Media Relations

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The UCL Media Relations team is the university’s central press office.


We connect journalists to expert academics and promote UCL research and teaching throughout the global media.


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Opinion

The truth is, Scandinavia is neither heaven nor hell

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Jakob Stougaard-Nielsen

Earlier this year, British travel writer and resident of Denmark, Michael Booth, riled Guardian readers with a provocative article claiming to dispel the myth of Scandinavia as the perfect place to live. Many are now confused. Is everything we believed about the social ideals of Sweden, Denmark, Norway and Finland a lie? Well, not entirely but we’re not all drunk serial killers either, writes Dr Jakob Stougaard-Nielsen (UCL SELCS) in The  Conversation.

Kim Kardashian: why we love her and the psychology of celebrity worship

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Two things are particularly striking about Kim Kardashian. The first is how she has managed to catch the attention of the global media. The second is that there are so many reasons why she shouldn't be famous. Indeed, it is tempting to suggest that in a logical world Kim Kardashian would be a peripheral citizen rather than a modern cultural icon. Is Kim just another symptom of postmodernist confusion and cultural decline, or is there a deeper psychological explanation for her fame? Writes Professor Tomas Chamorro Premuzic (UCL Clinical, Educational & Health Psychology) in The Guardian Media Network Blog.

The world’s best leaders are cast as themselves in a play that never ends

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Dr Marco Aponte-Moreno

When Hillary Clinton welled up in response to an innocuous question about how she keeps so upbeat on the presidential campaign trail in 2008, people took notice. To the surprise of pollsters, she won the primary in question – New Hampshire – despite trailing her opponent Barack Obama before the tears. A display of weaknesses such as this is one of the most fundamental qualities of inspirational leadership. Expressing sincere vulnerability allows leaders to communicate their humanity and accessibility, and it seems the people of New Hampshire were swayed, writes Dr Marco Aponte-Moreno (UCL Management Science & Innovation) in The Conversation.

The Fields Medal is the greatest prize in maths

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Mark Ronan

Today, at the International Congress of Mathematicians, we will learn who has won the Fields Medal, often considered the “Nobel Prize” of mathematics. First awarded in 1936, then again in 1950 and every four years since, the medal is given to at most four people, making it more selective than the annual Nobel Prize in Physics, which is often shared, writes Professor Mark Ronan (UCL Mathematics) in The Telegraph.

Rosetta will teach us more about comets than we have learned in 50 years

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On August 6, millions of miles away from Earth, the firing of a rocket thruster signalled the end of a decade-long journey by a European spacecraft to reach its ultimate target – a comet. The spacecraft is Rosetta, and its target is 67P/Churuymov-Gerasimenko, named after its Ukrainian discoverers. The spacecraft will study 67P’s nucleus at close quarters as it falls towards the sun, when it will come to life with a tail created by sun’s warmth, writes Dr Geraint Jones (UCL Space & Climate Physics) in The Conversation.

Losing weight might make you healthier but not happier

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Sarah Jackson

Supermodel Kate Moss' quip that “nothing tastes as good as skinny feels” captured the sense in society that being thin is the recipe for happiness. Obesity causes a range of health problems, including diabetes, but will losing weight really make you happier? While there’s no doubt that losing weight can significantly improve your physical health, in research published in PLOS ONE we found that the effect on mental health was less straightforward, writes Dr Sarah Jackson (UCL Epidemiology & Public Health) in The Conversation.

You might be surprised to find out who is living in London’s luxury apartments

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Mayfair, Belgravia and Kensington: all London boroughs associated with affluence and grandeur, not student accommodation. But today these areas play host to a burgeoning student population. With the internationalisation of education and the “flight to quality” of overseas students to highly rated institutions, London’s student housing market is apparently changing, writes Dr Nicola Livingstone (UCL Bartlett School of Planning) in The Conversation.

The Israeli assault on Gaza: a public health perspective

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It is three weeks since the current Israeli offensive against Gaza began on July 8. But it is now eight years since Israel began its blockade of Gaza. Since then unemployment has risen, public infrastructure has crumbled and civil service employees have not received salaries regularly since August 2013, and none at all since April 2014. With the prospects for peace still looking remote, the public health implications of the blockade of the Gaza Strip and the current war are vast, writes Dr Andrew Seal (UCL Institute for Global Health) in The Conversation.

