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That ugly place, the hospital

My considerations about staying at the hospital when caring for someone, which happened to me four times in the past years, in three different hospitals in Southern England.
It is a mish-mash of thoughts on how to get through a hospital stay a bit more easily: please feel free to call bullshit on them, especially if you are a doctor or anyone that actually *knows* something about it.
An unfamiliar place. Despite being exclusively devoted to extend people's lifespan, a modern hospital is one of the most unwelcoming places you will ever visit. Ugly blocky buildings surrounded by full-to-the-brim parking lots. Often shabby. Dull. Unwelcoming. Sprawling and hard to navigate, littered with confusing signs pointing all over the place. Still here culminate centuries of human knowledge, first clumsily gathered by trial and error, now developing at marvellous speed thanks to the scientific method. I cannot stop seeing hospital as temples devoted to the noblest of endeavours: making us defy d…
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Illustrated Books: Our Family's Favourites

These are a few beautiful, heartwarming or just funny illustrated books that our family gathered during the years. They are not as famous as they deserve.
I (we) love them because
the stories are quirky and surprising and can be at times very deep;they are great for "aloud-reading", making funny voices, adding emphasis where it is needed, letting your child to learn & shout punchlines at the right moment;illustrations are stunningly beautiful and have the rare quality of being "fun-to-look-at"repetition, repetition, repetition that young children lovethey bring back memories (ok, this applies only to my family, but I promise it will work for you as well, only the memories will be different I guess)








Useful Parenting Parameters for Parents Serious about Parenting

We all agree that parenting is stressful & exhausting. The thing is, when we meet other parents we
have to endure listening to how hard it is for them, with little concern for us. How can we be unquestionably certain that it is us, and not them, having a terrible time with those monsters that claim to be our offspring?  I can help by providing absolute quantitative metrics for parenthood-derived stress, so that when we meet obnoxious parents at softplay or whatever, hard numbers and solid stats will speak for us. Here we go.
The Peppa Magnitude Scale measures the stress caused by watching several consecutive episodes of the same children's show. Three Peppa Pig episodes give a score of 3, and so on. Beware, the scale is exponential so a score of 8 is twice as stressful than 7, and 32 times worse than 3! Scientists do not agree entirely on which shows qualify and the debate is still fierce. Sure hits are Peppa Pig, Teletubbies, Waybuloo, Baby Jake.
Mouthful Separation Surface …

Tips for Parents of a Budding Scientist

When a child is "into science" and likes "sciencey stuff", what can a parent do to keep the flame alive and help fulfilling a dream?
In almost 20 years spent toiling in a laboratory I have learned a few things about science that may not be common knowledge. I share them here.
A scientist is naturally curious and inquisitive. Kids ask many questions and in an ideal world mum & dad not only know the answers, but also how to explain things in a simple and correct way. Hard indeed but this is what we should always aim for. The worst thing one can do is to dismiss a question by giving a wrong, oversimplified reply. The problem is, even a question as simple as "how do we know that the earth is round?" has no straightforward answer. I think however that it is good for a child to learn that there are things that mum and dad don't know. It is never too early to learn that the world we live in is a very complicated place, and the laws of nature have been a…