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Academic Insights for the Thinking World

Water scarcity, warfare, and the paradox of value

Back in 1995, then World Bank Vice President Ismail Serageldin made an important prediction about the future: “The wars of the next century will be fought over water.” Thankfully, No wars have been fought strictly over water in modern history. In fact globally the number of international agreements over water far exceeds the number of international conflicts. That paradox shows that water can be just as powerful a driver of cooperation as of conflict between nations, regions, and communities. But that doesn’t mean Serageldin is wrong.

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Investing in women’s reproductive health makes economic sense

There is no gender equality without access to reproductive health services, including access to contraceptives and safe abortions. In fact, economists are paying increasing attention to the economic benefits of investing in women’s reproductive health and finding gains not only for women but also for their families and for the economy at large.

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The eclipse that proved Einstein’s theories

The confirmation of Einstein’s new general theory of relativity on the 29th of May 1919 made headlines around the world. Arthur Stanley Eddington’s measurement of the gravitational deflection of starlight by the Sun was a triumph of experimental and theoretical physics.

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The surprising similarities between Game of Thrones and the Hebrew Bible

Note: This post contains spoilers for the series finale of Game of Thrones. From prophecies and their cryptic interpretations to stories of warring kings and their exploits, the narrative world that George R. R. Martin has created in his fantasy series, A Song of Ice and Fire, shares much in common with the narrative world of the Hebrew […]

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High pressure processing may be the future of food

For millennia, mankind has understood that we can apply heat to raw food materials to make them safe to consume and keep their quality for longer. Cooking is even credited as being key to human evolution, as its discovery (a trick unique to humans) greatly reduced the amount of energy bodies needed to digest and extract nutrients from food, allowing saved energy to be diverted into useful pathways such as those which developed more sophisticated brains.

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Albert Camus and the problem of absurdity

Albert Camus (1913-1960) was a French philosopher and novelist whose works examine the alienation inherent in modern life and who is best known for his philosophical concept of the absurd. He explored these ideas in his famous novels, The Stranger (1942), The Plague (1947), and The Fall (1956), as well as his philosophical essays, The Myth of Sisyphus (1942) and The Rebel (1951). […]

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Using economics to find the greatest superhero

In case you missed it, the world was recently saved by the Avengers, a Marvel Comics superhero, super-team who defeated Thanos, a genocidal maniac of galactic proportions. However, the real victory belongs to Disney, which owns the Marvel movie properties. Avengers: Endgame annihilated the record for the largest opening weekend box office haul, raking in […]

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How to protect your family from sun exposure this summer

Sun exposure is the primary risk factor for skin cancer: increased exposure due to ozone depletion is expected to lead to increases in the incidence of skin cancers, including melanoma. Sun exposure in childhood is predictive of skin cancer later in life.

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Queen Victoria’s 200th birthday

Few lives have been as heavily documented as Queen Victoria’s, who kept a careful record of her own life in journals from a young age. In celebration of Victoria’s 200th birthday today, discover six facts you may not have known about one of the longest-reigning British monarchs.

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Imitation in literature: inspiration or plagiarism?

Imitation is a complex word with a long and tangled history. Today, it usually carries a negative charge. The Oxford English Dictionary’s second definition of the word is “a copy, an artificial likeness; a thing made to look like something else, which it is not; a counterfeit.” So an imitation of a designer handbag might be a tatty […]

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Why climate change could bring more infectious diseases

Human impact on climate and environment is a topic of many discussions and research. While the social, economic, and environmental effects of climate change are important, climate change could also increase the spread of infectious diseases dramatically. Many infectious agents affect humans and animals. Shifts of their habitats or health as a result of climate change and […]

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Disbanding the etymological League of Nations

It turned out that the melancholy idiom send one to Coventry may not have anything to do with that town. To reinforce this unexpected conclusion, I’ll relate another story. At one time, the phrase up at Harwich existed; perhaps it is still known in the eastern counties.

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Is social media a platform for supporting or attacking refugees?

On March 15th 2019, a white nationalist opened fire during Friday prayers, killing fifty Muslims and injuring at least fifty others in two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand. The attack was the largest mass shooting in New Zealand’s history and came as a shock to the small and remote island nation which generally sees itself as free from the extreme violence and terrorism seen elsewhere in the world.

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James Harris, the black scientist who helped discover two elements

The year 2019 is the 150th anniversary of the publication of Russian chemist Dmitri Mendeleev’s Periodic Table. The Periodic Table is a tabular arrangement of all elements. Mendeleev developed it to recognize patterns of the known elements. He also predicted that later scientists would fill in new elements in the gaps of his table. Today’s […]

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Should the people always get what they want from their politicians?

Should we listen to the voice of “the people” or the conviction of their representatives? Britain’s vote to leave the European Union has inspired virulent debate about the answer. Amidst Theresa May’s repeated failure to pass her Brexit deal in the House of Commons this spring, the Prime Minister appealed directly to the frustrations and feelings of the people. “You the public have had enough,” she asserted in a speech of March 20.

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A linguistic League of Nations

It turned out that the melancholy idiom send one to Coventry may not have anything to do with that town. To reinforce this unexpected conclusion, I’ll relate another story. At one time, the phrase up at Harwich existed; perhaps it is still known in the eastern counties.

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