Oxford University Press's
Academic Insights for the Thinking World

  • Science & Medicine

The life and work of Alan Turing

Alan Turing was one of England’s most influential scientists of the twentieth century. He is best remembered as having cracked the codes used in the Enigma machines, enabling the Allies to defeat the Nazis in many important battles, particularly in the Atlantic Ocean. While this achievement which arguably helped to bring the Second World War to a quicker end has been brought to the fore through popular histories

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How can we save the pollinators?

An often-cited estimate is that one-third of the food you eat comes from insect pollinators. Many of the fruits and vegetables that you enjoy develop their fruit and seed primarily through insect pollination services. Other sometimes overlooked benefits of pollinators are the ecological services that they provide. For example, insects pollinate many plants that provide erosion control, keeping our waterways clean.

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Latino fathers and parenting: lessons learned from Puerto Rican fathers

atherhood is a complex and an evolving concept which has gained national attention. Fathers play an important role in the development of their children, which also has an impact on their identity as a father. Minority fathers, particularly Latino fathers, have been under-recognized in this call to better understand fatherhood. However, given that Hispanics are the largest minority group in the US, the experiences of these fathers are of heightened importance.

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The biological ironies of transgender debates

Transgender issues have made significant headlines in the United States. Not long ago, North Carolina struggled to repeal a 2016 law that required people to use only public restrooms that matched the sex on their birth certificate, not their lived gender identity. Only weeks earlier, the US Supreme Court declined to hear a case from a Virginia student on the same issue.

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Shining evolutionary light: Q&A with EMPH EIC Charles Nunn

Evolutionary biology is a basic science that reaches across many disciplines and as such, may provide numerous applications in the fields of medicine and public health. To further the evolutionary medicine landscape, we’re thrilled to welcome Dr. Charles Nunn of Duke University as the new Editor-in-Chief of Evolution, Medicine, and Public Health, the open access journal that aims to connect evolutionary biology with the health sciences

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Climate change: are you an expert? [Quiz]

Climate change is one of the most significant and far-reaching problems of the twenty-first century and it is a frequent topic of discussion everywhere from scientific journals to the Senate floor. Because climate change is often the subject of heated debate, it’s easy to mistake political stands for scientific facts. Inspired by The Death of Expertise, in which Tom Nichols explores the dangers of the public rejection of expertise, we’ve created a series of quizzes to test your knowledge.

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Why do I wake up every morning feeling so tired?

The alarm rings, you awaken, and you are still drowsy: why? Being sleepy in the morning does not make any sense; after all, you have just been asleep for the past eight hours. Shouldn’t you wake up refreshed, aroused, and attentive? No, and there are a series of ways to explain why. The neurobiological answer: During the previous few hours before waking in the morning, you have spent most of your time in REM sleep, dreaming.

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Bipolar disorder and addictions

Bipolar disorder consists of two major types. Bipolar disorder, type I is the classical and well-known disorder, which used to be called manic-depressive illness. Episodes of hypomania and depression tend to alternate, with each phase lasting for days or weeks. Bipolar disorder, type II, is characterized by shorter-lived episodes of abnormal mood (it is sometimes termed “rapid cycling”) and there is a predominance of depressive phases.

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Famous doctors from the ancient world

Drastic advances in science have caused past medical practices to become not only antiquated, but often shocking. Although brilliant medical insights are peppered throughout history, many dated practices are more curious than insightful. From an early take on chemical warfare to human dissections, the following shortened excerpt from A Cabinet of Ancient Medical Curiosities includes short facts and quotes on some of the most famous doctors from the Ancient World.

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Suspected ‘fake results’ in science

There is a concern that too many scientific studies are failing to be replicated as often as expected. This means that a high proportion is suspected of being invalid. The blame is often put on confusion surrounding the ‘P value’ which is used to assess the effect of chance on scientific observations. A ‘P value’ is calculated by first assuming that the ‘true result’ is disappointing

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How does climate change impact global peace and security?

Climate change is one of the most pervasive global threats to peace and security in the 21st century. But how many people would list this as a key factor in international relations and domestic welfare? In reality, climate change touches all areas of security, peace building, and development. The impacts of climate change are already adversely affecting vulnerable communities, as well as stretching the capacities of societies and governments.

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Margaret Thatcher, Lego, and the Principle of Least Action

Imagine a toy city, seen from afar. Now imagine that some of the buildings have Lego-shaped castellations, others have Lego-shaped holes in the walls, and there are a few loose Lego bricks lying around. All this evidence leads us to guess that the whole toy city is made up of Lego bricks. When we get up close, we see that our guess is correct. By a similar blend of evidence and theorizing, John Dalton, around 1800, came up with the Atomic Theory

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What are the best ways to view a solar eclipse?

Millions of people will soon travel to a narrow strip in America to witness a rare event: a total solar eclipse. On 21 August, many will look up to the sky to witness this phenomenon – will you be one of them? In the following shortened excerpt from Totality: The Great American Eclipses of 2017 and 2024, learn what types of eyewear you should be using to watch the Sun disappear

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Teaching medicine: how the great ones do it

Attending physicians, the physicians who train interns and residents on hospital wards, have always borne a heavy responsibility. They are accountable for the level of medical care received by each succeeding generation of American patients. But today, these physician-teachers confront unprecedented obstacles. How well they meet the challenge may have long-term consequences for patients and for the medical profession as a whole.

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10 facts about the animal kingdom

How many species of animals are there? What is the largest animal, and how are we related to rats? Peter Holland, the author of The Animal Kingdom: A Very Short Introduction, tells us 10 things everyone should know about the animal kingdom, and how we humans fit in.

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Our oceans, our future [reading list]

The eight of June is World Oceans Day. Celebrated globally, this day is a chance to appreciate the ocean and learn about conservation efforts that help protect it. This year’s theme is “Our Oceans, Our Future”. In the spirit of moving towards a healthier future for our marine environment, we’ve put together a reading list of our favorite books about the ocean and marine conservation.

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