Time crystals: how scientists created a new state of matter

Time crystals: how scientists created a new state of matter

Some of the most profound predictions in theoretical physics, such as Einstein’s gravitational waves or Higgs’ boson, have taken decades to prove with experiments. But every now and then, a prediction can become established fact in an astonishingly short time. This is what happened with “time crystals”, a new and strange state of matter that […] … learn more→

“On lies and the truths we must tell”

“On lies and the truths we must tell”

A growing number of college and university presidents have spoken out against the Trump administration’s efforts to ban and deport immigrants and refugees.  Some leading research universities have filed an amicus brief in support of the legal challenge to the initial ban.  But a mere handful have been as outspoken about the broader implications of […] … learn more→

Using diagrams as research aids

Using diagrams as research aids

I hate doing literature reviews. I always feel I have not read enough. I worry that what I write will be ‘wrong’ because I have missed some vital piece of literature. These feelings never seem to entirely go away, even though I have been publishing papers for over a decade. I can certainly relate to […] … learn more→

Overpraise is everywhere, and universities are not immune

Overpraise is everywhere, and universities are not immune

There is now a strange but real acceptance of overpraise and hype as normal features of behaviour. They have become a pervasive constant, and look like they are here to stay. First encountered and internalised by small children at nursery or infant school – and reinforced at home by misguided parents who think (correctly) that […] … learn more→

Big and open data are prompting a reform of scientific governance

Big and open data are prompting a reform of scientific governance

Big data are widely seen as a game-changer in scientific research, promising new and efficient ways to produce knowledge. And yet, large and diverse data collections are nothing new – they have long existed in fields such as meteorology, astronomy and natural history. What, then, is all the fuss about? In my recent book I argue […] … learn more→

A two week book chapter – a.k.a. down the writing burrow

A two week book chapter – a.k.a. down the writing burrow

  I’ve just written a book chapter in two weeks. This is a long time for me, and it was hard work. I’m usually someone who plans their writing quite carefully. I begin with an abstract and then flesh it out by adding bullet points. I don’t do pomodoros, or any other form of speed writing. […] … learn more→

‘Father of eugenics’ should not be erased from academic history

‘Father of eugenics’ should not be erased from academic history

Those statues and portraits that embellish our high seats of learning – enjoy them while you can. As Sir Francis Galton, one of the greatest polymaths in British history, is recast by some University College Londonactivists as the inventor of racism, we must ask: is any famous figure safe from the campus commissars of moral […] … learn more→

Penn State and Pizzagate: A familiar silence

Penn State and Pizzagate: A familiar silence

My recent revisit of Penn State, where over a decade of whispers about what was going on in the showers there was systematically silenced, led me to consider the most striking parallel with the current big whispering campaign, called Pizzagate. Now, before I go any further I’ll state that, looking at all the evidence, if […] … learn more→

Could your Fitbit data be used to deny you health insurance?

Could your Fitbit data be used to deny you health insurance?

Wearing a fitness tracking device could earn you cash from your health insurance company. At first, this sounds lucrative for the people who participate, and good for the companies, who want healthier insurance customers. But it’s not quite so simple. Under the program, people who have certain health insurance coverage plans with United Healthcare can […] … learn more→

(Your) Penn State scandal cost at $237 million

(Your) Penn State scandal cost at $237 million

So Sandusky’s son has been arrested on pedophilia charges. It’s curious how easy it is to get into these situations with underage girls…but you think this guy of all people would eschew just things. In addition, we should probably consider there’s an infrastructure here–how exactly does he find underage girls to do this to? The […] … learn more→