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Archive of Opinion

<< 2013 Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec 2015 >>

Constitutional consequences of Scottish referendum will be complex and profound

Publication date:

Meg Russell

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.

Behind the online comments: the psychology of internet trolls

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quad

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.

Free bus passes for pensioners are too successful to cut

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Roger Mackett

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.

The long shadows of war

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Lisa Jardine

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.

World will think us mad to rip up Union

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Michael Collins

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 Herald.

I saw a No vote was not for status quo...it was a licence for irreversible changes for the worse

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quad

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.

A point of view: When historical fiction is more truthful than historical fact

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Lisa Jardine

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.

Mexican energy reform may be a bridge to a low carbon economy – or a fossil fuel past

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quad

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.

The physics of proton therapy

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Jon Butterworth

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.

Cuba tightens bra limits, but serious threat to trade comes from US sanctions

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Emily Morris

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.

<< 2013 Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec 2015 >>