Nicholas Russell is now retired. His main career was teaching applied biology, history of science and science communication in colleges and universities. He also undertook educational development work for the Nuffield Foundation and worked as a Head of Department of Humanities at Imperial College London. He is currently Emeritus Reader in Science Communication there.
Nicholas Russell wrote a monograph based on his PhD thesis in 1986. He did journalism mainly in the late 1980s and 1990s for national newspapers and the science and educational trade press. He has written a smattering of academic papers and edited textbooks for the Nuffield Foundation. He published a textbook on science communication in 2010. Writing short stories is Nicholas’ retirement project. His subject matter is ‘what people do all day’ at work, in their professions, with their vocations, doing their hobbies, feeding their obsessions, being creative, or just pottering.
Q: If you could travel in the past, which one of the great writers would you like to meet and why?
A: Not sure this counts because he was a scientist who was obliged to write to explain himself, Charles Darwin. But I think The Origin of Species is great literature. Darwin was a man with one of the biggest scientific ideas and (within the limitations of his time) a kind and liberal personality.
Q: Do you have a favourite quote? (from a book, movie, song, speech…)
A: I’ve always been fond of Abe Lincoln’s ‘You can please all of the people some of the time, some of the people all of the time, but never all of the people all of the time.’
Q: If you could teleport yourself anywhere, real or fictional, where would it be and why?
A: I’m a spoilsport! The grass always looks greener everywhere else in space or time but never seems so attractive once you get there. So I have no dream destination.
The sounds he makes are strongly speech-like. Hearing them out of the corner of your ear, you might assume they are coherent talk. They aren’t, but to anyone who knows him well and hears him in the right context, they make sense. ‘It’s a fag then young Tony? It’s raining though.’ He responds. There is …