Skip to main content

Newspapers and science

Among the mystery guests in our bodies
covered in the article
I've got a piece I wrote on a science subject in one of the national newspapers on Sunday. It might be a little surprising to learn that it's in the Mail on Sunday.

I'll be honest, the Daily Mail and the Mail on Sunday aren't the newspapers that spring to mind immediately when it comes to science. The Mail has a reputation for having a constant programme of announcing that different foods and drinks either cause or prevent cancer (or both). But I have to say that with newspapers, the reality is often quite different from the caricature.

I'm reminded of many moons ago when I attended the Microsoft Windows 95 launch. (As an aside, I got the best giveaway I've ever had a product launch - a Windows 95 shoulder bag that I'm still using today.) It was at a venue in Leicester Square and the audience were all sitting round tables for a meal before the event proper. I was sitting next to the Sun's business editor. We all, I suspect, have an image of people who work for a red top like the Sun. Brash, Jack-the-lad types. Kelvin Mackenzie and Piers Morgan clones. In fact, said business editor was urbane, clever and personable. And rather shy.

Similarly, my experience with the Mail on Sunday has been very positive. They ran a superb review of my Inflight Science written by Alain de Botton last year - and this piece I've just done for them has been a delight to write. What's more, there was no attempt to dumb it down - it fact they asked me to put more science in it than my first draft had.

So if you want to see what I'd modestly have to say is a rather interesting piece about the various invaders in our body that help us rather than cause us problems (a non-trivial number of them when you consider we have ten times as many non-human cells in our bodies than we have human cells), take a look at the Mail on Sunday this weekend (25 March 2012).


Image from Wikipedia

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Is 5x3 the same as 3x5?

The Internet has gone mildly bonkers over a child in America who was marked down in a test because when asked to work out 5x3 by repeated addition he/she used 5+5+5 instead of 3+3+3+3+3. Those who support the teacher say that 5x3 means 'five lots of 3' where the complainants say that 'times' is commutative (reversible) so the distinction is meaningless as 5x3 and 3x5 are indistinguishable. It's certainly true that not all mathematical operations are commutative. I think we are all comfortable that 5-3 is not the same as 3-5.  However. This not true of multiplication (of numbers). And so if there is to be any distinction, it has to be in the use of English to interpret the 'x' sign. Unfortunately, even here there is no logical way of coming up with a definitive answer. I suspect most primary school teachers would expands 'times' as 'lots of' as mentioned above. So we get 5 x 3 as '5 lots of 3'. Unfortunately that only wor

Why I hate opera

If I'm honest, the title of this post is an exaggeration to make a point. I don't really hate opera. There are a couple of operas - notably Monteverdi's Incoranazione di Poppea and Purcell's Dido & Aeneas - that I quite like. But what I do find truly sickening is the reverence with which opera is treated, as if it were some particularly great art form. Nowhere was this more obvious than in ITV's recent gut-wrenchingly awful series Pop Star to Opera Star , where the likes of Alan Tichmarsh treated the real opera singers as if they were fragile pieces on Antiques Roadshow, and the music as if it were a gift of the gods. In my opinion - and I know not everyone agrees - opera is: Mediocre music Melodramatic plots Amateurishly hammy acting A forced and unpleasant singing style Ridiculously over-supported by public funds I won't even bother to go into any detail on the plots and the acting - this is just self-evident. But the other aspects need some ex

Mirror, mirror

A little while ago I had the pleasure of giving a talk at the Royal Institution in London - arguably the greatest location for science communication in the UK. At one point in the talk, I put this photograph on the screen, which for some reason caused some amusement in the audience. But the photo was illustrating a serious point: the odd nature of mirror reflections. I remember back at school being puzzled by a challenge from one of our teachers - why does a mirror swap left and right, but not top and bottom? Clearly there's nothing special about the mirror itself in that direction - if there were, rotating the mirror would change the image. The most immediately obvious 'special' thing about the horizontal direction is that the observer has two eyes oriented in that direction - but it's not as if things change if you close one eye. In reality, the distinction is much more interesting - we fool ourselves into thinking that the image behind the mirror is what's on ou