Oxford University Press's
Academic Insights for the Thinking World

  • Science & Medicine

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Boxes and paradoxes

By Marjorie Senechal
It was eerie, a gift from the grave. But I thank serendipity, not spooks. The gift, it turns out, was given forty years ago.

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Paul Otlet, Google, Wikipedia, and cataloging the world

As soon as humanity began its quest for knowledge, people have also attempted to organize that knowledge. From the invention of writing to the abacus, from medieval manuscripts to modern paperbacks, from microfiche to the Internet, our attempt to understand the world — and catalog it in an orderly fashion with dictionaries, encyclopedias, libraries, and databases — has evolved with new technologies.

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Why you can’t take a pigeon to the movies

By Siu-Lan Tan
Films trick our senses in many ways. Most fundamentally, there’s the illusion of motion as “moving pictures” don’t really move at all. Static images shown at a rate of 24 frames per second can give the semblance of motion. Slower frame rates tend to make movements appear choppy or jittery. But film advancing at about 24 frames per second gives us a sufficient impression of fluid motion.

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Why are sex differences frequently overlooked in biomedical research?

By Katie L. Flanagan
Despite the huge body of evidence that males and females have very different immune systems and responses, few biomedical studies consider sex in their analyses. Sex refers to the intrinsic characteristics that distinguish males from females, whereas gender refers to the socially determined behaviour, roles, or activities that males and females adopt.

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How threatened are we by Ebola virus?

By Peter C. Doherty
The Ebola outbreak affecting Guinea, Sierra Leone, Nigeria and now Liberia is the worst since this disease was first discovered more than 30 years back. Between 1976 and 2013 there were less than 1,000 known infections. According to the Centers for Disease Control and prevention (CDC), March to 23 July 2014 saw 1201 likely cases and 672 deaths.

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Transforming conflict into peace

By Valentina Baú
My research has focused on the use of participatory media in conflict-affected communities. The aim has been to demonstrate that involving community members in a media production provides them with a platform to tell their story about the violence they have experienced and the causes they believe led to it.

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A Q&A with Professor Stefan Agewall

As the European Society of Cardiology gets ready to welcome a new journal to its prestigious family, we meet the Editor-in-Chief, Professor Stefan Agewall, to find out how he came to specialise in this field and what he has in store for the European Heart Journal – Cardiovascular Pharmacotherapy.

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Limiting the possibility of a dangerous pandemic

While pandemics are by their nature unpredictable, there are some things worth considering when it comes to the issue of personal safety and responsibility. The first point is to be a safe international traveler so that you don’t bring some nasty infection home with you. Protect yourself and you protect others. Though taking the available vaccines won’t prevent infection with some novel pathogen, it will contribute toward ensuring that you enjoy a successful vacation or business trip, and it should also put you in a “think bugs” mind-set.

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Independence, supervision, and patient safety in residency training

By Kenneth M. Ludmerer
Since the late nineteenth century, medical educators have believed that there is one best way to produce outstanding physicians: put interns, residents, and specialty fellows to work in learning their fields. After an appropriate scientific preparation during medical school, house officers (the generic term for interns, residents, and specialty fellows) need to jump into the clinical setting and begin caring for patients themselves.

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Colostrum, performance, and sports doping

By Martin Luck
A recent edition of BBC Radio 4′s On Your Farm programme spoke to a dairy farmer who supplies colostrum to athletes as a food supplement. Colostrum is the first milk secreted by a mother. Cow colostrum is quite different from normal cow’s milk: it has about four times as much protein, twice as much fat and half as much lactose (sugar).

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Pseudoscience surplus

By Sergio Della Sala
We are besieged by misinformation on all sides; when this misinformation masquerades as science, we call it pseudoscience. The scientific tradition has methods which offer a way to get accurate evidence, and decrease the chance of misinformation persisting for long.

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What are the costs and impacts of telecare for people who need social care?

By Catherine Henderson
In these times of budgetary constraints and demographic change, we need to find new ways of supporting people to live longer in their own homes. Telecare has been suggested as a useful way forward. Some examples of this technology, such as pull-cord or pendant alarms, have been around for years, but these ‘first-generation’ products have given way to more extensive and sophisticated systems.

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World Hepatitis Day: reason to celebrate

By Paul Sax
After years of intense basic and clinical research, hepatitis C is now curable for the vast majority of the millions of people who have it. The major barrier is access (diagnosis, getting care, and paying for it), because the scientific problem has been solved.

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Does pain have a history?

It’s easy to assume that we know what pain is. We’ve all experienced pain, from scraped knees and toothaches to migraines and heart attacks. When people suffer around us, or we witness a loved one in pain, we can also begin to ‘feel’ with them. But is this the end of the story?

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A revolution in trauma patient care

By Simon Howell
Major trauma impacts on the lives of young and old alike. Most of us know or are aware of somebody who has suffered serious injury. In the United Kingdom over five-thousand people die from trauma each year. It is the most common cause of death in people under forty. Many of the fifteen-thousand people who survive major trauma suffer life-changing injuries and some will never fully recover and require life-long care.

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