Blog Post 4: A Strained But Important Relationship

Science and politics are often quoted in history as having a strained relationship. There are countless examples of great scientists being questioned on the legitimacy of their findings by the Church or by their form of government because it did not coincide with the prevailing thought of their respective state. But science and politics nonetheless share a very important relationship because one is nothing without the other. I would like to explore the relationship between science and politics in the area of modern-day climate science. 

A lot of similarities can be drawn between the struggles of Reverend William Buckland and modern-day climatologists. Both tried to espouse pro-development and science rhetoric which was ignored by a subset of people. In the case of Rev. Buckland, he “was active in trying to reform the University, and sought to bring about more teaching of science. Later he became discouraged, feeling that there was little hope that any improvement would be brought about” (Laidler 205). Rev. Buckland tried to bridge the gap between science and God through “The Bridgewater Treatises” but his thoughts seemed to have fallen largely on deaf ears. 

A similar argument could be made about present-day climatologists and how their findings are sometimes disregarded by politicians and even misconstrued by the media. It is first important to understand the fundamentals of what scientists mean by a “changing climate.” Climate change is a large-scale, long-term shift in the planet’s weather patterns or average temperatures.There are several pieces of evidence that temperatures on Earth are rising, but the top 3 are higher average temperature trends, changing rainfall patterns and receding ice glaciers. 


A graph of rising annual temperatures globally that was published in the DailyMail.

Some evidence for higher temperatures were provided by MetClimate UK, a government entity in the UK, in which they say that “Scientific research shows that the climate – that is, the average temperature of the planet’s surface – has risen by 0.89 °C from 1901 to 2012. Compared with climate change patterns throughout Earth’s history, the rate of temperature rise since the Industrial Revolution is extremely high” (MetClimate). Another major piece of evidence for climate change are changing rainfall patterns and MetClimate says that “There have been observed changes in precipitation, but not all areas have data over long periods. Rainfall has increased in the mid-latitudes of the northern hemisphere since the beginning of the 20th century. There are also changes between seasons in different regions. For example, the UK’s summer rainfall is decreasing on average, while winter rainfall is increasing. There is also evidence that heavy rainfall events have become more intensive, especially over North America” (MetClimate). 

The following are temperature maps of the UK, provided by MetClimate. You can see that over time in South England and Wales, there is a definite increase in mean maximum temperature values in just a 40 year time span. Now it would be interesting to consider how much this average has grown from the early 1900s and it is scary to consider how much it could grow moving forward 40 years!

61-90 71-00 81-10

Here is a link to a gif demonstrating how glaciers have also been receding in nearby Iceland:

I have not even begun to scratch the surface of the amount of evidence there is for climate change. But at the same time, I feel there is no need to panic and start a “Green Movement.” Yet I feel that legislators, whether on Capitol Hill or Westminister, need to pay closer attention to what scientists say about climate change. 

Legislators in the UK have made substantial efforts to combat climate change. The most famous and controversial piece of legislation passed is the Climate Change Act of 2008. This act states that “it is the duty of the Secretary of State to ensure that the net UK carbon account for the year 2050 is at least 80% lower than the 1990 baseline” (Legislation UK). But I came across this article at the Bodelian the other day and was able to find it on the internet. It was an excerpt from a research paper written by a student from UC Boulder commenting on the shortcomings of the 2008 Act. This student says that the UK is completely behind on its goal and that the “rate of decarbonization of -0.9% per year. This is far less than would be needed to hit the targets of the UK Climate Change Act” (Energy Collective). 


Pictured on the left is the progress of the UK on its “2050 Vision path.” It seems to have fallen behind and will be tough to catch up. Picture courtesy of Green Collective.

I also saw a green protest rally in front of the Sheldonian and Bodelian demonstrating on the fact that the UK is not where it should be on the “2050 path.” Unfortunately I was not able to take a picture of the proceedings, but it was the first organized rally I have seen on campus. 

