Rebekah Widdowfield talks to Talat Yaqoob and Louise Macdonald about improving both public debate and participation by looking at how the public has been informed and engaged during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Within just a few months, the extraordinary delivery of vaccines for Covid-19 was achieved for a virus virtually unknown just eighteen months earlier. When it was needed, synthetic biology began to deliver on its promise.
When a massive star reaches its red supergiant phase, we know that the energy available from fusion has almost run out. The sudden pressure drop leads to a massive explosion, so bright that it would rival the moon. We expect this to happen to Betelgeuse in the next 10,000 years.
When I started medical school in 1975, periods (menstruation) were taboo and understudied. It is deeply concerning that this still remains the case four decades later – we must break the continuing shame and embarrassment when talking about periods.
Like other maritime nations, the wellbeing and national character of the people of Scotland have been greatly influenced by its coasts and waters ever since the first humans settled here. Yet, the marine environment remained very enigmatic with very limited knowledge until the late 19th century when marine science arose as a scientific discipline.
Curriculum for Excellence began as a promising development and it is still laudable for its forward-thinking and holistic aims. It is not too late for these ambitions to be realised and used to build a world-class STEM education system.
As the Moon has no atmosphere and the Martian atmosphere is poisonous, would anyone living in such places experience freedom when they are so completely dependent on others for their existence?
We can draw similarities and apply this question to living on Scotland’s islands.
Many disabled people are faced with hardship and poverty in their everyday lives and, faced with an often unhelpful benefits system, they struggle to get by. It’s time to listen to their needs and act.
The Scottish picture for endangered species is not encouraging. The most recent results published in 2019 using the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List methodology for 6413 species in Scotland showed significant declines.
The pandemic has demonstrated that women are expected to do far more around the home than men. Moving forward, the way to address this issue might involve looking at how societies behaved in the past.
Numerous studies show that planning ahead allows individuals to die according to their wishes, and to avoid inappropriate treatments. Most people in Scotland now die with such plans in place, but many still miss the opportunity to influence many details.
The idea of eradicating AIDS, malaria, or indeed any infectious disease, is hugely appealing. Eradication means no more disease and subsequently, no need for interventions. So far, we have only eradicated one human disease: smallpox.
I’m always perplexed by the way we talk about phobias. An arachnophobe is obviously terrified of spiders, but does that necessarily mean that they hate them? And far from hating open or crowded spaces, I am sure there are agoraphobes who yearn to be able to embrace them.
The lockdown in 2020 meant I no longer had access to the observatory. Instead, I created experiments at home, aiming to determine how physics and an understanding of the motion of soft materials can help reduce waste in production processes.
The world is in a different place from 2015 – the COVID-19 pandemic and the climate crisis has made the goals more urgent. We have almost all the science we need to make changes – renewable energy, biotechnology and biofuels, to name but a few. Yet, the biggest challenge we face this decade is how to bring about change in the hearts and mindsets of individuals, institutions and national systems. So, can social science help close the gap?
What is the biggest mental health issue of the day? It’s not COVID – which most people with and without mental illness are coping with admirably. It is, as ever, the stigmatisation of mental illness and the underfunding of mental health services. The two are clearly related, and despite some improvements in recent years, there remains a long way to go.
A recent report from the Scottish Government highlighted the disproportionate effect COVID-19 has had on a variety of groups, such as women, ethnic minorities, and low paid workers. So how can we prevent this pandemic from reversing the progress we have made towards workplace equality, diversity, and inclusion?
Traditional science and engineering methods control as many variables in an experiment as possible to increase confidence in narrow hypotheses. This directly opposes the broader needs of society during adverse events – where we cannot control changing circumstance.
As a mathematician and roboticist, I have been lucky enough to work on many complex projects like developing algorithms for a NASA humanoid robot to balance, navigate and manipulate objects autonomously; in preparation for deployment on Mars. However, I am fascinated with the question of how the latest advances in my field can help tackle some of the biggest and most intriguing healthcare challenges of our generation.