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  • Science & Medicine

Can saunas help decrease risk of high blood pressure?

In Finland, sauna bathing has been practiced for centuries, either for pleasure, but more importantly also for reasons of hygiene and maintenance of health. Many curative and magical effects have been attributed to its practice and seldom has it been thought to cause any disease. The benefit of the sauna lies in its increased temperatures. Heat therapy has many benefits for human physiology.

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What happens when a volcano erupts?

Volcanoes are incredibly complex geological systems. They are capable of generating many dangerous effects in the form of lava follows, fallout, and lahars – as well as associated hazards such as seismic shocks, tsunamis, or landslides. About 500 million people currently live in regions of the world directly subject to volcanic risk, and it is estimated that about 250,000 persons died during the past two centuries as a direct consequence of volcanic eruptions.

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A new approach to experimentally lengthening sleep in short-sleeping teens

Short sleep is common in teens, particularly on school nights, with a majority obtaining less than the eight to ten hours recommended. Many factors contribute to insufficient sleep during adolescence including increased social and academic demands, bedtime autonomy, the use of electronics, and early school start times coupled with a biological and behavioral tendency to stay up later.

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What does my cancer gene mutation mean for my family?

For 15 years I have counseled patients about what it means to carry a mutation in a gene that can lead to a higher risk of developing cancer. Hundreds of times I have said, “A mutation was found.” Our patients have different mutations in different genes. They come from different parts of the world. They speak a variety of languages, and bring their cultural heritage and expectations to our sessions.

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Can you pick up the ‘core’ of ten languages in a year?

I previously wrote about how Scientific English is a specialized form of language used in formal presentations and publications. It is rich in ‘rare’, or extremely low frequency words, and the colocations that define them (i.e. we ‘sequence a genome’ or ‘stretch of ‘DNA’). Learning to comprehend the meaning of such formal language requires considerable exposure and writing it well truly exercises one’s knowledge of the ‘long tail’ of vocabulary.

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The healthiest body mass index isn’t as simple as you think

The body mass index (BMI) is a crude but useful measure of how heavy someone is for their weight. It consists of your weight in kilograms, divided by the square of your height in metres. Guidelines suggest that a BMI between 18.5 and 25 is healthy for most people. You are classed as overweight if it is 25-30 and obese if it is more than 30.

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What are the critical brain networks for creativity?

The concept of creativity is imbued with two contradictory notions. The first notion usually considers that a creative production is the result of high-level control functions such as inhibition, mental manipulation, or planning. These functions are known to depend on the anterior part of the brain: the prefrontal cortex.

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World Cancer Day 2018: Is prevention worth more than cure?

World Cancer Day is on the 4th of February. The purpose is to increase global awareness and get as many people talking about the disease as possible. Essentially, unite people from all around the world in the fight against cancer—and with worldwide incidence set to increase to 21.7 million by 2030, the fight is now. 2018 is the last in the three year ‘We Can. I can.’ campaign

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Dr. William H. Harris reflects on his career advancing orthopedic surgery

To mark the release of Vanishing Bone, in Part One of our Q&A with Dr. William H. Harris we discussed the fascinating story of how he came to identify, and later cure, the severe bone destruction affecting individuals who had undergone total hip replacement surgery. In this second interview, Dr. Harris reflects on his remarkable career; including what inspired him to pursue orthopaedic surgery, how he balances his two roles as a surgeon and clinician-scientist, and his advice for aspiring surgeons.

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Seven key skills for managing science [video]

“Management” is a word we often associate with commerce and the business community, but the act of managing is common to most human activity, including academia. While there is a myriad of tools available for learning how to manage business, there are few resources out there which discuss the skills needed to manage academic scientific research.

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Oxford Medicine Online

The Death Cafe: A medium latte and a chat about dying

In early 2011, Jon Underwood decided to develop a series of projects about death – one of which was to focus on talking about death. Jon read about the work of Bernard Crettaz, the pioneer of Cafes Mortéls which were themselves inspired by the cafes and coffeehouses of the European Enlightenment. Motivated by Bernard’s work, Jon immediately decided to use a similar model for his own project, and Death Cafe was born.

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Animal of the Month: 13 nutty squirrel species [slideshow]

Most of these critters belong to the Sciurus genus which is from the ancient Greek, “skia” meaning shadow or shade, and “oura” for tail. Despite the variation within these different members of the same family, the evolutionary record shows that squirrels have actually changed very little over millions of years. If it ain’t broke…

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Let’s talk about death: an opinions blog

Death and dying surrounds us, yet many of us see it as an uncomfortable taboo subject. As part of a series of articles on encouraging an open dialogue around death and dying, we asked various healthcare professionals, academics, and members of the public who have experienced palliative care the following question: How important is it that we as a society are open to discussing death and dying?

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Are the gods indifferent?

It’s an old question, at least as old as Prometheus. Are the gods indifferent or is there something in the scheme of things that cares? The ancient tale of Prometheus neatly parses its reply – yes and no. Zeus is indifferent to humanity; we are small change. But not Prometheus. His concern for our plight leads him to give us fire, which as Aeschylus explains is more than the warming flames of the hearth.

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Biofilms: advantage for bacteria, threat for medical devices

It has been known for centuries that bacteria tend to adhere to solid surfaces, forming a slimy and slippery layer known as biofilm. Bacterial biofilms are complex microbial communities protected by an extracellular matrix composed of polysaccharides, proteins, and nucleic acids. The extracellular matrix improves biofilm cohesion and its adhesion to surfaces.

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