I think that science and politics share a strained yet important relationship. Politics rely on science in the sense that all legislation is predicated on scientific polling, research and logic (well for the most part). In the same way, science relies on politics because legislation dictates the type of research you can do and how society reacts to your findings. In the case of climate change legislation, I feel the UK has not done enough to address the problem as evidenced by the chart above and the paper written by the Boulder student. Yet the UK has taken a significant step towards combating climate change that perhaps the United States has not. 

In the United States, legislation on this magnitude was not created due to political gridlock coming from opposition from the Right. I feel that scientists need to lobby more in Congress and push their agenda more. Although I am not trying to take a political stance and advocate for the Green party, I definitely feel that all of the facts are not reaching the committee tables on Capitol Hill. 

Climate change is one of the many examples of the strained relationship between science and politics. Even though this relationship will continued to be strained it will indeed carry on into the future as both science and politics inevitable need each other in order to sustain a civilized society. 


Daily Mail:


Legislation UK:

Energy Collective:


Research Update: Week 4

I have finally completed all of the interviews which totals to 14 patients and roughly 41 responses. I have documented all of the responses and added them to my paper verbatim. The interviews were rather short for each person but finding patients with the patient coordinators was rather time consuming. I planned to do about 2 hospitals each afternoon and succeeded in terms of keeping up with my goal, but travel was rather taxing. 

I interviewed 4 patients in Jericho, 5 in Marston and 5 in Cowley to try and get an even split of patients. The patients participated in answering all the questions, except for one patient who had to leave for his appointment and could not answer 2/3 questions. This meant that although our patient sample size was small, we gained a lot of data and response despite the short amount of time we had to work with. 

Here are some common responses to each question that I had gotten. I will expand more on these responses and try to find trends and correlations. Also, I will publish the entire transcript of the interview in the paper so that readers can also see a wide variety of responses regarding each question. 

Question 1: “How did you choose to come to this clinic today? Through NHS pathways or were you assigned to this clinic?”

Common responses for this question were…

– Patients used NHS pathways

– Patients chose Jericho because it looked like a good facility

– Patients chose Nuffield because it is a reputable clinic affiliated with the University

– Patients chose clinics that were closer to their residence

Question 2: “Have you visited any other clinics in the Oxford area? If so, how do they compare with this clinic?”


– Most patients have not visited another clinic

– Some patients transferred from Cowley 

– Some patients prefer Jericho clinic over other clinics

Question 3: “Would you rather go to a clinic in an expensive neighborhood or an economically disadvantaged neighborhood? Why?”


– Some patients said that all NHS clinics are the same

– Expensive neighborhood clinics because they have better technology

– Expensive neighborhood clinics because they are newer

Blog Post 3: Considering Instruments

One of the main ideas of this course is: how science evolves based on communication of ideas.

This is exactly what Penelope Gouk says in the introduction of her paper. She highlights the important “role that geographies play in the fostering of creativity and innovation in human systems at both the social and cognitive levels” (Gouk 257).

Instruments is an umbrella term for many different types of tools that are employed for some form of work or labor. It would be rather laborious to examine all the different types of instruments that have existed in the past or exist today. Instead I will look at a subset of instruments that aid ancient and present-day astronomers. Astronomers collaborated and shared thoughts as they built instruments based off of previous research and findings. Thus the communication of knowledge led to the evolution of science, namely the creation of astronomical instruments.

One of the earliest astronomical instruments was created in nearby Stonehenge, where archeoastronomers believe natives around 2400 BC strategically placed stones such that “the main axis of the monument faces the horizon where the Sun rises midsummer morning, the longest day of the year” (Windows to the Universe). Modern-day astronomers see that the sun rises to just the left of the Heel stone, where there is a marking to show the rise of the sun.


On the left is a picture of a sun rise behind Stonehenge. Image courtesy of Windows of the Universe





Moving forward in time, in about 500 AD, the astronomer Aryabhata hailing from central India, built off of the ideas of a ancient sundial and documented the movement of the Sun. From these findings he “presented a mathematical system that took the earth to spin on its axis and considered the motions of the planets with respect to the sun (in other words it was heliocentric). His book, the Aryabhatya, presented astronomical and mathematical theories in which the Earth was taken to be spinning on its axis and the periods of the planets were given with respect to the sun” (Crystalinks).


