Oxford University Press's
Academic Insights for the Thinking World

Scientific facts are not 100% certain. So what?

Science affects everyone. Generally, people want to trust what scientists tell them and they support science. Nevertheless, groups, such as climate-change deniers, tobacco industry employees, and others, find fertile ground for their obfuscatory messages in the public’s lack of understanding of science. While the entrenched economic, political, or social interests that feed the various controversies […]

Read More

Four women’s quest to end global poverty

Gender matters for policymaking: there is no better evidence than the experience of four women who, twenty years ago, became ministers in charge of international development in their governments and collaborated to develop new approaches to end global poverty. Eveline Herfkens from the Netherlands, Hilde F. Johnson from Norway, Clare Short from the United Kingdom, […]

Read More

Transnational labour regulation and international trade: towards a complementary approach

In today’s globalised economy, the free movement of goods, services and capital impels countries to compete for trade and foreign investment by lowering their labour standards. International trade is therefore widely perceived as instigating regulatory competition between countries, or a ‘race to the bottom’. The challenge that international trade poses for countries’ labour standards has been a central concern of the International Labour Organization (ILO) since its establishment.

Read More

100 years of the Nineteenth Amendment and women’s political action

On 28 August 2020 we celebrate the 100th anniversary of the day the Nineteenth Amendment to the US Constitution was ratified. Although the Amendment did not enfranchise all women –African American, Native American, and Latina women would wait decades before they could vote on equal terms– the event is an important milestone in women’s political […]

Read More

How fake things can still help us learn

We often appreciate things that have a certain weathered look about them. From clothes to home furnishings, people find aesthetic value in the distressed, the tarnished, the antique. Yet underlying this interest in the appealing look of age is an expectation that vintage things be of their vintage. Knockoffs, fakes, and otherwise inauthentic things are quick to undermine […]

Read More

Why law librarians are so important in a data-driven world

For well over a century, law librarians have been a force in leading research initiatives, preservation, and access to legal information in academia, private firms, and government. While these traditional skills emerged in a predominantly print era, there has been a perceptible expansion and recent acceleration of technological expertise. The profession has progressively become infused […]

Read More

Bring—brought—brought

Soon after the previous gleanings (February 26, 2020) were posted, a correspondent asked me to clarify the situation with the “prefix” br- in breath and bring (see the post on breath for January 22, 2020). I mentioned this mysterious prefix in connection with Henry Cecil Wyld, who accepted its existence in bring but doubted its validity in breath. From a historical point of view, we have two different components, even if both go back to Indo-European bhrē-. James A. H. Murray thought that br- in breath is a remnant of the root meaning “burn,” as in breed ~ brood, while br- in bring traces allegedly to the zero grade of the verb bear (zero grade is a term of ablaut; in this case, no vowel stands between b and r in br-; hence, “zero”); so Wyld, though, as we will see, the idea was not his. By contrast, in the full grade, as in bear, from Old Engl.

Read More

How women can support each other to strive for gender equality

Hovering over almost all women who stand up and insist on being heard is a putdown only used in for the female of the species; a word that is particular to the attempt to belittle and silence women. That word is “shrill.” It was used more liberally by detractors in the early days of feminism, […]

Read More

The physics of swarm behaviour

The locusts have no king, and yet they all go forth in ranks, noted King Solomon some three thousand years ago. That a multitude of simple creatures could display coherent collective behavior without any leader caused his surprise and amazement, and it has continued to do so for much of our thinking over the following […]

Read More

Grammar in Wonderland

Lewis Carroll was a mathematically-inclined poet who published Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland in 1865 and Through the Looking-Glass in 1872 as well a number of poems and math and logic texts. Last summer I saw an outdoor production of Alice in Wonderland and it reminded me of all the linguistics in the two books. Carroll touches on questions of […]

Read More

The remarkable life of philosopher Frank Ramsey

Frank Ramsey, the great Cambridge philosopher, economist, and mathematician, was a superstar in all three disciplines, despite dying at the age of 26 in 1930. One way to glimpse the sheer genius of this extraordinary young man is by looking at some of the things that bear his name. My favourite was coined by Donald […]

Read More

The scientists who transformed modern medicine

Structural biology, a seemingly arcane topic, is currently at the heart of biomedical research.  It holds the key to the creation of healthier, cleaner and safer lives, since it guides researchers in understanding both the causes of diseases and the creation of medicines required to conquer them. Structural biology describes the molecules of life. It […]

Read More

The architectural tragedy of the 2019 Notre-Dame fire

Sometimes it takes a catastrophic loss for us to realize how important historic architecture and cityscapes are to our lives. For instance, repairs are still ongoing following a 2011 5.8 magnitude earthquake that caused more than $30 million dollars’ worth of damage to the National Cathedral in Washington, DC.  And on 15 April 2019 a […]

Read More

How youth could save the Earth

Major global environmental problems threaten us. Recent scientific reports show that we are falling short on tackling climate change or stopping biodiversity loss, meaning that the Earth’s climate is under threat and natural species are undergoing a mass extinction wave. While these global environmental issues persist and become more urgent, policymakers have trouble elaborating and […]

Read More