Lab-grown meat. Would I eat that?

It’s something I rarely talk about, but this year is my 10th anniversary of being vegetarian. I don’t know exactly when, because it was a very gradual process. I started slowly phasing out meat from my diet in the late nineties, but lapsed in early 2001, when I was staying…

hovercraft crafting

Hovercraft crafting at Drink Shop & Do

Earlier this month, I joined a table of fellow geeks to craft hovercrafts at Drink Shop & Do. The event was run by Science London (the London branch of the British Science Association), who regularly host science craft nights. Dan had been before, and encouraged us all to go. I…

Make history, not vitamin C

(This post was previously hosted on my old blog at (now offline) and is published in print in The Best Science Writing Online 2012) “Does the Flap of a Butterfly’s Wings in Brazil Set Off a Tornado in Texas?” – Edward Lorenz This is a story about a tiny molecular…

Colin Firth’s first scientific paper

Colin Firth is having a pretty good year. First he won an Oscar for the King’s Speech, and now he also has a paper out in Current Biology! When guest editing Radio 4’s Today programme in December, he suggested that it could be interesting to investigate whether there were any…

Here comes the sun – sunset time

Last week, my friend Maria asked me a question about sunset time that I didn’t know the answer to because it’s totally outside my field of expertise. But I knew that Dan Falk would know, and Maria knows him too, so I made her ask him instead. It’s an interesting…

Front page science: collecting controls

I found a copy of today’s Toronto Star newspaper on my coffee break, and was thrilled with the front page. All four front page articles in the print edition are about science! ALL OF THEM! The two smallest ones are the first paragraphs of articles about a meteorite that crashed…

Cause and effect – Does Facebook make you stupid?

I was on Facebook today, and yesterday, and the day before, and saw that several people on there linked to the study about Facebook users getting lower grades in college. The headline of this particular article is actually quite neutral, “Facebook Users Get Worse Grades in College”, but it does…

Google flu trends

Playing with Google Trends is a favourite pastime of geeks. You can look at searches that are more popular in certain locations compared to others, and you compare the popularity of searches over time. For example, if you look at the trends for searches for “christmas”, “easter”, “valentines”, and “halloween”…

Alice’s Adventures in Animal Experimentation

In 1875 Lewis Carroll wrote “Some Popular Fallacies About Vivisection” for the publication Fortnightly Review. Carroll was strongly opposed to vivisection, but I think that if he were alive today, he would not have so much of a problem with current animal experimentation procedures. In “Some Popular Fallacies About Vivisection”…

Harry Potter Science (part 3) – Bezoars

Hogwarts students learn about bezoars in their first year potions class. They’re stones from the stomach of a goat that work as an antidote to most poisons. In book 6, Harry saves Ron’s life by giving him a bezoar after he accidentally drinks poisoned mead in Slughorn’s office. J.K .Rowling…