On the left is a depiction of the ancient astronomer, Aryabhata, courtesy of Crystalinks.








The ideas of Aryabhata were recorded in the Aryabhatya and spread across India and went west along the trading routes of the Persian Empire. In the Museum of the History of Science I saw astrolabes and sundials based in the 1300s from places along the Arabic trading routes such as Turkey.


On the left is a Turkish astrolabe from the Museum of History of Science in Oxford.








Eventually this idea of a heliocentric universe was becoming more and more intriguing for astronomers in Europe despite it going against the fundamental tenets of old clerical education that said the Earth was at the center of the universe (a geocentric system). Although the idea of a heliocentric universe was proposed well before the likes of Copernicus and Galileo, it was revived by Copernicus in his “major work ‘De Revolutionibus Orbium Coelestium’ (‘On the Revolutions of the Celestial Spheres’) which was finished by 1530. Its central theory was that the Earth rotates daily on its axis and revolves yearly around the sun. He also argued that the planets circled the Sun” (BBC Copernicus).

Galileo carried on with Copernicus’ ideas of a heliocentric universe and published them in the “Starry Messenger” in 1610. But this pamphlet was deemed blasphemous and against the Church. As a result, Galileo was placed on house arrest in Florence, where I had visited a couple of weeks back.

Galileo house

This is a picture of Galileo’s house in Firenze or Florence, where he was put under house arrest. Picture courtesy of Universidad de Navarra.





Galileo is also credited with substantial improvements to the telescope, with which he made key observations and noted significant evidence that supports the heliocentric theory. Over time, Galileo’s telescopes were improved and added to. Coming to modern day, scientists have created the Hubble Space Telescope. It is an unprecedented “telescope that orbits Earth. Its position above the atmosphere, which distorts and blocks the light that reaches our planet, gives it a view of the universe that typically far surpasses that of ground-based telescopes” (Hubble). The Hubble, along with other telescopes, has given us information about solar systems beyond our own and perhaps could point to signs of life beyond those on Earth.


On the left is a picture of the Hubble Space Telescope as it orbits the world. Picture courtesy of HubbleSite





It is astonishing to see how astronomy has progressed from the aligning the stones of Stonehenge to seeing the stars outside our solar system. This evolution can be attributed to the spread and flow of knowledge and ideas.

Works Cited:

BBC Copernicus:



Universidad de Navarra:

Windows to the Universe:

Research Update: Week 3

This week’s focus has mainly been on gathering resources that will aid me in the interview process of the project. The main focus was to prepare the questions for the interviews. But before making the questions, I wanted to understand how other research groups approached patients in a hospital setting. One thing to consider is whom to approach and how to approach them, because patients may be dealing with many problems or may be under immense amounts of stress. In order to understand proper “interview etiquette” in a hospital setting, I took a look at the following books and more in the Bodleian and Radcliffe Science Libraries.

1. Exceptionally good? Positive experiences of NHS care and treatment surprises lymphoma patients: a qualitative interview study. – Ziebland, Evans

2. Methods of data collection and analysis for the economic evaluation alongside a national, multi-centre trial in the UK: conventional ventilation or ECMO for Severe Adult Respiratory Failure (CESAR). – Thalanany, Mugford

Some other points I found regarding interview etiquette were…

– Patient interview cannot be held in the Surgery, ER, ICCU, or Oncology units

– Patient coordinators have to be present during all interviews

– Patients must sign consent forms for the interviews

Thus accordingly the consent form was made and I contacted patients coordinators at all the clinics I plan to visit and interview at. 

After creating some notes about how to approach and communicate with patients, I started to formulate the questions I will be asking. The following are the questions I plan to ask: 

Question 1: “How did you choose to come to this clinic today? Through NHS pathways or were you assigned to this clinic?”