Breakthrough in understanding chronic pain could lead to new treatments

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Chronic pain, defined as disabling pain that persists despite attempts at treatment and often without obvious cause, has become a serious challenge for health professionals. It is not surprising that someone suffering from this level of pain might become depressed, but most studies consider depression a “comorbidity” – an associated disorder – or suggest that the pain is “somatisation” of the depression – that is, it may be a mental disorder’s effect on the body, writes Dr Amanda Williams (UCL Clinical, Educational & Health Psychology) in The Conversation.

Explainer: What is a circular economy?

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The concept of the circular economy has left the realm of academic theory and entered the world of business. The price of natural resources and materials is soaring, and in response to volatile markets and increasing competition, developed nations are examining this sort of alternative economic model, writes Dr Teresa Domenech (UCL Energy Institute) in The Conversation.

Rising energy costs and insecurity show EU must get real about reducing demand

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In proposing a 30% rather than a 40% energy demand reduction target, the European Commission is increasing the risks that European Union member states face from fossil fuel dependence and slowing the economic and social benefits of better insulated homes and lower energy bills, writes Andrew Smith (UCL Energy Institute) in The Conversation.

The moving street art of Argentina that lets citizens look, contemplate and remember

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In Buenos Aires, a mural commemorates the bombing in July 1994 of the AMIA Jewish Community Centre. A black wall bears the image of a majestic tortoise. Lady Justice perches atop, her white drapery tracing the arc of his scintillating indigo and amber shell. Something is amiss, her typical, confident posture absent. She rests the torment of her swathed body against a stony-arched temple that balances precariously on the roundness of the slow beast. A rat scutters hungrily across her back, but she seems unaware. Lightly holding a pair of scales between the fingertips of her left hand, Lady Justice waits and mourns, writes Tanya Filer (UCL SELCS) in The Conversation.

Germany – winning with no leaders

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So we won the World Cup. Add that trophy to the country's current economic overachievement and we may have the start of an age of German dominance – and not just in world football. However, there is still one field in which Germans don't excel: in global politics, the country is a secondary power. Its army is far smaller than that of France and the UK, and shows little interest in changing that. In June, just days after the US admonished Europeans for not doing enough on global security, the German parliament voted to cut its defence budget by around €800m. So will Germany's win at the Maracanã alter our reluctance to take the lead, writes Dr Jochen Hung (UCL German) in The Guardian.

Fewer animals being used for research but testing is still vital to finding cures

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Dr Suzy Buckley

The number of animals used in scientific research in the UK fell by 0.4% in 2013, according to figures released by the Home Office. Scientists continue to work hard to reduce the numbers of animals used for medical research and the fall reverses the recent trend of an increase over the past decade – mainly due to a rise in the use of genetically modified mice and smaller species like zebra fish, says Dr Suzy Buckley (UCL Institute for Women's Health) in The Conversation.

Fears grow for safety of Iraq’s cultural heritage under ISIS

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Dr Eleanor Robson

Iraq has a long and rich heritage, home for thousands of years to mighty empires – Assyria and Babylon, the Abbasid caliphate – that ruled the region once known as Mesopotamia, widely held as the cradle of western civilisation and as a major centre of classical Islam. The region is thick with history, and historical artefacts, says Dr Eleanor Robson (UCL History) in The Conversation.

Women’s groups save mothers and babies

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Gadagadei village, in the state of Odisha, is inhabited by Juangs, one of a number of tribal groups in India that are counted as being particularly vulnerable. It is remote, surrounded by forests, and has poor communication and transport links. With limited access to services, Gadagadei village – and many others like it – has suffered the death of newborns and mothers who might otherwise have been saved, writes Dr Audrey Prost (UCL Institute for Global Health) in The Conversation.

Sunbathing mice? This kind of silly research is harmful

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Last week a study from America claimed that mice become addicted to sunlight. My first thought, like many other readers, was: “What’s the scientific merit of that?” Quite apart from the harm ultraviolet light does to mice, the experiment seemed to fall into the same dubious category as exposing animals to cigarette smoke or using them to test cosmetics, says Dr Clare Stanford (UCL Neuroscience, Physiology & Pharmacology) in The Times (£).

