London Blog

And It’s Goodbye From Me…

After more than four years writing this blog, I’ve decided it’s time to move on to other things. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed those years, making so many friends and joining in conversations with some of the sharpest minds in science. Nature Network remains an incredible collection of voices, discussions and opinions and I will, of course, still drop by from time to time.

As a final farewell, here are my 10 most memorable experiences from my days on Nature Network – some of them wonderful, some of them deeply cringeworthy.

1. Science Online London. This annual conference is now planning for a fourth year. I’m guilty of sparking the whole series after convincing my boss that we really should have a ‘small get-together’ for Nature Network bloggers. I still have the original T-shirt, faded and shrunk but still the nerdiest piece of apparel I own. Apart from a Foursquare superswarm shirt.

2. Monthly pub meetups. The precursors to Science Online in which we invited lots of local scientists to the pub for booze and chat. We normally packed the venue out, especially when one event was gatecrashed by Brian Cox, James Randi, Gia Milinovich and Phil Plait.

3. Meeting the queen. Well, almost. I stood right behind her as she reopened the Royal Institution and watched as she politely rejected some fancy ice cream from Heston Blumenthal. Princes Philip and Michael lapped the stuff up, however.

4. Leading a bunch of scientists on a scientific pub crawl round London. I did this twice as a fringe event for Science Online conferences.

5. Royal Institution quizzes. I’m still doing these. Every couple of months, it’s my pleasure to co-host a science-themed pub quiz for the RI. Come along! Next one on 16 May.

6. Getting locked in the Nature building with some important scientists. After a late-evening focus group, we took a wrong turning in Nature’s labyrinthine offices, ending up in a fire escape with self-locking doors. After a few minutes of hammering, a late-worker let us out.

7. Getting a panda stuck on my head in Second Life. After visiting the WWF’s island in Second Life, I accidentally acquired a pet panda who somehow became attached to my avatar’s left eyeball. We walked around the virtual world with the panda dispensing environmental advice to anyone who didn’t run away. I only just figured out how to remove my ursine passenger before giving a short talk on Nature’s Second Life island.

8. Accidentally asking the heads of Cancer Research UK and the Medical Research Council about their views on a particularly deviant sexual practice (nothing to do with pandas). Ask me about it in the pub sometime. I guarantee that you won’t have a more embarrassing tale.

9. Attending Sci Foo. The annual conference at Google’s headquarters in Mountain View will always be with me. In just two days I got to discuss alien life with the Astronomer Royal and Google CEO Eric Schmidt, sit in a flying car, share a bus ride with Carl Sagan’s widow Ann Druyan and meet a hundred other incredible people.

10. Ten thousand other wonderful conversations, meetups, beers, and interactions with the many special people whom I’ve met on these pages and in real life thanks to the connecting power of Nature Network.

I may occasionally pop back for a guest post or two, but this is essentially my final post. The London blog will continue, in the very capable hands of Joanna Scott. You’ll find me, every day of the week, over on, a website about London and everything in it (including science). And you can follow me on Twitter as @MattFromLondon.

So long and thanks for everything.



  1. Report this comment

    Frank Norman said:

    M@ – Sorry to see you depart from NN, but I guess you’ll still be around and about.  Thanks for all the work you put in, especially to the community aspect in those early days when NN was getting going.

  2. Report this comment

    Laura Wheeler said:

    Matt- sorry to see you go, I will miss your amusing posts, ingenious sciency events and generally all the places you encourage us to visit! Thanks for keeping us thoroughly entertained over the last 4 years!

  3. Report this comment

    steffi suhr said:

    The panda! I loved the panda!!!

  4. Report this comment

    Samantha Alsbury said:

     Sad but understandable – Londonist is great!

    Welcome Joanna, I look forward to reading your thoughts :-)

  5. Report this comment

    Eva Amsen said:

    Oh, that panda I forgot about that!

    As long as the physical real life Matt is still around I think I can cope with you not updating the London NN blog. Maybe. We’ll see. =)

  6. Report this comment

    Kausik Datta said:

    Fair thee well, Matt. I am happy for you, and yet a bit saddened. You were the first person I interacted with at Nature Blogs; allow me to thank you again for all the help you’ve given me over time. Ciao! 

  7. Report this comment

    Maxine Clarke said:

     I’ll miss you Matt – and I will never forget that half-cow. Still, you did better with Second Life than I ever did. All the very best to you. Can I now please pinch your name idea and call myself M@x ?

  8. Report this comment

    Maxine Clarke said:

    Oops, Panda, sorry. Was viewing pix in RSS and they were a bit squiffy.

  9. Report this comment

    Cath Ennis said:

     Ha – the panda incident was awesome!


    Best wishes for your other projects, and I’ll see you around the internet!

  10. Report this comment

    Richard P. Grant said:

     Have they locked you out then, Matt?

  11. Report this comment

    Matt Brown said:

    Aw, thanks everyone. I will miss this place…and I’ll still be around leaving comments.

    Maxine: like the look of the ‘M@x’. Doesn’t quite scan, though, as the ‘@’ bit is pronounced ‘at’. Could be a silent ‘t’, I suppose.

  12. Report this comment

    Viktor Poór said:

    Good luck, Matt! Hope we can still grab a beer some time.

    (Weren’t you abusing that panda?)

  13. Report this comment

    Lou Woodley said:

    Thanks for everything you’ve done for Nature Network, M@ – you’ll be really missed. Good luck with all your other projects and don’t forget to pop by and update us on them from time to time! 

  14. Report this comment

    Heather Etchevers said:

    Dear M@. You were a major component of what made that first Science Online London so wonderful. The pub crawl being part of it, although I only took part in its precursor during your wonderful historical London science tour. I won’t say I am sorry to see you go – because in reality, none of us really go, we just change venues, and are not lost to the circulation. So, I’ll still be happy to see you here, there and elsewhere. Thanks for all your great contributions here on, and to, Nature Network!

  15. Report this comment

    Graham Steel said:

    Sorry to see you go, M@.

    Like others, I remember the Panda thang, but had completely forgotten (for legal reasons).

    Golly gosh, I’ve not seen you IRL for yonks. Wait a minute, I waved at you briefly last month at #sameAS but it were so packed, you never made it in. Shame.

    See you around on and off the web matey.

    And from the archives of (the silly pics I used to post on) NN……



  16. Report this comment

    Bob O'Hara said:

    Oh dear. A pity you’re going sniff

  17. Report this comment

    Matt Brown said:

    Gosh, thanks Heather. I thought I’d completely pratfalled my way through those Science Online events. Glad you remember them fondly.

    Graham – I skulked around downstairs for an hour or so with a few other people who failed to get into SameAs. We called ourselves DifferentFrom. Hopefully see you around somewhere. I’ll still be doing lots of oddball sciency things here and there and attending all the ususal events.

    Bob – cheers mate. But hopefully see you at the next Science Online.

  18. Report this comment

    Akin Olagoke Ogunleye said:

    Matt, this is wishing you all the best in your future endeavours.It has been nice reading your views and opinions. Cheers.

  19. Report this comment

    Mike Fowler said:

    Good luck in the future, M@, and thanks for giving me the chance to blog on NN.

    {scarpers off to update his RSS feed}

  20. Report this comment

    Lee Turnpenny said:

    And, belatedly (currently chaotic abroad), best wishes from me, also.

  21. Report this comment

    Linda Lin said:

     All the best Matt, sorry to see you go too! You were such a huge part of NN

  22. Report this comment

    Alejandro Correa said:


    Although I did not intervene much in your blog, I see at you that is a great person, I even remember my brother, for your inteligent comments.

    All the best.