Guest Post: Rediscovering Wonder

There is something oddly satisfying about rock pools. These are natural playgrounds for children, and I love seeing the delight in their faces as they turn over rocks, not knowing quite what they are going to find. Children seem to thrive on the everyday wonders that surround them, like seeing “… A universe in a grain of sand…” (William Blake – Auguries of Innocence). Continue reading

Guest Post, Part 2: The Arch, the Stone and the Structure of Science

Virtualization of Knowledge
Virtualization of knowledge 0005 by agsandrew. (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0)

Science is not about discovering a low-level “theory of everything” that captures everything that can be said about what happens in the physical world. The structure of the natural world is not like that. To illustrate this, I began with a simple parable, which has an obvious application to the structure of scientific explanation. Continue reading

Guest Post, Part 1: The Parable of the Arch and the Stone

roof
Roof by mr. rollers. Flickr. (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Once, two friends were disputing about the structure of buildings, and why the roof does not fall down. They agreed to do some research, so each set out in search of a good example to study.

Walking in the woods, the first man came across a large and splendid building, and stepped inside. He saw that the structure was made of stones piled on top of one another, with mortar in between. He stayed for a while and made a close study of the stones and the mortar. Continue reading

Guest Post – Stranded: Life and death in the ocean

stranded-1
Images © Ackroyd & Harvey

Do you go to an art exhibition to be soothed and delighted, or challenged and disturbed? Science uses highly creative approaches to investigate the natural world, but art can perhaps offer a deeper, more personal engagement. Continue reading

Guest Post: Suffering and the Grace of God

9195512403_d9a74aabe9_o
Secuencia de AND by Pablo Gonzalez. Flickr. (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Most weeks in my work as an immunologist, I am faced with the reality of our evolutionary origins. Someone will give a talk, describing the function of this or that receptor in humans and – in passing – will mention that the same receptor is seen in bacteria. Or (hoorah!) we find that an antibody, created to identify a protein in rats, nicely targets the same protein in human cells. Or an online search to identify a human DNA sequence ends up with a piece of armadillo DNA as the closest match (yes that did happen!)

1024px-Tree_of_life_SVG.svg
Tree of life By Ivica Letunic: Iletunic. Retraced by Mariana Ruiz Villarreal: LadyofHats [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
But as a Christian, I am troubled by Darwinian evolution. What does it say of the character of God? Continue reading

Guest Post: Not Just Mud

DSCN4828
© Nikki Baggaley

IYS_logos_enThe International Year of Soils finished with World Soils Day on the 5th December, so as a soil scientist I jumped at the opportunity to write about something that is more than just mud. Through studying soils, I have learned Continue reading

Guest Post: Unexpected Conversations

MRI scan of a caterpillar immediately before making a chrysalis. Copyright, Gavin Merrifield GEMRIC 2015
MRI scan of a caterpillar immediately before making a chrysalis. Copyright, Gavin Merrifield GEMRIC 2015

Despite the uncertainties that come with being a scientist today I count myself to be in a very privileged position. Currently I use Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) to study various fish, spiders and caterpillars. This unusual combination of research always ensures that there is something new to see whenever I scan a new subject. My lab was the first to see a spider’s heart beating – amazing stuff! Continue reading