Oxford University Press's
Academic Insights for the Thinking World

How John Harrison invented the first portable precision timekeeper

It’s been over 50 years now since Colonel Humphrey Quill wrote his biography (1966) of the great pioneer of the marine chronometer, John Harrison (1693–1776). Since then, there has been a increasing interest in Harrison and the events surrounding his inventions and discoveries. Indeed, over the years, this interest has caused something of a stir […]

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Six books to help us understand eating disorders

Some 70 million people worldwide have an eating disorder and, with the prevalence of disordered eating on the rise,  it’s clear that this presents a significant public health issue. Despite this, many myths and misconceptions abound that are significant barriers to both treatment and public understanding of eating disorders. Anyone can develop an eating disorder, regardless of […]

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What face masks and sex scandals have in common

While Donald Trump’s legacy will be marked by many things, we can add to the list his resistance to wearing a face mask in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, which up until recently he had not done in public. The overt reason for his hesitancy to follow this mainstream medical advice is that Trump […]

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Cut and dried, part 2: “dry”

The murky history of the verb cut was discussed two weeks ago (June 24, 2020). Now the turn of dry has come around. When people ask questions about the origin of any word, they want to know why a certain combination of sounds means what it does. Why cut, big, den, and so forth?

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How COVID-19 could help social science researchers

The US passed 2.5 million Covid-19 cases, there are more than 10 million confirmed cases worldwide, and global deaths passed 500,000 at the end of June. We face unprecedented challenges during this global pandemic and we may see profound and permanent changes to how we do things. Surveys and digital trace data have been used […]

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How we experience pandemic time

COVID-19 refers not only to a virus, but to the temporality of crisis. We live “in times of COVID” or “corona time.” We yearn for the “Before Time” and prepare for the “After Time.” Where earlier assessments of pandemic time focused on rupture, we are now reckoning with an open-ended, uncertain future. This endeavour would […]

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How to listen when debating

Those Americans who call themselves Republicans are disinclined to take seriously the views of those Americans who vote for the Democrats; and those Democrats will rarely see merit in the views of Republicans. Few Israelis will give ear to the cause of the Palestinians; and few prisoners in Gaza will defend the right of the […]

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Testing Einstein’s theory of relativity

Albert Einstein is often held up as the epitome of the scientist. He’s the poster child for genius. Yet he was not perfect. He was human and subject to many of the same foibles as the rest of us. His personal life was complicated, featuring divorce and extramarital affairs. Though most of us would sell […]

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How companies can use social media to plan for the future

Many organisations use scenario planning to explore uncertainties in their future operating environments and develop new strategies. Scenario planning is a structured method for imagining possible futures based on the identification of key uncertainties in the external environment, and it may involve a variety of stakeholder groups from inside and outside the main organisation, including […]

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How Broadway’s Hamilton contributes to the long history of small screen racial discourse

On 3 July 2020, Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton—perhaps somewhat inadvertently—took its place alongside decades of Broadway shows and stars which had helped foster an awareness of American race relations via the small screen. When Disney won the $75 million bidding war for the global theatrical distribution rights of Hamilton, the filmed recording of the show’s original cast performing […]

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How governments can promote real diversity

As with most of contemporary life, the pandemic has magnified the impacts of unequal access to technologically innovative employment on livelihoods. The COVID-19 digital divide has meant that some people continue to safely work and earn from home, while others are forced to decide whether to endure physical risk in order to get to work, […]

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A little jazz piano: exploring the building blocks of music

Soon after the COVID-19 lockdown started, I began doing combined piano and theory lessons with my daughter, who is eleven, and her friend, who is a year or two older, using Skype. I tried to show them a little about some different functions that help to build a piece of music, and in the end […]

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Social needs are a human right

In April 2020, an ER physician in Toronto, Ari Greenwald, started an online petition to bring tablets and phones to his patients in hospital, because hospitals had imposed strict No Visitor rules to limit the spread of COVID-19. Greenwald said that, “As challenging as this COVID-era of healthcare is for us all, the hardest part […]

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Five tips for clear writing

Blaise Pascal, the seventeenth century mathematician and philosopher, once apologised for the length of a letter, saying that he had not had time to write a shorter one.  All of us face situations where we need to compress much information into little space. Perhaps we have to fill in an online form with a character limit or write a cover letter for […]

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How education could reduce corruption

We live in an era of widely publicized bad behavior. It’s not clear if there’s more unethical behavior occurring now than in the past, but communications technology allows every corrupt example to be broadcast globally. Why are we not making better progress against unethical conduct and corruption in general? Morals are the principles of good […]

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The scientific mysteries that led to Einstein’s E=mc^2 equation

Scientists deal with mysteries. As Richard Feynman once commented:  “Science must remain a continual dialog between skeptical inquiry and a sense of inexplicable mystery”. Three examples: it is profoundly mysterious as to why mathematics can so accurately describe our physical world, and even predict events, such as the motion of the planets or the propagation […]

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