Oxford University Press's
Academic Insights for the Thinking World

  • Science & Medicine

The Cambridge Philosophical Society

In 2019, the Cambridge Philosophical Society celebrates its 200th anniversary. When it was set up in 1819, Cambridge was not a place to do any kind of serious science. There were a few professors in scientific subjects but almost no proper laboratories or facilities. Students rarely attended lectures, and degrees were not awarded in the […]

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How industry can benefit from marine diversity

The global economy for products composed of biological materials is likely to grow 3.6% between now and 2025. This in response to serious environmental challenges the world will face. Such products have enormous potential to provide solutions to global challenges like food security, energy production, human health, and waste reduction. This economic growth may strongly […]

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Three big threats to wildlife in 2019

Our Planet, Netflix’s new nature documentary voiced by David Attenborough, arrives on the online streaming platform today. The series explores the wonders of the natural world, focusing on iconic species and stunning wildlife spectacles.

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Does gender bias influence how people assess children’s pain?

A recently published paper in the Journal of Pediatric Psychology has attracted much media attention for its analysis of a subject that has long been debated: how do our beliefs about male-female differences influence our decision-making? Specifically, do our beliefs about the pain expressions of boys and girls influence our assessment of their pain experience? The authors found that when adult […]

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New ways to think about Autism and why it matters

What’s wrong with using the word “spectrum” to describe autism? Perhaps some would suggest that the precise terminology used for referring to these medical conditions is relatively unimportant. In fact, the current terminology facilitates views that distort or oversimplify reality and may be causing harm.

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The ethics of the climate emergency

During the last few days of February we experienced the warmest Winter day since records began, with a high of 20.6 degrees (Celsius) at Trawscoed in mid-Wales. As if that was not enough, the record was broken again the next day with 21.2 degrees at Kew Gardens.

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Better detection of concussions using vital signs

As a father of a young ice hockey player, I’m all too familiar with every parent’s concern about concussions. As a neuroscientist, I chose not to accept that it was okay to rely on subjective and error-prone tests to understand how best to care for our brains after concussion. We dared ourselves to think bigger, and to […]

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Notable female microbiologists you’ve never heard of

Female microbiologists many not have had professor or doctor in front of their names, instead listed as laboratory assistants or technicians, but in many cases their skills were critical for numerous notable discoveries. It is worth reminding ourselves who they are and how they changed the world for good.

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Warning: music therapy comes with risks

Bob Marley sings, “One good thing about music—when it hits you, you feel no pain.” Although this may be the case for some people and in some circumstances, we dispute this statement as a global truth.

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Theranos and the cult of personality in science and tech

Elizabeth Holmes was a chemical engineering student who dropped out of Stanford to found Theranos: a silicon-valley start-up company that, at one point, was valued at US$9 billion. Her plan was to be another Steve Jobs. Today, she is facing fraud and other criminal charges.

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When a river is dammed, is it damned forever?

Since the dawn of advanced civilizations, humanity has sought to manage the flow of rivers. Protection from floods, water for drinking and irrigating crops, and extraction of resources like food and energy are among the most popular reasons for building dams.

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Beer before wine – can we avoid hangovers that way?

As St. Patrick’s Day approaches, many dread the incapacitated hangover of the day after – when the nausea hits you and you cannot do anything but lay in bed and every movement worsens your pounding headache. Wouldn’t it be helpful to have ways to lessen the burden of alcohol-induced hangover? A hangover is a complex […]

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Is there room for creative imagination in science?

Not just once, but repeatedly, I have heard something like “I just didn’t see in science any room for my own imagination or creativity,” from young students clearly able to succeed at any subject they set their minds to. It is a tragedy that so many people do not perceive science as a creative. Yet […]

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The brave new world of cannabis: chronic vomiting

A young patient, let’s call him Chad, goes to the doctor. He complains of attacks of nausea from the moment he wakes up in the morning. Sometimes his belly hurts as well. It’s been happening, on and off, for years. He gets cold and shaky. At times, it will progress to full-fledged vomiting, uncontrollable with any medications. The nausea is unbearable. Sometimes, getting in a very hot shower will take the edge off the nausea, but not always. In many cases a trip to the emergency room is needed for rehydration and intravenous anti-nausea medications.

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Schizophrenia and ballet dancer Vaslav Nijinsky

Schizophrenia is the most iconic of all mental illnesses but both its conceptualization and causes remain elusive. The popular image portrays patients convinced of being persecuted and hearing voices that nobody else can hear.

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