Purely a figment of your imagination

What amuses, annoys, concerns or otherwise interests me – Noodlemaz


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Animated Science

One of the best aspects of the the science communication-type roles I’ve had can be the variety.

Depending on where you are and how established the team is (the team ‘me’ was the best!); one day writing articles, the next editing photos/doing some graphic design, web editing, interviews, filming prep, answering questions – or something new.

I’ve been lucky to work on some digital animations with a London-based company, Phospho and will share them here – please note that I don’t own them, however (details in the credits).

I worked with Phospho to write scripts, refine storyboards, and voice these videos – with help from other cancer experts. Happy to answer questions below!
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Can we swap Noel Edmonds off TV?

Replace him with something preferably silent. This is doing the rounds:

  1. You should, because it isn’t
  2. He has apologised (not that it helps as it’s just another push for his quack-machine)
  3. The target of his remarks asks people not to hound Edmonds about it.

Noel is perhaps not an entirely well man, so it would be nice if people stopped interviewing him.

Why would someone even say this in the first place, and does it have any merit at all?

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QEDcon 2015

As ever, the opening video didn’t disappoint – congratulations to all whose hard work made this tweaked Left Behind trailer funny and so technically impressive:

QED is my Christmas; or, what I imagine Christmas to be like for people who actually enjoy it. My family now is smaller than it was, and we do things our own way, so it’s better – but I’ve never been much of a fan. QEDcon is where I spend time with my chosen family, or most of them at least!

Topping 550 people in its 5th year, it had the same friendly, warm, welcoming and highly intoxicated atmosphere it always has. Continue reading


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Cancer selfie-awareness

I have to write about this, following some discussions.

I’ll start by saying that I obviously don’t have a problem with the concept of fundraising for cancer charities (having researched in a few places, now working at one and, y’know, being a human being). I’m not saying everyone who did it has missed the point, or shouldn’t have participated. I find the subject interesting; personally and professionally.

The questions I want to raise are generally more academic:

What is awareness? How effective are these campaigns/memes? What are the negatives, and do they matter?

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Scientists cure cancer but no-one notices

The Cancer Research UK Science Update Blog has published an excellent post by Kat Arney on cancer conspiracies – here it is, plus some other excellent pieces:

Licenced under Creative Commons by-nc-nd 2.0 (Image B0002108)

Wellcome Images: Human breast cancer cells dividing

It has prompted me to look back through my posterous archive for something I remember writing but couldn’t find on here – about how offensive it is when people accuse us (people working in cancer research in any capacity) of being part of some great conspiracy to hide cures. I’ve edited it a bit as it’s from 2011.

Let us not forget that many people are living examples that we can and do cure cancer, it’s just difficult to define “cure” – 5 years free? 10? We all die of something. But particularly “treatable” diseases include some forms of leukaemia, or breast, skin and testicular cancer – surgical techniques, chemo- and radiotherapy have come a very long way in the last 50-60 years, since DNA was discovered and we started to learn a lot more about this hugely varied set of diseases.

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Ask for Evidence – Miracle Cures

Sense About Science have  been running a campaign called Ask for Evidence, which has gained plenty of support since its launch.Ask for Evidence

The idea is that by encouraging people to challenge claims made about products, services, lifestyle choices and policies:
– the public could feel empowered to question claims they see in future
– people and companies should expect to be asked to back up their claims
and, ultimately:
– we should start to see fewer false/dangerous/baseless claims.

Examples of what exactly people have asked for evidence of can be found here.

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Skinny bitch

In our culture, we’re all taught that the shape of our body really matters.

Two separate issues

It starts early. I remember complaining to my mum that my thighs were fat, when I was about 8 years old. How absurd (because they weren’t, and what a ridiculous thing for a child to be worrying about), when I look back, but I remember how I felt at the time and it was serious. It’s a pretty constant battle for most women trying not to scrutinise our bodies day after day – this obsession can form the basis of debilitating illnesses.

Childhood obesity is also of course a real problem – that parents cannot afford or do not have sufficient education to feed their children healthy food that doesn’t put their lives at risk is a tragedy, and a huge challenge for public health measures to tackle. It’s important for us to maintain a healthy weight for a variety of reasons; it lessens the risk of heart disease and cancer for starters. We all want our friends and families to be happy and well, so if people are trying to lose weight or bulk up to address this, great.

But there’s a difference between weight-related concerns that focus on health and another category of scrutiny; one that is far more shallow, cultural and full of underlying hatred and insecurity. People (and I cannot exclude myself) make negative comments on other people’s bodies all the time. We’re taught that it’s OK, that it’s our business, it’s just humour, and so on.

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