Oxford University Press's
Academic Insights for the Thinking World

Unravelling bone destruction in total hip replacements with William H. Harris

When orthopaedic surgeon, Dr. William H Harris discovered massive bone destruction around a total hip replacement that he had implanted, he was startled and dismayed. In fact, he had identified a new condition, “periprosthetic osteolysis”, which came to be the leading factor in failure of total hip replacement (THR) surgery. While THR surgery dramatically reversed severe arthritis of the hip, the same operation simultaneously created a relentless “particle generator” in the body.

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Touching hearts: an interview with John Rutter

“You’ve got to have technique: composition is like aircraft design; you can’t just go in and do it without training. You’ll never find your voice if you don’t have the technique to express what you want to say.” One of the most prolific of choral music composers, John Rutter is known throughout the world for music which has sustained choirs for almost half a century. Here he is in dialogue with composer Bob Chilcott.

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Catalan language, identity, and independence

The Catalan sovereignty movement came to a head on 1 October 2017 in a beleaguered referendum declared illegal by the Spanish government, which sent in thousands of police and civil guard troops, used force against would-be voters, confiscated ballot boxes, and jailed civic leaders and elected officials on charges of sedition. The political crisis for the Spanish state as well as Catalonia continues.

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First person pronouns and the passive voice in scientific writing

Imagine you are explaining your research to a friend. You might say “I tested this factor” or “We examined that effect”. But when you later prepare a written version for a scientific journal, you would probably eliminate the “I” and “we” in favour of the passive voice, which, unfortunately, can sometimes present a challenge.

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Exploring the Scottish and African diasporas

Since 1801, the fifth anniversary of his death, January 25 has become synonymous with the poet Robert Burns, widely regarded as the national poet of Scotland and celebrated worldwide. One of the lesser-known aspects of Burns’ life is that he almost moved to Jamaica to become an overseer; his tumultuous relationship with ‘ungrateful’ Jean Armour also attributed to his resolution to sail as an emigrant to Jamaica.

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Finding ‘the weird’ in psychedelic art

The concepts of altered states and psychedelia creep in to a great deal of visual art. According to Lewis-Williams, some early forms of Palaeolithic rock art may have been shamanic in origin, and represent forms seen during visionary states. 18th Century works such as Fuseli’s The Nightmare (1781) depicted the ‘old hag’ phenomenon, a type of hypnagogic hallucination that is experienced on the threshold of sleep, during which a person feels as though a daemon or other supernatural entity is suffocating them.

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An oar in every man’s boat

Not too long ago, one of our constant correspondents proposed the etymology of Greek koupí “oar.” I do not know the origin of that word and will probably never know. Koupí did not show up in my most detailed dictionary of Classical Greek, and I suspect that we are dealing with a relative late coinage. By way of compensation, I decided to write something about the origin of Engl. oar and about some other words connected with it.

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Monteverdi turns 450

The year of 2017 has proved an exciting year for anniversaries. From the quincentennial of Martin Luther’s 95 theses of 1517, or the 150th anniversary of Canadian Confederation in 1867, to the centenary of the 1917 Russian revolutions, the historic events commemorated this year call us into celebration as much as they urge us into reflection and contemplation.

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In search of political prisoners: A dialogue with Padraic Kenney

States around the world imprison people for their beliefs or politically-motivated actions. Oppositional movements of all stripes celebrate their comrades behind bars. Yet they are more than symbols of repression and human rights. Padraic Kenney discusses his new book, Dance in Chains: Political Imprisonment in the Modern World, which seeks to find universal answers to questions about the meaning and purpose of imprisonment.

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A brief history of libel

At a Cambridge court hearing in 1584, Margery Johnson reported that she heard Thomas Wylkinson refer to “the said Jane Johnson thus ‘A pox of God on thee, bitch fox whore, that ever I knew thee.’” If Wylkinson indeed called down such a curse on Jane, he was guilty not of libel, but of slander, a verbal attack on another person. Libel, in contrast, is defined as defamation by written or printed words, pictures, or in any form other than by spoken words or gestures.

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Screen

Communist laughter

“History is thorough and passes through many stages while bearing an ancient form to its grave.” So wrote Karl Marx in 1843, as he reflected on the collapse of Germany’s old regime whilst looking toward a revolutionary horizon. “The last phase of a world-historical form,” he adds, “is its comedy.” According to Marx, comedy has revolutionary value in that it allows us to part happily with the superannuated ways of the past.

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Advance care planning: an illusion of choice?

Over the last decade or so, patients have been encouraged to think ahead, and make clear their wishes and plans for a time when illness may render them unable to makes decisions about their care for themselves. This process we know as Advance Care Planning (ACP). Intuitively, as a hospice physician trained in Palliative Medicine, ACP seems to me like a good thing to do, with those patients who are willing to do it.

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The changing nature of retirement

Whether you are approaching retirement, or are a few years or decades away from thinking about leaving the workforce, it is likely that you will be affected by the changing nature of retirement. Maybe it’s not your own retirement that is on the forefront of your mind, but your spouse or partner’s. Perhaps your parent or another family member is trying to navigate the complexities of their pension, all the while trying to decide whether and how to retire.

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Strangest things: The peculiar Byzantine Empire [quiz]

From stories of saints and relics to the (not-so) mundane traditions of daily life, Byzantium has long been regarded as one of history’s most curious civilizations. Rising from the rubble of the Roman Empire, this complex Christian society was a birthplace of literature, art, and architecture. How much do you know about Byzantine culture?

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Philosophy: Eternal topics, evolving questions

Philosophers are famous for disagreeing on the issues that interest them. Is morality objective? Is the mind identical to the body? Are our actions free or determined? Some professional philosophers will say no to these questions—but an almost equal number will say yes. Moreover, empirical data bears this out.

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10 fascinating facts about Lucha Libre

Over the course of the 20th century, Lucha Libre—or professional wrestling—has become a stable of urban Mexican culture. Dating back all the way to the 1800s, professional wrestling has become a distinctly national rendition of an imported product. Within the past 20 years, it has gained international acclaim for its distinctive style: an incredible acrobatic ring style and the highly recognizable masks.

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