Oxford University Press's
Academic Insights for the Thinking World

  • Science & Medicine

9780190219475

Max Planck’s debt

The great German physicist Max Planck once said, “However many specialties science may split into, it remains fundamentally an indivisible whole.” He declared that the divisions and subdivisions of scientific disciplines were “not based on the nature of things.”

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Will we ever need maths after school?

What is the purpose of mathematics? Or, as many a pupil would ask the teacher on a daily basis: “When are we going to need this?” There is a considerably ruder version of a question posed by Billy Connolly on the internet, but let’s not go there.

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Technology and the evolving portrait of the composer

It’s a cartoon image from my childhood: a man with wild hair, wearing a topcoat, and frantically waving a baton with a deranged look on his face. In fact, this caricature of what a composer should look like was probably inspired by the popular image of Beethoven: moody, distant, a loner… a genius lost in his own world.

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9780199383344

The undiscovered elements

How can an element be lost? Scientists, and the general public, have always thought of them as being found, or discovered. However, more elements have been “undiscovered” than discovered, more “lost” than found.

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9780195391312

Who was Richard Abegg?

One of the most interesting developments in the history of chemistry has been the way in which theories of valency have evolved over the years. We are rapidly approaching the centenary of G.N. Lewis’ 1916 article in which he proposed the simple idea that a covalent bond consists of a shared pair of electrons.

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Stanley Milgram: Life and legacy

Stanley Milgram was born on the 15 August 1933. In the early 1960s he carried out a series of experiments which had a not just a significant impact on the field of psychology, but had enormous influence in popular culture. These experiments touched on many profound philosophical questions concerning autonomy, authority, and the capacity of individuals to do the right thing in difficult circumstances.

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9780199939220

Water and conflict

The four-year drought in California, which is causing severe water shortages and related problems, is receiving increasingly more attention. It is affecting everyone, causing people to adjust their lifestyles and causing small business owners and entire industries to rethink their use–and misuse–of water.

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9780199362646

Studying botany in college

Many of us involved in teaching botany feel a sense of urgency in our profession. Botany departments, botany majors, and botany curricula have gradually disappeared from most colleges and universities in the US,

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Introducing psychoanalysis

Daniel Pick, author of Psychoanalysis: A Very Short Introduction, introduces psychoanalysis, discusses its role within history and culture and tells us how psychoanalysis is used today. How has psychoanalysis developed from the late nineteenth century?

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9780199937776

Florence Nightingale’s syphilis that wasn’t

Nursing lore has long maintained that the mysterious illness that sent Florence Nightingale to bed for 30 years after her return from the Crimea was syphilis. At least that’s what many nursing students were told in the 1960s, when my wife was working on her BSN. Syphilis, however, would be difficult to reconcile with the fact that Nightingale was likely celibate her entire life and had not a single sign or symptom typical of that venereal infection.

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9780199981045

Complexities of causation

Imagine the thrill of discovering a new species of frog in a remote part of the Amazon. Scientists are motivated by the opportunity to make new discoveries like this, but also by a desire to understand how things work. It’s one thing to describe the communities of microorganisms in our guts, but quite another to learn what causes these communities to change and how these changes influence health.

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9780199976171

Hillary has a point: In defense of empathy and justice

Hillary Rodham Clinton had a point when she recently urged: “The most important thing each of us can do… is to try even harder to see the world through our neighbors’ eyes, to imagine what it is like to walk in their shoes, to share their pain and their hopes and their dreams.”

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9780199988327

The hidden side of natural selection

The agents of natural selection cause evolutionary changes in population gene pools. They include a plethora of familiar abiotic and biotic factors that affect growth, development, and reproduction in all living things.

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Age-friendly community initiatives: coming to a neighborhood near you?

The saying that “It takes a village” is well known when recognizing the role of communities in promoting children’s health and human development. At the same time, there is a growing worldwide movement drawing attention to how much communities matter for people of other ages—especially adults confronting the challenges of later life. Efforts to make communities better places for older adults (and potentially for people of all ages) reflect a growing field of research, policy, and practice called “age-friendly community initiatives” (AFCIs).

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9780199342488

A prescient voice on climate change

Everyone knows that in June 1962, Rachel Carson published a series of articles that became Silent Spring, the eloquent book that launched the American environmental movement.

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9780199379156

Are you ready to travel?

There’s more to international travel than booking a flight, finding a place to stay, and figuring out transportation. When traveling internationally, it is important to pay attention to the different vaccinations and immunizations that are required or suggested. Keeping yourself and your travel companions safe should be a top priority when preparing to go on a trip to another country. Are you ready to get on that plane?

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