Science

I write about science, nature and the environment for a range of publications, in print and online. Here is some of my work.

Evaluating success. A feature exploring the ‘dark art’ of evaluation and looking into the ways in which physicists can measure the impact of outreach and public engagement activities. And explaining why it is important that they do so. Published in the June 2016 issue of Physics World magazine. Read it here.

UK physics faces EU choice. A news and analysis feature looking at what the forthcoming referendum on continued UK membership of the European Union could mean for physics, including the impact on research funding, collaborative facilities and student recruitment. Published in the June 2016 issue of Physics World magazine. Read it here.

Sharing the wonder. A feature article looking at how to organise amazing astronomy outreach events for members of the public, drawing on the expertise of astronomers from across the UK and USA. Published in the January/February 2016 issue of Popular Astronomy magazine. Read it here.

Flat pack physics. A feature article exploring how the arts of origami and kirigami are leading a quiet revolution in how we think about physics and the design of new materials, from telescope lenses to nanoscale creations. Published in the December 2015 issue of Physics World magazine. Read it here.

Communicating discovery. A feature article looking at the issues that scientists face when communicating the results of their work to the media and to the wider public, together with what they can do to address them. Published in the April 2015 issue of Physics World magazine. Read it here.

Climbing the ladder. A short feature giving advice to early career researchers who want to make their mark in academia, bringing together the collective wisdom of those who have been there, done that and got the tee-shirt. Published in the July 2013 issue of Chemistry World magazine. Read it here.

UK top scientist immigration policy under fire. A news and analysis piece on recent criticism of the UK government’s immigration policy, which experts claim could damage the country’s science and engineering sector and delay economic recovery. Published in February 2013 by Chemistry World. Read it online.

Russia announces massive $70bn space boost. A news article on Russia’s ambitious seven year programme to reassert its position as a global space power, which will involve a broad range of scientific and commercial projects. Published in the February 2013 issue of Physics World magazine. Read it here.

Tests rule out mercury poisoning in astronomer death. A news article on findings by Danish and Czech researchers that, contrary to a centuries old rumour, astronomer Tycho Brahe did not die from mercury poisoning – and that his prosthetic nose was not made from gold. Published in the January 2013 issue of Physics World magazine. Read it here.

Recycled dishes give fresh boost to African research. A news article on efforts in Africa to convert former satellite communications base stations into telescopes for radio astronomy. When complete, the facilities will form part of the African Very Long Baseline Interferometry (VLBI) Network. Published in the October 2012 issue of Physics World magazine. Read it here.

Rebuilding public trust in Japanese science. A news article on efforts being taken in Japan to rebuild public trust in scientific involvement in policy-making, following the 2011 earthquake, the ensuing tsunami and the Fukushima nuclear accident. Published in September 2012 by Chemistry World. Read it online.

Popcorn flavouring presents worker risk. A news article on the discovery by scientists in the United States that certain flavourings used in the manufacture of microwave popcorn could have significant health implications for workers. Published in August 2012 by Chemistry World. Read it online.

Going solo. A feature on the ups and downs of life in a small chemistry start-up, drawing on the experiences of the founders of CatScI – an expert service provider and consultancy focusing on the optimisation and development of catalytic chemistry – after their first successful year in operation. Published in September 2012 by Chemistry World magazine. Read it online or here.

Synthetic nanozymes silence hepatitis C. A news article on the discovery by researchers at the University of Florida that an artificial nanoparticle complex, known as a nanozyme, can help to treat viral infections by ‘shutting off’ their genetic material. Published in July 2012 by Chemistry World. Read it online.

Ultrafast transistors created in a vacuum. A news article on the development by scientists at the University of Pittsburgh of a new type of transistor that uses a vacuum to conduct electrons a hundred times faster than the conventional solid state version. Published in July 2012 by Chemistry World. Read it online.

Plastic Logic quits e-reader market. A news article on the exit of a University of Cambridge spin-out from the competitive e-reader market as it struggles to find a commercial outlet for its technology. Published in the July 2012 issue of Physics World magazine. Read it here.

Measuring the unmeasurable. A feature article on the UK Government’s drive to measure the impact of chemistry research in academia and industry, together with the implications that this could have for research funding and scientific discovery. Published in the June 2012 issue of Chemistry & Industry magazine. Read it here.

Chiral separation with micro-flows. A news article on the discovery by scientists in Germany and Sweden that asymmetric flows in a micro-fluidic channel can be used to separate particles of different chirality, which could open up potential benefits for the pharmaceutical industry. Published in June 2012 by Chemistry World. Read it online or here.

