My take on Science Online London 2009…


Faraday lecture theatreI HAD good reasons for attending Science Online London 2009, not least of which was to meet – in person – some of the people whose blogs I’ve been reading for some time; and furthermore, how could I turn down an opportunity to spend a day at the Royal Institution of Great Britain. It is always interesting to discover the many cross-overs I shared with other delegates, shared experiences, desires and goals; in one case I found that I’d been working quite literally on top of a fellow blogger (Paolo!) at the same university for five years without once bumping in to him!

However, I am also a professional scientist, so I had a vested interest in some of the more technical discussions in the meeting; I am also passionate about science communication, thus with a varied programme covering the new media applications for science communication, it was bound to be good.

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In London…

I will get down to the task of giving my informed opinion on this weekend’s Science Online London 2009, though it has to be said I’m pretty sure I missed 30% of it; it wasn’t until mid-afternoon on Saturday that I actually capitulated and became a twitterer. I joined the live-feed, jumping in at the deep end and being swept away in a wave of information, though not the Google wave, which came later. With nary a grasp of the twitter culture, nomenclature nor software I started monitoring the virtual debate whilst also taking notes on a lecture by Dave Munger (aka 50% of Cognitive Daily) being given through the virtual venue of Second Life.

So while I get to grips with twitter, read through the notes of the conference (courtesy of The Mind Wobbles – a piece of prodigiously talented live-blogging), and read the #solo09 twitter-feed, I’ll leave you with some evidence of a different kind –

The one where Jim (finally) also becomes ‘a tourist’.

South Kensington Subway Buckingham Palace The Treasury

Bali bomb memorial The cenotaph Parade ground of the Guard House

The Thames and Houses of Parliament IMG_4467_950 The London Eye

Flat White, Berwick St, Soho Princi, Waldour St, Soho Gorgeous Princi food - yes, that is a water fountain and infinity pool behind

The Royal Institution of Great Britain The Natural History Museum The Natural History Museum (Darwin now in his rightful place at the top of the stairs)

The Minerals and Vault Prince Albert's instument exhibit, Museum of Science & Industry Deck chairs on the Serpentine, Hyde Park

In brief…(wry, ironic smile)


THIS weekend I will be attending the Science Online London meeting at the Royal Institution, where 150 delegates will be discussing science blogging and the nature of the web as a medium for the communication, practice and culture of science. It  also happens to be a year since I switched to my own installation of WordPress, and started what I’ve since referred to as a science blog. So I thought it might be a choice time to catalogue just some of the science I have been writing about in the past year.

LHC I started my ramblings last August, which was in time to comment on a report in Nature describing a virus that infects a virus, a virophage. The small virophage was called Sputnik, and it infects an enormous virus, called Mamavirus. This was an astounding piece of observational work, and having realised that such parasitism exists, and adjusted their views to the sizes of particles involved, the researchers reported that this phenomenon may be common in nature. Certainly, if parasitism is occurring at this scale, this may have major repercussions for what we understand about the biology and life-cycles of other important single-celled organisms that are also susceptible to viruses, such as algae. Algae are major players in the production of oxygen and fixing of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, thus viruses that can (and do) infect algae could have indirectly influenced the state of our climate over the millennia.

Continue reading “In brief…(wry, ironic smile)”