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Making Science Accessible

Interview on BBC Radio Wiltshire

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Letter to “Nature”: “Shaping policy: Science and politics need more empathy”

Nature Vol. 481 (2012) 29 Some important pointers for improving communication between scientists and politicians (Nature 480, 153; 2011) emerged from a meeting last year between the two groups, organized by the International Risk Governance Council. Support for fundamental research is essential, but scientists shouldn't be tempted to overstate their claims. ...

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Wrong Turns and Dead Ends

A review of "Brilliant Blunders" by Mario Livy (published in Physics World, December 2013) Brilliant Blunders: From Darwin to Einstein, Colossal Mistakes by Great Scientists That Changed Our Understanding of Life and the Universe by Mario Livio (2013 Simon & Schuster £18.99 352pp) In his book Brilliant Blunders, Mario Livio offers a detailed and fascin...

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The Kitchen Thinker: Anosmia

Daily Telegraph (UK) A great summary by food journalist Bee Wilson of a talk that I gave at the 2009 Oxford Symposium on Food and Cookery. I described how the sense of smell is unique to each of us, and how this affects our enjoyment of a meal. Here is one example, as summarized by Bee: "Seven per cent of the population cannot smell trimethylamine, a compound ...

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Is There Any Point to ‘Frivolous’ Academic Research?

BBC News Magazine Denise Waterman, writing for BBC News Magazine, puts the arguments for and against, with my work on the perfect cheese sandwich as a prime example. My own argument is simple: if I can open a door to the world of science by showing how scientists think about the little problems of life, then it’s a good thing. Only when journalists misrepresent ...

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A Dunkable Delight, the Sweet Potato Biscuit

Daily Mail (London) (and many other newspapers) Felice Tocchini has created a biscuit which he claims can survive up to a minute in a hot drink before disintegrating into a sodden mess. This smashes the current record of 25.5 seconds for a chocolate digestive…The recipe is a closely-guarded secret, but he revealed that the key was layering flour and oat-based ...

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Bristol’s Cleverest People

Venue, 13–20 March 2009 An interview with Bristol’s Venue magazine that I am afraid I didn’t take very seriously, flattering though the appellation on "polymath" was! My answer to "What's the cleverest thing you've ever done" was "Marry an English woman". View page one of my interview in Venue magazine  (3.2 MB) View page two of my interview in ...

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Vegetable Acoustics and the Carrot Clarinet

Oxford A talk which I gave at the Oxford Symposium on Food and Cookery, and which attracted some media attention. The talk was filmed and will form part of a forthcoming BBC4 TV series on the life and work of symposium founder Alan Davidson. An article featuring the talk (and the clarinet) subsequently appeared in the Financial Times on 17 January 2009.

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The Best Way to Stir Porridge

Daily Express It’s amazing how just about any everyday activity has a scientific angle. Even stirring porridge can be turned into a scientific problem, as I found when I investigated the properties of the mysterious “spurtle” that is used to stir porridge in Scotland. With the aid of world porridge-making champion Duncan Hilditch and my physics colleague ...

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Formula for the Perfect Formula

BBC News Online However mundane a task you are trying to perform, whether it's watering the garden or ironing a shirt, someone somewhere will probably have worked out a formula for doing it more effectively. If you've been reading the newspapers carefully over the past few years, you will know how to do all of these jobs to perfection: dunking biscuits, ...

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