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Academic Insights for the Thinking World

Darwin's Historical Sketch: An Examination of the 'Preface' to the Origin of Species

Ten things you didn’t know about Darwin

Charles Darwin’s birthday on 12 February is widely celebrated in the scientific community and has come to be known as “Darwin day.” In recognition of Darwin’s 212th birthday this year we have put together a list of ten interesting facts about the father of evolution.

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Genome Biology and Evolution

Good news for honey bees from 150-year-old museum specimens

The past several decades have been hard on Apis mellifera, the Western honey bee. Originally native to Europe, Africa, and the Middle East, Western honey bees have spread worldwide thanks to the nutritional and medicinal value of their honey, pollen, beeswax, and other hive products.

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Genome Biology and Evolution

Unique adaptations allow owls to rule the night

As the only birds with a nocturnal, predatory lifestyle, owls occupy a unique niche in the avian realm. Hunting prey in the dark comes with a number of challenges, and owls have evolved several features that leave them well-suited to this task.

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When deterrence doesn’t work

No one likes to be threatened, and yet we threaten and are threatened all the time. From animal self-defence to how we raise our children, from religious teaching to gun ownership, capital punishment and nuclear deterrence, threat is an ever-present tool employed to influence an often-unpredictable external environment. But does it always work? And what are the consequences when it doesn’t?

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BioScience

Bring living waters back to our planet

Demanding the Indian government take action to clean and save the nation’s Mother River, the Ganga, activist and former civil engineer Professor G.D. Agarwal died from heart failure in 2018, after fasting for 111 days. Agarwal’s hunger strike remains symbolic of the mounting desperation many of us feel faced with the fragility of rivers, lakes, […]

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How water conflicts hurt marginalized populations

There are 286 international transboundary river basins that are shared by 151 countries. These basins are the source for water as well as livelihoods to 2.8 billion people. In many of these places the already vulnerable and marginalised are at great risk due to problems managing water. Sudden, sharp changes in these basins are not […]

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Charles Darwin’s five-year journey [timeline]

Charles Darwin is most known for his journey to the Galapagos Islands, and for the work he published around the theory of evolution, The Origin of Species, as a result of that trip. And though his time in the Galapagos was vital to Darwin’s work, he also visited many other places, a small selection of […]

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There’s no vaccine for the sea level rising

We will get by the current pandemic. There will be a vaccine eventually. There will be other pandemics. Hopefully, we will be better organized next time. Waiting in the wings are the emerging impacts of climate change, the next big challenge. There will be no vaccine to stem sea level rise.

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Why politics is so polarized, even though Americans agree on most key issues

In 1971, Jerry B. Harvey created “The Abilene Paradox” to describe a pernicious failure: mismanagement of agreement. The late professor and management consultant posited that “the inability to cope with agreement, rather than the inability to cope with conflict, is the single most pressing issue of modern organizations.” “Getting on the bus to Abilene,” as […]

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Six ways to reduce your environmental impact

Over the last 50 years, human population has doubled, and global trade has increased ten-fold, drawing more deeply on Earth’s natural resources, warming the climate, and polluting the global environment. If current climate trends continue, a third of the global population will live in places warmer than the heart of the Sahara Desert 50 years […]

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Envisioning a post-crisis world

Early in World War II, in August 1941, before the United States had entered the war and Britain stood alone against Adolph Hitler, President Franklin Roosevelt and Prime Minister Winston Churchill steamed in secret aboard their respective battleships and met off the coast of Newfoundland on HMS Prince of Wales. Their aim: Shape the Post […]

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How we can equip ourselves against climate change

Earth Day highlights the need for climate action, but what role does human-caused climate change play in creating disasters? Science paints a nuanced picture, instructing us to focus on reducing vulnerabilities to weather and climate, irrespective of how the environment is changing. Starting with the basics, a disaster is a situation requiring outside help for […]

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The surprising scientific value of national bias

Emotions seem by their very nature to defy scientific analysis. Private and evanescent, and yet powerful and determining, feelings resist systematic observation and measurement. We are lucky to catch a glimpse in a facial expression or inflection of speech. The emotions of animals are all the more difficult. Without words to communicate what might be […]

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Learning microbiology through comics

What do most people know about microbes? We know that they are tiny creatures that can attack us, causing illness, and kill us. Recent outbreaks such as measles and the Wuhan coronavirus are discussed in the media heavily.

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The physics of swarm behaviour

The locusts have no king, and yet they all go forth in ranks, noted King Solomon some three thousand years ago. That a multitude of simple creatures could display coherent collective behavior without any leader caused his surprise and amazement, and it has continued to do so for much of our thinking over the following […]

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