David Mitchell and telomeres – an endless love story

I love David Mitchell. Proper love him. Ever since the first episode of  his sitcom, Peep Show, I’ve harboured an ill-advised crush that has been the cause of much hilarity amongst my friends. I loved him through the podgy phase, the slightly sweaty phase, the endless-voiceovers-on-dubious-tv-ads phase. My persistence paid off when he emerged, circa 2010, like a butterfly from a chrysalis – thinner, beardier, handsome, presenting left wing TV shows and marrying girls’ girl Victoria Coren. I was smug. I thought he could do no wrong.

sultry david

He could. He did.

In a baffling rant in a recent column in the observer (ok, not so recent, but I’ve been busy, yeah, so deal with it), David Mitchell went crazy over the ridiculousness of telomeres (we’ll get to what telomeres are immediately after the ranting has finished). From what I can make out from his ramble, the main problem seems to be that they’re too ruddy complicated. Damn you, science! In a rather incoherent outburst, Mitchell first attacked journalists who attempt to simplify science with metaphors, then went on to bemoan the fact that science language is so complex that he can’t follow it. I think, although I can’t be sure, that his basic point is this – ‘I’ll never properly understand science, so what’s the point in trying? And why should I care anyway?’

But David – telomeres are amazing! Telomeres keep you alive! Telomeres won a Nobel prize for heavens sakes! And here’s why I think they’re so cool.

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The Battle of the Sexes

Describe yourself to me in five words. I’m willing to bet that (once I’d eliminated all the rude and ‘witty’ responses) I could guess most of the things you would deem important enough to tell me. Name, age, occupation and sex are factors that most people use to define themselves. Arguably the most important of these is sex.

The two sexes are more closely linked than we thought Continue reading

Love-hate relationships on a microscopic level

My name is Jenny and I am a developmental biologist. It’s a hopeless addiction, brought about by the awe inspiring process of making a baby. Get you mind out of the gutter! I’m talking about the process by which a single egg cell, fertilised by a single sperm, grows and divides over and over again to make the 100,000,000,000,000 cells present in a human body. What’s more, these cells don’t just replicate but also somehow organise themselves into lungs, a heart, bones, blood, eyes, a brain and much more. The day that I realised that I could get paid to spend my time trying to understand how this happens was the day I felt that I was finally onto a winner.

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