Norway takes the lead in carbon capture technology. A news article on the opening of the Technology Centre Mongstad in Norway, the world’s largest centre for developing and testing carbon capture and storage technologies. Published in the June 2012 issue of Physics World magazine. Read it here.

US firm’s asteroid-mining plans face challenges. A news article on plans by US company Planetary Resources to mine near-Earth asteroids for water and minerals, which may place pressure on existing laws governing space exploration. Published in the June 2012 issue of Physics World magazine. Read it here.

Gas separation with graphene molecules. A news article on the discovery by scientists in New Zealand, the US and Germany that tiny pores in a graphene sheet can be used to separate valuable helium-3 from atmospheric sources of helium. Published in May 2012 by Chemistry World. Read it online or here.

First impressions. An ‘insider’ view on how science graduates can thrive in a competitive job market by making their applications really stand out from the crowd, drawing on insights from careers advisors at top universities and graduate recruiters from key employers. Published in the May 2012 issue of Chemistry World magazine. Read it online or here.

Putin splashes cash as Russia plans grand space vision. A news article on the Russian government’s new strategy for space exploration and research, including the construction of a new cosmodrome and missions to planets across the solar system. Published in the May 2012 issue of Physics World magazine. Read it here.

‘Closed city’ to house laser-fusion lab. A news article on Russian plans to develop a laser fusion facility at the Russian Federal Nuclear Centre in the city of Sarov, to compete with similar facilities in the United States and France. Published in the April 2012 issue of Physics World magazine. Read it here.

Special treatment for scientists under immigration rules. A news article on recent changes to the UK Government’s immigration rules, which favour PhD-level scientists and researchers. Published in the March 2012 issue of Chemistry World magazine. Read it online or here.

Molecular dance set to make waves across the pond. An in-depth news article on the phenomenon that is ‘danceroom Spectroscopy’, developed by a researcher at the University of Bristol. Published in the March 2012 issue of Chemistry World magazine. Read it online or here.

Finding jobs in hard times. A feature exploring opportunities for physics graduates in a competitive job market. Published in a special careers supplement by Physics World magazine in March 2012. Read it online or get a copy here.

Plans unveiled to reincarnate Phobos-Grunt. A news article about Russia’s plans to develop a new Mars mission to replace Phobos-Grunt, which crashed back down to Earth shortly after take off in early 2012. Published in the March 2012 issue of Physics World magazine. Read it here.

New nanotechnology centre aims to boost innovation. A news article about the North Western Nanotechnology Centre, which is to be built at the Petersburg Nuclear Physics Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences. Published in the January 2012 issue of Physics World magazine. Read it here.

Red tape and cuts bring researchers to Moscow streets. A news article about protests organised by Russian researchers and students in response to the poor state of science funding and the high level of bureaucracy involved in research grants. Published in the December 2011 issue of Physics World magazine. Read it here.

Researchers move towards ‘CERN-on-a-desktop’. A brief news article about a prototype compact plasma accelerator that has been developed at the International Laser Centre at Moscow State University. Published in the November 2011 issue of Physics World magazine. Read it here.

The four laws of physico-taxonomics. A not-entirely-serious look at the art of naming shiny new physics research facilities in a way that will appeal to scientists while also capturing the interest of the media, funders and the public at large. Published in the September 2011 issue of Physics World magazine. Read it here.

Russia unveils plans for six ‘megascience’ projects. A short news article about a series of new research facilities proposed by the Russian government, including a an experimental nuclear-fusion reactor, a synchrotron radiation light source and an electron-positron collider. Published in the September 2011 issue of Physics World magazine. Read it here.

Neutrino search heads under water. A news article about the Baikal Deep Underwater Neutrino Project, a Russian neutrino telescope that is getting a massive upgrade, allowing us to learn more about astronomical neutrino sources and to search for dark matter, magnetic monopoles and other hypothetical particles. Published in the June 2011 issue of Physics World magazine. Read it here.

Bristol BioBlitz 2011. I helped to write the blog at this marathon 30-hour biodiversity survey at the Tyntesfield estate, run by the Bristol Natural History Consortium. Check out the blog itself and read my posts here.

Russian radio telescope set to lift veil on deep space. A news article about the Russian ‘RadioAstron’ space radio telescope, which will help scientists to learn more about active galactic nuclei and other deep space phenomena. Published in the May 2011 issue of Physics World magazine. Read it here.

Our quantum entangled marriage. A light-hearted look at quantum mechanics at the human scale, exploring the very real possibility that my wife and I have somehow become entangled at a fundamental level. Published in the January 2011 issue of Physics World magazine. Read it here.