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Academic Insights for the Thinking World

  • Science & Medicine

Food labels: Can they help us to pick healthy portions?

From packaged food products on the supermarket shelves to calories listed on menus in fast food outlets, food labels and the nutrition information they contain are all around us. But what effect do these labels have on consumers? Does food marketing influence what you actually eat?

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From Darwin to DNA: evolution, genomics, and conservation of the Galapagos giant tortoises

Established in 1903, Journal of Heredity covers organismal genetics across a wide range of disciplines and taxa. Articles include such rapidly advancing fields as conservation genetics of endangered species, population structure and phylogeography, molecular evolution and speciation, molecular genetics of disease resistance in plants and animals, genetic biodiversity and relevant computer programs.

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The ABCs of successful aging

Despite some people saying that the secret to longevity is all in the genes (so pick your parents wisely!), there is a lot we can to do age well. In fact, most of these secrets are really good things to do at any age in life.

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Dilemmas of the Age of Innovation

We live in the age of scientific optimism. Tomorrow’s new knowledge will vastly expand our understanding of ourselves and our mastery of the world. The flip side of scientific optimism, however, is that today’s knowledge is fraught with gaps and errors of which we are not yet aware. Furthermore, knowledge and understanding do not always grow gradually like the rings of a tree.

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Ants are picky when using tools for foraging

Tool use, once considered unique to our species, is now known to be widespread in the animal kingdom. It has been reported in most of the major taxonomic groups, with notable exceptions being myriapods, amphibians and reptiles. In insects, one of the best documented examples of tool use is seen in members of the ant […]

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Tips for Surviving and Thriving During the Foundation Programme

As the new university year begins, many newly-qualified trainee doctors will have already started their training for The Foundation Programme. The UK Foundation Programme (FP) is a two-year standard training programme, established in 2005, for all UK trainee doctors which builds upon medical school training with the generic skills and capabilities needed during specialty training. […]

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Moral resilience – how to navigate ethical complexity in clinical practice

Clinicians are constantly confronted with ethical questions. Recent examples of healthcare workers caught up in high-profile best-interest cases are on the rise, but decisions regarding the allocation of the clinician’s time and skills, or scare resources such as organs and medication, are everyday occurrences. The increasing pressure of “doing more with less” is one that […]

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Animal of the month: the evolution of the imperfect honeybee

Honey bee colonies have historically been considered as marvels of evolution resulting in perfectly cooperative and harmonious societies, and exemplars of what we humans might achieve. This is an appealing image to many, but it is of course a caricature. Nobody is perfect, not even honey bees.

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Dystopia: an update

True aficionados of the earthly apocalypse cannot fail to have noted the deepening pessimism in discourses on what is often euphemistically referred to as “climate change”, but what should be designated “environmental catastrophe”. The Paris Agreement of 2015 conceded the need to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, albeit without binding nations to either achieve this specific target or impose specific binding targets in turn on the worst offenders, namely the fossil fuel industries.

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Serena redux: waiting to exhale

By now, much has been written about the Serena Williams-Naomi Osaka-Carlos Ramos fiasco at the 2018 US Open. During the women’s final, the umpire, Carlos Ramos, issued Williams a warning for suspected coaching from her player’s box.

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Pros and cons of GMO crop farming [infographic]

In the agricultural industry, recombinant DNA technology allows for DNA to be transferred from one organism to another, creating Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs). Four crops constitute the vast majority of the GM crop production: maize, canola, soybean, and cotton. Since 1995, GM crops have been grown commercially and the global area sown to these crops has expanded over 100-fold over the past two decades.  

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The history of manned space flight [infographic]

The Soviet Union launched the first man-made satellite, Sputnik, into space in October 1957, initiating the scientific rivalry between the USSR and the United States at the height of the Cold War. In the subsequent decades, the Soviet and American space programs traded milestones as they each embarked upon manned space flight and the exploration of space.

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‘Unnecessary’ and ‘risky’ – the end of ENT surgery in the NHS?

In July this year, NHS England announced that it planned to cease funding four surgical procedures entirely, and to limit funding for thirteen others. Within this list of procedures, three ear, nose and throat procedures were identified: tonsillectomy for tonsillitis, grommet insertion for glue ear and surgery for snoring. The mainstream media provided mixed opinions, […]

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Bioremediation: using microorganisms to clean up the environment

Microorganisms are known for their ability to adapt to any environment. We can find them in the most hazardous places on Earth. Their invisible work has led to visible results ― terraforming the planet billions of years ago and converting it into the viable green world that is today. Their ability to utilize and adapt to any available substrate in order to gain energy kept the balance in the ecosystem until humans become dominant species.

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Humanities and scientific explanation: the need for change

For too long, presentations of science for the general public, and education in schools, has suggested that science wields a sort of hegemonic power, as if its terms and methods gradually replace and make redundant all other discourse; the only reason it has not yet completed its conquest is that the world is complicated—but it is only a matter of time…

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