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#Force2015 – back to the future of scholarly communications

This year marks the 350th anniversary of the scholarly journal, as recorded by the first publication of the Royal Society’s Philosophical Transactions in 1665. In a dedicatory epistle to the Society’s Fellows and the Introduction, editor Henry Oldenburg set forth its purpose to inform the scientific community of the latest and most valuable discoveries.

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Cold War air hijackers and US-Cuban relations

In 1968, as the world convulsed in an era of social upheaval, Cuba unexpectedly became a destination for airplane hijackers. The hijackers were primarily United States citizens or residents. Commandeering aircraft from the United States to Cuba over ninety times between 1968 and 1973, Americans committed more air hijackings during this period than all other global incidents combined.

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The shape of our galaxy

Many of you have likely seen the beautiful grand spiral galaxies captured by the likes of the Hubble space telescope. Images such as those below of the Pinwheel and Whirlpool galaxies display long striking spiral arms that wind into their centres.

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The afterlife of the Roman Senate

When the Senate of the Free City of Krakow oversaw the renovation of the main gate to the Royal Castle in 1827, it commemorated its action with an inscription: SENATUS POPULUSQUE CRACOVIENSIS RESTITUIT MDCCCXXVII. The phrase ‘Senatus Populusque Cracoviensis’ [the Senate and People of Krakow], and its abbreviation SPQC, clearly and consciously invoked comparison with ancient Rome and its structures of government.

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How the US government invented and exploited the “patent troll” hold-up myth

A patent like other property rights is a right to exclude others and not a right or an obligation to make the patented invention. Yet today there is a growing campaign by certain industry sectors and the government against patent holders that do not make any products but enforce their patent rights for licensing revenues, often pejoratively called patent “trolls.”

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Adderall and desperation

“Butler Library smells like Adderall and desperation.”
That note from a blogger at Columbia University isn’t exactly scientific. But it speaks to the atmosphere that settles in around exam time here, and at other competitive universities.

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Ventriloquists, female impersonators, the genuine article?

Among the earliest, most challenging inventors of troubadour lyric, Marcabru composed songs for the courts of southwestern France during the second quarter of the twelfth century, calling knights to crusade, castigating false lovers, defining and refining courtly values…

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Parody and copyright: Laughing out loud?

\What is a parody? Does a parody have to be actually funny or is it sufficient that its author intended it to be funny? Are there any limits to one’s own right to parody? These are all questions that will have most surely crossed your mind at some point, perhaps while watching something like the Chatroulette version of Miley Cyrus’s “Wrecking Ball” video.

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An enigma: the codes, the machine, the man

Prometheus, a Titan god, was exiled from Mount Olympus by Zeus because he stole fire from the gods and gave it to mankind. He was condemned, punished and chained to a rock while eagles ate at his liver. His name, in ancient Greek, means “forethinker “and literary history lauds him as a prophetic hero who rebels against his society to help man progress.

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Climate shocks, dynastic cycles, and nomadic conquests

Nomadic conquests have helped shape world history. We may indulge ourselves for a moment to imagine the following counterfactuals: What if Western Europe did not fall to seminomadic Germanic tribes, or Western Europe was conquered by the Huns, Arabs, or Mongols, or Kievan Rus did not succumb to Mongolian invaders, or Ming China did not give way to the Manchu Qing?

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Calling oral history bloggers – again!

Last April, we asked you to help us out with ideas for the Oral History Review’s blog. We got some great responses, and now we’re back to beg for more! We want to use our social media platforms to encourage discussion within the broad community oral historians, from professional historians to hobbyists.

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Migration Studies

Why do politicians break their promises on migration?

Immigration policies in the US and UK look very different right now. Barack Obama is painting immigration as part of the American dream, and forcing executive action to protect five million unauthorized immigrants from deportation. Meanwhile, David Cameron’s government is treating immigration “like a disease”, vowing to cut net migration “to the tens of thousands” and sending around posters saying “go home”. US immigration policies appear radically open while UK policies appear radically closed.

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Selfies and model bottoms: monkeying around with intellectual property rights

When the “Case of the Black Macaque” scooped media headlines this summer, copyright was suddenly big news.Here was photographer David Slater fighting Wikipedia over the right to disseminate online a portrait photo of a monkey which had, contrary to all expectations and the law of averages, managed within just a few jabs of a curious finger, to take a plausible, indeed publishable “selfie”.

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Ebola: the epidemic’s next phase

Although the number of Ebola cases and deaths has jumped dramatically in the short time since we wrote our December Briefing on the epidemic, there are signs of hope. Ebola is slowing down in areas where there was previously high transmission, in Liberia and in Eastern Sierra Leone for example.

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It’s not just about treating the cancer

Receiving a cancer diagnosis is emotional and overwhelming for patients. While initially patients may appropriately focus on understanding their disease and what their treatment options are, supportive care should begin at diagnosis and is a vital part of care across the continuum of the cancer experience.

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