Big Bang Science Fair

  Last week, the excd.lab sent a team to “Big Bang Bristol“, a two day science, technology, engineering, and maths extravaganza. Guest post by Shakti Puri & Lucy Harries. The fair had the purpose of introducing children to research through hands-on experiments, activities, and live demonstrations. Our stall, entitled the ‘Science of Culture’, consisted of … Read more

on science and science fiction

There’s an engaging conversation in Nature this week with four science-fiction writers who concentrate on the life-sciences in their writing: The biologists strike back. I have this tremendous block about sci-fi. I have dabbled on the fringes and read Neal Stephenson and Iain Banks like everyone else, but virtually no classic sci-fi. Genre fiction intimidates … Read more

the need for science

The piece by Harry Kroto is actually entitled “The wrecking of British Science“, but it contains positive messages as well as cautions. In the Guardian: Many think of the sciences as merely a fund of knowledge. Journalists never ask scientists anything other than what the applications are of scientific breakthroughs. Interestingly, I doubt they ever … Read more


Apparently so, because there are a number of bug posts on this blog. Via Grow-A-Brain, a video of the amazing Megalopyge opercularis, a moth so fuzzy and furry I squealed a little at how cute it was. Of course, that fuzz is out to get you, as the “fur” is actually venom-carrying prickles that’ll have … Read more

so pretty in there!

The Wellcome Trust’s Biomedical Image Awards. I used to love the photo-identification round (“what is this strange wire contraption?” an egg-beater!) in quiz shows like University Challenge or W3 when I was younger, but I’m pretty sure none of these would be identifiable but anyone but their respective experts. I particularly like the aspirin and … Read more

a vagary of links

A “vagary”, according to The Source, is the collective noun for ‘impediments’. More pages that collect collective nouns are here and here. I am amused that a group of submarines is called a wolfpack, and that a group of sheldrakes is a doading (shoutout to my friend Duckie!). Henceforth a group of links to things … Read more


Went to Natural History Museum today. Disappointed like a seven year old when realised the new ANIMATRONIC DINOSAURS weren’t on show until the weekend. Was also annoyed by the dustiness and not-working lihgts in the gemstone collection. Consoled self with the zen of watching the leaf-cutter ants. Now you can too.

bayesian madness

A non-biologist friend of mine, on proofreading bits of the thesis-in-progress, got terribly excited about the program Mr Bayes. "Mr Bayes!" she exclaimed. "That's the perfect name for a tabby cat!" Her comments on the section where I actually described Bayesian methods in phylogenetics consisted mainly of 🙁 and >.< faces. "The words seem to … Read more

molecule jewellery

Continuing my trend of providing free advertising to people who make science cool and accessible: Made With Molecules. ThinkGeek already did the t-shirt thing with their caffeine molecules, but the jewellery is very lovely, especially the earrings and simple necklaces (I loathe charm bracelets).  Putting on my once-was-jewellery-designer hat, I'm all for putting a premium … Read more