Science & Society

Smile, though your heart is aching. Morgan, CC BY

By Annie Austin, University of Manchester

Francesco Botticini's The Assumption of the Virgin shows the heavenly hierarchies at play.

By Martin Parker, University of Leicester

In the first James Bond novel, Casino Royale (1953), British MI6 agent James Bond designed his own martini, comprising three measures of Gordon's gin, one of vodka and half a measure of Kine Lillet (vermouth) shaken until it's ice cold and served with a slice of lemon peel.

He named it a 'Vesper' after his love interest Vesper Lynd but he never drank the Vesper again in the books.

Shaking a martini was...working class. Drink experts knew then and know now that you don't do it, because it aerates the drink as ice breaks off. You shake drinks with egg or citrus. It is believed that Fleming had his anti-hero order it shaken to thumb his nose at elites.
We might think that Christmas is more commercial now than in the past - and the season certainly starts earlier - but when it comes to one key barometer the 1950s were pretty bad.

Though the 1950s had lots of cultural problems compared to today, economically things were much better, with lower taxes, less government interference, and most families having only one parent forced to work outside the home. And that meant spending money, but there were no malls or online retailers so everyone had to come into town to shop.

Just because Barbie has impossible proportions, does that mean playing with her will distort young girls' body image? Freddycat1, CC BY-SA

By Zali Yager, Victoria University

Launched in 1959, named after the inventor’s daughter Barbara, and owned by 99% of 3-10 year old girls in the USA, Barbie has been a popular request on young girls’ Christmas wish lists for 55 years.

Try to avoid making this face when dealing with a climate change skeptic this holiday. bark/flickr, CC BY

By Will J Grant, Australian National University and Rod Lamberts, Australian National University

Televisiom programs such as "The Dr. Oz Show" and "The Doctors" have attracted massive followings, primarily due to having charismatic hosts who clearly mean well, coupled with a public desire to know the science basis for how we function.

But in the quest to have new content so often each week, the perception among the science community is that they will run with any claims about the latest health miracle or scary chemical. That doesn't help the public, it just promotes suspect alternatives to medicine or an anti-science mentality among the people who would most benefit from an evidence basis for decision-making.

Freeze your eggs or your career? Shutterstock

By Jenna Healey, Yale University

Gun ownership in the United States has gone way up yet murders have plummeted. Though high-profile tragedies get mainstream media attention, the gun ban contingent has lost a lot of ground in culture. 

Neapolitans have given fishmongers and celebrities alike a place at the nativity for hundreds of years. acetosa888, CC BY-SA

By Jessica Hughes, The Open University

There’s a scene in the film "Love Actually" where a little girl announces that she’ll be playing “first lobster” in the school nativity play. “There was more than one lobster present at the birth of Jesus?” asks her surprised mum – causing the girl to sigh in exasperation at such profound levels of parental ignorance.