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UCLOpinion

UCLOpinion is the home for opinion and expertise from around the UCL academic community on topical social and political issues. Views expressed are those of the authors, and not of UCL.

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Opinion

Matt Pope

Discovered: stone tools that go back beyond earliest humans

Archaeologists have discovered stone artefacts in Kenya dating back to 3.3m years ago – making them the oldest stone tools yet discovered. The finding pushes back the record of stone tools by 700,000 years. While the tools predate the earliest known representative of our own genus, Homo, it is not yet possible to pin down exactly which species created the tools, writes Dr Matt Pope (UCL Institute of Archaeology) in The Conversation. More...

Published: May 21, 2015 1:04:42 PM

Jo Wolff

Plagiarism is a mortal sin and last taboo – or is it?

JD Salinger, at the start of his short story Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters, quotes an ancient Chinese tale about the search for a superlative new horse for Duke Mu of Chin. Chiu-fang Kao is commissioned for the job and recommends a wonderful black stallion, but describes it as a dun mare. Naturally, the duke questions his expertise, but Chiu-fang Kao’s patron replies “Has he really got as far as that? … In making sure of the essentials he forgets the homely details", writes Professor Jonathan Wolff (UCL Philosophy) in the Guardian. More...

Published: May 19, 2015 10:50:03 AM

Paul Dorfman

Where will nuclear power plants of the future be built?

Nuclear power has had a makeover. What was once seen as a futuristic source of limitless energy has been reframed as a response to global warming, an ideal solution for countries looking for a continuous source of low-carbon power. But who are these countries, asks Dr Paul Dorfman (UCL Energy Institute) in The Conversation.
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Published: May 18, 2015 4:49:33 PM

quad

Why our ancestors were more gender equal than us

It is often believed that hierarchical and sometimes oppressive social structures like the patriarchy are somehow natural – a reflection of the law of the jungle. But the social structure of today’s hunter gatherers suggests that our ancestors were in fact highly egalitarian, even when it came to gender. Their secret? Not living with many relatives, say Dr Lucio Vinicius and Dr Andrea Migliano (both UCL Anthropology) in The Conversation.
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Published: May 18, 2015 12:25:11 PM

quad

What rats in a maze can teach us about our sense of direction

London’s taxi drivers have to pass an exam in which they are asked to name the shortest route between any two places within six miles of Charing Cross – an area with more than 60,000 roads. We know from brain scans that learning “the knowledge” – as the drivers call it - increases the size of their hippocampi, the part of the brain crucial to spatial memory, write Francis Carpenter and Dr Caswell Barry (both UCL Cell & Developmental Biology) in The Conversation. More...

Published: May 18, 2015 10:39:14 AM