lay science


In which Johnny Ball demonstrates why we can be confident that AGW is happening

This is an archive repost, originally posted on the old blog shortly after Johnny Ball had made his first appearance at Nine Lessons And Carols For Godless People. Skepticism — the movement and the everyday scientific method — is about vetting the new ideas that want to take up residence […]


A rambling introduction to chemical carcinogenesis

This is an archive from the old blog, originally written in 2008. Regular readers may have noticed that I get rather annoyed by the casual use of the word “chemical” to mean “synthetic chemical”, and the use of the naturalistic fallacy (natural good, chemical bad) that is associated with this […]


Experiment avoidance: a short history

I’ve been reading John Gribbin’s In Search of Schr√∂dinger’s Cat. He casually mentions the atomic (or, rather, ‘atomistic’) theories of the ancients — in particular Democritus. Gribbin accuses historians of science and popular writers of attributing too much to Democritus, whose ideas about the world do not resemble modern physics. […]


Carefully sabotaging the genome

This is an archive from the old blog, originally written in 2007. The “Thursday Paper” column on the blog is for reporting on a recently published peer-reviewed research. Apologies if this one isn’t so polished, but I have a train to catch. It would appear to be medical genetics week […]


A brief taxonomy of mutation

This post is an archive from the old blog, originally written in 2007. I’ve been discussing in the “Sunday syndrome” column various disorders caused by genetic aberrations, but I haven’t really explained how such aberrations occur.¬† There are several different types of aberration that occur, and several different mechanisms that […]