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  • Science & Medicine

The hidden toll of war

During war, the news media often focus on civilian injuries and deaths due to explosive weapons. But the indirect health impacts of war among civilians occur more frequently—often out of sight and out of mind.

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Who do you think you are? Genetics and identity

Ethnicity and ethnic identity have been recently brought to the fore in the Western world. One important reason is that immigration and globalization have resulted in a variety of clashes among different groups in very different contexts. However, there is another reason: DNA ancestry testing.

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Beyond God and atheism

One of the most remarkable findings of recent science is that the fundamental constants of nature appear to be fine-tuned for the existence of life. Some think the fine-tuning of physics points to a God, who set the numbers to ensure life comes about. Others think it points to a multiverse: if there are enough universes with enough variety in their laws of nature, then it becomes statistically likely that at least one with be right for life. I think there are big problems with both these options, and we may need more radical solutions.

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Of language, brain health, and global inequities

One of the greatest public health challenges of our century lies in the growth of neurodegenerative disorders. Conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and frontotemporal dementia stand as major contributors to disability and mortality in affluent and under-resourced nations alike.

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Scientific writing as a research skill

Scientific papers are often hard to read, even for specialists that work in the area. This matters because potential readers will often give up and do something else instead. And that means the paper will have less impact.

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How can business leaders add value with intuition in the age of AI? [Long Read]

In a speech to the Economic Club of Washington in 2018, Jeff Bezos described how Amazon made sense of the challenge of if and how to design and implement a loyalty scheme for its customers. This was a highly consequential decision for the business; for some time, Amazon had been searching for an answer to the question: “what would loyalty program for Amazon look like?”
A junior software engineer came up with the idea of fast, free shipping. But a big problem was that shipping is expensive. Also, customers like free shipping, so much so that the big eaters at Amazon’s “buffet” would take advantage by free shipping low-cost items which would not be good for Amazon’s bottom-line. When the Amazon finance team modelled the idea of fast, free shipping the results “didn’t look pretty.” In fact, they were nothing short of “horrifying.”

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Genomic insights into the past and future of the black rhinoceros

The iconic African black rhinoceros faces an uncertain future after intense poaching caused a 98% decline in wild populations from 1960 to 1995. The species’ survival within its fragmented natural habitat now relies on dedicated conservation efforts. A study published in Molecular Biology and Evolution reshapes our understanding of the evolutionary and natural history of the black rhinoceros, opening a window into the species’ genetic past while urging us to forge a path toward its conservation.

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The Oxford Comment podcast

A spotlight on Native American language and religion [podcast]

On today’s episode of The Oxford Comment, the last for 2023, inspired by the themes in Martin Scorsese’s “Killers of the Flower Moon”, and in celebration of National Native American Heritage Month in the United States, we spotlight two aspects of Native American culture that transcend tribe and nation and have been the recent focus of OUP scholars: language and religious beliefs.

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Five unexpected things about medical debt

100 million Americans hold medical debt which causes people to forgo or be denied necessary medical care. Luke Messac, a historian and physician, looks at five unexpected things about medical debt.

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"A Concise Guide to Communication in Science and Engineering" by David H. Foster, published by Oxford University Press

The risks of boosterism in research writing

At first glance, the significance of a piece of research may not be obvious, either from a paper submitted to a journal or from a published article. Its novelty, importance, and future impact are often uncertain, needing time to become clear to the research community.

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