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Academic Insights for the Thinking World

  • Science & Medicine

How to fight climate change (and save the world)

The ice caps are melting. Within a few years the North Pole will likely be ice-free for the first time in 10,000 years, causing what some call the “Arctic death spiral.” In the following excerpt from A Farewell to Ice, Peter Wadhams explains what we can do today to fight climate change. What can we do, both individually and collectively, to try to save the world? There is a massive list, of course, but I will pick out a few actions that might make a real difference.

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Discussing family medicine: Q&A with Jeffrey Scherrer

Family medicine plays a large role in day-to-day healthcare. To further our knowledge of the primary care landscape, we’re thrilled to welcome Jeffrey Scherrer, PhD, as the new Editor-in-Chief of Family Practice, a journal that takes an international approach of the problems and preoccupations in the field. Jeffrey sat down with us recently to discuss his vision for the journal’s future and his work in research and mentorship.

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Can narcolepsy research help solve one of the greatest medical mysteries of the 20th century?

In late 1916, while the world was entrenched in the Great War, two physicians on opposing sides of the conflict started to encounter patients who presented with bizarre neurological signs. Most notably, the patients experienced profound lethargy, and would sleep for abnormally long periods of time. One of the physicians, Constantin von Economo, was at the Psychiatric-Neurological Clinic at the University of Vienna.

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A mission to Saturn and its discoveries

Cassini was the NASA-developed Saturn orbiter, and Huygens was the European-built probe that sat on-board, which would eventually descend on to the surface of Saturn’s biggest moon, Titan. Cassini will come to an end on 15th September 2017, when it makes its final approach to Saturn, diving in to the atmosphere (sending data as it goes), and finally burning up and disintegrating like a meteor.

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What are the moral implications of intelligent AGI? [excerpt]

The possibility of human-level Artificial General Intelligence (AGI) remains controversial. While its timeline remain uncertain, the question remains: if engineers are able to develop truly intelligent AGI, how would human-computer interactions change? In the following excerpt from AI: Its Nature and Future, artificial intelligence expert Margaret A. Boden discusses the philosophical consequences behind truly intelligent AGI.

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Back to physics: a reading list

Back to university means picking out the best textbooks to use for your studies. If you’re just starting out in your first year of studies or are pursuing further degree in a more specialized field, we have some great resources to explore. From the basics of fundamental physics to the intricacies of understanding light-matter interaction, this list provides the best starting point for under-graduates and post-graduates alike.

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Which reptile are you? [quiz]

Reptiles have inspired some of the most recognizable characters in popular fiction including the gold-hoarding Smaug, the iconic dragon trio from Game of Thrones, and the mascot of Hogwarts’ most infamous house, Slytherin. How do your personality traits match up to those of our reptilian comrades? Find out which reptile you most closely resemble!

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Five fascinating questions physicists are seeking to answer

From Copernicus to Einstein, the field of Physics has changed drastically over time. With each new theory, further hypotheses appear that challenge conventional wisdom. Today, although topics such as the Big Bang Theory and General Relativity are well-established, there are still some debates that keep physicists up at night. What are your thoughts on the five of the biggest current debates in Physics?

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The dangerous stigma behind military suicides [excerpt]

Terms such as “Soldier’s Heart,” “shell shock,” and “Combat Stress Reaction” have all been used to describePost Traumatic Stress Disorder in the military. War and PTSD have a long history together, as does the stigma behind mental health within military culture.In the following excerpt from The Last and Greatest Battle John Bateson discusses the dangers of underreported PTSD and the steps we can take to help prevent military suicides.

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How long should children fast for clear fluids before general anaesthesia?

Anyone who has had a general anaesthetic will be well aware of the need to fast beforehand. ‘Nil by mouth’ (NBM) or ‘NPO’ (nil per os, os being the Latin for mouth) instructions are part of everyday life on pre-operative wards. This withholding of food and liquids before a general anaesthetic is necessary is because of the risk of the full stomach emptying all or parts of its contents into the patient’s lungs.

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Top tips for a healthy heart

Coronary heart disease (CHD) is the most common cause of death in the UK, and is also a major killer worldwide. CHD is caused by fatty deposits building up in a person’s coronary arteries and can lead to symptoms including heart attacks, angina and heart failure. The chances are that you’re already aware of many of the key contributing lifestyle factors which cause people to develop CHD

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How well do you know the history of physics?

Less than four centuries separate the end of the Renaissance and the theories of Copernicus, Galileo, and Newton from the development of quantum physics at the turn of the 20th century. During this transformative time, royal academies of science, instrument-making workshops, and live science demonstrations exploded across the continent as learned and lay people alike absorbed the spectacles of newfound technologies, devices, and innovations.

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Organ Donation Week: A reading list

In light of Organ Donation Week (4-11th September 2017), we have drawn together a collection of articles around the same theme. Our reading list includes articles and chapters which inform, showcase, and discuss the latest research, key issues, and cases of interest in organ donation. The collection offers a sample of the breadth of content available on this topic

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“The law is my data”: The socio-legal in environmental law

When I left practice to start my PhD, I was made to do a master’s degree in research methods as a condition of my doctoral funding. The ‘made’ in that first sentence is wholly intentional. I was quite clear, and quite vocal, that I had no interest in, and no need to study, methods. I knew exactly what form my PhD was going to take: an analysis of EU chemicals regulation using a new governance lens.

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The conceptual evolution of mass and matter [excerpt]

We learn in school science class that matter is not continuous, but discrete. As a few of the philosophers of ancient Greece once speculated nearly two-and-a-half thousand years ago, matter comes in “lumps.” If we dig around online we learn that we make paper by pressing together moist fibers derived from pulp. The pulp has an internal structure built from molecules (such as cellulose), and molecules are in turn constructed from atoms (carbon, oxygen, hydrogen).

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What hearing voices reveals about hallucination and speech perception

Hearing things that other people do not – in other words, an auditory hallucination – is something that approximately 5-15% of the population experience at some point in their lives. For people with a psychiatric disorder such as schizophrenia, the experience of auditory hallucinations can often be bewildering and upsetting. However, for some people unusual sensory experiences can be an important and meaningful part of their lives.

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