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OUPblog | Oxford University Press’s Academic Insights for the World

Oxford University Press's
Academic Insights for the Thinking World

FEMS Microbiology Letters

Is the history of science still relevant?

It was a simple request: “Try and put the fun back into microbiology”. I was about to write a new practical course for first year students, and apparently there had been complaints that microbiology is just another form of cookbook chemistry. Discussions showed that they liked the idea of doing their own experiments without a pre-determined outcome. Of course, with living microorganisms, safety must be a major concern, and some control was needed to prevent hazardous surprises, but “fun” and safety are not mutually exclusive.

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Police9.1

Believing victims

Hampshire Constabulary are the latest in a long line of police forces obliged to apologise to a victim of crime for failing to investigate an allegation properly. In this case, a young woman accused a man of rape. She was not believed; forensic examination of clothing was delayed; in the meanwhile, the complainant was threatened with arrest for ‘perverting the course of justice’ and she attempted suicide. Eventually, following belated forensic analysis, the man was arrested and has since then been convicted.

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9780199688623

The Irish referendum on same-sex marriage

Today, the people of Ireland will vote in a Referendum to decide whether to include the following new wording in their Constitution: ‘Marriage may be contracted in accordance with law by two persons without distinction as to their sex.’ This may happen despite the fact that Ireland has a Constitution grounded in Catholic values. Indeed, abortion in Ireland is still constitutionally prohibited. Homosexuality was only decriminalized in 1993, and the option to divorce has only been available since 1995.

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MEDLAW_2015

The role of the law, in the matter of Ashya King

Parents of a child diagnosed with a serious illness are immediately required to make decisions about their child’s medical treatment which, in order to save life, may cause pain, unpleasant side-effects and risk damaging their child’s future quality of life. The actions, last summer, of the parents of five year old Ashya King offer just one example of the lengths to which parents will go to secure the best possible treatment for their child […]

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9780199681648_450

Parkinson’s disease: the flip side of the coin

The human brain might be perceived as an organ with two main strategic tasks: goal-directed motor behavior, and mental functioning in order to work out that goal. These two main functions have two prototypical diseases: Alzheimer disease, in case of mental function, and Parkinson’s disease, with motor function. Following its inception as an entity, Parkinson’s disease (PD) was long perceived to be a purely motor disorder with unimpaired mental functions.

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Climate consciousness in daily legal practice

Thinking about climate change generates helplessness in us. Our persistent role creating this global catastrophe seems so inevitable as to be predetermined; our will to contain it, or even reach agreement to contain it, feeble.

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9780195373851_450

Do America’s political parties matter in presidential elections?

April 2015 will go down in history as the month that the 2016 race for the White House began in earnest. Hillary Clinton’s online declaration of her presidential candidacy was the critical moment. With it America’s two major political parties have locked horns with each other. The Democrats intend to continue their control of the presidency for another four years; Republicans hope to finally make good on a conservative bumper sticker that began appearing on automobiles as early as the summer of 2009 and that read, “Had Enough Yet? Next Time Vote Republican.”

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9780198703297

How well do you know Shakespeare actors?

‘All the world’s a stage, And all the men and women merely players.’ Over the past 400 years, Shakespeare’s plays have been performed across the globe, in productions big and small. Many actors have tried their hand at bringing characters such as Hamlet, Othello, Puck, and Juliet to life. How well do you know some of the great Shakespeare actors and the plays they performed in? Test your knowledge with our quiz below.

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Salamone Rossi and the preservation of Jewish identity

Like other Jewish musicians in later times, among them Ernest Bloch, Darius Milhaud, and Leonard Bernstein, Rossi confronted the problems, in his own time, of preserving his Jewish identity in a non-Jewish environment and of communicating with Jews and Christians in such a way as to be understood and appreciated by both.

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9780199674541

The missing emotion

Wrath, people say, is not an emotion but a sin; and a deadly sin at that. Yet anger is just as much an emotion as anxiety or misery. Like them, it is an inescapable part of life; like them, it can be necessary and useful; and like them, an excess can wreck lives. Mental health language, however, has not elevated the extreme into a syndrome comparable to depression or anxiety states.

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Traumatic brain injury in the military

Traumatic brain injury (TBI) has often been called the “signature wound” of the recent conflicts in the Middle East. While some tend to discuss TBI as an overarching diagnostic category, there is a plethora of evidence indicating that severity of TBI makes a large difference in the anticipated outcome.

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9780199688739

The genetics of consciousness

Nipple of a cat. Nose of a pig. Hair of a poodle. Eyes of a baboon. Brain of a chimpanzee. If this sounds like a list of ingredients for a witches’ cauldron, think again, for it’s merely a reminder of how many general characteristics we share with other mammals. This similarity in basic body parts has a genetic basis. So humans and chimps share 99 percent DNA similarity in our protein–coding genes and even the tiny mouse is 85 percent similar to us in this respect.

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Word Origins And How We Know Them

Putting one’s foot into it

Last week, I wrote about the idiom to cry barley, used by children in Scotland and in the northern counties of England, but I was interested in the word barley “peace, truce” rather than the phrase. Today I am returning to the north, and it is the saying the bishop has put (or set) his foot in it that will be at the center of our attention.

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Edward Jenner: soloist or member of a trio? Part 2

In 1805 a Dorset farmer, Benjamin Jesty arrived in London on an invitation from the Original Vaccine Pock Institute to describe his cowpox vaccination procedure on his own family which included a real time inoculation of his son Robert with smallpox. This new institute was formed by the anti-Jenner physician George Pearson in an attempt to shift the credit for vaccination discovery away from Jenner.

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9780199937776

Where was Christopher Columbus really from?

Of the many controversies surrounding the life and legacy of Christopher Columbus, who died on this day 510 years ago, one of the most intriguing but least discussed questions is his true country of origin. For reasons lost in time, Columbus has been identified with unquestioned consistency as an Italian of humble beginnings from the Republic of Genoa. Yet in over 536 existing pages of his letters and documents, not once does the famous explorer claim to have come from Genoa.

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oxrep

Field experimenting in economics: Lessons learned for public policy

Do neighbourhoods matter to outcomes? Which classroom interventions improve educational attainment? How should we raise money to provide important and valued public goods? Do energy prices affect energy demand? How can we motivate people to become healthier, greener, and more cooperative? These are some of the most challenging questions policy-makers face. Academics have been trying to understand and uncover these important relationships for decades.

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