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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.
19 December 2014
The restoration of full diplomatic relations between the US and Cuba,
announced simultaneously by Barack Obama and Raúl Castro yesterday, is a
huge political breakthrough. The benefits to the Cuban economy, however, will be more gradual. Economic sanctions by the US against Cuba began in 1960. They
consisted of a range of measures, only some of which can be removed by
the US president in the short term. The rest require congressional
approval, which is likely to be a difficult and protracted process, writes Dr Emily Morris (UCL Institute of the Americas) in The Conversation.
17 December 2014
There are many complex reasons why people decide not to accept the
science of climate change. The doubters range from the conspiracy
theorist to the sceptical scientist, or from the paid lobbyist to the
raving lunatic. Climate scientists, myself included, and other academics have strived
to understand this reluctance. We wonder why so many people are unable
to accept a seemingly straight-forward pollution problem. And we
struggle to see why climate change debates have inspired such vitriol, writes Professor Mark Maslin (UCL Geography) in The Conversation.
16 December 2014
Dianne Feinstein and the US Senate intelligence committee have produced a brave and damning report on torture by the CIA. It will go some way in preventing the use of torture, yet there is more to be done, writes Professor Philippe Sands (UCL Laws) in the Financial Times.
15 December 2014
The reverberations of the
U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee’s devastating report on the use of
torture by the CIA were felt around the world because of the scale of
the abuse and the graphic detail of the horror described. The conclusions make for grim reading: the
CIA used torture. It was driven by the White House. It provided no
useful information. It was accompanied by lies and deceit — to Congress,
to the American people and to the world, writes Professor Philippe Sands (UCL Laws) in the Daily Mail.
9 December 2014
If you had been walking down Mile End Road in London on Saturday
December 19, 1931, you would have witnessed a scene common in the days
before Christmas across Britain. A man who had celebrated a little too
much a little too early was taken away by the police after he had
consumed four or five pints and the best part of a small bottle of
whisky and made a nuisance of himself. But this wasn’t quite as run of
the mill as it seemed, writes Dr Luke Seaber (UCL Centre for Languages &
International Education) in The Conversation.
4 December 2014
With high levels of equality, low unemployment and sophisticated social
services, Norway, Denmark and Sweden represent models many strive to
emulate, but they are not the northern utopias they seem, writes Professor Henrietta Moore (UCL Institute for Global
Prosperity) in The Guardian.
3 December 2014
Why does it take so long for human children to grow up? A male chimp and
male human, for example, both end up with the same body weight but they
grow very differently:
at year one the human weighs twice that of the chimp but at eight the
chimp is twice that of the human. The chimp then gains its adult weight
by 12 – six years before the human. A male gorilla is also a faster
growing primate – a 150kg male gorilla weighs 50kg by its fifth birthday
and 120kg by its tenth, writes Dr John Skoyles (UCL CoMPLEX) in The Conversation.
27 November 2014
There is no congestion charging, no bike-share scheme, no bus lanes
even. Despite an estimated 91% of trips in the city being made on foot,
bus or train, transport policy remains geared towards the car, writes Dr Andrew Harris (UCL Geography) in the Guardian Cities.
24 November 2014
Telescopes have come a long way since the days when they were all about
lone astronomers watching the night sky through their upstairs windows.
Today teams of astrophysicists build and use much more modern
instruments, not only to observe light visible to our eyes, but also
radio emissions from the universe, writes Dr Jason McEwen (UCL Space & Climate Physics) in The Conversation.
20 November 2014
Norwegian writer Mette Newth once wrote
that: “censorship has followed the free expressions of men and women
like a shadow throughout history.” As we develop new means to gather and
create information, new means to control, erase and censor that
information evolve alongside it. Today that means access to information
through the internet, which motivates us to study internet censorship, writes Dr Emiliano De Cristofaro (UCL Computer Science) in The Conversation.
