Oxford University Press's
Academic Insights for the Thinking World

The myth of the power of singing

One morning in 2007 or 2008 I was listening to the news in my regular wait to turn onto the Birmingham Inner Ring Road, when I was surprised to hear a cheering headline: the UK government had pledged a significant sum of money to encourage singing in primary schools. Over the next few years, the […]

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MNRAS

How old galaxy groups stay active in retirement

As recently as the start of the 20th century, the idea that the Milky Way contained everything that existed in the Universe was predominant and astronomers were unaware of the existence of other galaxies or any kind of star systems outside our galaxy. A few observed nebulae that had been identified as clusters of stars […]

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Global Health Impact by Nicole Hassoun

How protecting human rights can help us increase our Global Health Impact

As the COVID-19 pandemic surges across the world, justice and equality demand our attention. Does everyone have a human right to health and to access new essential medicines researchers develop? Can pharmaceutical companies patent the medicines and charge high prices, selling them to whoever can pay the most? How can data help us address global […]

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The Tough Standard by Ronald Levant and Shana Pryor

The role of masculinity in reforming police departments

For decades there have been murders of unarmed black people by the police, which in recent years has been exposed and protested by the #BlackLivesMatter movement. This summer, unprecedented numbers of protesters have voiced their outrage in response to the murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, the very recent and utterly senseless shooting of […]

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Etymology gleanings for August 2020

These gleanings should have been posted last week, but I wanted to go on with Harlequin. That series will be finished next Wednesday; today, I’ll answer the questions I have received. The idea of offering more essays on thematic idioms was received very favorably, and I am grateful for the suggestions. Yet let me repeat […]

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BioScience

Bring living waters back to our planet

Demanding the Indian government take action to clean and save the nation’s Mother River, the Ganga, activist and former civil engineer Professor G.D. Agarwal died from heart failure in 2018, after fasting for 111 days. Agarwal’s hunger strike remains symbolic of the mounting desperation many of us feel faced with the fragility of rivers, lakes, […]

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Eastern Medieval Architecture

The reconversion of Hagia Sophia in perspective

At the beginning of January 1921, a special service was held in the cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City, with Orthodox and Episcopal clergy offering prayers in six languages—Hungarian, Greek, Arabic, Russian, Serbian, and English—for the restoration of Hagia Sophia as a Christian sanctuary. As reported in the New York Times, the […]

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Becoming a Critical Thinker by Sarah Birrell Ivory

Do you feel sorry for first year university students?

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” Said by Dickens many years ago but with eerie relevance to our current situation. The global pandemic is itself an overwhelming health tragedy. Moreover, it has laid bare so many other local, national, and global issues that have been simmering beneath the surface. […]

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The Puzzle of Prison Order by David Skarbek

Smaller prisons are smarter

There is a growing consensus across the political spectrum that the United States incarcerates far too many people and that this has tragic and unjust consequences that fall disproportionately on disadvantaged socioeconomic and minority communities. Yet, not only do we lock up too many people, but all too often they are incarcerated in prisons that […]

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Introducing Shakespeare to young readers

No one has a duty to like Shakespeare, just as no one is obliged to prefer coffee to tea, or classical music to pop, or soap operas to documentaries. On the other hand, just as it is highly inconvenient to know nothing about the internet, or how to boil an egg, so it is liable […]

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What does a linguist do?

Linguists get asked that question a lot. Sometimes by family members or potential in-laws. Sometimes by casual acquaintances or seatmates on a plane (for those who still fly). Sometimes from students or their families. Sometimes even from friends, colleagues, or university administrators. It turns out that linguists do quite a lot and quite a lot […]

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Six books for budding lawyers [reading list]

In celebration of National Read a Book Day 2020 today, here are a list books for anyone working in, or interested in, the legal world. Studying for a law exam, or just looking for a court-based drama? Take a glimpse of the titles below and select one for yourself. My Brief Career: The Trials of […]

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The Churchill Myths

The defacing of Churchill’s statue

During Britain’s strange summer of 2020 the statues of long-dead figures became live political issues. Black Lives Matter protesters threw slave-trader Edward Coulston’s effigy into Bristol harbour, an act that shocked many, but that was as nothing to the reaction provoked by the treatment meted out to Winston Churchill’s statue in Parliament Square. During another […]

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How text messages are helping people fight counterfeit medicine in Africa

According to World Health Organization statistics, 42% of detected cases of substandard or falsified pharmaceuticals between 2013-2017 occurred in Africa— substantially more than on any other continent. Poor, underdeveloped countries experience a penetration rate of approximately 30% of counterfeit pharmaceuticals as opposed to less than 1% in developed countries. In Ivory Coast, Adjame, the biggest […]

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Antibody Therapeutics

Searching for “magic bullet” antibodies to combat COVID-19

Several cases of mysterious pneumonia (now called COVID-19) were reported in Wuhan City, Hubei Province of China in late December 2019. SARS-CoV-2, a novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19, was later identified. In the past eight months, COVID-19 cases have been reported in 188 countries all over the world, with over 20 million confirmed cases and […]

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Harlequin’s tricky name

I am picking up where I left off last week. In the post for August 26, 2020, I discussed some words that surround Harlequin on a dictionary page. He ended up among harlots, harangues, and the harrowing of hell. I also touched on the possible origin of some European words for “war,” and in a […]

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