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Academic Insights for the Thinking World

  • Science & Medicine

The future of humanitarian medicine

Humanitarian medicine aims to provide essential relief to those destabilized by crises. This concept, the humanitarian imperative, expands the principles of humanity to include, as a right, the provision of aid to those suffering the consequences of war, natural disaster, epidemic or endemic diseases, or displacement. Providing assistance to those in crises is a premise as […]

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A 13-year-old scholar shares her research experiences

I noticed that sometimes after using a hand dryer my ears would start ringing. At first I didn’t really pay attention to it, but then I wondered if they were too loud, and that was why my ears were hurting. Also, I noticed that in many cases, when children were in washrooms with hand dryers, […]

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Robot rats are the future of recycling

I just watched WALL-E for the first time in five years or so. It’s the story of a plucky little robot tasked with cleaning up the world by compacting rubbish into blocks and building structures out of the blocks to minimize the amount of land they take up. Of course, he falls in love and saves the […]

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Why academics announce plans for research that might never happen

Why do academic writers announce their plans for further work at the end of their papers in peer reviewed journals? It happens in many disciplines, but here’s an example from an engineering article: Additionally, in our future work, we will extend our model to incorporate more realistic physical effects . . . We will expand the detection […]

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How quantitative thinking shaped our worldview

Over the past couple of months or so, I’ve had a few opportunities to speak with individuals and groups about “us” — who we are and how we came to be ourselves. By “us,” I do not mean self-reflection and the introspection of following self-help conventions; rather, I mean the “us” to be our worldview: our thinking, acting, and doing.

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How microwaves changed the course of the Battle of the Atlantic

Sir Robert Watson Watt is credited as the inventor of radar. In Britain radar was known as RDF (radio direction finding). The way that radar works is that pulses of microwave radiation of controlled frequency and polarisation are emitted from a transmitter. Some of these microwaves reach an object (an aircraft or submarine for example) directly […]

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From the farm to rocket road: one engineer’s story

Retired engineer Henry Pohl can vividly recall his first encounter with a rocket. During the early 1950s, the Army drafted him and shipped him from Texas to the Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, Alabama. “That dadgum thing looked pretty simple,” he says of the rocket engine. It didn’t look much bigger than the tractor engine back […]

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How austerity politics hurts prisoners

The Battle of Dunkirk–the 1940 allied evacuation of 338,226 Belgian, British, and French troops from the beaches of Northern France–has been continually accentuated as a critical moment of the World War II. In “a miracle of deliverance,” as Winston Churchill, the then-prime Minister called it, hundreds of thousands of soldiers came together in a resourceful feeling of togetherness. Today, Dunkirk remains a symbol of determination against adversity.

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Standing in Galileo’s shadow: Why Thomas Harriot should take his place in the scientific hall of fame

The enigmatic Elizabethan Thomas Harriot never published his scientific work, so it’s no wonder that few people have heard of him. His manuscripts were lost for centuries, and it’s only in the past few decades that scholars have managed to trawl through the thousands of quill-penned pages he left behind. What they found is astonishing—a glimpse into one of the best scientific minds of his day, at a time when modern science was struggling to emerge from its medieval cocoon.

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Connecting performance art and environmentalism

For many of us, the reality of global warming and environmental crisis induces an overwhelming sense of hopelessness because there seems to be a lack of real solutions for ecological catastrophes. The looming sense of crisis is the reason why people came out in droves to the Derwent River on an overcast day in June 2014 to participate in Washing the River, artist Yin Xiuzhen’s performance event in Hobart, Tasmania.
Audience members took brushes and mops to engage in a ceremonial act, taking part in the symbolic cleansing of a monumental stack of 162 frozen blocks of dark brown ice made from the water of the Derwent River.

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#MeToo and Mental Health: Gender Parity in the Field of Psychiatry

Psychiatry is not the only space in which women are silenced or burdened, but as a discipline it’s one lens through which we can analyse a larger phenomenon. Now more than ever, it’s essential to discuss, in real time, women’s experiences as health professionals and as patients in mental health services.

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Mad Pride and the end of mental illness

When we think of mental illness we’re likely to recall experiences, behaviours, and psychological states that are bad for the individual: a person with severe depression loses all interest in life; another with anxiety might not be able to leave the house; auditory hallucinations can be terrifying; paranoia can make social interaction impossible; and delusions take the person away from a shared reality.

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What biodiversity loss means for our health

Among the great lies I learned in medical school was that a human being was the product of a sperm and an egg. Yes, these gametes are necessary, but they are hardly sufficient to create and sustain a human life. Each one of us stays alive only with the help of trillions of other organisms – the human microbiome – that live on and in every surface of our body exposed to the outside world.

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The trouble with how we talk about climate change

It’s a rare day when the news doesn’t cover something related to climate change, whether biodiversity loss, climate refugees, retreating glaciers, or an extreme weather event. Though it’s broadly accepted that climate change is caused by “us,” at some level, we often assume the solutions are covered and controlled by experts, especially natural scientists, engineers, […]

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Why urgent action is needed to avoid centuries of global warming

In the climate change debate, we often hear the argument that the climate has been changing since time immemorial. This is true, but if modern climate change differs from pre-historic climate cycles, the statement by itself is empty. We need to know how modern climate change compares with that of the past.

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When narcolepsy makes you more creative

At night, the surrealist poet Saint-Pol-Roux used to hang a sign on his bedroom’s door that read: “Do not disturb: poet at work.” Indeed, may sleep increase our creativity? The link between creativity and sleep has been a topic of intense speculation, mainly based on anecdotal reports of artistic and scientific discoveries people have made while dreaming.

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