Oxford University Press's
Academic Insights for the Thinking World

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The Story of Black Mesa

By Theda Perdue and Michael D. Green
After World War II, economic development was at the top of the agendas of virtually every reservation. Unemployment was almost universal, family incomes were virtually nil, and the tribes had no income beyond government appropriations to the BIA [Bureau of Indian Affairs]. Some reservations did have natural resources. Some tribes own important timber reserves, but mineral resources attracted most postwar attention. Thirty percent of the low-sulfur coal west of the Mississippi is on Indian land, as is 5 to 10 percent of the oil and gas and some 50 to 80 percent of the uranium. Congress enacted legislation in 1918 and again in 1938 to authorize the secretary of the interior to negotiate leases to develop tribal mineral resources.

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Why the climate negotiations matter

By Matthew J. Hoffmann
Though any breakthrough in negotiations is unlikely, the multilateral meetings remain a pivotal space for the growth of innovative approaches to the coming climate crisis.

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The periodic table: matter matters

By Eric Scerri
As far back as I can remember I have always liked sorting and classifying things. As a boy I was an avid stamp collector. I would sort my stamps into countries, particular sets, then arrange them in order of increasing monetary value shown on the face of the stamp. I would go to great lengths to select the best possible copy of any stamp that I had several versions of. It’s not altogether surprising that I have therefore ended up doing research and writing books on what is perhaps the finest example of a scientific system of classification – the periodic table of the elements.

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SciWhys: Why are plants green?

By Jonathan Crowe
After the greyness of winter, the arrival of spring is heralded by a splash of colour as plants emerge from the soil, and trees seemingly erupt with leaves. Soon, much of the countryside has moved from being something of a grey, barren wasteland to a sea of verdant green. But why is it that so much vegetation is green? Why not a sea of red, or blue? To answer this question let me take you on a colourful journey from the sun to within the cells of plant leaves.

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Do bugs feel pain?

By Jeff Lockwood
It’s hard to know what any organism experiences. For that matter, I’m not even sure that you feel pain—or at least that your internal, mental states are the same as mine. This is the “other minds” problem in philosophy. At least other people can tell us what they feel (even if we can’t be certain that their experience is the same as ours), but we can’t even ask insects.

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Darwin publishes On the Origin of Species

This Day in World History
On the day it was published, Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species sold out—eager readers bought every single copy. This alone is not remarkable: the print run was a mere 1,250 copies. But in presenting to the world his theory of evolution by natural selection, Darwin’s tome made history.

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Are daddy-longlegs really as venomous as I’ve heard?

By Jeff Lockwood
If people have told you that daddy-longlegs are deadly, then those people are dead wrong. This tale is debunked on the website of the University of California Riverside, and I trust my colleagues at UCR. I know a several of the entomologists there, and they’re a really smart bunch of scientists (a claim that one might question, given that they chose to live in Riverside, but my concern is for their entomological acumen, not their geographic aesthetics). So, I’m going to use what they say about daddy-longlegs and if you end up dying from a bite, then it’s on them.

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Following the army ant-following birds

By Corina Logan
It’s 4:00 am and I can’t believe I’m (just barely) awake. Not only that, but I have to go out there in the cold and rain. It’s so cold! I’m in the tropics – it’s not supposed to be cold in the tropics. I pull on my clothes (quickly, while still hiding under the covers), grab my gear, and head out into the darkness. I hurriedly walk up the muddy path; time is of the essence.

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SciWhys: Why are we told always to finish a course of antibiotics?

Most of us have at one time or another been prescribed a course of antibiotics by our GP. But how many of us heed the instruction to finish the course; to continue taking the tablets or capsules until none remain? Very often, our strict adherence to the prescription fades in line with our symptoms.

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Cockroaches, who needs ’em?

In this article, Professor Jeff Lockwood answers a query regarding the possibility of exterminating all cockroaches. He replies: ‘A world without cockroaches would pretty much keep on doing what it’s doing now. Probably. At least if by ‘all cockroaches’ you mean the species that share our homes.’

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What are those terrifying centipede-like things?

What are those super-fast, reddish, fuzzy-looking, centipede-like things? It would sure help hapless entomologists if people would provide just a teensy bit more information when asking, ‘What is it?’ sorts of questions. Helpful clues include things like: where you live, where you saw it, etc.

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What the bejeebers are cave crickets?

Professor Jeff Lockwood answers a reader’s question regarding Cave Crickets: ‘The cave crickets belong to the Family Rhaphidophoridae. Technically they’re not ‘true’ crickets (like field crickets), but they’re close enough. In fact, they’re truer crickets than beasts like the Mormon cricket.’

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In appreciation of bats

By John D. Altringham
2011-12 is the International Year of the Bat sponsored by the United Nations Environment Programme. Yes, that’s right – we are devoting a whole year to these neglected and largely misunderstood creatures. Perhaps if I give you a few bat facts and figures you might begin to see why.

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Memo from Manhattan: Eye of the storm

By Sharon Zukin
Everyone knows by now that Tropical Storm Irene, which blew through the East Coast last weekend, flooded the beaches, suburbs and some inland towns but did little lasting damage in New York City. I have seldom felt so lucky to live on a high floor with no river view and on a street with very few trees.

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