13 November 2014
In 1919, Ivy MacKusick, an art student at UCL’s Slade School of Fine
Art, completed a Portrait of a Man in His Shirtsleeves. We know nothing
about the man of African descent depicted in this portrait. It was
painted during the inaugural year of the Harlem Renaissance, which was
also a year of violent race riots in the United States and Britain. The
evocative painting makes it hard not to speculate about the thoughts
passing through the man’s mind as he sat for the Slade students, writes Dr
Caroline Bressey (UCL Geography) in The Conversation.
11 November 2014
Projects such as the International Union for Conservation of Nature's
Green List are beginning to evaluate the effectiveness of protected
areas systematically. This will help to shift the focus of conservation
efforts from targets assessed just by hectares to other, more-meaningful
objectives, focused on effectiveness. But to learn from successes and
failures, we must also evaluate governance systems, writes Dr Peter Jones (UCL Geography) in Nature.
A year and a half after Snowden’s initial NSA revelations, internet
privacy has become one of the most widely discussed topics in media and
technology. But there is little evidence that snooping habits have
diminished. Even apps that emerged to ensure consumer anonymity, such as
Snapchat and Whisper,
have been under investigation for breeching their own privacy specs.
But how much has changed in the mindset of consumers, and are we
genuinely concerned about privacy, writes Professor Tomas Chamorro Premuzic (UCL Clinical,
Educational & Health Psychology) in the Guardian Media Network.
10 November 2014
Fireworks seem to go off pretty much continually between Halloween
and the weekend-after-Bonfire-night these days. I don’t object, and I
rather like pumpkins and zombie costumes. Cats, witches and skeletons
too. Though I’m not sure what nightmares were being channelled by the
small child who came trick-or-treating to our door dressed as a
ladybird. And then Bonfire Night on Wednesday. None of this weird American Halloween stuff, just the fine old British tradition of burning a religious terrorist in effigy, writes Professor Jon Butterworth (UCL Physics & Astronomy) in The Guardian.
No one can doubt that the threat of terrorism poses considerable challenges. Yet the approach adopted by Robert Hannigan,
the new head of Britain’s electronic spying agency, is deeply
troubling. The GCHQ chief’s call for greater “co-operation” between the
private sector and the intelligence services came in the same week we
learnt that GCHQ may be accessing documents covered by legal
professional privilege, writes Professor Philippe Sands (UCL Laws) in the Financial Times.
5 November 2014
The impact of immigration on Britain’s tax and welfare system is perhaps
the most important economic issue in the debate over the country’s
relationship with the EU and its principle of free movement. There are
claims that immigrants from Europe take advantage of the UK’s benefit
and health system. This has led to political pressure to limit immigrants' access to benefits and public services and even restrict immigration from the European Economic Area countries, writes Professor Christian Dustmann and Dr Tommaso Frattini (UCL Centre for Research & Analysis of Migration) in The Conversation.
4 November 2014
No one likes tax but inheritance tax (or “death tax”)
is the focus of particular moral outrage. On the face of it, this is
odd. The reason tax is disliked is because it reduces the money you can
spend. But as inheritance tax is only payable after you have ceased to exist, you’re not actually losing out by paying it, says Dr Dean
Machin (UCL Philosophy) in The Conversation.
Climate change is one of the few scientific theories that makes us
examine the whole basis of modern society. It is a challenge that has
politicians arguing, sets nations against each other, queries individual
lifestyle choices, and ultimately asks questions about humanity’s
relationship with the rest of the planet, writes Professor
Mark Maslin (UCL Geography)
in The Conversation.
28 October 2014
Like a sleepwalker roused from his dream, the world is slowly waking up
to the full nightmare of the Ebola outbreak decimating west Africa. With
small numbers of cases turning up in western countries, governments
here are belatedly pledging action to fight the disease, which has already claimed almost 5,000 lives, writes Professor Henrietta Moore (UCL Institute for Global
Prosperity) in The Guardian.
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.
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