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Academic Insights for the Thinking World

  • Science & Medicine

Bipolar disorder and addictions

Bipolar disorder consists of two major types. Bipolar disorder, type I is the classical and well-known disorder, which used to be called manic-depressive illness. Episodes of hypomania and depression tend to alternate, with each phase lasting for days or weeks. Bipolar disorder, type II, is characterized by shorter-lived episodes of abnormal mood (it is sometimes termed “rapid cycling”) and there is a predominance of depressive phases.

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Famous doctors from the ancient world

Drastic advances in science have caused past medical practices to become not only antiquated, but often shocking. Although brilliant medical insights are peppered throughout history, many dated practices are more curious than insightful. From an early take on chemical warfare to human dissections, the following shortened excerpt from A Cabinet of Ancient Medical Curiosities includes short facts and quotes on some of the most famous doctors from the Ancient World.

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Suspected ‘fake results’ in science

There is a concern that too many scientific studies are failing to be replicated as often as expected. This means that a high proportion is suspected of being invalid. The blame is often put on confusion surrounding the ‘P value’ which is used to assess the effect of chance on scientific observations. A ‘P value’ is calculated by first assuming that the ‘true result’ is disappointing

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How does climate change impact global peace and security?

Climate change is one of the most pervasive global threats to peace and security in the 21st century. But how many people would list this as a key factor in international relations and domestic welfare? In reality, climate change touches all areas of security, peace building, and development. The impacts of climate change are already adversely affecting vulnerable communities, as well as stretching the capacities of societies and governments.

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Margaret Thatcher, Lego, and the Principle of Least Action

Imagine a toy city, seen from afar. Now imagine that some of the buildings have Lego-shaped castellations, others have Lego-shaped holes in the walls, and there are a few loose Lego bricks lying around. All this evidence leads us to guess that the whole toy city is made up of Lego bricks. When we get up close, we see that our guess is correct. By a similar blend of evidence and theorizing, John Dalton, around 1800, came up with the Atomic Theory

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What are the best ways to view a solar eclipse?

Millions of people will soon travel to a narrow strip in America to witness a rare event: a total solar eclipse. On 21 August, many will look up to the sky to witness this phenomenon – will you be one of them? In the following shortened excerpt from Totality: The Great American Eclipses of 2017 and 2024, learn what types of eyewear you should be using to watch the Sun disappear

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Teaching medicine: how the great ones do it

Attending physicians, the physicians who train interns and residents on hospital wards, have always borne a heavy responsibility. They are accountable for the level of medical care received by each succeeding generation of American patients. But today, these physician-teachers confront unprecedented obstacles. How well they meet the challenge may have long-term consequences for patients and for the medical profession as a whole.

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10 facts about the animal kingdom

How many species of animals are there? What is the largest animal, and how are we related to rats? Peter Holland, the author of The Animal Kingdom: A Very Short Introduction, tells us 10 things everyone should know about the animal kingdom, and how we humans fit in.

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Our oceans, our future [reading list]

The eight of June is World Oceans Day. Celebrated globally, this day is a chance to appreciate the ocean and learn about conservation efforts that help protect it. This year’s theme is “Our Oceans, Our Future”. In the spirit of moving towards a healthier future for our marine environment, we’ve put together a reading list of our favorite books about the ocean and marine conservation.

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A better way to model cancer

Later this year, the first US-based clinical trial to test whether an organoid model of prostate cancer can predict drug response will begin recruiting patients. Researchers will grow the organoids—miniorgans coaxed to develop from stem cells—from each patient’s cancer tissues and expose the organoids to the patient’s planned course of therapy. If the organoids mirror patients’ drug responses, the results would support the model’s use as a tool to help guide therapy.

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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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