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The UCL Media Relations team is the university’s central press
We connect journalists to expert academics and promote UCL
research and teaching throughout the global media.
21 October 2014
Materials essential for technology products such as electric vehicles, wind turbines or hard disks, known as rare earth elements, aren’t becoming any less rare, or any less crucial. In fact, experts at a major rare earths conference in Milan on
October 16 – the European Rare Earths Competency Network (ERECON) –
agreed supply shortages will continue for the time being. This isn’t
just a matter for tech companies: their gloomy outlook should be of
crucial importance for the future of international relations, writes Professor Raimund Bleischwitz (UCL Bartlett School of
Environment, Energy & Resources) in The Conversation.
17 October 2014
Using Bluetooth wireless networking to send information to nearby smartphones, beacon technology
could transform how retailers engage with their customers. But
customers will notice how their information is used to personalise these
unsolicited adverts, and companies that fail to respect their privacy
may get burned, writes Dr Charlene Jennett (UCL Interaction Centre) & Professor Angela Sasse (UCL Computer Science) in The Conversation.
16 October 2014
The Ukraine crisis caused relations between Russia and the EU to fall to
their lowest point since the Cold War. But despite the bickering and
outright conflicts, both still need each other: Europe relies on Russian
gas to keep warm, and Russia in turn needs revenues. With winter on its
way and capital flight from Russia reaching dangerous levels, the
outlook should draw the EU and Russia back together, writes Dr Catalina Spataru and Professor Raimund Bleischwitz (UCL Bartlett
School of Environment, Energy & Resources) in The Conversation.
10 October 2014
London is fortunate in having a record in ground-breaking science that
other cities can only envy. We have a long and proud history of research
which we should strive to maintain, for the good of our society, and
for the good of our city too. Investing in science will pay richer
dividends, in every sense, than any of us can imagine, writes Professor Stephen Caddick (UCL Vice-Provost, Enterprise & London) in City AM.
The Islamic State (IS) now occupies significant swaths of Iraq and Syria, has pushed as far as the border with Turkey,
and has succeeded in dragging “the West” into two civil wars in the
Middle East. The West’s offensive, spearheaded by the US and supported
by the UK and others, is to “degrade and ultimately destroy” IS. But in the face of IS’s state-building efforts, that strategy will only work if it manages to degrade the group’s legitimacy as a governing enterprise, writes Dr Kristin Bakke (UCL Political Science) in The Conversation.
9 October 2014
“The British invented racism,” said the UK’s first “black female” MP.
“Britain…almost invented racism,” said the US’ first “black male”
ambassador to the UN. If by “racism” we mean “the science of improving
stock”, by “giv[ing] to the more suitable races or strains of blood a
better chance of prevailing speedily over the less suitable”, then Diane
Abbott in April 1988 and Andrew Young in April 1977 were right: the
British invented eugenics. More precisely, the University of London
invented national eugenics, in the service of the British Empire, writes Dr Nathaniel Adam Tobias Coleman (UCL Philosophy) in THE.
8 October 2014
The UN’s proposed sustainability targets are riddled with conflicts that could make them ineffective or outright harmful. In theory, there is nothing wrong with such targets. After all, the Millennium Development Goals
(MDGs) had mixed success on health, education and poverty but
established the principle that measuring key indicators was a good way
to at least begin tackling major issues, writes Lucien Georgeson and Professor Mark Maslin (UCL Geography) in The Conversation.
6 October 2014
The Aral Sea has reached a new low, literally and figuratively; new satellite images from NASA show that, for the first time in its recorded history, the largest basin has completely dried up, writes
Professor Anson Mackay (UCL Geography) in The Conversation.
3 October 2014
For decades, space exploration remained a domain within reach of only
government agencies, who could command huge pools of expertise and
public funds. Now the means by which our space endeavours are funded
have become more diverse, and more and more private space initiatives
are appearing, writes Dr Geraint Jones (UCL MSSL) in The Conversation.
2 October 2014
After the global financial crisis in 2008, economics was in disarray. Even the Queen was moved
to chide economists for failing to warn about the build-up of debt in
households and banks in the major economies and the threat this posed to
the global economy. She might have added that few economists provided
convincing accounts of why the meltdown had happened. And some advocated
policies in its wake that made things worse, writes Professor Wendy Carlin (UCL Economics) in The Conversation.
29 September 2014
The pocket watch could be called the world's first "smart" device, and
its development involved some of the greatest scientific minds of the
17th Century, writes Professor Lisa Jardine (UCL Centre for Editing Lives &
Letters) for BBC News magazine.
26 September 2014
The Earth seems to have been smoking a lot recently. Volcanoes are currently erupting in Iceland, Hawaii, Indonesia and Mexico. Others, in the Philippines and Papua New Guinea,
erupted recently but seem to have calmed down. Many of these have
threatened homes and forced evacuations. But among their less-endangered
spectators, these eruptions may have raised a question: Is there such a
thing as a season for volcanic eruptions? asks Robin Wylie (UCL Earth Sciences) in The Conversation.
