Teatime reading March 2016

Looking for something to read during the Easter weekend? These are some of the pieces I’ve enjoyed recently.

In the news

A few weeks ago it was announced that scientists had finally detected gravitational waves. So what?! Does anyone outside science really care? Quite possibly not – however of all the articles I read about the news, my favourite was this piece from the New Yorker which is not only beautifully written but also puts the discovery into context, explaining the history, the challenges overcome and the lengths the scientists went to to reach their goals. One of the best pieces I’ve read in a while. I really recommend it!

Zika is often in the news at the moment as scientists work to determine how to stop it in its tracks and to help those affected. Of all the recent articles, these are a few I enjoyed.
Meet the Brazilian woman fighting Zika by dumping mutant mosquitoes out of a van
Meet three scientists working hard to understand Zika
Putting Zika in perspective – it’s dreadful yes, but there are other mosquito bourne diseases to worry about too

Gene editing technologies are also currently hotly debated in the media. In the future we could seemingly simply get rid of disease and disability. But did anyone ask the people it might affect? Lots of food for thought in this article.


Just imagine not being able to swallow. A terrible reality for more people than you might think. How it happens and current treatment options.

The C word. A terrible diagnosis  – but as treatment options become more sophisticated and diverse maybe it’s time to change the way we think about it. A very enlightening piece.

People who opt not to vaccinate their children exasperate and frustrate scientists and health practitioners as they try to get them to understand the science of vaccinations. But maybe we need to try and take another look at this deadlocked discussion. A very compassionate and thoughtful opinion piece.

Animals that smell disease.

Hacking medical health

As medical devices become more sophisticated and user friendly, so the potential security issues increase and need to be addressed. Three interesting stories on the topic:
The doctor on a quest to save our medical devices from hackers
Go Ahead, Hackers Break My Heart
A Do-It-Yourself Revolution in Diabetes Care


An entertaining story about the maths genius who hacked a dating site to find true love.

Geobiologist and geochemist Hope Jahren tells of her love for science and her childhood growing up in her father’s lab. A wonderfully written love story.

The owl man. One man’s quest to protect a rare owl. Fascinating story.




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