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We connect journalists to expert academics and promote UCL
research and teaching throughout the global media.
28 May 2015
Each year, the Queen’s speech marks the point where the poetry of
aspiration gets translated into the hard slog of legislation and
implementation. The Conservative manifesto for education
was certainly bold and aspirational, writes Professor
Chris Husbands (UCL Institute of Education) in The Conversation.
27 May 2015
Perhaps the most enjoyable outcome of the General Election
is the abuse now being heaped on the metropolitan liberal elite from
many quarters. Theirs is truly a difficult mindset to comprehend, based
as it is on an unshakeable belief in their own omniscience, writes Dr Paul Ormerod (UCL Clinical, Educational &
Health Psychology) in City AM.
26 May 2015
Leopoldo López, Venezuela’s most prominent opposition leader, resurfaced
on May 23 after a year locked away in a military prison. In a
four-minute video, he announced that he was going on hunger strike, and called on Venezuelans to renew their peaceful anti-government protests, writes Dr Marco Aponte-Moreno and Lance Lattig (both UCL Management Science & Innovation) in The Conversation.
21 May 2015
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.
20 May 2015
Could Labour disappear? The party has been a prominent feature of
British politics for a century, but could we now see it just vanish? There is a clear historical precedent, writes Dr Paul Ormerod (UCL Clinical, Educational & Health
Psychology) in City AM.
19 May 2015
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.
18 May 2015
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.
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.
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.
15 May 2015
The age of enlightenment was a beautiful thing. People cast aside dogma
and authority. They started to think for themselves. Natural science
flourished. Understanding of the natural world increased. The hegemony
of religion slowly declined. Eventually real universities were created
and real democracy developed. The modern world was born, writes Professor David Colquhoun (UCL Neuroscience, Physiology
& Pharmacology) in the Spectator.
Sweden has experienced a dramatic decline
in the international ranking of its schools. Swedish 15-year-olds'
performance on the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and
Development-led Programme for International Student Assessment
(PISA) has declined from near the average in 2000 to significantly
below average in 2012, writes Dr Susanne Wiborg (UCL Institute of Education) in The Conversation.
David Cameron has given Michael Gove the task of scrapping the Human Rights Act
and curtailing the role of the European court of human rights. Gove,
the new justice secretary, is probably unaware of how poisonous are the
contents of the chalice passed into his hands. And Cameron wants a draft
bill within the first 100 days of his new government, writes Professor Philippe Sands (UCL Laws) in the Guardian.
14 May 2015
United Nations Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura recently announced that his schedule for the U.N.-backed “peace consultations”
in Geneva includes over 40 one-on-one meetings representing an array of
external states, non-jihadist armed factions, opposition groups and
civil society actors with a stake in the Syrian conflict, writes Dr Kristin Bakke (UCL Political Science) in the Washington Post.
13 May 2015
Ananta Bijoy Das,
who was murdered in a brutal roadside machete attack in north-east
Bangladesh, is the third secularist blogger to be killed by Islamist
extremists since February 2015. But this is a less recent development
than it seems. Militant attacks on so-called “atheists” have been
accelerated in Bangladesh since 2013, writes Dr Ashraf Hoque (UCL Anthropology) in The Conversation.
Ahead of the 2015 election, broadcaster Jeremy Paxman argued
that voters were being given a choice “between one man who was at
primary school with Boris Johnson and one man who was at secondary
school with him – both of whom did PPE at Oxford”, writes Dr Jennifer Hudson (UCL Constitution Unit) in The Conversation.
Privately, Labour insiders were hopeful of retaining more than 10 seats
in Scotland. The enormous swing to the SNP wouldn't be uniform.
Incumbency and "shy Unionist" tactical voters would save some of their
best people. In the event, the roaring Scottish lion blew them all away, writes Dr Michael Collins (UCL History) in The Herald Scotland.
“Please, sir, I want some more,” pleaded Oliver Twist in the fictional
workhouse depicted in the 1837 novel by Charles Dickens. The infamous
response of Mr Bumble to Oliver’s modest request for another plate of
gruel has passed into folklore. This is the heritage of the Victorian
approach to welfare – a dangerous place for children to grow up in, writes Professor Gary McCulloch (UCL Institute of Education) in The Conversation.
The election is done and dusted, but many interesting questions remain.
Was there a swing to the Conservatives at the very last minute, or was
it indeed possible to foresee the victory in advance? Snippets are
emerging which suggest that the electorate had made up their minds well
before polling day, says Dr Paul Ormerod (UCL Clinical, Educational &
Health Psychology) in City AM.
11 May 2015
Universities are deadly conservative. We don’t want to be. We say we’re
not. But we are. Our traditionalism shows through in the way we provide
an undergraduate education which has remained largely unchanged over the
past 50 years, writes Professor Michael Stewart (UCL Anthropology) in The Conversation.
No-one foresaw the scale of the Conservative victory
– it exceeded even the limits of the party’s own expectations. Now, a
majority Conservative government comes to power – unexpectedly and with
sufficient lead over a divided and, for Labour and the Liberal
Democrats, demoralised opposition. What will this newly confident
government mean for education in general and schools in particular, asks Professor Chris Husbands (UCL Institute of Education) in The Conversation.
Treasure belonging to the notorious pirate Captain Kidd has been found in Madagascar, according to the BBC and other news sources. So Captain Kidd – leading villain of many stories and films, such as Abbott and Costello Meet Captain Kidd
– is back in the news. But Kidd actually had a real existence – and
sailed the narrow line between legality and piracy in the golden age of
piracy, writes Professor Neil Rennie (UCL English Language & Literature) in The Conversation.
Google Translate is one of the great things the internet has given us,
enabling us to crisscross into anything from Afrikaans to Zulu. I know only one phrase in Afrikaans, which is the translation of “Hamlet, I am
your father’s ghost.” It comes out as “Omlet, ek is de papa spook”. In Zulu,
you will find it translated as “Omlet, NgiyiNdodana ghost daddy”. I think
“ghost daddy” really works, though I’m not sure how Shakespeare’s doing out
there in the kraals, writes Professor John Sutherland (UCL English Language & Literature) in the Times (£).
8 May 2015
Industrial agriculture has become a prime driver of many of the world's most serious problems, the loss of wild and farmed biodiversity, huge climate-changing emissions, and the entrapment of small farmers in ever-deepening cycles of poverty. But there is a solution: the widespread adoption of agroecological farming, writes Professor Henrietta Moore (UCL Institute for Global
Prosperity) in The Ecologist.
Hard-to-kill bacteria or “superbugs” have become a major problem for
hospitals. Between 5% and 12% of hospital patients in the EU are thought
to acquire an infection during their stay, with many caused by bacteria such as Clostridium difficile (C. diff) that are resistant to antibiotics, writes Dr Adam Roberts (UCL Microbial Diseases) in The Conversation.
7 May 2015
There has been excitement among researchers in recent years that playing certain video and computer games may strengthen core components of cognition, helping us to make quicker decisions, think more fluidly, and avoid harmful distractions, writes Professor Brad Love (UCL Experimental Psychology) in The Conversation.
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