Selected Articles/Programmes

Frontiers: Chronotypes BBC Radio 4, 18 December 2013

Frontiers: The Truth About Oxytocin BBC Radio 4, 17 July 2013

“Call off the pregnancy police – women want the truth” New Scientist, January 2012

“IT’S tough being pregnant these days. Apart from the nausea, heartburn, swollen ankles and constant pummelling from within, practically every aspect of your life is under scrutiny. You mustn’t eat too much because it could increase the baby’s risk of obesity and diabetes, but nor should you diet – for the same reasons. And you can forget exercise in case it triggers a miscarriage…”

“Can an unborn baby really taste curry?” Daily Telegraph, January 2012

“PREGNANCY is a time like no other for old wives’ tales. But which are true, and which are hokum? Science writer and ‘Bumpology’ author Linda Geddes has the answers”

“10 things to know about pregnancy” The Sun, January 2012

“PREGNANCY is a time filled with questions – and many women get their answers from old wives’ tales. But which ones are true and which are a load of rubbish? Linda Geddes, author of new book Bumpology (Bantam Press, £14.99), spent the times she was pregnant with Matilda, two, and three-month-old Max, finding out. Here, she shares what she discovered.”

 

“The ever deepening meaning of the human genome” New Scientist, September 2012

“HEART disorder: 99 per cent probability, early fatal potential. Life expectancy: 30.2 years.”

At birth, the time and cause of Vincent’s death were already known. His inferior genes meant that the best job he could hope to get was as a cleaner, rather than realising his ambition of becoming an astronaut.

Thus begins the film Gattaca, set in a future when a person’s potential is thought to be determined by their genes. Gattaca was released in 1997 during the middle of the Human Genome Project, and its plot reflected what many believed at the time: we’d soon be able to predict all kinds of things about people based on their genes. “There was this belief that we could answer huge amounts of things just by studying genes and gene variants,” says geneticist Tim Spector of Kings College London, who was involved …


“Scandal of an underfunded and undertreated cancer” New Scientist, June 2012

IT STARTED with a sharp pain in her right side whenever she coughed or sneezed. At first, Stephanie Dunn Haney thought she’d broken a rib, so she decided to wait and see if the pain went away by itself. A year and a half later it was still there, so she went to her doctor, who performed an X-ray and found nothing. During the next 18 months, she had MRI scans, ultrasound, physiotherapy and chiropractic therapy. Still the pain didn’t go away.

Dunn Haney began to suspect something more serious, but her doctor reassured her. “She told me that she couldn’t promise it wasn’t something like cancer, but there was nothing to indicate that’s what it would be,” she says.

She had never smoked and had no family history of cancer, but she eventually persuaded her doctor to do a CAT scan. It revealed a shadow on her …


“Greek crisis: How to prevent a humanitarian disaster” New Scientist, May 2012

EVERY morning a queue forms outside the Medecins du Monde clinic in central Athens. In it wait immigrants from Afghanistan and Algeria, Roma gypsies, homeless people – and, increasingly, Greek families.

Funded by charitable donations, the clinic is intended as a safety net for groups with no other way to access the Greek health system. In recent months, however, their ranks have swelled with Greeks who – unemployed and no longer covered by social security – have no other place to go for essential medical treatment.

On Friday last week, children queued for the routine polio vaccinations needed to start school. A pregnant woman waited alongside an elderly man with heart problems who can’t afford the daily drugs he needs to keep him alive. “Two years ago these people had a normal life,” says Nikitas Kanakis, president of Medecins du Monde, …


“The Review: Universal appeal and a stellar cast” The Times, February 2012

In recent years, physicists have become increasingly convinced that our Universe — meaning space and all the energy and matter it contains, including you and me — is not the whole of reality; that, actually, it’s just a tiny speck in a much larger multiverse.

Every person, every atom, has counterparts in other universes, and for every decision we take, the alternative possibility is played out elsewhere. This idea is at the centre of Nick Payne’s play Constellations, in which a beekeeper and a cosmologist play out endless variations of their relationship…


“Banishing consciousness: The mystery of anaesthesia” New Scientist, November 2011

I WALK into the operating theatre feeling vulnerable in a draughty gown and surgical stockings. Two anaesthetists in green scrubs tell me to stash my belongings under the trolley and lie down. “Can we get you something to drink from the bar?” they joke, as one deftly slides a needle into my left hand.

I smile weakly and ask for a gin and tonic. None appears, of course, but I begin to feel light-headed, as if I really had just knocked back a stiff drink. I glance at the clock, which reads 10.10 am, and notice my hand is feeling cold. Then, nothing.

I have had two operations under general anaesthetic this year. On both occasions I awoke with no memory of what had passed between the feeling of mild wooziness and waking up in a different room. Both times I was told that the anaesthetic would make me feel drowsy, I would go to sleep, and when I woke up it would all be over.

What they didn’t tell me was how the drugs would send me into the realms of oblivion. They couldn’t. The truth is, no one knows…


“Our happy hormone wedding: Couple test themselves for ‘cuddle chemical’ before and after ceremony” Mail on Sunday, March 2010

My hair was coiffed, my bridesmaids were putting the final touches to my make- up, and the hum of wedding guests was beginning to gather in the hall below.

I would be walking down the aisle and making a lifelong commitment to my fiance Nic in 40 minutes’ time.

As I shared a final glass of champagne with my mum and bridesmaids, I felt a mixture of nerves, elation and excitement.

However, before I could slip into my silk wedding dress and complete my transformation into a bride, there was one thing left for me to do.

As my schoolfriend Helen, now a nurse, walked into the room, I rolled up the sleeve of my dressing gown, exposing a vein. Very gently, and using an extra small point to reduce the chances of bruising, Helen stuck a needle into my arm and withdrew 20ml of blood. Downstairs, another friend was doing the same to Nic and 11 other wedding guests…