Fear of brave new worlds, or uninspired headline writing?

capek_rurSummer 2016 marked the 85th anniversary of novelist Aldous Huxley completing his manuscript for Brave New World. The widely read novel, a dystopia of happiness-led oppression (in contrast to the fear-controlled populace in Orwell’s 1984), anticipates global adoption of advances in science and technology such as subliminal learning and reproductive medicine. Published in 1932, the book is still a popular read, ranking fifth in Modern Library’s list of the 100 best English-language novels of the 20th century.  Unsurprisingly its title, along with Orwell’s, has also become a stock phrase in headlines, used to signal a new direction for advances in science and technology.

“Test-Tube Babies: The ‘Brave New World’ of Human Pregnancy Is Coming!” The Evening Independent, July 22, 1978 Designer babies, grow a baby in a bottle and more.

“Brave New World: Will gene editing rewrite the future of medicine?” Genome, n.d. Engineering disease (and other things) out of humans with CRISPR.

“The Brave New World of Three-Parent I.V.F.” The New

Paving the way for Ada: Mary Fairfax Somerville

Mary Somerville's entry record at Kirkcaldy Gallery and Museum, Fife, ScotlandWe’ve covered Ada Lovelace Day on the Talk Science blog for the last couple of years. By now, dear reader, you should know all about the “Enchantress of Numbers,” as Charles Babbage referred to her, and why her achievements are so remarkable even today.

But who came before her—who paved the way?

And this is where I launch into another of my favourite themes: coincidences. It turns out that one of Ada’s teachers grew up only a few miles away from my childhood home, 200 years before me.

Meet Mary Fairfax Somerville (1780–1872), a fellow Scotswoman who grew up in Burntisland on the south coast of Fife. As Mary was a girl growing up in the late 18th century, her education was limited to only what was appropriate for her gender: needlework, social skills and very little else, since otherwise would have been wasteful.

Around town, a.k.a. back to school

By User Ancheta Wis on en.wikipedia [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons One of the reasons for highlighting upcoming science conferences in Vancouver in my Around Town series is that it gives me a push to find out more on a subject I may have little exposure to. It’s also a great inspiration for a regular series of blog posts!

Last month, press releases ahead of one of these conferences, the 68th American Academy of Neurology Annual Meeting, caught my eye. As is common in the promotion of meetings for large organizations, the preceding month saw a few press releases announcing some of the research coming to the Vancouver Convention Centre. The first reported a preliminary study on the effect of daylight saving time (DST) on incidence of ischemic stroke, and the second investigated engagement in various mentally stimulating activities in older age and the effect on development of thinking and memory problems.

When I blog about upcoming events, I

Bench to blog: Part 2

At Talk Science to Me, we receive requests throughout the year from people who are right at the beginning of a career shift from science to science writing. Although we don’t have entry-level positions available, we do have experience in making The Switch. In this two-part series (see part 1 here), Amanda, our science writer, gives some insight into why and how she made the move out from behind the bench.

Part 2: Practical tips for making the switch from science doing to science writing

7760446202_461b55101a_oSo, you want to switch from programming the PCR or mass spectrometer to creating content at the keyboard?  From doing the science to writing about it? Here are some helpful tips on how to make that transition.

Do you like writing?

Important question.

Do communicating and engaging give you a buzz? Does your heart sing when you realize that the audience understands the complex theory just presented? Do you baffle? Or can you leave an audience entertained, informed, enlightened and wanting to know more? Can you extract the story behind the science, refine it in the

Bench to blog: Part 1

At Talk Science to Me, we often receive requests from people who are right at the beginning of a career shift from science to science writing. Although we don’t have entry-level positions available, we do have experience in making The Switch. In this two-part series, Amanda, our science writer, gives some insight into why and how she made the move out from behind the bench.

Part 1: Making the switch from science doing to science writing

“For me, it wasn’t a case of the pipette no longer holding the same awe as it once did, or that playing around (in a radiologically safe and prescribed manner) with isotopes didn’t bring the same buzz. No—for me, I switched from science doing to science writing because of family.”

2350465076_01b90288ee_zLove, passports, parenting

In the summer of 2001, I moved from London, UK, to Vancouver, BC, when my husband got an overseas posting. Initially, the contract was just for two years and was an amazing opportunity for us to experience living on the West Coast of Canada. But the longer we stayed, the more enchanted we