Steven Rose

Steven Rose is commemorating, together with Hilary Rose, the 50th anniversary of the British Society for Social Responsibility in Science.

As​ a young researcher applying for a US visa to go to a conference in the mid-1960s, I presented myself at the fortress-like embassy in Grosvenor Square and ticked the boxes affirming that I was not nor ever had been a member of the Communist Party and did not intend to attempt to overthrow the US government by force. But then I was summoned backstage into a private office, where I faced a...

The issue​ of evolutionary inevitability was brought sharply into focus by the late Stephen Jay Gould in his book Wonderful Life (1989). Gould discussed the bizarre fossils uncovered by the Cambridge palaeontologist Simon Conway Morris in an outcrop of rock in the Canadian Rockies, known as the Burgess Shale. The shale was formed 511 million years ago, in the period when animal life was...

How to Get Another Thorax: Epigenetics

Steven Rose, 8 September 2016

Epigenetics seeks to explain how, starting from an identical set of genes, the contingencies of development can lead to different outcomes. To illustrate this, C.H. Waddington imagined what he called an ‘epigenetic landscape’ of rolling hills and valleys. Place a ball at the top of the hill and give it a little push. Which valley it rolls down depends on chance fluctuations; some valleys may converge on the same endpoint, others on different ones.

Never Mind the Bollocks: Brains and Gender

Hilary Rose and Steven Rose, 28 April 2011

Aristotle affirmed the essential difference between the sexes: men’s brains were bigger, women were more inconstant, emotional and compassionate, at least in part because they do not produce semen – whence men’s and women’s different behaviour and place in the social order. Symbolically, at least, biology’s long, continuing and often lamentable history of using...

Life in the Colonies

Steven Rose, 20 July 1995

Arriving at university from the shelter of a London suburban home, I was soon introduced to curry. Unaware that Indian cuisine is built around a wide range of spices, my ambition was simple: I would prove my sophistication by eating without flinching the hottest Madras or Vindaloo. Something of the same determinedly trivial desire to prove himself is revealed in Edward Wilson’s Naturalist. The great myrmecologist’s memoir is filled with references to scaling the highest mountains, collecting the most species, and above all to standing where no (white) man had ever stood before, finding organisms hitherto ‘unknown to science’ or hacking his way through trackless jungle.

Steven Rose is a well-known public scientist who has dedicated his career to the study of brains. He has lived through the early days of the technical revolution that has involved increasingly...

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Learning to peck

Stuart Sutherland, 4 November 1993

Astronomers have penetrated billions of light-years into space, explained the changing states of stars from their birth to their death, postulated the existence of black holes in which matter...

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