Oxford University Press's
Academic Insights for the Thinking World

9780190230869

Remembering John Muir on the centennial of the National Park Service

This year, Americans celebrate the centennial of the National Park Service. On August 25, 1916, President Woodrow Wilson signed the National Park Service Organic Act. The bill culminated decades of effort by a remarkable generation of dedicated men and women who fought to protect the nation’s natural wonders for the democratic enjoyment of the people.

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9780190215255

A flame as a moth: how I began chronicling the life of Harrison G. Dyar, Jr., Part 1

I first became acquainted with Dyar’s work on the moth family Limacodidae, my chosen entomology dissertation topic, in 1983 at the University of Minnesota. It was in the Hodson Hall library on the St. Paul campus where I noted how Dyar’s authorship dominated the Journal of the New York Entomological Society in the middle to late 1890s. Particularly notable was his running series from 1895-1899

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9780199930197

Designer nature: mosquitoes first and then what?

We’re told that we can insert a gene to confer sterility and this trait would race like wildfire through Aedes aegypti. Why this species? Because it’s the vector of the Zika virus—along with the dengue and yellow fever viruses. The problem is that A. aegypti isn’t the only culprit. It’s just one of a dozen or more bloodsuckers that will also have to be wiped out. After we’ve driven these species to extinction, we’ll presumably move on to the Anopheles species that transmit malaria.

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9780199675661

Why cooperate?

Birds do it. Bees do it. Microbes do it, and people do it. Throughout nature, organisms cooperate. Humans are undeniably attracted by the idea of cooperation. For thousands of years, we have been seeking explanations for its occurrence in other organisms, often imposing our own motivations and ethics in an effort to explain what we see.

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12 little-known facts about cats

Cats are among some of the most popular pets in the world, and they’ve been so for thousands of years. In fact, there are more than two million cat videos on YouTube. In appreciation of our feline friends for World Cat Day on 8 August, we’ve put together a list of 12 little-known cat facts.

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9780199965038

Aldo Leopold’s legacy on our national parks

As my family gazed down on the stratified color bands of geological history in the Grand Canyon, snow and ice lined each ridge, and made each step on the path going down a dangerous adventure, highlighting the glorious drama of the miles-deep gorge. It was dizzying and frightening and awe-inspiring.

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Illuminating Shakespeare

Shakespeare and the natural world [infographic]

It is probable that Shakespeare observed, or at least heard about, many natural phenomena that occurred during his time, which may have influenced the many references to nature and science that he makes in his work. Although he was very young at the time, he may have witnessed the blazing Stella Nova in 1572.

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9780199639656

Changing tropical forest landscapes: A view from a small plane

We emerge from the thick tropical clouds that perpetually hang over Kota Kinabalu at this time of year. I crane my neck to get a good view through the plane window of the surreal profile of Mount Kinabalu, its multi-pronged rocky top standing well aloof of the surrounding clouds and forest. It seems as if the mountain, aware of its own splendour, has shaken off all vegetation from its peaks to better show off their plutonic immensity.

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Turning waste into resource: a win-win situation that should not be missed

Soon after the Flinstones’ cartoon period, formally called the Stone Age, humans started to use metals for constructing tools, weapons, or ornaments which tremendously boosted human development. Since then, metal utilization has been evolving and nowadays, metals are a central pillar for all kind of routine and technological uses. You can find aluminium in most of your pots and pans

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9780199206087

Which mammal are you? [quiz]

Mammals are defined as warm-blooded vertebrates that are distinguished by the possession of hair or fur, of which the females secrete milk for the nourishment of their young, and typically birth live young (except five known species, including the duck-billed platypus). Can we match up your personality traits to those of our mammalian friends? Find out which mammal you most closely resemble!

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Astronomy’s next big thing: the Square Kilometre Array

When I started research in radio astronomy in 1947, the only known sources of cosmic radio waves were the Sun and the Milky Way. Observing techniques were simple: receivers were insensitive, there was no expectation that other radio sources could be located or even existed. A few years later, a whole vast radio sky was revealed, populated with supernova remnants, galaxies, and quasars.

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9780198726142

Sampling reptiles in the Anthropocene

According to the Reptile Database, more than 10,200 non-avian reptile species have been described (6,175 lizards and amphisbaenians; 3,496 snakes; 341 turtles; 25 crocodilians; 1 tuatara), with new taxa being recognized nearly every day.

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Brexit wrecks it for science

We are all reeling from the vote for Brexit. No one in my scientific circle was for exit. Now all are heavily lamenting it. Even cursing it on Facebook. Scientists voted to stay. Seems the entire science sector was pro-Europe and for many good reasons. Many of the best UK science labs are filled with brilliant researchers from across the EU.

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9780195392944

10 things you didn’t know about sharks

There are more than 400 known species of sharks inhabiting our planet’s marine ecosystems but detailed knowledge about most sharks is considerably lacking. Biologists often encounter barriers to studying sharks in captivity and in the wild due to factors such as their large size, relatively low demand in commercial markets, fast speeds, and wide habitat ranges.

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Bleak skies at night: the year without a summer and Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein

Two hundred years ago this month, Mary Shelley had the terrifying ‘waking dream’ that she subsequently molded into the greatest Gothic novel of all time; Frankenstein. As all who have read the book or seen one of the many film adaptations will know, the ‘monster’ cobbled together out of human odds and ends by rogue scientist, Victor Frankenstein, is galvanised into existence by the power of electricity.

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American Entomologist

Researchers use drones and satellite photos to document illegal logging in monarch butterfly reserve

The monarch butterfly has been called “the Bambi of the insect world.” These fascinating insects are famous for their bright colors and their incredible fall migratory route, which can be as long as 2,500 miles. Starting from as far north as Canada, millions of monarchs take a two-month journey to a mountain range that straddles the border of two Mexican states, Michoacán and México, where they spend the winter.

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