Science in Society

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

No Time for Hot Air

Lauren Broadfield reflects on the state of climate change policies in an increasingly hostile political environment In a recent interview with fellow naturalist Chris Packham, Sir David Attenborough proclaimed that “humanity must come to its senses or face environmental disaster”. We are never short of reminders that climate change is a pressing global problem: we see climate refugees forced to flee their homes, changes in the distribution of some water-borne

Big Bucks for Big Bugs

Zoë Carter considers the role of commercial research in the global fight against antibiotic resistance “Without urgent, co-ordinated action by many stakeholders, the world is headed for a post-antibiotic era, in which common infections and minor injuries which have been treatable for decades can once again kill.” ­This warning was given in 2014 by Dr. Keiji Fukuda, the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) Assistant Director-General for Health Security. Antibiotic resistance occurs

Science, Fiction

Hannah Thorne reveals the alchemy between science and literature People falling in love have ‘chemistry’ or ‘a spark’. A spur-of-the-moment idea is a ‘quantum leap’. Strong personalities are ‘magnetic’.  It is easy to find examples of the way in which the language of science permeates the way we write today – but literature has also reflected scientific progress for centuries. Alchemical metaphors abound in 16th and 17th century works: John

When Citizen Science Works

Kimberley Wiggins gives us the story of an email that led to a medical breakthrough There are many hallmarks of a great scientific mind: the ability to think outside the box, the capacity to see connections between seemingly unrelated situations, and the aptitude to ask relevant questions and think up a way to answer them. Although scientists try to nurture and develop these skills throughout their careers, you do not have

Engineering in Time

Martha Dillon discusses why civil engineers should care about the past In architecture, an understanding of ancient buildings and a working knowledge of their history is taken as a given. Norman Foster, master of the then-futuristic glass skyscraper, once commented that “as an architect you design for the present, with an awareness of the past, for a future which is essentially unknown”. ­This typifies the attitude of most designers: old