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...


Unfair to Geneticists

7 September 2016

The distinguished geneticists Brian and Deborah Charlesworth charge me with overstating the reductionism of classical genetics and underestimating its contribution to the study of development (Letters, 20 October). They also dismiss the work of Needham, Waddington and the Cambridge Theoretical Biology Club (TBC), as ‘contributing nothing’. They correctly point out that one of the founders of modern...

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.

Mike Jay’s description of how, in Revolutionary France, psychiatry became part of the state apparatus, helps locate the origins of a continuing tradition of political psychiatry (LRB, 21 May). In 1971 I was able to smuggle into Moscow copies of the just published English-language translation of Zhores Medvedev and his historian brother Roy’s A Question of Madness, an account of the time spent by...

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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