Science in Society

FOCUS: Speak More, Act More

With ongoing political and public apathy surrounding sustainability and development, Kelsey Reichenbach and Paul Cohen ask the experts Professor Simon Schaffer, Professor Eric Wolff, Dr Hugh Hunt, Anthony Haynes and Ian Ellison how we can better communicate the urgency of Climate Change. In the famous words of George Bernard Shaw, “the single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” Scientists and engineers spend between 20% and 40% of

Standing on the Gene: an interview with Professor Wolf Reik

Jiali Gao and Salvador Buse discuss the emerging field of epigenetic modification, and ask Professor Wolf Reik where it might take us. In the news, in conversation, in the cafe – you have probably heard of epigenetics. But what exactly is it? Epigenetics literally means ‘on top of genetics’. Whereas genetics is the study of genes, which are stretches of DNA containing the information needed to make proteins, epigenetics is the study

Lord Martin Rees: the Future and Catastrophe

Lord Martin Rees is a former Master of Trinity College and an accomplished cosmologist and astrophysicist. He has been Astronomer Royal since 1995, and was President of the Royal Society between 2005 and 2010. Lord Rees spoke to Gabija Maršalkaite and Deyan Mihaylov. Cambridge is a good place to convene experts who can try to decide which threats can be dismissed as science fiction and which are worth thinking about. There is

Planting Ideas: an Interview with Professor Beverly Glover

Ramya Gurunathan and Caitlin Walker talk to Professor Beverly Glover about communication, collaboration, and botanical research. “It’s important for scientists to be able to communicate about their research, we all know that, but sometimes it’s hard to know quite how to,” explains Beverly Glover, Professor of Plant Systematics and Evolution at Cambridge. Glover is not only Director of the Botanical Garden but also the leader of an active research group

Understanding the Irrational

Laura Nunez-Mulder discusses psychiatry’s future with Professor Paul Fletcher Psychiatry is changing. Historically, the field has been dynamic, undergoing transformation as institutions and asylums have come in and out of fashion. Over the last century, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), a handbook of checklists by which psychiatrists can make diagnoses, has been overhauled time and time again. The DSM is a controversial manual. Many disorders overlap,

Food for Thought: Fake News and the Diet Industry

Zi Ran Shen talks fad diets and pseudoscience with Cambridge’s Dr Giles Yeo. The post-truth era has taken over – beliefs are emphasised while cold hard facts are ignored. From Kellyanne Conway’s insistence that falsehoods were “alternative facts”, to Nigel Farage’s flip-flopping on the promised £350m for the NHS, nothing seems to be untouched by the post-truth haze. But perhaps all this is not so very new. We have seen

Shakes and the City

Seán Thór Herron talks to Dr Emily So about preparing for earthquakes in urban areas At a quarter to three on Friday, 11th March 2011, as the citizens of the Honshu island of Japan were looking forward to the weekend, tectonic stresses caused a massive slip on the ocean floor off the East coast. The sea floor jerked as much as ten metres upward and fiftymetres horizontally. The rupture length

The Last Lunar Explorer: An interview with Gene Cernan, the last man to walk on the Moon

Jackson Howarth (from LUUSci at the University of Leeds) chats with Gene Cernan This article is cross-published from LUUSci, the Leeds University Union student science magazine (originally published March 6, 2017). It is appearing on BlueSci’s website as part of a new initiative to form a UK-wide network of university science magazines. Membership is growing, and currently includes BlueSci (University of Cambridge), LUUSci (University of Leeds), {react} (Newcastle University), Kinesis (UCL), and

The World Is What We Eat

Jacob Ashton tackles one of the biggest challenges facing mankind. “If we fail on food, we fail on everything,” said Charles Godfray in a paper five years ago, addressing concerns over food production and security. Throughout history, being able to sustain a growing population has been at the forefront of the minds of philosophers, politicians and scientists alike. We have always managed to find a way to feed the population,

Come Flu with Me

Holly Giles tracks the spread of post-World War II collaborations within international research communities In 1947, in a post-war world divided by intense political tensions, scientists from countries all over the planet joined their effort to tackle together one of the most serious threats to human health: influenza. Every year, flu epidemics are responsible for approximately 250,000 to 500,000 deaths around the world. Whilst it is commonly believed that the