Author's posts

Marie Darrieussecq – Pig Tales (London, 1998)

The main protagonist of Marie Darrieussecq’s novel finds herself inexplicably slowly transforming into a porcine animal. When reading novel an immediate question is raised to us as readers: Why a pig in particular? The pig is not a diametrically opposed to us like an invertebrate or a cold blooded reptile or amphibian. But then a …

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Margaret Atwood – Oryx and Crake (London, 2003)

When the body becomes a commodity is it really yours anymore? In Oryx and Crake, humans harness the power to create life in any form which is of most convenience. The natural is rejected for the innovative. The transgenic organisms named Chickie nobs are just one example of the rejection of the unnecessary. These creatures …

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William Golding – The Inheritors (London, 2011. Originally published 1955)

Why did Golding decide to portray his Neanderthals as largely vegetarian? The Neanderthal family group so vividly described in Golding’s 1955 novel are clearly happiest when eating a vegetarian diet. When they are at a near state of collapse through hunger, after making the long journey to their summer cave, they feast on the meat …

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Karel Capek – Rossum’s Universal Robots (Prague, 1920)

Are human bodies merely machines controlled by our vindictive minds and the minds of those whose authority we are under? At the turn of the 20th century, Western culture was optimistic and scientific advancements were providing society with a faith in human achievement. Darwin’s research into the origins of species seemed to prove that humans …

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Chain Reaction! video posted on YouTube

The film maker Mike Bellinger has posted his promo for Chain Reaction! on YouTube.  Click to view and enjoy Steven Shapin and Bruno Latour set to video game-style electronica.  Thanks, Mike!

Big Science and the Atomic Clock

Caesium Atomic Clock 1955 on display in the Science Museum, London, England.

Modern Times means Modern Time! Don’t trust the Earth, trust the Atom! This was the first successful atomic clock. In 1955, when it was developed, it proved more accurate than any other time keeper in the world. The use of stable vibrations of caesium atoms at a time standard was first proposed by the physicist …

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“‘The dentist will see you now’ – Dental unit fills hole in new health service”

The Dental Manufacturing Company Dental Unit, 1945-55 In July 1948, the NHS was opened by Labour health minister Bevan, making dental treatment available to the whole population, free of charge, for the first time. This sudden expansion of treatment meant that, at first, there was a shortage of specialist dental equipment. The Dental Manufacturing created, …

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Technology in Everyday Life c.1939-1968

From prams and washing machines to radios and vacuum cleaners, this display of items from the 1951 Festival of Britain is clearly domestically centred.  Here, science and technology appear to impinge on almost every aspect of day-to-day British life with items for entertainment (games, fireworks and broadcasting technologies), beauty (hair styling and clothes tailoring), cleaning …

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The birth of Chain Reaction!

The logo of the University of Kent's Creative Campus initiative.

Beginning a Chain Reaction! Chain Reaction! is an attempt to do some creative science communication in a way that embodies approaches taken by historians of science. On a simple level, it celebrates a piece of laboratory kit the Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) machine, which is 30 years old in 2013.  By rapidly multiplying fragments of …

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What is Science Comma?

A comma indicates a pause for breath, a moment for reflection. Science Comma reflects on science through the many humanities disciplines embedded in the Centre for the History of the Sciences at the University of Kent. Science [comma] history, communication, literature, art. Science Comma is the work of undergraduates, postgraduates and staff.