Oxford University Press's
Academic Insights for the Thinking World

Book thumbnail image

Climate change and our evolutionary weaknesses

By Dale Jamieson
In the reality-based community outside of Washington D.C. there is a growing fear and increasing disbelief about the failure to take climate change seriously. Many who once put their faith in science and reason have come to the depressing conclusion that we will only take action if nature slaps us silly; they increasingly see hurricanes and droughts as the only hope.

Read More
Book thumbnail image

Gene flow between wolves and dogs

By David Tarkhnishvili
Rapid development of molecular genetics in recent decades has revolutionized our understanding of life and the natural world. Scientists in the 1970s suggested that the grey wolf might be the sole ancestor of domestic dogs, but it was only in 1997 that Carles Vilà, Peter Savolainen, Robert Wayne, and their co-authors provided the conclusive evidence on this based on the analysis of molecular genetic markers.

Read More
Book thumbnail image

Looking forward to the Hay Festival 2014

By Kate Farquhar-Thomson
Every year since I can remember, I find myself in England’s famous book town for the excellent Hay Festival. Now in its 27th year the eponymous book festival can be found nestling under canvass for 11 days in the Black Mountains of the Brecon Beacons National Park.

Read More
Book thumbnail image

Why do frogs slough their skin?

By Rebecca Cramp
In recent decades, the extraordinarily rapid disappearance of frogs, toads, and salamanders has grabbed the attention of both the scientific community and concerned citizens the world over. Although the causes of some of these losses remain unresolved, the novel disease chytridiomycosis caused by the skin-based fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd), has been identified as the causative agent in many of the declines and extinctions worldwide.

Read More
Book thumbnail image

Arbor Day: an ecosystem perspective

By Frank S. Gilliam
I would like to suggest that as we, as responsible citizens, observe Arbor Day 2014, we also begin looking at forests as more than simply numerous trees growing in stands. Rather, we need to look at forests as ecosystems that are not only important in and of themselves, but also provide essential functions—so-called ecosystem services—to sustain the quality of human life.

Read More
Book thumbnail image

The amoeba in the room

By Nicholas P. Money
The small picture is the big picture and biologists keep missing it. The diversity and functioning of animals and plants has been the meat and potatoes of most natural historians since Aristotle, and we continue to neglect the vast microbial majority.

Read More
Book thumbnail image

Earth Day, 44 years on

By Ellen Wohl
The 1960s are famous for many reasons: the civil rights movement, the first moon walk, the Cuban missile crisis, rock and roll. The 1960s were also a period when awareness of environmental degradation spread to society at large.

Read More
Book thumbnail image

Global responsibility, differentiation, and an environmental rule of law?

By Duncan French and Lavanya Rajamani
As we celebrate Earth Day this year, it is timely to reflect on the international community’s commitment to halting serious environmental harm. The idea that all States have a ‘common interest’ in promoting global environmental responsibility — as evidenced most clearly through their active participation in multilateral environmental agreements — has been a cornerstone of international environmental policy for the last few decades.

Read More
Book thumbnail image

Pagán’s planarians: the extraordinary world of flatworms

The earth is filled with many types of worms, and the term “planarian” can represent a variety of worms within this diverse bunch of organisms. The slideshow below highlights fun facts about planarians from Oné Pagán’s book, The First Brain: The Neuroscience of Planarians, and provides a glimpse of why scientists like Pagán choose to study these fascinating creatures.

Read More
Book thumbnail image

The never-ending assault by microbes

By William Firshein
It is almost impossible to read a daily newspaper or listen to news reports from television and radio without hearing about an outbreak of an infectious disease. On 13 March 2014, the New York City Department of Health investigated a measles outbreak. Sixteen cases including nine pediatric cases were detected, probably caused by a failure to vaccinate the victims.

Read More
Book thumbnail image

One billion dogs? What does that mean?

By Matthew E. Gompper
As part of my recent research on the ecology of dogs and their interactions with wildlife I took the necessary first step of attempting to answer a seemingly simple question: Just how many dogs are there on the planet? Yet just because a question is simple does not mean we can confidently answer it. Previous estimates of 500-700 million dogs were rough calculations.

Read More
Book thumbnail image

Ice time

Jamie Woodward
On 23 September 1840 the wonderfully eccentric Oxford geologist William Buckland (1784–1856) and the Swiss naturalist Louis Agassiz (1809–1873) left Glasgow by stagecoach on a tour of the Scottish Highlands

Read More
Book thumbnail image

Will caloric restriction help you live longer?

By Dmytro Gospodaryov and Oleh Lushchak
The idea of extending life expectancy by modifying diet originated in the mid-20th century when the effects of caloric restriction were found. It was first demonstrated on rats and then confirmed on other model organisms. Fasting activists like Paul Bragg or Roy Walford attempted to show in practice that caloric restriction also helps to prolong life in humans.

Read More
Book thumbnail image

Bumblebees in English gardens

By Michael Hanley
Urban gardens are increasingly recognised for their potential to maintain or even enhance biodiversity. In particular the presence of large densities and varieties of flowering plants is thought to support a number of pollinating insects whose range and abundance has declined as a consequence of agricultural intensification and habitat loss.

Read More
Book thumbnail image

An interview with I. Glenn Cohen on law and bioscience

There are huge changes taking place in the world of biosciences, and whether it’s new discoveries in stem cell research, new reproductive technologies, or genetics being used to make predictions about health and behavior, there are legal ramifications for everything. Journal of Law and the Biosciences is a new journal published by Oxford University Press in association Duke University, Harvard University Law School, and Stanford University, focused on the legal implications of the scientific revolutions in the biosciences.

Read More
Book thumbnail image

Thinking more about our teeth

By Peter S. Ungar
Most of us only think about teeth when something’s wrong with them — when they come in crooked, break, or begin to rot. But take a minute to consider your teeth as the extraordinary feat of engineering they are. They concentrate and transmit the forces needed to break food, again and again, up to millions of times over a lifetime. And they do it without themselves being broken in the process — with the very same raw materials used to make the plants and animals being eaten.

Read More