Medical Magic in Mushrooms?

Ingredients in magic mushrooms may have profound therapeutic potential in the treatment of psychological disorders, but under current UK law, it’s almost impossible to study them. We ask Professor David Nutt where scientists can get their hands on some…

UK Research and Innovation: Visions for 2030

The national Academies are hosting a series of four Policy Lab events considering the landscape for UK research and innovation after the 2015 Spending Review. This event will look ahead to 2030 to consider what UK research and innovation could achieve in the future, and what it would take to get there. The outcomes of the 2015 […]

An Audience with Sir Mark Walport

Sir Mark Walport is the current Government Chief Scientific Adviser and is responsible for providing scientific advice to the Prime Minister and members of the Cabinet, advising the government on aspects of policy on science and technology, and ensuring and improving the quality and use of scientific evidence and advice in government. He is the former Director […]

How to Choose a Doctor or Surgeon

Various governments have promoted ‘patient choice’ as part of NHS reforms. Yet few people know how either to make that choice or how to exercise it. This lecture will consider the criteria one might use to differentiate one doctor from another or one surgeon from another, and whether you should be judging the individual, the […]

Natural gas: what role can it play in the UK future?

Claire Carter a PhD student at SPRU, University of Sussex and member of the Sussex Energy Group last year completed a research scholarship at the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology. The research output “Future of Natural Gas in the UK” POSTnote was published in November 2015. This briefing considers potential future pathways for the […]

Lords Question Breadth of PhDs

Innovation is valuable; that’s why the government places such great emphasis on it in their plan for economic growth. Usually, it’s hard to predict where the next big innovation might come from – and so traditionally, scientific research spreads its net wide, so as to maximise it chances of hitting on great discoveries. But the […]

Badger, Badger, Badger (Part 2)

In my last post we saw how, following an 8 year trial of badger culling in 2007, the Independent Scientific Group (ISG) concluded that culling could make no meaningful contribution to Bovine Tuberculosis control. This was due to the ‘pertubation effect’ where culling caused badgers to scatter and spread the infection further afield. Following a […]

Badger, Badger, Badger …

It’s a debate that’s got everyone talking; animal rights activists, farmers, scientists and politicians. Yes, it’s about the dear old badger, and Government plans to tackle the spread of tuberculosis in cows through culling. Bovine TB has become a serious problem for British livestock and currently costs the taxpayer £100m a year. It is well-known […]

A Win-Win Deal for Drugs?

In early December the coalition government launched its new Life Sciences Strategy, described by the Prime Minister as an attempt to improve patient care, foster innovation and catalyse the medical breakthroughs necessary for the industry to remain “a jewel in the crown of our economy”. While the UK’s economic crown is looking a little tarnished […]

When Business and Health Collide: Bhopal, India 1984

BY JOSEPH MALONE In 1969, as part of the “green revolution” in India, Union Carbide established a chemical plant in Bhopal to manufacture the pesticide Carbaryl. It contained the lethal compound Methyl Isocyanate (MIC), twice as heavy as air, meaning should a leak occur, it would create a blanket of deadly gas, smothering anything that […]

Is Science Vital?

Last week, I travelled to UCL to meet Imran Khan, head of CaSE. Imran is an alumnus of the Imperial College Science Communication MSc course and was previously a researcher for former Liberal Democrat MP Dr Evan Harris. As Director of CaSE, Imran deals with a whole range of issues surrounding science policy. Today, Imran […]

Political Reception

Last week, I travelled to UCL to meet Imran Khan, head of CaSE. Imran is an alumnus of the Imperial College Science Communication MSc course and was previously a researcher for former Liberal Democrat MP Dr Evan Harris. As Director of CaSE, Imran deals with a whole range of issues surrounding science policy. Today, Imran […]

Campaigning

Last week, I travelled to UCL to meet Imran Khan, head of CaSE. Imran is an alumnus of the Imperial College Science Communication MSc course and was previously a researcher for former Liberal Democrat MP Dr Evan Harris. As Director of CaSE, Imran deals with a whole range of issues surrounding science policy. Today, Imran […]

Safe Serengeti?

There will not be a highway through the Serengeti according to the government of Tanzania last Wednesday. But if that’s the case why aren’t all the conservationists celebrating the victory? The reason is because no-one seems to be entirely sure about what the government have conceded. The plan to build a motorway straight through the […]

Highway across the Serengeti

Tanzania’s plan to build a $480 million road through the Serengeti has been condemned by the world. Last week Johnnie Carson, US diplomat, told reporters he had already expressed concerns to the Tanzanian government over the road in April. The US is added to the list of countries against the road. The plan however is […]

Space Ageing

This week, the Space Shuttle Endeavour returned to Earth for the final time. Following this mission, NASA plans to send only one more shuttle into orbit. It will then retire its ageing shuttle fleet after a total of 135 spaceflights. For many, this decision is long overdue. Running a space agency is a very expensive business […]

Industry tool or public good? Science’s split personality is responsible for debate over funding

For many years it has been widely accepted that science requires state funding; justified predominantly by the idea that science is ‘public good.’ In economics this term refers to a product that costs us all as individuals (i.e. in taxes), in order to eventually provide an economic gain to us as a society. According to […]

Why science needs the state, but the state needs science even more

As we seem to have no blog today, here’s an opinion piece I wrote back in March… If the government fails to invest in science today, there will inevitably be both a huge cultural and economic price to pay tomorrow. Last week, Science Minister David Willetts described Pfizer’s plans to close its Kent R&D site, […]

Libel tourism cases stacking up against Peter Wilmshurst

In the newest example of UK libel tourism there has been a twist in Peter Wilmshurst’s legal case with US–based NMT Medical: the company has filed yet another defamation suit against him. The suit was formally served to him two weeks ago (24 March 2011) for an appearance he made on BBC Radio back in 2009 […]

Draft Defamation Bill ‘not going far enough’

The Government’s draft Defamation Bill has received a mixed reception from experts within the science and journalism communities. Published 15 March, it is the first time since 1843 that a wholesale reform to libel laws has been officially proposed. The bill is designed to safeguard free speech and provide greater protection against libel tourism. However, […]

A Very Social Revolution

Over recent days, many analysts have been quick to highlight the prominent role that social media technology has played in driving the Tunisian revolution. Of course, Twitter is already widely acknowledged to have played a role in the 2009 Iranian election protests and amateur videos posted online in 2007 allowed the world to see the […]