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Welcome to the stemistry lab

Stylized blastocyst

Stemistry is a contribution made to science by members of the public who come together to discuss stem cell research and offer their fears, hopes, questions and creative responses.

Stem cell research throws up plenty of moral questions, but rather than begin by talking to scientists and opinion-makers, this project asks a group of people from the general public for their thoughts, reactions and ideas, using creative writing to explore these responses.

If you'd like to know what opinion-makers think — click here for what politicians, campaigners and scientists are saying.

stemistryPLUS: beyond stem cells

Stemistry’s original remit was to use creative writing and a sci-art approach to explore stem cell technology: something the project has done for 5 years. A selection of our work and writing is showcased here.

Early in 2011 we secured some funding to widen the remit of Stemistry and explore other life sciences. (We kept within life sciences as this is the PEALS remit).

With this new approach the project has developed significantly beyond its original name and we call the work undertaken in the first half of 2011 as stemistryPLUS.

Four life sciences were explored:
Evolutionary Genetics
Environmental Science
Computational Neuroscience

Creative responses from stemistryPLUS

The fly in many forms

Fly – one name for such variety; I wonder,
is there a hierarchy of flies, does one buzz
elevate above the others, designer stripe
denote a higher order, accident of birth
confer superior status?

Get real – we all fly, we all die,
we all feed from the same shit.

No event on Earth is larger than a postcard home

Umpteen shoots back to back. Fizz-filled wood.
Sky-clot, sunlight upsurge.
Birch leaves ignite.
An indigenous frost-nip
Where broiling winds ground.
The day nurtures depleted uranium

Saving the ant

or, saving yourself

Keep the anteaters coming. Keep them watered
but keep the deserts dry. Keep the sun outside, keep the air
we’re breathing clean. Don’t scare the eagles away,
or stretch the edges too far. Everything relies on this.
Leave the fungus alone, leave the dying and the light
and your crumbs and those pieces of expectation.
Leave room but don’t make more. Don’t worry,
but worry if there’s anything you can’t do.
We are all thrust to this cacophony of life.
Zoom out, retune, and remember the delight.
We are noisy and must work together.


I am hacked. I am marketed and bullied
into emotional focus. There is nothing

engineered about me – except my emotional response.
I am inhibited. I am immune, unfeeling,

not even sorry to say that I don’t love you any more.
I am having the time of my life.

Two plus two ain't four

This equation’s easy
1 equals you
1 equals me
1 plus 1 makes 2, but really

1 plus 1 is simply 1
With nothing new added
To make a 2-sum
Needs somewhere to get new bits from

Perhaps try
1 of you
And 3 of fly
And that’ll bring number 2 to life

The universe and me

They can give us the facts
The truth, with mathematical proof
And bring sequence and order
To theories and musings.

Do you think they can say
Where I’m going?
And what I will find when I get there?

Will it be, as was promised to me?
Or will the essence of me, simply cease to be?

What will it be?
Can they prove it to me?


Stemistry is a project that is taking place over three years, and we aim to develop the site to allow different kinds of interaction. If you have any general queries, or want to get in touch please email

Neuron, Nicolas P. Rougier

Stemistry Events:


Over a weekend in June 2009 a group of adults and young people met to discuss and reflect upon stem cell research and the impact it has on their lives and communities.
Find out more »

Title image of "My Voice" exhibition

Stemistry Events:


In March 2008 Stemistry joined Life! in their stem cell dome in Durham and tried out their new Mega Magnetic Stemistry Poetry Boards. We were trying to be like a huge oversized fridge that we hoped people would find eye-catching.
Find out more »

On the magnetic poetry board

  • ONE
  • IS
  • BONE
  • TWO
  • IS

Click for more magnetic poems

The Stemistry glossary

(From the alt glossary)

New starters
Elastic band ball
Jack's bag of magic beans
5-day football
Somebody's plan
Having a ball
Cycle bag

Explore the alt definitions