Question 2: “Have you visited any other clinics in the Oxford area? If so, how do they compare with this clinic?”

Question 3: “Would you rather go to a clinic in an expensive neighborhood or an economically disadvantaged neighborhood? Why?”

Unfortunately, I had a minor injury to my ankle on Wednesday evening, and could not conduct interviews as planned. But this extra time gave me the opportunity to contact human resources and physician coordinators based in the following hospitals, in order to further streamline the interview process and eliminate any paperwork or hurdles that may arise the day of.

  1. Jericho Health Centre
  2. John Radcliffe Hospital
  3. Nuffield Health
  4. The Manor Hospital
  5. The Churchill Hospital
  6. Warneford Hospital and Clinic
  7. Bartholomew’s Medical Centre

Finally I did some research on the NHs system itself through a variety of different resources at Radcliffe Science Library including, but not limited to..

“The National Health Service”. 2005. Web.

“The NHS in England.” About the National Health Service (NHS) in England. Department of Health UK, n.d. Web. 20 Aug. 2014.

Millard, Peter H. National Health Service. London: National Pensioners Convention, 2001. Print.

The Impact of the Built Environment on Care within A&E Departments. London: TSO, 2004. Print.

“Health and Social Care Information Centre (hscic).” About NHS Pathways. HSCIC, n.d. Web. 20 Aug. 2014.

“Health and Social Care Information Centre (hscic).” Benefits. Department of Health UK, n.d. Web. 20 Aug. 2014.

These resources gave me a thorough knowledge of the formation of NHS, how it evolved from 1948 to present day, and some of the pro’s and con’s associated with the system. I plan to talk about this framework and evolution of the NHS in my paper as a way to give background about the system itself prior to analyzing the actual system. This way readers have a better knowledge of what I am referring to in my analysis in the latter portions of my research paper. 

Blog Post 2: Moving West…

I will never forget the first moment I walked into the 8th floor of the Radcliffe Science Library…

It was the evening around 6pm and I was alone looking to bury my head in a multitude of books commenting on the National Health Service. But as I opened the door, I looked down the hall and saw a sea of books, manuscripts, notes and articles. I held my breath for a second and then just simply said, “woah..”


The picture above is the hallway of the 8th Floor Radcliffe Science Library that I had taken.

I had visited the Wellcome Library in London and had a similar experience. But it was not as impactful despite the Wellcome reading room being much larger in size than the Radcliffe reading room .


Above is a picture of one of the main reading rooms of the Wellcome Library in London. Image courtesy of “No Wriggling Out of Writing”.

I still cannot quite fathom why the Radcliffe struck such a sweet chord. Perhaps it was the smell of the aged wood or the arched entrances to each set of book shelves. Or maybe the large windows that brought in light to fully illuminate the entire hallway, employing trace amounts of unnatural light in the process.

Another interesting comparison I made was that of the overall nature of the building styles in London and Oxford. I felt London was a metropolis where the old remnants of history in the form of buildings and cobble-stone streets were awkwardly juxtaposed with much more modern structures. For example, it was off-putting to see the old Tower of London, made primarily of Kentish rag-stone and Caen stone, just down the River Thames from the glass-based Shard Skyscraper.

Below is a comparison between the Oxford and London “skylines”…On the left is the Shard and accompanying buildings in London and on the right is the Sheldonian and other accompanying buildings in Oxford. Both are pictures I had taken during the trip.


In “A Walk Around the Block,” Rivkin and Lynch talk about how “emotions are associated with spatial coherence (or lack of it) in the whole scene” (Lynch, Rivkin). In London, I didn’t get a sense of spatial coherence and instead was confused as to how to identify the city: modern or ancient? Whereas in Oxford, there is a distinct sense of spatial coherence where I can surely identify the city as largely ancient. Of course, Oxford also has its share of modern sights and shops, as does any 21st Century town. But overall, Oxford’s “old is gold” identity does not waver across the city.

