Oxford University Press's
Academic Insights for the Thinking World

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Catch statistics are fishy

By Dalal Al-Abdulrazzak
Despite their wide usage, global fisheries catch data compiled by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) are questionable.

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Buddhism and biology: a not-so-odd couple

By David P. Barash
Science and religion don’t generally get along very well, from the Catholic Church’s denunciation of the heliocentric solar system to vigorous denials — mostly from fundamentalist Protestantism this time — of evolution by natural selection.

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Why evolution wouldn’t favour Homo economicus

By Peter E. Earl
Economists traditionally have assumed that all decisions are taken by weighing up costs and benefits of alternative courses of action. In reality, people seem to make their choices in at least three ways, and which way they use depends on the kind of context in which they are choosing.

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The dawn of animal personhood

by Justin Gregg
Like furniture, animals are considered property in the eyes of the law; things that can be bought, sold, or disposed of when no longer wanted. Unlike a human (or a corporation), an animal is not recognized as a person under US law, and could never serve as a plaintiff in a court case.

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Coherence in photosynthesis

By Jessica M. Anna, Gregory D. Scholes, and Rienk van Grondelle
Photosynthesis is responsible for life on our planet, from supplying the oxygen we breathe to the food that we eat. The process of photosynthesis is complex, involving many protein complexes and enzymes that work together in a concerted effort to convert solar energy to chemical bonds.

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HIV/AIDS: How to stop the unstoppable?

By Dorothy H. Crawford
It is over 100 years since HIV, the AIDS virus, began spreading in humans. It all started in West Central Africa where, scientists calculate, HIV jumped from chimpanzees to humans around 1900. Then in 1964 the virus made its first trans-continental flight. In one move it leaped from Kinshasa, capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo, to the Caribbean island of Hispaniola. Here it established a foot-hold in Haiti before travelling on to the US in 1969. So began a journey that took HIV to virtually every country in the world, eventually infecting 65 million people, a figure that is rising by around three million annually.

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Detective’s Casebook: Unearthing the Piltdown Man

By Ellie Gregory
It is regarded as one of the most baffling scientific hoaxes of the past few hundred years. The mystery of the Piltdown Man, a skull believed to be an ancient ‘missing link’ in human evolution, blindsided the expert eyes of some of the greatest scientists of the 20th century.

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Violet-blue chrysanthemums

By Naonobu Noda and Yoshikazu Tanaka
Chrysanthemums (Chrysanthemum morifolium) are the second best-selling flowers after roses in worldwide. In Japan they are by far the most popular and the 16 petal chrysanthemum with sixteen tips is the imperial crest. Cultivated chrysanthemums have been generated by hybridization breeding of many wild species for hundreds or possibly thousands of years.

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In the footsteps of Alfred Russel Wallace with Bill Bailey

By George and Jan Beccaloni
On Sunday 29 July 2013, we headed off to Wallacea for three weeks to assist comedian Bill Bailey with a documentary he is presenting about Alfred Russel Wallace. George, the Natural History Museum’s Curator of Orthopteroid Insects, acted as the Historical Consultant.

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On (re-)discovering Alfred Russel Wallace

By George Beccaloni
Two of my greatest passions in life are cockroaches and Alfred Russel Wallace, so I am fortunate to not only be the curator of the London Natural History Museum’s collection of orthopteroid insects, but also the director of the Wallace Correspondence Project.

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Astrobiology: pouring cold asteroid water on Aristotle

By David C. Catling
Over 2,300 years ago, in his book De Caelo (On the Heavens), Aristotle asked if other Earth-like worlds exist and dismissed the idea. But now, remarkably, the question is on the verge of being answered scientifically. NASA’s Kepler space telescope, launched in 2009, has collected data on the statistical occurrence of small planets that orbit stars at a distance where it’s the right temperature for liquid water and conceivably life.

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