Oxford University Press's
Academic Insights for the Thinking World

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Antibody cancer therapy: a new age?

In 1998 the biotech company Genentech launched Herceptin for the treatment of certain types of breast cancer. Herceptin was an example of a ‘therapeutic antibody’ and was the first of its type for cancer treatment. Antibodies are proteins in our immune system that can target abnormal cells (or bacteria, toxins, viruses, etc.) in the body, and on arriving at the target can set in motion a whole set of biological events that in principle can remove or degrade to a non-dangerous state the abnormal cells.

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5,000 years of the music of romance, courtship, and sex

How do you approach the history of love? Is it through psychology and the understanding of emotion? Is it through the great works of literature? Or is it through sound — from the chord that pulls the heart strings to the lyric that melts your heart? But this music has a strange history of its own. We can trace our ‘saccharine’ comments to Ancient Rome and the language of servitude to the Convivencia.

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Can love really be addictive?

If evidence for love addiction was purely based on the lyrics of pop songs (Robert Palmer, Roxy Music), there would be little doubt that love addiction exists. For those in the academic community who believe in the concept of ‘love addiction’ unsurprisingly define it as the condition in which people become addicted to the feelings of being in love.

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The King’s genes

On 25 March 2015, 530 years after his death, King Richard III of England will be interred in Leicester Cathedral. This remarkable ceremony is only taking place because of the success of DNA analysis in identifying his skeletal remains. So what sort of genes might a king be expected to have? Or, more prosaically, how do you identify a long dead corpse from its DNA?

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Darwin’s dice [infographic]

Charles Darwin’s theory of Natural Selection changed the way scientists understand our evolutionary past, and is a concept with which most people are quite familiar. One often overlooked element of Natural Selection, however, is the role chance plays in guiding this process.

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The love song and its complex gender history

A recent study of commercial recordings finds that 90% are attributed to men—and most often men in their peak years of sexual activity. Perhaps this discrepancy is the result of bias in the music industry or among audiences, or maybe a little of both. Or perhaps we can conclude that Darwin was right about music.

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What’s love got to do with it?

The time of year approaches that has gaggles of teenage girls quivering anxiously in school corridors: outwardly bemoaning the late arrival of the postman; while inwardly breathing a huge sigh of relief.

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Did you say millions of genomes?

Watching the field of genomics evolve over the past 20 years, it is intriguing to notice the word “genome” cozying up to the word ‘million’. Genomics is moving beyond 1k, 10k and 100k genome projects. A new courtship is blossoming. The Obama Administration has just announced a Million Genomes Project – and it’s not even the first. Now both Craig Venter and Francis Collins, leads of the private and public versions of the Human Genome Project, are working on their million-omes.

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We’ll have Manhattan: 10 hits from Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart

With the catchy melodies of Richard Rodgers’ music, and the cheeky wit of Lorenz Hart’s lyrics, the early collaborative songs of Rodgers-and-Hart are characteristic of 1920s jazz at its finest — and some of the best examples of early classics from the Great American Songbook. Most of the shows from this period have sunk into obscurity, but the songs have stood the test of time. You won’t be able to resist tapping your feet along to these ten great hits!

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Word Origins And How We Know Them

Our habitat: threshold

One does not have to be a specialist to suggest that threshold is either a disguised compound or that it contains a root and some impenetrable suffix. Disguised compounds are words like bridal (originally, bride + ale but now not even a noun as in the past, because -al was taken for the suffix of an adjective) or barn, a blend of the words for “barley,” of which only b is extant, and Old Engl. earn “house.”

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Warm father or real man?

In 1958, the prominent childcare advice writer and paediatrician Dr Benjamin Spock told readers that ‘a man can be a warm father and a real man at the same time’. In this revised edition of the bestseller Baby and Child Care, the American author dedicated a whole section to ‘The Father’s Part’.

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The economics of chocolate

Cocoa and chocolate have a long history in Central America but a relatively short history in the rest of the world. For thousands of years tribes and empires in Central America produced cocoa and consumed drinks based on it. It was only when the Spanish arrived in those regions that the rest of the world learned about it. Initially, cocoa production stayed in the original production regions, but with the local population decimated by war and imported diseases, slave labor was imported from Africa.

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Breath is the basis of good singing

Giovanni Battista Lamperti (1839 – 1910), one of the first great vocal pedagogues, is quoted as saying in his Maxims that the breath is the basis of good singing. ”What is your approach to breath?” is a simple question, but the answers to this question are anything but simple. Master singers have varying ideas about breath control

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Religion and the social determinants of health

Is religion a plus or minus when it comes to global health and the “right to health” in the twenty-first century? A little of both, I’d say, but what does that look like? For me the connection is seen most clearly in the “social determinants of health”; that is, “the everyday circumstances in which people are born, grow, live, work, and age.” This post considers a selection of photos that shape how I see social determinants intersecting with religion.

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Tetralogue

Trains of thought: Zac

Four people with radically different outlooks on the world meet on a train and start talking about what they believe. Their conversation varies from cool logical reasoning to heated personal confrontation. Each starts off convinced that he or she is right, but then doubts creep in. During February, we will be posting a series of extracts that cover the viewpoints of all four characters in Tetralogue. What follows is an extract exploring Zac’s perspective.

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Fighting the threat within

The recent attacks on Charlie Hebdo, the siege in Sydney, and the Canadian parliament attack have heightened fears of the type of home-grown security threats that had been realised earlier in the July 2005 London bombings. Looking to the future, security agencies and governments have warned grimly of battle hardened jihadists returning home from Middle Eastern and North African theatres of war.

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