In terms of the social environment, Oxford’s High Street is largely desolate and empty in the nighttime from my personal experience, whereas the streets of Soho in London are absolutely buzzing with excitement well into the night. This phenomenon can be partially explained by the fact that the University of Oxford is in vacation term now, but also because London is simply a larger and more populated city compared to a smaller town that is Oxford.

Soho China Town at Night



To the left is an image of Soho at night in London courtesy of WW Superstock.



Also there was a more diverse crowd of people in London pubs ranging from wealthy businessmen to taxi drivers to cricket players! Whereas in Oxford pubs, I saw mostly the same middle-class student crowd or an occasional tourist or two during the nighttime.

But one of the major similarities in built environment between London and Oxford is the presence of green spaces and open gathering places. In London, right next to our hotel was Russell Square, a beautiful gathering place for residents and tourists alike. Similarly in Oxford there are a multitude of gardens among the various colleges and open recreation grounds with areas for freeplay. For example, just at the intersection of Marston Road and High Street there is Headington Hill Park, where I play “ultimate frisbee” with fellow students in the evenings. These common areas foster intellectual discussions, social interaction and exchange of ideas. The theme of exchange of ideas is a central topic that we are studying right now, because through the exchange of knowledge our understanding of the world in the form of both liberal arts and sciences grows exponentially.

Also both cities have many different buildings that were inspired by the classical renaissance that swept across all of Europe and the UK. In both Oxford and London, the main founders behind the transition from gothic to classical architecture were Inigo Jones and Sir Christoper Wren. Wren created “a major public building…the Sheldonian [which was] the first classical building in Oxford and an explicit attempt to emulate Roman grandeur” (Gerbino, Johnston) and also “repaired the crumbling medieval fabric of old St Paul’s addressing, above all, the hazardous state of the central tower.” (Gerbino, Johnston). This transition of architectural forms is an example of how pre-existing precedents can be supplanted with new thought over time. This concept is also an integral part of our coursework here as we can use it to understand how the teaching of hard sciences at Oxford slowly supplanted the clerical education system that was in place since the beginning of the institution.

Below are pictures of Sheldonian theatre (left) and St. Paul’s Cathedral (right). Sheldonian picture courtesy of Inetours and St. Pauls courtesy of London Sorted. stpauls






There are many similarities and differences in both the built and social environments of London and Oxford, but both cities exemplify the key concepts we are exploring in the course such as the social transfer of knowledge and evolution of education.

Works Cited

Gerbino, Johnston:


London Sorted:


Soho Picture:

Wellcome Library:


Research Update: Week 2

Before I came into Oxford, I had imagined that the bulk of my research will be around finding the faults of the NHS and commenting on them in relation to the faults we have in the Affordable Care Act. But after interviewing Dr. Cheruvu, a bariatric surgeon in Staffordshire, I understood that the purpose of my project is not to take a stance for or against the policies of the NHS but rather paint a holistic image of what the system is, particularly how it address quality of care among patients of different economic backgrounds.

Now I was questioning how do I figure out what metrics would be useful to evaluate “quality of care?” After going through many relevant online articles and books I found at both the Bodleian and Radcliffe Science Library, I found that the most popular metric to use is patient-centered self reports. This can be in the form of interviews, testimonials and anonymous quotes.

Here is a sample of the online articles I had found through the SOLO system in the Bodleian:

Hip Surgery Economic:
Equitable Cardio Treatment:
Physician Staffing:
Distance Travelled:
Improving NHS:

In addition, some other useful metrics I found include comparing patient wait times and ratio of public and private NHS clinics in different economic areas of Oxford. The next step is to create a release form that volunteers would sign prior to giving their comments on the system for our project. In this process, we have to bear in mind that patient information and hospital information/records are strictly confidential. Subsequently, I have created the release form that we give to patients. For the creation of this form, I used templates that were from the University of Washington human services department. These templates were good examples of how to not include personal information but still have consent. Now that the form has been created, Aurnee and I will commence interviews next week hoping to find a wide array of patient responses to the NHS.

