Writing

Books aside, I like freelance writing because I don’t necessarily know at the start of the year what I’ll have been commissioned to write by the end. (Do ask).

I also have a page on academia.edu where you can download some of my older, more academic pieces, and few more recent things.

This page links to some recent pieces not mentioned elsewhere. I was mainly buried in the new book, and hundreds of journal papers on the microbiome, last year, but the following also happened when I looked around for light relief, or at least variety…

Imagining future technology – an essay for Aeon magazine looking at the uses of design fiction

Modelling liveable futures – an interview with Peter Head about a new digital platform for urban planning (it’s more exciting than that makes it sound) for FutureEarth.

I wrote an overview of global governance, and its limitations for Forum for the Future’s new futures website, which appears here.

Energising R&D for the great transformation – a piece urging that we need to get serious about investment in renewable energy research, for future FutureEarth

China’s city challenge – for FutureEarth

Assessing geoengineering – a problem for the social sciences. For FutureEarth

Interview with Sheila Jasanoff, for FutureEarth

Contemplating co-production – what does that attractive term actually mean? For FutureEarth

Feb 2014 Tackling the Nexus: how can we deal with the entanglement of water, food, energy and climate change? FutureEarth.info

Feb 2014 Crowdsourcing research priorities, including a new effort to discuss sustainable development. FutureEarth.info

Jan 2014 – A piece for Future Earth on Davos and radical carbon emissions

Dec 2013 – What is the role of modelling in contemporary science? For Aeon magazine.

Nov 2013 – A reflection on climate models as an impressive human endeavour for Future Earth.

Nov 2013 – backgrounder on the new Global Carbon Atlas

Sep 2013 – a look at Gaia theory 40 years on, for Future Earth.

Sep 2013 – a review of Jorg Friedrichs’ The Future Isn’t What it Used to Be, for Times Higher.

Aug 2013 – What’s in a name? The meaning of the anthropocene. For Future Earth.

Aug 2013 – a review of Toby Tyrrell’s On Gaia in the Times Higher.

July 2013 – What is Earth System Governance – Q&A with Frank Biermann, chair of ESG Scientific Steering Committee (think of him as Mr ESG) on the Future Earth blog.

June 2013 – review of a nice new biography of Nikola Tesla

April 2013 – A piece for Green Futures on future health care.

Feb 2013 – a review of a new biography of W.D. Hamilton in The Guardian

Jan 2013 – review of Patrick McCray’s The Visioneers, about O’Niell, Drexler and tech here.

2012 – review of Ray Monk’s monumental new biography of Oppenheimer.

2012 – review of Michael Gordin’s excellent study of Velikovsky and pseudoscience here.

2012 – review of Mialet’s Hawking Incorporated, which analyses how the man and his image are supported and maintained.

I regularly write for the Wellcome Trust, particularly their schools publication The Big Picture (on cells, genomes, addiction, food and diet, exercise, and nanoscience) issues of which can be downloaded from here.

Wellcome had a magazine called Wellcome Science for a while, which was great because I got to write a fair bit about recent molecular biology. There are features of mine in most issues, which are still archived here.

My interest in human enhancement (on which I’m cautiously enthusiastic, but in no hurry) led to an essay on why some people apparently want to live for ever in Demos’ excellent collection Better Humans, which is downloadable.
Below are some older things, mostly in academic mode, listed here for the record…


Book chapters -

Genes, genomes and what to make of them. In Brigitte Nerlich, Richard Elliott, and Brendon Larson (eds) Communicating Biological Sciences – Ethical and Metaphorical Dimensions. Ashgate, 2009.

Communicating Science in Fiction. In Open University Course Reader, MSc in Science Communication: Holliman, Thomas, Smidt, Scanlon, Whitelegg (eds), Practising Science Communication in the Information Age. Oxford University Press, 2008.

Popular Science Books. In Massimiano Bucchi and Brian Trench, Handbook of Science Communication, Routledge 2008. (doesn’t look different from the next one, but it is!)

The Latest Boom in Popular Science Books, In Martin Bauer and Massimiano Bucchi (eds), Journalism, Science and Society – Science Communication between News and Public Relations Routledge, 2007.

Sick at Heart: Appetite Versus Technology in the Twenty-First Century, in James Peto (ed) The Heart. Wellcome Trust/Yale University Press, 2007.
A rather handsome volume published to accompany the first exhibiton in the Wellcome Trust’s lavish new public space in London. This volume won the BMA popular medical book award, so I assume the judges thought this closing chapter was up to scratch.

Passing it on: redescribing scientific explanation. In John Cornwell (ed), Explanations: styles of explanation in science. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004. A collection of essays, mostly by people who actually know science stuff, of which Chris Nunn wrote in The Journal of Consciousness Studies, “anyone wanting to write about science should read the final essay, Jon Turney’s description of how it can be done”.

Inhuman, superhuman or posthuman – Images of genetic futures
In Proceedings of Crossing Over: Genomics in the Public Arena. University of Calgary Press, 2005. There’s a lecture based on this which I still give from time to time, on request…

Genetic Screening. In Ralph Levinson and Michael Reiss (eds), Understanding Bioethics: Decoding the Problems. (Routledge/Falmer, 2003)

Dolly and Deja Vu: Facts and Fictions about Human Cloning. Chapter in Etica della ricerca biologica, Papers presented at The European University Institute Florence Conference, November 1999. Olschki Publishers, 2000
Reprinted in: Cosimo Marco Mazzoni (ed) Ethics and Law in Biological Research, Kluwer, 2002.

The Word and the World – engaging with science in print
in Communicating Science – contexts and channels (Ed. Eileen Scanlon, Elizabeth Whitelegg and Simeon Yates), Open University/Routledge, 1999, pp120-133.

The recombinant DNA debate
in Communicating science: professional contexts Scanlon, E., Hill, R. and Junker, K. (eds), Open University/Routledge, 1999, pp289-303.

Papers (even older) -

The Abstract Sublime: Life as information waiting to be rewritten.
Science as Culture, 13 (2), 2004.
My take on Adrian Woolfson’s Life Without Genes, and on the aesthetics of pop science

Accounting for Explanation in Popular Science Text – A scheme and a case study. Public Understanding of Science, Vol 13, no 4, 331-346, 2004.
Mainly about Brian Greene’s Elegant Universe and whetheer anyone can understand string theory

Public Understanding of Genetics: The Deficit Model,
Article for Encyclopedia of the Human Genome, (Macmillan, 2003)

Telling the Facts of Life: Cosmology and the Epic of Evolution.
Science as Culture, 10 (2) 2001, pp225-247
Can popular science become the new religion? Er, no.

Predictive medicine, genetics and schizophrenia (with Dr J. Turner), New Genetics and Society, 19, no 1, (2000), 5-23.
Also in Reconfiguring Nature: Issues and Debates in the New Genetics, Ashgate, 2003.
Results of a Wellcome-funded project on how we might use information about genes for common diseases. Jill Turner (no relation) did all the work.

The genetic body (With Brian Balmer). Chapter in Cooter, R., and Pickstone, J., History of Medicine in the Twentieth Century, Harwood, 2000.

Open University Study Guides, for S802 Master’s Course Module, Science and the Public.
Part A – The ‘Gay Gene’ in Science and the Media pp10. 1998
Block 2 – Risk perception pp10. 1998
Block 3 – History of public understanding of science pp10 1998

To know science is to love it? Observations from public understanding of science research.
Public Understanding of Science Practice series. Pp 29. COPUS/Royal Society. September 1996.

Public Understanding of Science
The Lancet – 347, 20 April 1996, pp 1087-1091