable for the negligence displayed in this case. Unfortunately, I lay the blame with the University’s press office and with Prof. David herself.

Continue reading ‘Mummies. Cancer. Bollocks!’

DNA Primer (part 2)

Apologies for the delay in getting part 2 ready. I’ve had an insanely busy couple of weeks and, sadly, other things fell by the wayside.

So, in the first part of this post, we covered what DNA actually is. We explored what nucleotides are, and how they join together to form sequences. We then looked at how a second, complementary, strand forms. This gives double-stranded DNA which can then coil up into the double helix (so called because there are two strands).

In this post we’re going to look at what genes really are, and what a chromosome really is.

Continue reading ‘DNA Primer (part 2)’


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