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Academic Insights for the Thinking World

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Music therapy and Arts Based Research

Arts Based Research offers a new and diverse method for inquiring about the world around us. Whether examining social sciences or healthcare, this field offers a different approach and establishes an innovative framework for inquiry. We spoke with Professor Jane Edwards, the guest editor for a special issue of the Journal of Music Therapy, about her perspective on this emerging field.

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The Cancer Moonshot

Announced on January 13th by President Obama in his eighth and final State of the Union Address, the multi-billion dollar project will be led by US Vice President, Joe Biden, who has a vested interest in seeing new cures for cancer. Using genomics to cure cancer is being held on par with JFK’s desire in 1961 to land men on the moon.

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9780199898121 - Pandemics: What Everyone Needs to Know (WENTK)

The Zika virus: a “virgin soil” epidemic

First isolated in Uganda in 1947, this normally mild, non-fatal mosquito-born flavivirus infection is characterized by transient fever, joint pain and malaise. The current explosive Zika virus epidemic in the Americas is, however, causing great concern because of what looks to be a sudden, dramatic increase in the incidence of microcephaly (small brain/head size) in newborns.

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A Practical Guide to the Interpretation of Cardiopulmonary Exercise Tests

The evolution of breathing tests

If a person is experiencing difficulty breathing comfortably, the chances are that the difficulty stays with them no matter what they’re doing, be it sitting, standing, or walking. So it’s not surprising that conventional scans or breathing tests, carried out with the patient lying on a couch or sitting in a chair, don’t always tell us what the problem is.

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9780199668564 Bardgett - Earth Matters

Why soil matters more than we realise

The soils surrounding the village where I live in the north west of England have abundant fertility. They mostly formed in well-drained, clay-rich debris left behind by glaciers that retreated from the area some ten thousand years ago, and they now support lush, productive pasture, semi-natural grassland and woodland. Although the pastures are managed more intensively than they were in the past, most of them are well drained, and receive regular dressings of manure along with moderate fertiliser, and are regularly limed, which keeps the land productive and the soil in good health.

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Can American schools close the achievement gaps?

Currently, the United States is at war and the nation’s future can be at risk. It’s the war on student achievement gaps, one that has waged for decades and proven extremely difficult to fight and complex to understand. Is American education system losing its war on achievement gaps?

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Bodies of breath, bodies of knowledge, and bodies of culture

Towards the end of his lecture on ‘techniques of the body’, delivered to a meeting of the Société Française de Psychologie in 1934, the sociologist and anthropologist Marcel Mauss discussed the methods of breathing practiced by Daoist priests and Yogic mystics. Far from being instinctive, these techniques require a lengthy apprenticeship.

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Does the ‘Chinese room’ argument preclude a robot uprising?

There has been much recent talk about a possible robot apocalypse. One person who is highly skeptical about this possibility is philosopher John Searle. In a 2014 essay, he argues that “the prospect of superintelligent computers rising up and killing us, all by themselves, is not a real danger”.

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Humanity in the digital age

How does one preserve the ephemera of the digital world? In a movement as large as the Arab Spring, with a huge digital imprint that chronicled everything from a government overthrow to the quiet boredom of waiting between events, archivists are faced with the question of how to preserve history. The Internet may seem to provide us with the curse of perfect recall, but the truth is it’s far from perfect — and perhaps there’s value in forgetting.

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Shadows of the digital age

The Bodleian recently launched a festival celebrating drawing. As part of this, the artist Tamarin Norwood retreated to our Printing Workshop, turned off her devices and learned how to set type. She proceeded, in her inky and delightful way, to compose a series of Print Tweets.

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Time and perception

The human brain is a most wonderful organ: it is our window on time. Our brains have specialized structures that work together to give us our human sense of time. The temporal lobe helps form long term memories, without which we would not be aware of the past, whilst the frontal lobe allows us to plan for the future.

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Conversations in computing: Q&A with Editor-in-Chief, Professor Steve Furber

Oxford University Press is excited to be welcoming Professor Steve Furber as the new Editor-in-Chief of The Computer Journal. In an interview between Justin Richards of BCS, The Chartered Institute of IT and Steve, we get to know more about the SpiNNaker project, ethical issues around Artificial Intelligence (AI), and the future of the IT industry.

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Landmarks in the study of rheumatology

From experiments with steroids, to placebos, and genome-wide studies, we take a look back at over two centuries of rheumatology studies. Rheumatology involves the study of any disorders of the joints, muscles, and ligaments – including such debilitating conditions as rheumatism and arthritis.

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Can a robot be conscious?

Can a robot be conscious? I will try to discuss this without getting bogged down in the rather thorny issue of what consciousness –– really is. Instead, let me first address whether robot consciousness is an important topic to think about. At first sight, it may seem unimportant. Robots will affect us only through their outward behavior, which may be more or less along the lines of what we tend to think of as coming along with consciousness, but given this behavior, its consequences to us are not affected by whether or not it really is accompanied by consciousness.

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Infectious Disease VSI cover

Name that plague! [quiz]

Though caused by microscopic agents, infectious diseases have played an outsized role in human history. They have shaped societies, lent us words and metaphors, and turned the tide of wars. Humans have eliminated some diseases, but others continue to plague us. In this quiz, find out if confusion is contagious or if you’re immune to the challenge.

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