23 September 2014
The primary goal of home energy efficiency initiatives might be to
reduce total energy consumption, but these projects could have a
negative impact on public health if we do not take care, writes Melissa Lott (UCL Bartlett School of Environment, Energy and Resources) in The Conversation.
22 September 2014
The constitutional consequences of a yes vote in Scotland
would have been momentous, leading to months – possibly years – of
fraught negotiation with uncertain consequences. But the consequences of
no for governance in the rest of the UK may, paradoxically, be even
more complex and profound, writes Dr Meg Russell (UCL Constitution Unit) in The Observer.
19 September 2014
Red is back in fashion this season. The colour's long been associated
with power, but running alongside that is also a current of danger, writes Professor Lisa Jardine (UCL Centre for Editing Lives &
Letters) for BBC News magazine.
Readers’ comments are an important, yet often overlooked, type of user-generated content. And some readers are much more likely to post and read comments than others. Trolling,
the act of posting disruptive or inflammatory comments online in order
to provoke fellow readers, has been the focus of much recent attention, writes Professor Tomas Chamorro Premuzic (UCL Clinical, Educational
& Health Psychology) in The Guardian Media Network blog.
17 September 2014
Taxpayers in Britain spend more than £1 billion a year providing free
bus travel. Mostly used by pensioners, some disabled people qualify for
this concessionary travel, and there are fears that an austerity-driven government will cut back on the passes. Some commentators have suggested there is scope for reducing public
spending by cutting the scheme – £1 billion is, after all, a lot of
money. Research suggests, however, that free bus passes are good value
and worth maintaining, writes Professor Roger Mackett (UCL Civil, Environmental & Geomatic Engineering) in The Conversation.
15 September 2014
The first week of the new school year seemed like a good time to visit
the recently re-opened Imperial War Museum in London. I had read that
the museum was "overrun by hordes of schoolchildren" in early September.
But if I thought I could avoid the crowds I was wrong. There was an
hour-long wait for a timed-ticket entry slot to see the new World War
One galleries, writes Professor Lisa Jardine (UCL Centre for Editing Lives &
Letters) for BBC News magazine.
It has been fashionable for some time now to pooh-pooh
"Great Britain." To many it smacks of empire and Colonel Blimp and
Maggie Thatcher riding in her tank. It's hardly surprising that those pleading
the merits of the Union have had a hard time. It is sad, though, if Britain's
Union cannot stand for anything of value. As many people in England have simply
forgotten about it, the nationalists in Scotland stand ready to finish it for
good, writes Dr
Michael Collins (UCL History) in The
Nobody I know has ever seen anything like it. A referendum campaign? But maybe that's the wrong word. A campaign
means politicians persuading people to vote this way or that. What's
been happening in Scotland, in these last six astonishing months, is
people persuading politicians, writes Neal Ascherson (UCL Archaeology) in The Herald.
9 September 2014
For some time I have been researching the lives of a group of
scientists who worked on the development of the atomic bomb during World
War Two. Although there are several impeccably researched non-fiction
works on the subject and a number of biographies, none of these really
conveyed to me the emotions and convictions that drove their work - I
simply could not connect with the personal principles of the scientists
who collaborated with such energy to produce the period's ultimate
weapon of mass destruction, writes Professor Lisa Jardine (UCL Centre for Editing Lives &
Letters) for BBC News magazine.
4 September 2014
Following President Lázaro Cárdenas’ expropriation of foreign oil
company assets in 1938, the oil industry has been a symbol of Mexican
sovereignty. This made the state oil firm Petróleos Mexicanos (Pemex)
politically untouchable. That is until now. Game-changing laws have recently been approved that open deep-water oil and shale fields to foreign investment, as well as liberalising Mexico’s electricity industry, writes Baltazar Solano Rodriguez (UCL Energy Institute) in The Conversation.
3 September 2014
The story of Ashya King
and his parents is desperately sad. One feature is that his family want
him to receive proton therapy. This is not a “magic bullet” treatment
and without knowing his medical details it is impossible to say what the
risks and benefits would be for Ashya. However, proton therapy is in
use around the world, and indeed on the NHS, and does in some cases have
some huge advantages over other treatments. This article makes no
comment on the specific case, it is simply an explanation of the physics
behind the therapy, writes Professor Jon Butterworth (UCL Physics & Astronomy) in The Guardian.
2 September 2014
Cuba has imposed new limits
on the amount of goods that travellers can bring into the country. The
new measures will be unpopular with many involved in the trade from
suppliers to customers, and at first sight they appear futile and
counter-productive. The informal trade in consumer goods and domestic equipment involves
huge bundles and packages being brought to the island by visiting
Cuban-Americans. The strong growth of these imports in recent years has
been the result of reforms in both the US and Cuba, says Dr Emily Morris (UCL Institute of the Americas) in The Conversation.
1 September 2014
Last week, the eyes of volcanologists – and presumably a few nervous
pilots – were fixed on Iceland. But unexpectedly, the volcanic eruption
that made headlines happened on the other side of the world, in Papua
New Guinea, writes Robin Wylie (UCL Earth Sciences) in The Conversation.
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