Oxford University Press's
Academic Insights for the Thinking World

Shark Week 2018

With their huge, sharp teeth and menacing demeanor, it’s no wonder this ocean predator has long struck fear into the hearts of many. Thanks to films like Jaws and Sharknado, sharks have gained a reputation for killing and eating humans, yet there are under 100 unprovoked shark attacks each year, and even fewer fatalities—you’re more likely to be killed by lightning or a bee sting than you are by a shark!

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Japan’s pivot in Asia

In East Asia, the Brexit vote served as a reminder of how abruptly the improbable could become entirely possible. Could the unwinding of long-taken-for-granted assumptions about regional order and its supporting institutions also take place in Asia? Trump’s election, not even five months later – and then his overture to Pyongyang – made these prospects even more tangible. These concerns are manifest in four policy domains.

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Women artists in conversation: Tiff Massey Q&A [Part I]

Tiff Massey is a young artist whose work ranges from wearable sculpture to large-scale public interventions. She is the first African-American woman to graduate from Cranbrook Academy of Art’s MFA in Metalsmithing. She cites her influences as ranging from 1980s hip-hop culture and her hometown of Detroit to African art and Japanese fashion.

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Who discovered Newton’s Laws?

Newton’s famous remark, “If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of Giants,” is not in his published work, but comes from a letter to a colleague and competitor. In context, it reads simply as an elaborately polite acknowledgment of previous work on optics, especially the work of the recipient of the letter, Robert Hooke. 

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New narrative nonfiction [podcast]

After the 2008 recession, print book sales took a hit, but now BookScan has recorded consistent growth in print book sales year over year for the past five years. What has been driving these sales? Surprisingly, adult nonfiction sales. Covering topics from history, politics and law, nonfiction saw a growth of 13 percent during the last fiscal year.

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Librarians on bikes: cycling through US libraries

After working for 26 years as academic librarians, we have reached a point in our careers where we are right-sizing professionally and personally. This year, we requested and were granted a nine-month contract, enabling us to pursue our dream of cycling across the United States, from Washington, D.C., to Astoria, Oregon.

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Pidgin English

There will be no revelations below. I owe all I have to say to my database and especially to the papers by Ian F. Hancock (1979) and Dingxu Shi (1992). But surprisingly, my folders contain an opinion that even those two most knowledgeable researchers have missed, and I’ll mention it below for what it is worth. Several important dictionaries tell us that pidgin is a “corruption” of Engl. business, and I am not in a position to confirm or question their opinion.

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Immuno-oncology: are the top players changing the field?

Immunotherapy is a form of treatment to improve the natural ability of the immune system to fight diseases and infections, with immuno-oncology (IO) focusing on combatting cancer specifically. Novel immunotherapies are a possible solution for cancers that don’t respond to standard cancer treatments, either as standalone or in combination therapy.

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Who are the super-rich and why they are paid so much?

ne of the most common arguments against contemporary capitalism is that it generates extreme inequalities. Few individuals – it is often said – earn huge earnings, while the rest of society has to struggle to make ends meet. But, who are the super-rich and why they are paid so much? Observing the composition of top incomes reveals a striking novelty for what concerns the “who” question.

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Enjoying our Universe [slideshow]

What do we mean by “the Universe”? In the physics community, we would define “the Universe” as all “observable things”, ranging from the entire cosmos to stars and planets, and to small elementary particles that are invisible to the naked eye. Observable things would also include recently made discoveries that we are slowly coming to understand more, such as the Higgs boson, gravitational waves, and black holes.

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The goals of medicine do not stop at the edge of the body

Over the last 100 years, the world, people, and our society have changed beyond measure. So have diseases, and we are now almost 75 years into the first ever age where cure of disease, successful organ transplants and near complete recovery from trauma has been possible. Despite all of this change, however, medical school curricula have hardly changed in a hundred years.

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Shariah: myths vs. realities

For many in the West today, “Shariah” is a word that evokes fear—fear of a medieval legal system that issues draconian punishments, fear of relegation of women and religious minorities to second-class citizenship, fear of Muslims living as separate communities who refuse to integrate with the rest of society, and fear that Muslims will seek to impose Shariah in America and Europe.

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Animal of the Month: 5 facts you should know about misnomered orcas

For centuries, orcas have accrued a myriad of different names: Orcinus orca (which translates roughly as “demon from hell”), asesinas de ballena (whale killers), Delphinus orca, grampus, thrasher, blackfish, killer whale, to name a few. The names of these animals are overtly violent, but what do we actually know about the alleged “demons from hell”? This month, we want look at the facts about killer whales, and debunk the centuries-old mystery and fear surrounding orcas.

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Where do our teeth come from? [excerpt]

We all know that we start with baby teeth which fall out and are replaced with adult teeth, but do we really know why? Where do our baby teeth come from in the first place? This adapted extract below from the Oxford Handbook of Integrated Dental Biosciences highlights how our teeth form, why they erupt through our gums when they do, what causes teething pains, and when baby teeth should begin to appear.

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A Q&A with composer Will Todd

British composer and pianist Will Todd has worked at the Royal Opera House, the Lincoln Center in New York, London’s Barbican, and with Welsh National Opera, award-winning choirs The Sixteen, the BBC Singers, and Tenebrae. His music is valued for its melodic intensity and harmonic skill, which often incorporates jazz colours. We caught up with Will to ask him a few questions about his inspiration and approach to composition.

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