Apart from that, Aurnee has been using a website called Zoopla to find out the average property values of portions of the city and thus create economically diverse sectors of the city. I will then find the clinics (public and private) in these sectors and go to as many of those clinics as I can with Aurnee and conduct the interviews. More to come on the interviews in next week’s blog posting…

Blog Post 1: Relationship between Culture and Science

The effective intermixing of culture and science is pivotal for the growth of a large metropolitan region. We see this intermixing one of the largest metropolitan regions in the world, London.There are many examples of how culture and science mesh together to create what English society is today, but one example that truly personifies the relationship between culture and science is that of the cholera outbreak in London in the 1800s.

(To the left is a picture of John Booth’s poverty map.This is not particularly for the Soho region, but it is just a general indication of how economic disparity was charted by Mr. Booth. The image was courtesy of Holly Martin’s Blog)



At the time, the mainly affected areas of Soho were considered to be part of the lower class neighborhoods of London as suggested by Charles Booth’s poverty map. This was an area where members of upper classes did not venture and it was considered silly if they did. The first who did were “Benjamin Hall and his public-health committee who made their triumphant appearance on the streets of Soho, they were little more than tourists, goggling at all the despair and death, and then retreating back to the safety of Westminster or Kensington” (Johnson). Essentially what has happened here is that the confines of a class hierarchy have overstepped the need to provide treatment for fellow human beings. “Class before medicine” is how I would describe this unfortunate situation. How can a society develop and prosper when such stringent lines are drawn between portions of the city and alienate groups of people? The fundamental tenet of developing a city, is unity. Unity here is lacking not because of the cholera disease but because of the “disease of class”. Yet, John Snow broke this barrier as “Snow was a true native. That gave him both an awareness of how the neighborhood actually worked, and it gave him a credibility with the residents, on whose intimate knowledge of the outbreak Snow’s inquiry dependent” (Johnson).

This is a digitalized version of John Snow’s cholera data, provided by Robin’s Blog.


Without taking the time to talk to residents and venture around the streets of Soho, John Snow would not have been able to trace the origins of the outbreak. If he too had followed his colleagues from Benjamin Hall, there wouldn’t have been development in the area of medicine and epidemiology as we know it today. Cultural norms of society mandated that members of the upper and lower class not mix, and that did not allow for the growth of science. In this case culture and science were contradictory forces acting against each other.

In modern-day society, science and culture have a different relationship altogether; they have a more mutual relationship that serves as a seed for new growth in today’s society. An example of such a relationship was from a first hand experience I had gotten prior to the start of this trip. I was speaking to Dr. Chandra Cheruvu, a Consultant Bariatric and Laparoscopic Surgeon who works at the University Hospital of North Staffordshire.


On the left is a picture of Dr. Cheruvu who talked about the relationship between culture and science based on his daily experiences as a physician.

He was explaining the relationship between culture and science in a hospital setting. Dr. Cheruvu says that “understanding a patient’s cultural beliefs and/or predispositions is just as vital as understanding the science behind the procedure that the person will receive”. Essentially what Dr. Cheruvu is saying, is that it is crucial to break away from the idea of treating one differently based on their economic background, where they live, or what their position on the economic hierarchy of society. He is a strong proponent of the National Health System as it forces physicians to unwaveringly give treatment to patients regardless of their background. This particular view on the relationship between culture and science is similar to the research I will be conducting at Oxford. The field study I will be conducting will be analyzing whether quality of healthcare changes between particular economic regions of the city. Thereby, it is integral to understand the relationship between culture and science in past and present society prior to undertaking the project. Also, one can see how the relationship between culture and science (namely medicine) has evolved so much over time from the days of the prejudiced Benjamin Hall. Now the reason for a bustling and thriving society is due to the positive relationship that exists between the two. Perhaps this evolution was catalyzed by the revolutionary acts of John Snow that has made London what it is today: a thriving metropolis.

Works Cited

Chandra Cheruvu Bio:

Holly Martin’s Blog:

Johnson: A reference to the ghost maps excerpts written by Steven Johnson

Robin’s Blog: