I’ve just published an article for the Incorporated Society of Musicians, introducing the world of online real-time music (ORM) software. Strangely, this field has hidden in plain sight for decades, as a somewhat niche occupation of internet hobbyists and academic researchers. The COVID-19 lockdown has precipitated a wave of new interest, with professional musicians quickly realising that Zoom and Skype wouldn’t cut it and looking for something more suitable.

The article is based on extensive interviews with some key players, and my own forays into ORM. We all want to get back to playing in real life as soon as possible, but it’s likely that being able to rehearse, livestream and record remotely in real time will remain useful going forward. The pandemic could prompt a rapid ‘professionalisation’ of the field, and ORM may become a standard tool of jobbing musicians alongside home recording, remote lessons, etc.

Check it out and please share the article if you find it interesting. Most people still do not know that online real-time music is actually possible.

In due course I might upload a slightly longer version to this blog, but the essentials are pretty completely covered in the ISM’s version — thanks to them for their editorial flexibility in allowing me to retain the hybrid news/advice tone I was going for.

On Friday I’ll be in Wrexham to take part in the DARGANFOD//DISCOVER festival that Mike Corcoran is organising. Roughly speaking, it’s a science festival, but there’s a whole lot of stuff crossing over with arts and music too — it looks pretty amazing. Lots of credit to Mike for getting it together, and for agreeing to lend his formidable conversation-leading powers to help my talk make a bit more sense.


Also taking part is the amazing Bryony Benge-Abbott who, among other things, is in charge of exhibitions at the Crick institute.


I’m really interested in the relationship between the arts and sciences (see, e.g., here), and today a few of us from the Crick Institute received a guided tour of a nice exhibition at Central Saint Martins. Crossing Fields is the degree show for their almost-unique MA in Art and Science, and is well worth a look in the next few days. A few that I managed to get snaps of are shown below — there are many more fantastic works to see. These ones are by Julie Light, Meri Lahti and Chang Zhou.


At last year’s Biophysical Society 2015 meeting, Peter Olmsted and I met Philip Fowler, who at the time worked in Mark Sansom‘s group (he now works in the Nuffield Department of Medicine at Oxford). I had noticed a signal in their lipid bilayer simulations that looked like a two-step asymmetry/symmetry transition we had studied theoretically. Understanding how constituents of a lipid bilayer interact and self-organise is key to the biology of the cell membrane, as well as to applications of synthetic lipid bilayer membranes.

It has been a pleasure to work with Phil and Mark over the past year as we have looked closely into the symmetry and asymmetry of phase-separating bilayers, using a raft (geddit?) of new simulations expertly constructed and analysed by Phil. A joint paper is out now in JACS, linking the kinetics of lipid bilayer phases to a theoretical model of competing inter-leaflet coupling effects. Check it out!

Roles of Interleaflet Coupling and Hydrophobic Mismatch in Lipid Membrane Phase-Separation Kinetics

I was recently preparing a paper for an ACS journal and had a few issues with the bibliography style. Most of these were fixed by downloading the latest achemso.bst style file from here. However, it didn’t include that the journal seems to use only first pages (not ranges) when making references. That is, an article on pages 1897–1902 is referred to as:

Authors, Journal, Year, Volume, 1897

and not:

Authors, Journal, Year, Volume, 1897–1902.

So, using some information from here I have made a modified achemso.bst [link fixed 24/7/18] that uses only the first page. I don’t know about you but it always takes lot googling to figure out this stuff, so I’ve tried to make this post easily findable by those in a similar situation.