Category Archives: Science

‘The Overstory’ by Richard Powers.

Richard Powers is an extraordinary writer. If you’ve not yet discovered his novels, I strongly recommend them. He tackles big ideas which concern all of us while at the same time telling compelling stories about complex and conflicted characters who … Continue reading

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Pathologically wrong: Humours and Miasma.

Humours and Miasma: Science in Society 8. Humoral theory and miasma theory: two long-lasting medical paradigms now consigned to the history of human error but which shaped our ideas about health and disease and the development of medical practice and … Continue reading

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Challenging IQ.

Behavioural genetics; the clue to the difficulty is in the name. As with Sociobiology and Evolutionary Psychology before it, the squashing together of two very different levels of understanding into a single discipline creates a real problem. Genetics and psychology … Continue reading

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Brecht’s radical Galileo

Brecht’s ‘Life of Galileo’ is a great piece of theatre with universal appeal. It’s also a particularly good one for science students because it brings the scientific method to life. Galileo’s struggle to get acceptance for the ‘Copernican’ heliocentric model … Continue reading

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In conversation with Eugenia Cheng

We were delighted to welcome Dr Eugenia Cheng, the author of Beyond Infinity and How to bake pi to Newham Sixth Form College (NewVIc) last week to talk about her passion for maths and her mission to rid the world of … Continue reading

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The social origins of human thinking.

What is thinking? Where does human thought come from? How did it evolve? These are important questions for us if we want to understand what makes humans different from other living things and to make the most of our abilities both as … Continue reading

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Challenging Neurosexism

In her brilliant Royal Institution lecture last week, Professor Gina Rippon from Aston University comprehensively trashed ‘neurotrash’ and the harmful gender stereotypes which it perpetuates. The term ‘neurotrash’ refers to the inappropriate application of neuroscientific findings to everyday life. Gina … Continue reading

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Reading dystopias

Reading dystopias Utopia: an imagined society or state of things in which everything is perfect or close to perfect. Dystopia: an imagined society or state of things in which things are very far from perfect to a frightening extent. An … Continue reading

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Science in Society: what you need to know.

  AS Science in Society (AQA) A very condensed list of the key science concepts you need to understand well.         Infectious disease, medicines and the germ theory of disease: All living things (organisms) are composed of … Continue reading

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A few things we know about the universe. Science in Society 7

The scale, origin and future of the universe The Earth is one of the 9 known planets which orbit the Sun. It takes one year to make a complete orbit. The planets are very small compared with the distances between … Continue reading

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The germ theory of disease. Science in Society 6

Many diseases of humans, other animals and plants are caused by small organisms; microbes, such as bacteria, fungi and viruses which are present in the environment and can be passed on from already infected individuals. Bacteria or fungi may enter … Continue reading

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Homology, analogy and metaphor. Science in Society 5.

Reading ‘Much scientific argument and hypothesis-making proceeds through the use of analogy and metaphor’. Steven Rose. To help us understand a scientific process we often liken it to something we’re already familiar with. We use homology, analogy and metaphor. A … Continue reading

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Paradigm shift. Science in Society 4

Paradigm shift: the Earth moves away from the centre In Europe 500 years ago, the established paradigm of 2,000 years was built on common sense ideas about the Earth and its place in the universe. This paradigm was summed up by … Continue reading

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How we do science. Science in Society 3

Readings Developing and testing scientific explanations When we make observations we may propose a theory which accounts for them. We judge theories on the basis of the match between their predictions and what we observe. An observation is often explained … Continue reading

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Science and Poetry. Science in Society 2

Readings Peter Atkins ‘Although poets may aspire to understanding, their talents are more akin to entertaining self-deception. They may be able to emphasise delights in the world, but they are deluded if they and their admirers believe that their identification … Continue reading

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