The greater argonaut, Argonauta argo, has a reputation for being the world’s weirdest octopus and indeed may be one of the most unusual and mysterious creatures to roam the ocean.
When do we have a scientific fact? Scientists, policymakers, and laypersons could all use an answer to this question. But despite its obvious importance, humanity lacks a good answer.
As everybody knows, the phrase in the title, l’esprit d’escalier, refers to a good thought occurring too late.
European state-formation would have looked very different if rulers did not constantly have to negotiate with a strong clergy, independent townsmen, and the nobility over, inter alia, the wherewithal for warfare, succession and public peace. But the medieval Church shaped European societies in other ways than this. It was the one institution of late antiquity that survived the fall of the Western Roman Empire in the fifth century, and it carried the torch of the Roman world after the Empire collapsed.
On today’s episode of The Oxford Comment, we’re looking at what these recent discoveries mean to our understanding of the universe. Why should we all know about distant galaxies? How will this learning impact us? And what role will artificial intelligence and machine-learning play in the wider astronomy field in the coming years…
Reactions to excommunication in thirteenth-century England varied considerably, but its consequences for society as well as individuals were significant. The fact that sentences needed to be publicised so that communities knew who to avoid made excommunication a valuable tool of mass communication. However, when the sanction was used unfairly or vengefully, this publicity shone a light on such abuses, with potentially damaging consequences for the church.
Science skepticism is a central threat to deliberative democracy. Generally speaking, scientific investigations based on collaboration between scientific experts are far more reliable than individual efforts when it comes to finding the truth about complex matters. So, since public deliberation is better off when it rests on science, deliberative democracy requires a reasonably high degree of public uptake of science communication.
In 1842, The US brig Somers, commanded by Alexander Slidell Mackenzie was the site of what may have been the only planned mutiny in the US Navy’s history. The repercussions of the Somers Affair had long felt effects, and inspired Herman Melville’s Billy Budd.
I decided not to wait another week, let alone another four weeks, and discuss the notes and queries from my mail. As usual, I express my gratitude to those who have read the posts, added their observations, or corrected my mistakes.
Boss Tweedborn—William Magear Tweed—and the “Tweed Ring” comprised of 20 aldermen and 20 assistant alderman in Tamanay Hall dominated New York politics for profit in the second half of the 1800s.
Discovering the provenance of Leonardo da Vinci’s Salvator Mundi formed a significant part of the book that I co-authored with Margaret Dalivalle and Martin Kemp. Determining which records and references pertained to the original and which to the many copies and derivations of the painting required the unraveling of dozens of documentary threads, intertwined and occasionally knotted, stretching across the centuries.
For the 100th anniversary of Marcel Proust’s death, Joshua Landy explores the existential questions posed by “In Search of Lost Time” to show how Proust’s novel connects to our contemporary lives.
In philosophy of language, as well as in many court opinions (e.g., Liversidge v. Anderson, 1942), Humpty Dumpty is held up as an example of how not to think about meaning. Contrary to his claim that the meaning of his words is determined solely by his intentions, there is broad agreement that what words mean is not solely up to us—we can change their meanings over time, but that requires a group effort, and something like consensus.
We love books and movies about vampires, don’t we? Everybody knows who Dracula was, and many people believe that we owe the entire myth to him. This, however, is not true. In this blog post, the Oxford Etymologist deals with the history of the word “vampire.”
Over the last few decades “life-writing” started to be used as an umbrella term for an increasingly eclectic range of literary forms and invested with a new level of cultural importance.
There is little doubt that “Narnia” has effectively entered the English language and that references to a “wardrobe” or “wardrobe door” have been given additional meanings by C. S. Lewis: any reference to it requires no explanation simply because everyone knows.