Botswana’s Okavango Delta: a unique desert that’s wet, and a worthy UNESCO addition

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Anson Mackay

The list of the natural world’s most extraordinary places, UNESCO’s World Heritage List, gained its 1,000th entry this week with the addition of the Okavango Delta in northern Botswana. To be chosen for the UNESCO list a site must be deemed to have “outstanding universal value”. It is fitting that the delta should be such a landmark choice as it is quite simply unique: a wetland located in a desert, a delta that does not flow into the sea. This may sound improbable, but actually it provides an exceptional example of how biological, hydrological, biogeochemical and climatic processes have interacted to give us an ecosystem of outstanding importance and amazing biological diversity, writes Professor Anson Mackay (UCL Geography) in The Conversation.

Salamanders give clues to how we might regrow human limbs

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Humans have some regenerative abilities but compared to creatures like the salamander, which has an amazing ability to regenerate after injury, we’re pretty limited. Not only are salamanders the only adult vertebrates able to regrow full limbs, they’re able to regenerate an impressive repertoire of complex structures including parts of their hearts, eyes, spinal cord and tails, writes Dr Max Yun (UCL Structural & Molecular Biology) in The Conversation.

Europe must face up to the new antisemites

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Noreena Hertz

The New York Met this week cancelled its planned global telecast of John Adams's The Death of Klinghoffer, the opera that portrays the hijacking of the Achille Lauro cruise ship by the Palestinian Liberation Front in 1985. While emphasising that the work itself is not antisemitic, the Met's general manager, Peter Gelb, said that he recognised concerns among Jews "at this time of rising antisemitism, particularly in Europe". Regardless of one's view of either the opera or the Met's decision, Gelb is unfortunately spot on about Europe, writes Professor Noreena Hertz (Office of the UCL Vice-Provost, Research) in The Guardian.

UMP funding scandal could derail a new Sarkozy bid for French presidency

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Jean-François Copé, the leader of France’s Union pour un Mouvement Populaire (UMP), stepped down last month after a scandal over funding for Nicolas Sarkozy’s losing presidential campaign in 2012. The controversy revolves around a company called Bygmalion PR, owned by Copé’s close friends. It has been alleged that false invoices were used to cover up spending that went over the legal limit during the 2012 campaign, writes Professor Philippe Marliere (UCL SELCS) in The Conversation.

The gamer in your life isn’t ignoring you, they’re blind to your presence

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It’s irritating when you try to talk to someone playing a videogame. You tell them dinner is ready and they completely ignore you. Their eyes are glued to the screen, their fingers frantically pushing buttons. We find it rude and it has led to many an argument in the family home. But research suggests that your children, partner or parent may not be simply ignoring you when they’re plugged in to World of Warcraft – they may be experiencing something called “inattentional blindness.”, writes Dr Charlene Jennett and Dr Anna Cox (UCL Interaction Centre) in The Conversation.

Game of Thrones: why Braavos is banking on regime change

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The TV show has consciously kept the money men lurking mostly in the shadows, exactly as the bank would like it. A powerful player which seems to want to influence Westeros' game rather than participate in it, the Iron Bank has evolved into an institution that combines all the best, or worst, characteristics of an investment bank, the IMF and the Cosa Nostra, writes Peter Antonioni (UCL Management Science & Innovation) in The Conversation.

Ruling on sharper satellite images poses a privacy problem we can no longer ignore

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The US government has lifted restrictions on the use of high-quality satellite images in a move that will be welcomed by industry but could have serious privacy implications for the man or woman on the street, says Ray Purdy (UCL Laws) in The Conversation.

Lifestyle diseases make global health promotion more difficult than ever

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We can all, in general, expect to live a little longer than our grandparents did – and, until recently, many of us have had expectations to live to an older age than our own parents. In addition to living longer, our risks of disease and causes of death are changing, writes Dr Sarah Hawkes (UCL Institute for Global Health) and Dr Tom Pegram (UCL Political Science) in The Conversation.

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