Alice Bell is lecturer in science communication at Imperial College, London. She also likes to knit, a skill she learnt mainly from blogs. Her academic work touches on a range of science and society issues, but she is especially interested in young people's relationships with science (the subject of her PhD), science and the web, and public engagement with science. You can find her at Alice Bell and slippedstitch, or on Twitter as alicebell.
Why do you blog? > Many reasons. Short version: to play around with an idea and/or keep a record of things I've done, in the hope that doing so in public will be useful in some way.
What has been your best blogging experience? > Being part of an international group knitting parts of a blanket for a knit-blogger who had been taken into hospital. The knit-blogosphere is a supportive place. At least, the bit I inhabit is. Also, watching a micro-blog comment on Susan Greenfield go viral as 'yakawow' was pretty special.
What has been your worst blogging experience? > I can't think of anything really bad, maybe because I don't blog about anything serious.
What would be your main blogging advice to a novice blogger? > If you want people to read and comment on your blog, you should go and read and comment on other peoples' blogs.
What are your favourite blogs? > Needled. Kate's an academic, knitter, designer, hill-walker, tea-drinker and, more recently, she's recovering from a stroke. Her blog deftly combines all these aspects of her life. It is beautifully written and illustrated with honesty, intelligence and grace.
Who are your intellectual heroes? > The many people who taught me the problems with intellectual heroes.
What are you reading at the moment? > British Journal for the History of Science vol.43 (2).
What is the best novel you've ever read? > Top three: Traitor's Purse by Margery Allingham, 253 by Geoff Ryman, Minnow on the Say by Philippa Pearce.
What is your favourite poem? > 'Rising Damp' by U.A. Fanthorpe.
What is your favourite movie? The Man in the White Suit, an old Ealing Comedy about science and industry, with Alec Guinness and Joan Greenwood.
What is your favourite song? > I have a beautifully simple version of Cole Porter's 'I'm in Love Again' but it's from a cheap CD with no details about who the artists are. Instead, I'll share the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain's version of 'Teenage Dirtbag'.
Can you name a major moral, political or intellectual issue on which you've ever changed your mind? > Nothing major. This isn't for the want of trying though. Either I'm lucky or just less intellectually flexible than I give myself credit for.
Can you name a work of non-fiction which has had a major and lasting influence on how you think about the world? > It's probably a synthesis of books, articles, discussions, people, places and objects which have had the most influence on me, rather than individual titles.
Who are your political heroes? > I'm really not one for heroes, but was a bit of a fan of Michael Foot.
If you could effect one major policy change in the governing of your country, what would it be? > I'm not especially keen on Royalty.
What do you consider to be the main threat to the future peace and security of the world? > Greed.
Do you think the world (human civilization) has already passed its best point, or is that yet to come? > I don't think you can compare periods of human history like that.
What would be your most important piece of advice about life? > Most people are mostly stupid about most things most of the time (most of all: me).
Do you think you could ever be married to, or in a long-term relationship with, someone with radically different political views from your own? > I would find that very difficult.
What do you consider the most important personal quality? > A willingness to learn.
What personal fault do you most dislike? > Intolerance.
What, if anything, do you worry about? > Running out of time.
If you were to relive your life to this point, is there anything you'd do differently? > Not to have given up on maths. I adored maths as a kid. Then I had a teacher I disliked at 14 and simply refused to do any more. That was silly.
What would you call your autobiography? > Even if I had a life worthy of an autobiography, I very much doubt I'd get around to writing it.
Where would you most like to live (other than where you do)? > Edinburgh or San Francisco.
What do you like doing in your spare time? > Cycling, knitting, baking, going on a long walk. This summer I'm also working with some friends to produce a calendar of British 'nerdishness' to raise money for libel reform.
What is your most treasured possession? > Photos of friends that died too young. More cheerfully, a hand-made mini-version of the Science Museum's bubble show. I worked at the Science Museum for six years. Though I can be cynical about the place, it taught me a lot. Plus, their bubble show is cool (and when I presented it, we used to fill the bubbles with methane and set fire to them).
What talent would you most like to have? > I'm constantly frustrated by my dyslexia and in awe of others' linguistic agility (ditto short term memory).
What would be your ideal choice of alternative profession or job? > Political campaigning or primary school teacher.
What animal would you most like to be? > My flatmates' goldfish seem happy.
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