Oxford University Press's
Academic Insights for the Thinking World

What are environmental laws?

“Environmental law ensures that collective action in relation to environmental problems is authoritative and consistent with the rule of law and other principles of legitimate action.” – Elizabeth Fisher, Environmental Law: A Very Short Introduction

Read More

Thoughts on the origin of the word “bride” [Part I]

The blog named “The Oxford Etymologist,” which started on March 1, 2008, and which appears every Wednesday, rain or shine (this is Post no. 663), owes many of its topics to association. Some time ago, I wrote about the puzzling Gothic verb liugan “to lie, tell falsehoods” and “to marry” (August 15, 2018) and about the etymology of the English verb bless (October 12, 2016).

Read More

Consent on campus [podcast]

As students head back to university to start their fall semester, the conversation of consent will no doubt surround them on campus. But what can actually be defined as consent? Where do students learn what consent actually means? From the time of adolescence, students are taught the notion of consent, which impacts how they view the term in their later life.

Read More

Coronations and composite states: the Austrian-Habsburg case

To mark the 65th anniversary of her coronation, Queen Elizabeth II has given a rare interview in which she talked about the event from the extraordinary perspective of the main participant. Her delightful remark that crowns “are quite important things” betrayed intimate familiarity with the meaning of the ceremonial trappings associated with an ancient tradition that in most places has now died out.

Read More

All about quotations [quiz]

As Ralph Waldo Emerson once wrote, ‘By necessity, by proclivity, and by delight, we all quote’. Quotations are an essential part of language and are used widely by almost everyone, sometimes out of context and sometimes wrongly attributed.

Read More

A quarter century into the exoplanet revolution

In 1969, half a century ago, astronauts first landed on Earth’s sole moon. The first successful robotic landers touched down on the much more distant Venus and Mars in 1970 and 1976, respectively, and in the same decade spacecraft flybys provided the first, fleeting close-ups of Jupiter and Saturn. It was not until two decades […]

Read More

This Side of Paradise —Looking Back, A Century Later

“He fancied that in a hundred years he would like having young people speculate on whether his eyes were brown or blue.” F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote these words in This Side of Paradise approximately a hundred years ago. While speculation on the eye color of Amory Blaine, Fitzgerald’s protagonist, may not currently be top of mind, the author himself, as well as his debut novel, most assuredly are.

Read More

Imagining lost books in the age of Cambridge Analytica

I don’t think it coincidental that, at approximately the same historical moment when online sites and services began (both overtly and covertly) preserving and mining our textual interactions en masse, wider culture evinced a perceptible surge of interest in the lost books of past, pre-digital eras.

Read More

2018 Midterm Elections HQ | Oxford University Press

The United States midterm elections will decide who controls the Senate and House during the remaining years of the Trump Administration’s first term. In order for the Democrats to gain control over the House, they would need to see a net gain of 24 seats. To regain control of the Senate, Democrats would need to keep all of their seats and capture two of the Republican seats for a 51-49 majority. Of the seats up for election, 35 are held by Democrats, and 9 are held by Republicans. We’ve pulled together a collection of related books, articles, and social media content to help our readers better understand these elections. Be sure to check back each week, and follow our hashtag #BallotReady for more Midterms 2018 content.

Read More

Paradigms lost, wisdom gained

Tycho Brahe lived with a hand-crafted nose made of brass after his real one was sliced off in a duel. Mr. Brahe was a renowned 16th-century Danish astronomer and a great empirical scientist whose data were used to formulate Johannes Kepler’s three laws of planetary motion. But for our purposes, Tycho Brahe is especially interesting for something other than his prosthetic schnoz or his contributions to astronomy, but for a notable mistake. Confronted with his own irrefutable evidence that the known planets of his day (Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn) revolved around the Sun, Brahe was nonetheless committed to the prevailing biblical view of a geocentric universe. So he devised an ingenious model in which those planets indeed revolved around the Sun … but with the resulting conglomeration obediently circling a central and immobile Earth!

Read More

Science, where are we going? From intellectual passion to a market-driven system

With over 10 million active researchers, more than 2 million scientific articles published each year, and an uncontrolled spread of bibliometric indicators, contemporary science is undergoing a profound change that is modifying consolidated procedures, ethical principles that were deemed inalienable and traditional mechanisms for the validation of scientific outputs that have worked successfully for the last century.

Read More