Oxford University Press's
Academic Insights for the Thinking World

  • Science & Medicine

Modernizing classical physics: an oxymoron?

Open most textbooks titled “Modern Physics” and you will see chapters on all the usual suspects: special relativity, quantum mechanics, atomic physics, nuclear physics, solid state physics, particle physics and astrophysics. This is the established canon of modern physics.

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What’s wrong with electric cars?

Recently, we’ve heard that Volvo are abandoning the internal combustion engine, and that both the United Kingdom and France will ban petrol and diesel cars from 2040. Other countries like China are said to be considering similar mandates.

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Where is scientific publishing heading?

As researchers, we are unlikely to spend much time reflecting on one of the often-forgotten pillars of science: scientific publishing. Naturally, our focus leans more towards traditional academic activities including teaching, mentoring graduate students and post docs, and the next exciting experiment that will allow us to advance our understanding.

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The building blocks of ornithology

Museum collections are dominated by vat collections of natural history specimens—pinned insects in glass-topped drawers, shells, plants pressed on herbarium sheets, and so on. Most of these collections were never intended for display, but did work in terms of understanding the variety and distribution of nature.

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The final piece of the puzzle

When a group of people collectively solve a jigsaw puzzle, who gets the credit? The person who puts the final piece in the puzzle? The person who sorted out the edge pieces at the beginning? The person who realised what the picture was of? The person who found the puzzle pieces and suggested trying to put them together? The person who managed the project and kept everyone on track? The whole group?

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In memoriam: Ray Guillery

The seventh of April 2017 brought with it the sad passing of Ray Guillery FRS, celebrated neurophysiologist and neuroanatomist, world leader in thalamo-cortical communication, and Dr Lee’s professor of anatomy and fellow of Hertford College, Oxford, from 1984 to 1996. Dr Lizzie Burns kindly shares her memories of working with Ray on his final book, The Brain as a Tool, for which she was the illustrator.

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In the zone: how balancing stress levels improves performance [excerpt]

Athletes’ maximum performance, also known as peak performance, is often characterized or accompanied by what is called a “flow state” or “peak experience.” Athletes describe this state as being “on automatic pilot,” “totally involved,” “hot,” “on a roll,” “in a groove,” or “in the zone.” An excellent example is provided by the great German goalkeeper Oliver Kahn in the 2001 champions league final game, between his team FC Bayern Munich and FC Valencia.

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Animal of the month: badgers at Wytham Woods [video]

Distinctive and familiar, loved and loathed by different sections of the public, the badger is iconic of the British countryside. But Oxford University’s Wildlife Conservation Research Unit (WildCRU) has discovered that, due to their sensitivity to prevailing weather, badgers, like the proverbial canary in a coal mine, are also sentinels of climate change.

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Multiple choice questions for the MRCP Part 1 [quiz]

The MRCP (UK) Part 1 exam set by the Royal College of Physicians is designed to test doctors on a wide range of topics to determine if they have the required level of knowledge to begin their postgraduate training as physician. The exam, which is sat over one day and features 200 multiple-choice (best of five) questions, can first seem very daunting; that’s why we’ve created this quiz to fit easily into your revision schedule.

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Are boys genetically predisposed to behavioural problems? [excerpt]

Are boys naturally more aggressive or is that just a social construct by society? Can so-called “macho behavior” be unlearned or is it intrinsic? This International Men’s Day, authors Daniel Freeman and Jason Freeman seek out those answers and more in the below excerpt from The Stressed Sex: Uncovering the Truth About Men, Women, and Mental Health.

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Are you the favorite child? The science of favoritism

We are frequently asked why we spend our professional careers studying favoritism, after all, parents don’t really have favorites. Or do they? A woman recently approached us after a lecture we gave and told us about caring for her aging mother. Her story captures the importance of this issue. She visited her mother daily in the final year of her mother’s life to feed, bathe, and care for her.

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Place of the Year nominee spotlight: the Arctic [video]

The Arctic sea ice has been seen to be in steady retreat since about 1950, a retreat which has recently sped up with an additional factor of thinning. In summer now there is only a quarter of the volume of ice that there was in summer in 1980. This process shows every sign of continuing, so that the Arctic will be ice-free for part of the year. Obviously we view this as a product of global warming, but why should it concern us in other ways?

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What can we all do to tackle antibiotic resistance?

Welcome to the Oxford Journals guide to antibiotic resistance. 13th – 19th November marks World Antibiotic Awareness Week, an annual international campaign set up by the World Health Organisation (WHO) to combat the spread of antibiotic resistance, and raise awareness of the potential consequences. Even better, it’s not just scientists, politicians, and medical professionals who can work towards a solution

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“Thank you for your service” isn’t enough [excerpt]

On this Veterans Day, we honor those fallen and herald those still fighting. We also examine what more can be done in terms of listening and understanding those who have seen the perils of war firsthand. In this excerpt from AfterWar: Healing the Moral Wounds of our Soldiers, author Nancy Sherman shares with us her time spent with a veteran of Afghanistan and his feelings on those who expect so much from soldiers and can only offer thanks in return.

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On burnout, trauma, and self-care with Erin Jessee

Last week, Erin Jessee gave us a list of critical questions to ask to mitigate risk in oral history fieldwork. Today, we’ve invited Jessee back to the blog to talk more in-depth about her recently published article, “Managing Danger in Oral Historical Fieldwork,” spotting signs of trauma during interviews, and dealing with the sensitive nature of oral history.

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The history of medical ethics

On the 20th of August 1947, 16 German physicians were found guilty of heinous crimes against humanity. They had been willing participants in one of the largest examples of ethnic cleansing in modern history. During the Second World War, these Nazi doctors had conducted pseudoscientific medical experiments upon concentration camp prisoners and the stories that unfolded during their trial

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