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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.
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
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.
29 August 2014
Does it matter less if a boy is sexually exploited than a girl? It certainly shouldn't. Remember, we're still talking about a child
subjected to sexual violations that can leave lasting physical,
psychological and social scars. Don't forget the additional stigma
associated with being sexually victimised as a male - if real boys don't
cry, they certainly aren't raped. Yet as the week goes on, I'm left
increasingly frustrated that the vulnerabilities and support needs of
boys have been so utterly side-lined in discussions of the implications
of the Rotherham report, writes Dr Ella Cockbain (UCL Security and Crime Science) in The Huffington Post.
In June the first Breakthrough Prizes
in mathematics were announced: $3 million for each of five recipients,
three in America, one in France, and one who divides his time between
Britain and America. The new prizes, founded by internet moguls Mark
Zuckerberg and Yuri Milner, were announced last December at a ceremony
to award similar prizes in physics and the life sciences. Narrowly
focused on particular specialisations, these differ from the mathmatics
prize, which is spread across the whole subject. The
big difference between mathematics and other sciences is that maths has
no need for expensive experimental work, and mathematicians are free to
follow their own instincts-trying to propel them in a particular
direction would be rather like herding cats, writes
Professor Mark Ronan (UCL Mathematics) in Standpoint Magazine.
27 August 2014
After the sudden dissolution of his government, French president François Hollande is edging ever a bit closer to the political abyss. His prime minister, Manuel Valls, has just formed a new cabinet,
which excludes three major socialist “rebels”: Arnaud Montebourg
(economy), Benoît Hamon (education) and Aurélie Filippetti (culture).
While various key figures, including former presidential candidate
Segolène Royal, retain their posts, the net result is that the
government’s political centre of gravity has shifted noticeably to the
right, writes Professor Philippe Marliere (UCL SELCS) in The Conversation.
22 August 2014
All organisations have problems, and they always involve people. Indeed,
talent management issues are a major cause of organisational
underperformance. For example, a recent report by Deloitte, based on
data from over 2,500 business and human resources leaders from more than
90 countries, shows that employers around the world are poorly prepared
to tackle key human capital challenges, such as “leadership, retention
and engagement, the re-skilling of HR and talent acquisition.” I see
five specific bad talent habits over and over again. They all threaten
the effectiveness of the modern organisation, says Professor Tomas Chamorro Premuzic (UCL Clinical, Educational
& Health Psychology) in The Hindu.
21 August 2014
Although the recent death of Robin Williams
generated millions of tweets, people’s fascination with celebrity
deaths is far from new. The Egyptians and Mayans built colossal
monuments to worship their royals; the Greeks and Romans organised
massive funerals to commemorate poets and military heroes. In the 19th
century, Victor Hugo’s funeral drew millions of people to the streets of
Paris, and we all remember Diana’s funeral, writes Professor Tomas Chamorro Premuzic (UCL Clinical, Educational
& Health Psychology) in The Guardian Media Network Blog.
19 August 2014
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.
14 August 2014
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.
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.
13 August 2014
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.
8 August 2014
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.
7 August 2014
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.
5 August 2014
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.
4 August 2014
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.
1 August 2014
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.
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