Getting commercial

Inchgarvie, Firth of Forth

Most of the science I do is pure research, research that does not make money. But last week my colleague at Surrey, Joe Keddie, and I went to the kick off meeting of a consortium called Barrier-Plus. It is an EU funded consortium of a bunch of SMEs (Small and Medium Enterprises), the Universities of Lyon and Surrey, and the Paint Research Association. Basically it is funded by EU (taxpayers’) money to fund research mostly by Lyon and us to address research problems the SMEs can’t solve themselves. It’ll run for 3 years, and Joe and I are currently hiring two postdocs (i.e., scientists trained to PhD level) to do the work at Surrey (applications still open of you’re interested …). The kick-off meeting was at the Paint Research Association in Hampton Court, west London.


You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

As I guess many of you (but perhaps not my colleague Paul Stevenson) know, this is a quote from the movie¬†The Princess Bride. For those of you who have sadly missed out on this excellent movie, our hero, Wesley, is chasing one of the bad guys, Vizzini. Vizzini thinks he’s a genius but sadly he isn’t and Wesley keeps thwarting Vizzini’s attempts to throw him off his trail. This irritates Vizzini who keeps exclaiming ‘inconceivable’ when I guess he means ‘impossible’. Finally, one of the guys with Vizzini snaps and says the line above.


Sex equality is a matter of chance and necessity

Chatte écaille tortue
The two sexes must be equal. This is true in us, the cells in both men and women need the same amounts of the essential proteins that run these cells. It is also true in all other animals. These proteins are made from the genes on our chromosomes and this is called gene expression. For example muscle cells are the same in men and in women – in both their job is to exert forces – and so in both there will be an optimum amount of a protein that needs to be made from a gene.