Tom Whipple Profile picture
Science at The Times - Tweets in personal capacity. My book: https://t.co/VagB4ifAfY
pauline burney Profile picture 1 added to My Authors
Dec 27, 2022 11 tweets 3 min read
Five star reviews of waitrose toilet roll

1. Does the (big) job 2. Luxurious waitrose quality on your bottom
Dec 27, 2022 7 tweets 2 min read
One star reviews of Salisbury cathedral

1. Not very modern. 2. Has outreach program
Dec 27, 2022 10 tweets 3 min read
One star reviews of Hadrian's wall

1. Didn't keep the scots out 2. Doesn't meet building regs
Dec 27, 2022 11 tweets 3 min read
One star reviews of the north sea.

1. Too wet 2. Too northern
Dec 27, 2022 10 tweets 3 min read
One star Ben Nevis reviews.

1. Too tall Image 2. Too small Image
Dec 13, 2022 12 tweets 4 min read
Consumer advice thread.

I tweet the following as a cautionary tale, and advice I wish I'd known. Hopefully some people will find it useful.

But, the tl:dr version - don't use a travel intermediary to book a flight. 1/x Four months ago I went to skyscanner (excellent website), chose some flights, and clicked on buy. It took me through to lastminute.com and because I'm lazy I went through the process rather than going to the airline direct.
Nov 29, 2022 7 tweets 3 min read
More than a year ago there was an oddity in covid testing in the south west. Anecdotally, people were testing positive on lateral flows, then being given the all clear by PCR. So many reports came in that, eventually, there was an investigation. 1/ thetimes.co.uk/article/studen… The culprit was identified. A lab was found to have given around 40,000 people the wrong result.

thetimes.co.uk/article/testin…
Nov 6, 2022 5 tweets 2 min read
Musk is an impressive guy who has done incredible things. I would be an idiot to write him off. But here is my worry about prioritising blue ticks in search and replies.

It is (just) conceivable that media organisations like mine might pay. Great for me. Great for our egos 1/ Except, once I get beyond my ego, the main professional justification for twitter is what I read on it, not what I write. During covid, would Civil Service have paid for @kallmemeg to be promoted? Or @statsgeekclare? I doubt it.
Oct 14, 2022 4 tweets 2 min read
At this stage this is just a level of either stupidity or basic ignorance that should disqualify you from talking about this subject permanently. The trial protocol wasn’t secret, none of this is new, and it did hit transmission - it just wasn’t tested in initial phase 3 1/x. How could you even design the protocol? The vaccine worked so well they only had eight positives who were vaccinated among the 40k participants.
Oct 13, 2022 5 tweets 2 min read
History can do odd things to memory...

Apropos...

In January 2021 I wrote about how scientists were saying that the government, astrazeneca and Pfizer were being a bit over-cautious when they warned vaccines couldn't stop transmission. 1/5

thetimes.co.uk/article/what-w… This article was written on the back of this statement by JVT
gov.uk/government/new…
Sep 13, 2022 11 tweets 3 min read
Guess whose boss decided there’s nothing happening in science, so he might as well be sent to sleep rough for 36 hours? (I’m queuing for the queen)
Aug 29, 2022 9 tweets 4 min read
Britain appears to have taken the difficult and controversial decision that, on balance, it doesn't like swimming in poo. Now what?

How do we get less poo in our waters? Here's my "it's complicated" article

thetimes.co.uk/article/914e19… 1. The problem.

The original sin, the turd in Britain's water ointment, was Bazalgette. In 1858, as The Times put it, MPs were "forced by sheer stench" to solve the Thames poo problem.

So Bazalgette built a big pipe. But he allowed rainwater in. We mixed sewage and storm.
Mar 18, 2022 11 tweets 4 min read
One horseman of the apocalypse is enough for anyone.

War has galloped into view; Pestilence is being ignored

Here's my piece on how cases have risen while we were looking elsewhere. 1/x

thetimes.co.uk/article/why-ar… It's not (largely) our fault. Focus on the minutiae of mask mandates and isolation ignores that this is happening everywhere.
Mar 11, 2022 6 tweets 2 min read
This is a tale about patriotic cats.

In the 1980s the CIA released a document with the subject line "views on trained cats". Because what intelligence agency doesn't have views on trained cats? 1/x The thing about cats, from an espionage point of view, is that no one suspects a cat. Dogs, obviously. Dogs are always being used by one army or another. But who would recruit a cat?

(PIC: Sgt Stubby, the US army's most highly-decorated dog)
Mar 4, 2022 6 tweets 2 min read
This is the tale of a snail. Because today seems like a good day for a snail tale.

In 1846, a snail had a bad day. It was a desert snail, Helix desertorum, and it was picked up by British collector Charles Lamb in Egypt, who decided it needed to be seen in London. 1/x On the way, in conditions not terribly desert-like, it was declared dead.
Mar 2, 2022 5 tweets 2 min read
Every now and then I check in on Hart, look at their tab on "Covid-19: the evidence" and marvel that they *still* have a page claiming that 50,000 deaths in the second wave might have been *due* to the vaccine.

And MPs and academics still associate with them. Mesmerising. 1/x Image Look how covid is in inverted commas in that graph. Look how they are "just asking questions". Supposedly serious people, tory MPs, academics from reputable universities, happily associated with this and still do. Utterly bizarre. Image
Feb 15, 2022 18 tweets 6 min read
Just some more thoughts on this, because I don't think people realise quite how big our testing infrastructure has become - or how wide. 1/x First, testing itself. Currently, we are PCR testing about 300,000 people a day, and recording over a million including lateral flows. This is us on a quiet day
Feb 3, 2022 11 tweets 3 min read
I'm going through this paper by Johns Hopkins economists, that assesses the efficacy of lockdown in the US and Europe - and concludes it was essentially useless.

I'd love thoughts on something I've found, which may well be my misinterpretation 1/x sites.krieger.jhu.edu/iae/files/2022… The study is a meta-analysis, combining other previous between-country comparisons. To produce the combined estimate, they take 18,000 studies, exclude all but a handful and then pool their findings. Image
Dec 8, 2021 11 tweets 3 min read
Briefing on Pfizer/biontech neutralisation studies has begun. 19 or 20 seras (why don't they know which?!)

1/x Stark - v stark - difference between two and three doses. Three looks almost as good.
Nov 26, 2021 11 tweets 3 min read
For people who talk about boys crying wolf...actually the boy has been pretty restrained regarding variants. Remember iota or kappa?

This one is different

thetimes.co.uk/article/b30489… Those other variants in full:

1. Alpha, the Kent variant. In November of 2020, amid a national lockdown, cases started rising in Sheppey. Everyone thought it was just people in Sheppey doing Sheppey things. Turned out it wasn't. It was a 50 per cent more transmissible variant
Jul 26, 2021 13 tweets 7 min read
And on this edifying note, I'm signing out of twitter. I'm off on much-delayed paternity leave. I was meant to do it last year, but decided to delay until the pandemic was over. Not tweeting until the autumn.

In the meantime, everyone is cross. Here is covid stuff that's great: The covid dashboard, coronavurus.data.gov.uk, by @Pouriaaa and @statsgeekclare and doubtless loads of others. Clear, invaluable and does exactly what it should.