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Academic Insights for the Thinking World

  • Science & Medicine


Building momentum for women in science

I recently attended an event at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine “Celebrating 200+ Women Professors”. The celebration of these women and their careers inspired me, especially as a “young” woman and an assistant professor. It was also humbling to hear about their successes in spite of the many challenges they faced solely due to their sex.

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World Statistics Day: a reading list

On 20 October 2015, the global mathematical community is celebrating World Statistics Day. In honour of this, we present here a reading list of OUP books and journal articles that have helped to advance the understanding of these mathematical concepts.

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Better medical research for longer, healthier lives

When I started my career as a medical statistician in September 1972, medical research was very different from now. In that month, the Lancet and the British Medical Journal published 61 research reports which used individual participant data, excluding case reports and animal studies. The median sample size was 36 people. In July 2010, I had another look.

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Why you must stop for coffee and donuts this morning

Sometimes, what your brain wants is not always good for your body. Donuts are a good example. It’s early morning and you’re driving to work after a nice breakfast of black coffee and two eggs, easy-over, with bacon. Yet, you’re still hungry and having difficulty paying attention to the traffic. Why? Your brain is not cooperating because it is not satisfied with that breakfast because it lacked one critical ingredient that your brain urgently needs: sugar.

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World Anaesthesia Day: Key events in the history of anaesthesia

Today (Friday 16 October) is World Anaesthesia Day. To mark this occasion, we have selected ten of the most interesting events in the history of anaesthesia. From the discovery of diethyl ether by Paracelsus in 1525, to James Young Simpson’s first use of chloroform in 1847, and the creation of the first specialist anaesthetic society in 1992 – anaesthesia is a medical discipline with a fascinating past.

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Soda Politics

The soda industry exposed [infographic]

Although soda companies such as Coca-Cola and PepsiCo are recognized around the world – the history, politics, and nutrition of these corporations are not as known. In her latest book, Soda Politics: Taking on Big Soda (and Winning), Marion Nestle exposes the truth behind this multi-billion dollar industry. Check out these hard hitting facts and see how much you actually know about the soda industry.

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Music: the language of play

Every day after school, eager children cross the doorstep of a suburban Melbourne house. It’s the home of Daphne Proietto, an exceptional piano teacher who gives lessons to children six days a week, entirely pro bono. While some kids would be more inclined to see piano lessons as a chore, these kids can’t wait. The reason? Music for them is more than just an activity.

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How did life on earth begin?

News broke in July 2015 that the Rosetta mission’s Philae lander had discovered 16 ‘carbon and nitrogen-rich’ organic compounds on Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. The news sparked renewed debates about whether the ‘prebiotic’ chemicals required for producing amino acids and nucleotides – the essential building blocks of all life forms – may have been delivered to Earth by cometary impacts.

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A Brief History of Numbers

The real charm of imaginary numbers

Few elementary mathematical ideas arouse the kind of curiosity and astonishment among the uninitiated as does the idea of the “imaginary numbers”, an idea embodied in the somewhat mysterious number i. This symbol is used to denote the idea of , namely, a number that when multiplied by itself yields -1. How come?

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Cars – are they a species?

The Edwardian seer and futurologist, H. G. Wells, wondered whether aircrafts would ever be used commercially. He did the calculations and found that, yes, an airplane could be built and, yes, it would fly, but he proclaimed this would never be commercial.

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The power of the algorithm

Recently Google Inc. was ordered to remove nine search results after the Information Commissioner’s office (ICO) ruled that they linked to information about a person that was no longer relevant. Almost ten years ago, that individual had committed a minor criminal offence and he recently put on a request to Google that related search results be removed, in compliance with the decision of the European Court of Justice in Google Spain.

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On the unstoppable rise of vineyard geology

The relationship between wine and the vineyard earth has long been held as very special, especially in Europe. Tradition has it that back in the Middle Ages the Burgundian monks tasted the soils in order to gauge which ones would give the best tasting wine, and over the centuries this kind of thinking was to become entrenched. The vines were manifestly taking up water from the soil.

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Perceiving dignity for World Mental Health Day

Each year in July, I greet a new group of post-doctoral psychiatric trainees (‘residents,’ ‘registrars’) for a year’s work in our psychiatric outpatient clinic. One of the rewards of being a psychiatric educator is witnessing the professional growth of young clinicians as they mature into seasoned, competent, and humanistic psychiatrists.

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Biology Week: a reading list

Biology Week is an annual celebration of the biosciences in the UK organised by the Royal Society of Biology. By engaging the public through fun and interesting activities, Biology Week aims to promote the life sciences and their importance in our understanding of the planet we inhabit. In honour of this, we have compiled a reading list of biology titles that have helped further the cause through education and research.

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Mars, Pluto… and beyond

The story of our solar system is developing into one of the most absorbing – and puzzling – epics of contemporary science. At the heart of it lies one of the greatest questions of all – just how special is our own planet, which teems with life and (this is the difficult bit) which has teemed with life continuously through most of its 4.5 billion year lifetime?

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Does Torture Work?

An (in)effective interrogation

In early July, the American Psychological Association (APA) released an independent report detailing collusion between the APA and the Bush Administration on abusive interrogation techniques. The 500 plus page Hoffman report found that a small group of APA officials colluded with counterparts in the Department of Defense (DOD).

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