Oxford University Press's
Academic Insights for the Thinking World

  • Science & Medicine

Saving old forests

Research shows that boreal forests, like those across much of Northern Europe and Canada, have higher levels of variability in their structure and dynamics when unmanaged, improving their biodiversity and the stability of their ecosystems. These unmanaged forests also have a higher proportion of older trees than those used in industrial forest rotation – around 70-100 years in Canadian boreal forests.

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Using novel gas observations to probe exocomet composition

Space missions like the Rosetta space probe built by the European Space Agency, that recently reached and studied the comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, address the profound question of how life came to Earth by quantifying the composition of comets in the Solar System. Comets are made of the pristine material from which planets were formed. By exploring the composition of comets, we can thus access the pristine composition of the building blocks of planets.

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A glimpse at Eclipse 2017 [excerpt]

Anyone who has experienced the diamond ring effect that heralds the start of a total solar eclipse will tell you that it is the most beautiful natural phenomenon that they have ever seen.

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A reading list for Euroanaesthesia 2017 in Geneva

This weekend anaesthetists from across the globe are descending upon Geneva for Euroanaesthesia, Europe’s largest annual event focusing on anaesthesia, perioperative medicine, intensive care, emergency medicine, and pain treatment. We’ll be heading out there too, and the interactive bookcase below will give you a sneak peek at what we’ll have available at stand 81a!

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Gut microbiota and melanoma treatment responses

Monoclonal antibodies directed against checkpoint molecules such as CTLA-4 have recently demonstrated success in cancer immunotherapy in patients with melanoma. CTLA-4 (cytotoxic T-lymphocyte-associated protein 4) is a T cell receptor that functions as an immune checkpoint, downregulating immune responses. The monoclonal antibody, ipilimumab, blocks CTLA-4 by inhibiting this negative immune signal and amplifying immune responses.

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What is game theory?

Game theory is considered to be one of the most important theories not simply within the field of economics, but also mathematics, political science, biology, philosophy, and ecology, just to name a few. It has been developed over the many years since the term was first coined to what it is now: a theory used to “understand the strategic behaviour of decision makers who are aware that their decisions affect one another.”

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Mathematics Masterclasses for young people

In fact the idea really goes back to Michael Faraday, who gave Christmas lectures about science for young people at The Royal Institution of Great Britain in London in 1826. Sir Christopher Zeeman, following upon Porter’s initiative, gave the first series of six one-hour lectures (Mathematics Masterclasses) to young people at The Royal Institution in 1981, about “The Nature of Mathematics and The Mathematics of Nature”.

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Plant vs predator

Some plants are capable of warding off attack by slugs and snails, but many of our favourite garden flowers and vegetables seemingly cannot get their act together. Should we even attempt to grow Hostas, for example?

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Protecting half: a plan to save life on Earth

Recently, a number of the world’s leading scientists, indigenous leaders, and advocates have been engaged in something bold: asking exactly what is required to stop the mass extinction of life on Earth and save a living planet. And the answer, after numerous reviews of the evidence for what it would take to achieve comprehensive biodiversity conservation, has become clear: fully protect half the Earth (or more) in an interconnected way.

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Is suicide rationalizable? Evidence from Italian prisons.

After cancer and heart disease, suicide accounts for more years of life lost than any other cause of death, both in the United States and in Europe. In 2013 there were 41,149 suicides (12.6 every 100,000 inhabitants) in the US. To contextualize this number just think that the number of motor vehicle deaths was, in the same year, around 32,719 (10.3 every 100,000 inhabitants).

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Coincidences are underrated

The unreasonable popularity of pseudosciences such as ESP or astrology often stems from personal experience. We’ve all had that “Ralph” phone call or some other happening that seems well beyond the range of normal probability, at least according to what we consider to be common sense. But how accurately does common sense forecast probabilities and how much of it is fuzzy math? As we will see, fuzzy math holds its own.

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Pandemics in the age of Trump

If Donald Trump’s administration maintains its commitments to stoking nationalism, reducing foreign aid, and ignoring or denying science, the United States and the world will be increasingly vulnerable to pandemics. History is not a blueprint for future action—history, after all, never offers perfect analogies. When it comes to pandemic disease focusing on nationalist interests is exactly the wrong approach to take.

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Police violence: a risk factor for psychosis

Police victimization of US civilians has moved from the shadows to the spotlight following the widespread adaptation of smartphone technology and rapid availability of video footage through social media. The American Public Health Association recently issued a policy statement outlining the putative health and mental health costs of police violence, and declared the need to increase efforts towards understanding and preventing the effects of such victimization.

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Why are giant pandas black and white?

Most people in the western world learn that the giant panda has striking black and white colouration at kindergarten; but are never told why! The question is problematic because there are virtually no other mammals with this sort of colouration pattern, making analogies difficult. At UC Davis and CSU Long Beach, we instead decided to break up the external appearance of giant pandas into different regions

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Mental health at all ages

This May, Mental Health Awareness Month turns 68. To raise awareness of the fact that mental health issues affect individuals at all stages of the life course, we have put together a brief reading list of articles from The Journals of Gerontology: Social Sciences Series B. These articles also explore aspects of mental health that may be under-appreciated in the traditional social psychological literature.

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A photographer’s guide to solar eclipses

How do you capture the spectacle of a total eclipse with a camera? Photographing an eclipse isn’t difficult. It doesn’t take fancy or expensive equipment. You can take a snapshot of an eclipse with a simple camera (even a smartphone) if you can hold the camera steady or place it on a tripod. The first step in eclipse photography is to decide what kind of pictures you want.

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