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Academic Insights for the Thinking World

1917: A reading list

In order to fully understand key moments in history, it is important to review the culture that created them. As 2017 draws to a close, we have compiled a reading list that will help to contextualize history from 100 years ago. Transport yourself to a truly world-changing year in our shared history — 1917 — with any of the following titles.

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Illustrating Streptococcus pneumoniae

According to the WHO, Streptococcus pneumoniae (also known as pneumococcus) is the fourth most frequent microbial cause of fatal infection. These bacteria commonly colonize the upper respiratory tract and are the most common cause of bacterial pneumonia and meningitis. Although much is known about pneumococcal biology and the diseases it causes, there are still many questions about the molecular biology and cellular processes of the bacterium.

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10 great writers from China’s long literary history

China is one of the world’s oldest countries, and its long history goes hand in hand with its rich literary tradition. The names Confucius, Lao Tzu, and Sun Tzu are well-known around the world, but many of China’s poets, philosophers, and novelists remain hidden gems to outsiders. Take a look at the list below and discover 10 of China’s greatest writers, from the Zhou dynasty to the 20th century.

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The Oxford Place of the Year 2017 is…

Our polls have officially closed and the results are in: our Place of the Year for 2017 is Puerto Rico. Although it was a tight race between Catalonia and Puerto Rico in both the long- and shortlist polling, the events that have occurred in this Caribbean Island in the past year have truly resonated with our followers who partook in voting.

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What the House-Senate Conference Committee should do about the Johnson Amendment

The Johnson Amendment is the part of Internal Revenue Code Section 501(c)(3) which bans tax-exempt institutions from participating in political campaigns. The US House of Representatives has passed H.R.1, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, to revise the Code. Section 5201 of H.R. 1 would modify the Johnson Amendment. H.R. 1 gets three things right and wrong about the Johnson Amendment.

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The legacies of the “Russian” Revolution(s): World War II

This year marks the centenary of the Russian Revolution. This event has often been reduced to the urban upheaval that gripped Petrograd (St Petersburg) throughout 1917 and which culminated in the Bolsheviks taking power in October. The Soviet Union traced its legitimacy back to this event, and many other aspiring revolutionaries were inspired by it too—some still are to this day.

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How much do you know about cheetahs? [Quiz]

Today, 4 December, is International Cheetah Day! Cheetahs are easily distinguished from other cats due to their distinctive black “tear stain” markings that create two lines from eye to mouth, their black spots on tawny fur, and black rings at the end of their long tails. Cheetahs also stand apart from other large cats due to their loose and rangy frame, small head, high‐set eyes, and slightly flattened ears.

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Towards a study of the role of law in the Arab Spring

The Arab Spring has been the subject of a growing body of scholarship. Much of this commentary has hitherto related to political and economic analysis of the events that took place in many Arab countries since December 2010. Nevertheless, the role of law remains understudied. There are several inter-related temporal, empirical, and theoretical difficulties that impede a proper analysis of the role of law in the Arab Spring.

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Major medical incidents [timeline]

Major incidents are defined as any incident ‘that requires the mobilisation and use of extraordinary resources’; with the NHS further expanding the definition of such events as ‘any incident where the location, number, severity, or type of live casualties requires extraordinary resources’. There have been many major incidents throughout history that have required an ‘extraordinary’ response by emergency services, medical personnel, and government bodies.

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How to write a conclusion

Writing essays is complicated work, and writing the ending to an essay is often the hardest part of that work. Endings are tough for several reasons. You may be tired from writing–or tired of what you have written. You may feel that you have made your point sufficiently and that no more needs to be said or can possibly be said. However, the ending is your last chance to make an impression.

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Beethoven in space

Katie Paterson has always wanted to shoot Beethoven to the moon. In Earth-Moon-Earth (2007) the Scottish conceptual artist translated a performance of Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata into Morse code, sent the radio signals to the moon, and recaptured the reflection.

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Misattributed quotations: do you know who really said it? [quiz]

The seemingly simple task of asking who said what has perhaps never been more difficult. In the digital age, quotations can be moved around, attributed, questioned, re-appropriated, and repeated in the blink of an eye. If someone is “widely quoted” as saying something and it sounds more or less right, many people take this to be sufficient proof of the quotation’s origin. With that said, do you really know who said what?

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POTY 2017 nominee Spotlight: the sun [excerpt]

How big is the Moon in the sky? What is its angular size? Extend your arm upward and as far from your body as possible. Using your index finger and thumb, imagine that you are trying to pluck the Moon out of the sky ever so carefully, squeezing down until you are just barely touching the top and bottom of the Moon, trapping it between your fingers. How big is it?

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A neurocognitive view on the dimensions of Schadenfreude and envy

We usually think highly about ourselves, tending to believe that our prosocial nature prioritizes positive emotions about others. Yet, as highlighted by Hardin’s Tragedy of the Commons, this is not always true. Empathy (that is, the ability to become attuned with others’ feelings) is the basis of cooperation and one of the core links holding human groups together.

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The Great Terror in Soviet Ukraine: a timeline

Between the summer of 1937 and November 1938, the Stalinist regime arrested over 1.5 million people for “counterrevolutionary” and “antisoviet” activity and either summarily executed or exiled them to the Gulag. This was Stalin’s “Great Terror” and, contrary to popular belief, the largest number of victims were not elites or “Old Bolsheviks,” but common people. Below is a timeline of The Great Terror in Soviet Ukraine.

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