Blade Runner 2049: a dystopian masterwork

Blade Runner 2049: a dystopian masterwork

If director Denis Villeneuve was daunted by creating a sequel to the 1982 cult noir Blade Runner, it doesn’t show. The themes running through his Blade Runner 2049 feel more poignant than ever, the Los Angeles rain falls even harder, and it packs as much of a cinematic punch.  Read more

Women in Medicine: opening the clinic door

Women in Medicine: opening the clinic door

Visitors stepping into the Royal College of Physicians (RCP) in London are normally greeted by the sombre stares of imposing men, in portraits lining the walls. From today, women outshine them, in 26 photographic portraits of modern female clinicians ranged along the central stairwell. Each holds an image of a historical figure who inspired them.  Read more

Graphic window on a refugee scientist

Graphic window on a refugee scientist

Graphic artist Erik Nelson Rodriguez is an innovative comics journalist. With reporter Darryl Holliday, he began creating nonfiction stories in graphic-novel form at university, covering issues such as gun violence. In 2016, US National Public Radio (NPR) invited Rodriguez to collaborate on an account of Syrian refugee Nedal Said: a trained microbiologist and teacher, Said fled the war in 2013 and is now a researcher in Leipzig. The result, The Scientist Who Escaped Aleppo, is part of NPR’s special series on refugee scientists: a testament to the ordeals endured, and the extraordinary potential offered, by the refugee community.  Read more

Paleoart: painting the deep past

Paleoart: painting the deep past

The term ‘paleoart’ might make many people think of fading ochre sketches of aurochs and other fearsome Ice Age animals in caves such as Lascaux, in southwestern France. That, however, is Palaeolithic art. Paleoart – graphic depictions of long-gone creatures and environments – is an oft-overlooked genre with roots in the early eighteenth century, when the study of extinct animal fossils took off, and both scientists and the public began to imagine a deep past.  Read more

When physics and family collide

When physics and family collide

Lucy Kirkwood’s new play Mosquitoes is such a sparkling showcase for physics that it might as well have been commissioned by CERN, Europe’s particle physics laboratory. But this tragicomedy is most successful in its portrayal of heartbreak, trust and the tug of family ties.  Read more

Chasing Coral: beauty and destruction

Chasing Coral: beauty and destruction

First we take the plunge, off the boat and into the blue. Once the bubbles clear, wonders emerge. Guided by the camera, the eye is initially drawn to the obvious: turtles, rays, eels, jellies, fish. But the star of this show is a different kind of animal. The focus shifts, and we see a variety of fabulously intricate and colourful structures, some branched like trees, others spiny and globular. Each edifice in this marine metropolis was erected by corals — master builders now under unprecedented threat.  Read more

The Colorado: elegy for an overused river

The Colorado: elegy for an overused river

The Colorado River in the US West proves the adage that you never step into the same river twice. Lined by a vast array of landscapes, communities and industries it has shaped, its waters run variously aqua, navy blue, muddy brown — or not at all. Over its 2,334 kilometres, it sustains some 40 million people, 2 million hectares of farmland and the Hoover Dam. It is also polluted, depleted, diverted.  Read more

An immortal life: Henrietta Lacks on film

An immortal life: Henrietta Lacks on film

The idea that people should have a say over how their cells are used in research isn’t revolutionary, but it flies in the face of research practices over the past century. That it nearly became law is due in no small part to Rebecca Skloot’s 2010 bestseller The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, the story of the African-American woman living in Baltimore, Maryland, whose fatal tumour – taken by scientists at Johns Hopkins Hospital in 1951 without the knowledge or permission of Lacks or her family — gave rise to the first immortal human cell line, HeLa.  Read more