Posts

Women in science & the media

On a rather long visit to the hairdressers (yes scientists do visit the hairdressers) I was handed a copy of Red magazine. Now I enjoy a glossy, trashy, gossip filled magazine as much as the next person but Red is a little different, it's a little more 'serious', it isn't based solely around fashion. Currently it is promoting 'Red's Hot Women' which is a competition promoting intelligent women that work hard and have showed great achievements in their field. The article was entitled 'the top 20 under 30' and all the women featured in the magazine are extremely talented and inspirational... I just have one problem, n ot one of them was a scientist. Now this is just one example, I am sure there are scientists that were in the shortlist but didn't make it for whatever reason. I am also not saying that women scientists are better than anyone else. I just want to highlight the fact that the world of science and women scientists get practically ZERO

Election Fever

Things have been pretty quiet on the scaremongering science news report front, probably because there is plenty of actual news with the announcement of the general election. I think it is a little early to pass judgement on what it would mean for science depending on which party gets into power (partly because I haven't had chance to have a good read through all of the 'promises' yet) so I will save that for another day. I did however come across this little gem lurking on the Daily Mail website, http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-1265857/Dieting-exercise-NOT-help-lose-weight.html Headline : Dieting without exercise 'will NOT help you lose weight' Actual meaning: Reducing calorie intake in monkeys reduced their activity levels and thus resulted in no weight loss. SURPRISING? Not really. My rough translation of what that means for humans, if you eat 3 cheeseburgers a week and run for the bus everyday but want to shift a few pounds, don't eat sala

The Press and Journal and the Ginger Gene

Following on from last week, I contacted the newspaper that printed the walnut/prostate cancer story and I was pleased that I got a response quite quickly. The editor pointed me in the direction of this website which he assured me 'would answer my questions'. http://www.webmd.boots.com/prostate-cancer/news/20100322/walnuts-may-help-fight-prostate-cancer This report seems a fairly well rounded view of the research which was apparently presented (I still cannot find any details of the original research) pointing out that the research has yet to be subject to peer review. There are quite a few discrepences between the Boots article and the one reported in the newspaper, so I sent a polite reply back to the editor, Dear SIR Thank you very much for your reply and pointing me in the direction of the article on the Boots website. The article on the Boots website makes it clear that this research has not yet been subject to peer review and also that the test was carried out i

Holiday & Badscience

I took a much needed (due to the severe lack of sunshine in the far north of Scotland) holiday for a couple of weeks. It's amazing how good a few hours in the sunshine can make you feel! I took 6 books with me, most of which were trashy rubbish. Two days before the holiday I bought a book called Badscience on impulse after drinking a few glasses of wine at lunchtime. Wine clearly improved my book choices, Badscience turned out to be the only decent book out of the 6. I really would recommend this book to EVERYONE especially if you work in media/PR/marketing. It really hammers home how science is misrepresented and 'dumbed down' in the media. Here is my own short example, I had a little look for the latest ‘revolutionary’ health story in the local newspaper. It didn ’t take long to find an article entitied 'How walnuts may fight prostate cancer'. I will just share with you this small snippet, taken from the article, ‘Prostate cancer growth was reduced by 3

Frustration

I am suffering from my first bout of PhD frustration and I am pretty sure this will not be my last!! My cell cultures have an infection, which means they go in the bin and I can no longer carry out any experiments on them. So I am stuck, I have to wait and grow some more... I like things to move quickly, I like getting results, I like jumping from one thing to the next and being rushed off my feet!! If I don't have too much to do its likely that I won't get anything done... (bizzare logic, but how I work). It seems that other students I have spoken to are rushed off their feet, their supervisors seem much more hands on than mine (mine never enters the lab). Both ways have their advantages and disadvantages but I think at the start of the PhD at least it would be really helpful to have someone in the lab - if you don't get told you are making mistakes you may never know and by the time you find out you may have wasted a lot of time! I am lucky I have a post doc around to
So it's Friday! (Yey) and I am finishing the week on a high, I have my first big data set of results! I have spent the past 3 hours creating many colourful graphs and I have no idea what the results mean yet... my brain is too frazzled to start thinking about it! I went to a 'science communication' course this morning which was interesting, they set a challenge - describe your research in lay terms in less than 60seconds. It may seem simple but it is actually quite difficult when you are used to talking in acronyms and technical language! I have to say though, I was a lot better than others!! My thoughts were that you have to think what other people want to hear, you need to give them a reason to listen, how will your research impact them? Or impact something they can relate to? All research, no matter how narrow and in depth it seems can be brought back out to the bigger picture somehow, whether its to help save energy, help someone with disease or studying the univers

New Scientist

This is my first experience at blogging, so to tell you a bit about myself. I am a new scientist, I started a PhD in Medical Sciences about 4 months ago. I gave up a good job and moved 500 miles in the pursuit of love and freedom... (very sad but true and the translation of that statement is - I moved to be nearer my boyfriend and away from a job that was working me 10hrs a day and the odd weekend). I currently spend a lot of time sat at my desk wondering what I should be doing and thinking up elaborate goals and experiments that I won't be able to do. If I am not doing that I am on facebook or planning a ridiculous holiday experience that I have neither the time or money available to go on. I do spend some time in the lab, mostly getting lost! I have seen online quite a few blogs about science/PhDs etc and it seems to me all people do is moan (my boyfriends theory is that people, "don't go on the internet to say nice stuff"). I am a pretty positive person and