The Conversation

Easter: eggs, hares, lamb and the return of warmth and sunshine – a Christian festival that feels pagan

Easter

  By Jane Stevenson in The Conversation.   There’s a lot of confusion about Easter – not least because this most important of all Christian festivals moves around so much from year to year, decided by a complex set of calculations based on the vernal equinox and the phase of the moon. Easter symbols – […]

Activated Charcoal Doesn’t Detox The Body – Four Reasons You Should Avoid It

Charcoal

      By Sophie Medlin in The Conversation.   On her Goop website, Gwyneth Paltrow claimed that charcoal lemonade was one of the “best juice cleansers”. That was in 2014. Today, charcoal products – from croissants to capsules – are everywhere. Even high street coffee chains have taken to selling charcoal “shots”. Some vendors of these products […]

Prescription Drugs Pregabalin And Gabapentin Have Been Reclassified – But It Won’t Stop Problem Use

Prescription

    By Ian Hamilton and Harry Sumnall in The Conversation.   Gabapentin and pregabalin, two widely used prescription drugs, are now subject to increased controls in the UK, which means they are now reclassified as class C controlled substances. These drugs are licensed to treat epilepsy, anxiety, peripheral and neuropathic pain (pain caused by damage or […]

Five Things To Consider Before Speed Limiters Are Added To Cars

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    By John McDermid in The Conversation.   The recent announcement that EU rules for fitting speed limiters to new cars from 2022 will be adopted by the UK was welcomed by many, including the European Transport Safety Council, as a move that will save lives. However, not everyone is convinced by this “guardian angel” technology. […]

Big Gods Came After The Rise Of Civilisations, Not Before, Finds Study Using Huge Historical Database

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    By Harvey  Whitehouse et al in The Conversation.   When you think of religion, you probably think of a god who rewards the good and punishes the wicked. But the idea of morally concerned gods is by no means universal. Social scientists have long known that small-scale traditional societies – the kind missionaries used to […]

How Imaginary Friends From Our Childhood Can Continue To Affect Us As Adults

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      By Paige Davis in The Conversation.   Crabby crab is my four-year-old son Fisher’s imaginary friend. Crabby appeared on a holiday in Norway by scuttling out of his ear after a night of tears from an earache. Like other childhood imaginary friends, Crabby should be an indication that Fisher’s mind is growing and […]

How British Sign Language Developed Its Own Dialects

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    By Adam Schembri and Kearsy Cormier in The Conversation.    There are many different ways of speaking English in the UK, with people using different regional dialects in different parts of the country. For example, some people would say “give it me” while others might say “give it to me”. There is also variation in the names […]

So You Went Vegan In January – Now What ?

Vegan

    By Sophie Medlin in The Conversation.   Many people will have had their fill of cheese, chocolate and meat over Christmas and have felt much more energised after going vegan in January (an event known as Veganuary). This invigorating feeling is largely due to the increase in fruit, vegetables, nuts and pulses as opposed […]

Robert Burns Was No Peasant Poet, He Was A Master Of Self-Promotion

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  By Murray Pittock in The Conversation.   In the Edinburgh World Heritage website’s story about Scotland’s bard, it notes that when Robert Burns “the ploughman poet” came to the city in 1787, he was “a new boy in town and a great looking heart throb”. It’s a familiar description, dating back to the writer Henry Mackenzie’s review of […]

How We’re Designing Musical Instruments With The Help Of Disabled Musicians And VR

Music

      By Franziska Schroeder and Matilde Meireles in The Conversation.   Most new digital technologies tend to be designed with an able-bodied user in mind. The first desktop computers required fine motor skills to navigate software menus using a mouse, and mobile phones need users to press buttons, swipe screens, and so on. To […]

Why Christmas Annuals Are Still A Favoured Gift – 195 Years After The First One Was Published

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  By David Anderson in The Conversation. As a devoted reader of weekly comic The Dandy, the gift of its annual was an essential part of Christmas morning. In the midst of the festive excitement, I can remember clearly the thrill of discovering my first annual under the tree in 1983, and filling out the […]

Christmas Can Be Isolating For Young Carers – They Need Time To Be Children

Young-Carers

    By Jo Aldridge in The Conversation.   Most children look forward to the Christmas holidays as a time for fun and families. But for some young carers – children who provide care for someone in their family who is ill or disabled – the Christmas holidays are a mixed blessing. Dani* is one […]

