Science Observed

A blog about science, scientists and science studies – a home for occasional writings of mine going back three decades, mostly book reviews (of which there have been rather a lot).

Read the latest posts from the blog below:

  • Relegating references? - “Show your working”, they told me at school, and the principle is sound. Later on, a mathematical proof isn’t accepted unless all the stages are published. And a scholarly text cites all the author’s sources. In PhD-writing days, the literature review was a seemingly endless labour, but also a pleasure, in its way. I kept […]
  • The shock of the anthropocene - Haven’t posted for ages (seem to have said that before), but here’s a brief book review I did a while back for Public Understanding of Science, which is now in print. Christophe Bonneuil and Jean-Baptiste Fressoz (translated by David Fernbach) The shock of the anthropocene. London and New York: Verso, 2016. ISBN 9781784780821 The Anthropocene may […]
  • Resources for science writers - I’ve recently been doing a spot of teaching at Bath Spa University, as part of their publishing programme.  I also talked about science writing, prompting a review and refresh of a list I’ve been annotating for years  of “how to” books about science writing, and non-fiction writing more generally. There are quite a few of […]
  • Blue planet consciousness - No posts here for a while, but this review just published in Public Understanding of Science seemed worth reposting. The book is a nice complement to Poole’s Earthrise, and a good way into varipous strands of thinking about the Anthropocene, a current preoccupation of mine (and lots of other people…) Spaceship Earth is a metaphor […]
  • The end of exploration - Here’s quite an effective parent’s polemic about the soul-destroying obsession with testing in English schools from Zoe Williams in the Guardian today. Hang on, I seem to remember writing something in similar vein for the same paper, long ago. It’s about science SATS, and I obviously felt strongly about it at the time as a […]
  • It’s aliiiiiive….! - Bristol’s ever enterprising Festival of Ideas team have put together a couple of days of talks, theatre and films to mark the 200th anniversary of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (she visited Bristol, don’t you know). I’m chairing this discussion on ethics, biotech and medicine, largely because I wrote a book about Frankenstein, not quite so long ago. […]
  • Making sense of an epidemic - Epidemics provoke sober analysis and hysterical fantasy. Both can already be discerned in responses to the Zika outbreaks currently provoking anxiety around the world. A good time, perhaps to reflect on the history of AIDS as both the writers discussed here did, one to rather better effect than the other. This review drew a response, […]
  • Science’s to do list - This review of John Maddox’s rather good overview, What Remains to be Discovered, dates back almost two decades. He knew about a really huge range of stuff – I’ve an interview with John I did to mark the 125th anniversary of Nature that I must dig out. This review is worth reposting, I think, because […]