Posts

Simon Singh (get a new hair do)

I was very excited last Friday that I got the chance to listen to and meet Simon Singh at the Aberdeen Word Festival. If you don't know who he is - he's a physicist and writes a column for the Guardian. He has a bizarre haircut.  He is an advocate of evidence based medicine and wrote the book, 'Trick or Treatment' (looking at the evidence for and against alternative medicine). He was sued for libel in 2008 by the British Chiropractic Association, you can read all about it on his wikipedia page and all over the Internet -http://en. wikipedia .org/wiki/Simon_Singh and if you haven't heard about it then you probably haven't seen any news from the UK regularly for the past 2 years. Anyway, it was a good discussion which focused on the libel case.After the talk, my boyfriend asked  Simon Singh, if you make it easier and less costly to sue someone for libel, then surely then people will be suing each other more? But he made the clever point that other countries see

Election Fever

Its the day before the election and to be completely honest I am  REALLY excited. An election appeals for my geeky love of numbers and stats. I am loving reading the many articles and Internet tools devised to determine how much your vote would count, who you are most like and my favourite Facebook group ' We got Rage against the machine to number 1, we can get the Lib Dem's into office' !. My favourite election 'tool' by far is votemach , matching your views to the party policies. Simple! The big topic is how each party is going to cut the budget deficit without harming the economy.. all parties will need to save money somehow whilst still making sure that  the country doesn't come to a standstill. So what does that mean for science? Luckily politicians seem to take the view that science seems to be a hot area for investment (quite rightly). The Lib Dems, Labour and Conservative all pledge to continue investment in science - so that is good news. I had a re

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