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Academic Insights for the Thinking World

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Twelve interesting facts about chocolate

Did you know that 7th July is International Chocolate Day? This is, of course, a day to eat that extra piece of chocolate or bake (and then eat) a cake just for fun! But while you savor each bite of chocolaty goodness, keep in mind that behind the sweet flavor is a long and dynamic history that has traveled across oceans and transcended cultural boundaries.

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The Paradoxical Muhammad Ali

Muhammad Ali’s funeral and memorial service brought together a seemingly incongruous cast of characters, once again spotlighting the many contradictions that have made it so difficult for commentators and biographers to extract a realistic assessment of his life. Even with a staggering amount written about him, Ali leaves behind a contested image largely characterized by misinterpretation.

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Research skills, transferable skills, and the new academic imperative

The challenges afflicting higher education in the US are many and multifaceted, and much has been written about the transformation (or full-blown identity crisis) of the academic institution and its place in society. Much of the controversy has to do with the institution’s responsibilities toward its students, its employees, and the community, with some claiming that “knowledge for knowledge’s sake” is no longer a sufficient offering.

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The top 10 most common research mistakes (and how to avoid them)

As the saying goes, we learn by our mistakes. And so it goes for virtually all research scientists, with most mistakes occurring during their formative years when they are still being mentored. While missteps in the research process are not usually catastrophic, the risks of allowing them to occur unchecked are many: personal safety is at stake, as are the careers and reputations of individuals, departments, and entire institutions.

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10 facts about the maracas

The simple design and intuitive process of the maracas have made it a familiar favorite around the world, but may often lead to an underestimation of its value in creating variety of rhythmic expression.

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Portraying Krishna in X-Men: Apocalypse

Another summer, another season of superhero movies. Big budgets, big muscles, big explosions: Each release only strengthens the genre’s domination of Hollywood—and the sense that comic-book franchises make up a contemporary mythology, and superheroes are its gods. Among this year’s offerings is X-Men: Apocalypse, which opened the last week of May.

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The EU referendum: a reading list

On 23rd June 2016, a referendum will be held in order to decide whether Britain should leave or remain in the European Union. In light of this, we have put together this reading list.

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Making the case for quality: research quality assurance in academic training programs

Successful scientific research requires an enormous investment of resources, education and effective mentoring. Scientists must be innovative, organized, flexible and patient as they conduct their research. Those entrusted to contribute to the research body of knowledge also rely on a support structure that recognizes and accepts the role of setbacks in the discovery process. In scientific research, three steps forward may rapidly result in two steps back.

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“A dream, which was not all a dream”: dark reflections from June 1816

Two hundred years ago, on 16 June 1816, one of the most remarkable gatherings in English literary history occurred in a villa just outside Geneva. Present at the occasion were Lord Byron, who had left England in April to escape (unsuccessfully, in the event) the scandal surrounding his separation from Lady Byron; John Polidori, whom Byron had engaged as his personal physician.

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Professional skills and problem solving: the undergraduate research movement

I was recently asked to comment on “who benefits from research with students, and particularly how do undergraduates who do research benefit?” Like many of us, I have a set of answers in my pocket that I often use when I speak to colleges and universities about engaging undergraduate students in research. However, the audience for this question was not the group of like-minded peers who already believe in research as a fundamentally important thing in higher education.

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Revealing lives of women in science and technology: the case of Sarah Guppy

Guppy, as a patent-holding female inventor, is a rare type for the early 19th century but one that we are clearly eager to hear about today. It is the kind of life that (mostly women) historians have been researching since the 1970s and, more recently, has been transformed into popular role model: the archetypical example is Ada Lovelace, whose name has been adopted for a day celebrating and encouraging women in science and technology.

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The mysterious search for the Cardinal’s girlfriend

From the goosebump-producing thrills of Wilkie Collins’s fiction and the melodramas on offer at the Royal Princess’ Theatre to the headlines blaring in the Illustrated Police News, the Victorians savoured the sensational. The attention-seeking title above is patently untrue, yet, for more than five decades, John Henry Newman (the Cardinal) was emotionally, spiritually, and textually connected with Maria Rosina Giberne, a wholly intriguing figure.

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Reading list for World Oceans Day

When the Earth is viewed from space, it’s mostly blue. In fact, the ocean covers over 70% of our planet. Life began in the world’s oceans, and today – billions of years later – we’re no less dependent on it. From the diverse organisms which call it home, to the complex ways it helps keep global climates in check, our own survival is undeniably linked to that of the ocean.

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World Turtle Day: a reading list

World Turtle Day is celebrated on 23 May every year since its inception in 2000. In honour of these grandiose creatures, we have compiled a reading list of biology titles and articles that have helped to further research into the conservation biology of all chelonians.

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