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Brain 0217

Conscious unity, split perception

We take it for granted that our entire brain only produces one conscious agent, despite the fact that the brain actually consists of many different, more or less independent modules. But how is this possible? The classic answer to this riddle is cortical connectivity. Separate brain regions only give rise to one conscious agent because the different parts continuously exchange massive amounts of information.

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9780198725329

Accelerated ageing and mental health

The accelerated ageing of the populations of developed countries is being matched in the developing world. In fact, in 2017, for the first time in history, the number of persons aged 65 and over will outstrip those aged 5 and under. This population trend is not just a temporary blip, not just due to a short-term outcome of the baby boomer generation.

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Embodied Selves and Divided Minds

Where your mind goes, you go? (Part 1)

What does it take for you to persist across time? What sorts of changes could you survive, and what sorts of changes would bring your existence to an end? The dominant approach to personal identity says that a person persists over time by virtue of facts about psychological continuity (e.g. continuity of memory, character, or mental capacities). Various puzzle cases have been presented to support this view.

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9780190253271

The history of global health organizations [timeline]

Established in April 1948, the World Health Organization remains the leading agency concerned with international public health. As a division of the United Nations, the WHO works closely with governments to work towards combating infectious diseases and ensuring preventative care for all nations. The events included in the timeline below, sourced from Governing Global Health: Who Runs the World and Why?, show the development of global health organizations throughout history.

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Isolation driven by technological progress – does anyone care?

The hype of technological progress is that it will change the world and make life better for everyone. For young technologists, this may be true, but their blinkered vision does not recognise that, not just the elderly, but many others, cannot cope with electronic communications and the benefits of on-line shopping or banking, etc. In many developed nations 25% of adults are of retirement age.

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9780190679637

Schrödinger’s cat, aka quantum measurement problem

It’s been 116 years since Max Planck introduced the quantum idea, yet experts still disagree about quantum fundamentals. My previous post on the wave-particle duality problem, argued the universe is made of fields, not particles, and that photons, electrons, and other quanta are extended bundles of field energy that often act in particle-like ways.

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9780198747833

Alan Turing’s lost notebook

Alan Turing’s personal mathematical notebook went on display a few days ago at Bletchley Park near London, the European headquarters of the Allied codebreaking operation in World War II. Until now, the notebook has been seen by few — not even scholars specializing in Turing’s work. It is on loan from its current owner, who acquired it in 2015 at a New York auction for over one million dollars.

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Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Latin American History

Reckoning with the addict and the US “War on Drugs”

In 2015, nearly 1.25 million people in the United States were arrested for the simple possession of drugs. Moreover, America’s “War on Drugs” has led to unprecedented violence and instability in Mexico and other drug-producing nations. Yet in spite of billions of dollars spent and thousands of lives lost, drug abuse has not decreased.

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9780190253271

Financing universal healthcare coverage [excerpt]

Across countries with UHC, no two versions are alike in their financing, in what they cover, or in how they are structured. Some countries with UHC rely on a public system of coverage while others mandate insurance coverage, requiring individuals to buy health coverage in a regulated private insurance market or from the government, while still others have a mix of the two approaches.

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9780190651244

Immunology in perspective

Among students of science, in contrast to those who do science, the dominant discussion revolves around the degree to which scientific interpretations are subject to extra-curricular influences, specifically, to what extent are facts independent of the larger political context in which science resides.

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CID

Dr. Chip Schooley on infectious diseases & journal publishing

As infectious diseases around the world continue to evolve, so does the research surrounding the discipline. To find out more about the progress and future challenges in this field, we’ve caught up with Robert T. “Chip” Schooley, Editor-in-Chief of the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases (CID), who began his term in January after serving as an associate editor for the past decade.

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9780198725190

The new rock age

of the extraordinary things about our modern world is just how closely we are brought into contact with rock in everyday life. Now this might seem a little counter-intuitive. As I child, I grew up with cartoons such as The Flintstones and, a little later, sat goggle-eyed through films such as One Million Years BC. There the Stone Age protagonists acted out derring-do amid caves, craggy landscapes and erupting volcanoes.

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CZOOLO Cover

Predation risk and foraging decisions among prey fish

Prey animals must constantly stay alert and rely on publicly available information to avoid being eaten, find suitable foraging and mating opportunities, and to assess local competition for resources. Reliable information allows prey to make behavioural decisions in order to ensure sufficient foraging and mating gains while reducing predation risks. However, complete information is rarely available to prey.

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9780198732709

Flowers and humans – a curious love affair

Humans love flowers! We admire their varied colors and shapes, enjoy the way they smell, and (especially on a day like today) give them to those we love. But why has this affection for flowers evolved in us – given that flowers have certainly not evolved to impress us? In fact, we gain very little benefit (apart from joy) from them. It is true that some flowers are edible, and that flowers may indicate where an edible part of a plant can be found

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How dangerous is technology?

Technological advances have provided immense improvements in our lives, but often with a hidden cost. Even the historic skills of bronze and iron working were driven by a desire not only for ploughs and tools, but for better weapons of war. This is still the case for much of modern science. Technical knowledge has helped to combat diseases, improve health, provide more food, offer faster travel, or ease hardship, and this is progress.

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9780198714750

The nature of addictive disorders

What are addictive disorders? Are they indeed disorders? The nature of problematic psychoactive substance use continues to be a matter of controversy among the public and politicians; even among health professionals there is little consensus. Some have a view that repeated use of a substance (or gambling or gaming) represents personal choice (a “free-will decision”) even when problems are occurring.

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