More People Are Experiencing Severe Food Allergies Than Ever Before

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  By Mattew Smith in The Conversation.   The recent inquest into the death of Natasha Ednan-Laperouse from anaphylaxis after eating a Pret A Manger baguette she was unaware contained sesame, could lead to a change in labelling legislation. Indeed, a recent investigation found that undeclared allergens were present in a quarter of foods sampled. But a more fundamental issue […]

Why You Shouldn’t Take Antibiotics For Colds And Flu

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  By Carol Kelly in The Conversation. Winter is well and truly on its way. For many, this conjures up images of log fires, mistletoe and festive feasts. But it can also mean cold, damp mornings, short hours of daylight and the dreaded cold and flu season. Tickly throats, headaches, fevers and generally feeling rotten […]

New Way Of Monitoring Medicines Could Vastly Improve Lives Of People In Care Homes

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By Sue Jones and Mel Storey in The Conversation.   More than 50% of care home residents are being prescribed medicines that they do not need, or which do not properly address their health problems. Antipsychotics, for example, are often overused to treat the behavioural and psychological symptoms of dementia. But this problem is not easy to remedy. The […]

Venice Is Flooded, But Other Cities Are In Much Greater Danger

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  By Richard Tol in The Conversation.   Venice has flooded. But while worry about the worst floods in a decade and warnings about the impacts of climate change and sea level risedominate most of the media coverage, there’s a more complex story to be told. In Venice, floods are a feature, not a bug. The city was founded by people fleeing […]

Mindfulness Meditation: Ten Minutes A Day Improves Cognitive Function

Meditation

  By Peter Malinowski in The Conversation.   Practising mindfulness meditation for ten minutes a day improves concentration and the ability to keep information active in one’s mind, a function known as “working memory”. The brain achieves this by becoming more efficient, literally requiring fewer brain resources to do these tasks. Many big claims have been made […]

Evolution Is Getting A Rethink After Scientists Take A Closer Look At Earth’s First Animals

Evolution

  By Jennifer Hoyal Cuthill in The Conversation.   When did animals originate? In research published in the journal Palaeontology, we show that this question is answered by Cambrian period fossils of a frond-like sea creature called Stromatoveris psygmoglena. The Ediacaran Period lasted from 635 to 542m years ago. This era is key to understanding animal origins because it […]

Why Private Alternatives To The NHS Are So Much More Expensive

NHS

  By Cam Donaldson in The Conversation.   The NHS has survived to the age of 70 and now costs the UK just over £120 billion per annum. Many advanced economies spend even more on healthcare per head of population. Why do fully paid-up capitalist nations persist with this Stalinist approach to healthcare? Instinctively we might cite humanitarian and […]

The IQ Test Wars: Why Screening For Intelligence Is Still So Controversial

IQ

  By Daphne Martschenko in The Conversation.   John, 12-years-old, is three times as old as his brother. How old will John be when he is twice as old as his brother? Two families go bowling. While they are bowling, they order a pizza for £12, six sodas for £1.25 each, and two large buckets of popcorn for £10.86 […]

Your exposure to Air Pollution Could Be Much Higher Than Your Neighbour’s – Here’s Why

Air Pollution

  By Johanna Buechler in The Conversation.   Each year, tens of thousands of people in the UK die early due to air pollution, which is linked to asthma, heart disease and lung cancer. The health risk presented by air pollution depends on how much dirty air we breathe over time. Pollution levels in UK cities regularly exceed the limits set by […]

Activated Charcoal Doesn’t Detox The Body – Four Reasons You Should Avoid It

Charcoal

  By Sophie Medlin in The Conversation.   On her Goop website, Gwyneth Paltrow claimed that charcoal lemonade was one of the “best juice cleansers”. That was in 2014. Today, charcoal products – from croissants to capsules – are everywhere. Even high street coffee chains have taken to selling charcoal “shots”. Some vendors of these products claim that […]

How We Discovered 840 Minor Planets Beyond Neptune – And What They Can Tell Us

Space

  By Michele Bannister in The Conversation.   Our solar system is a tiny but wonderfully familiar corner of the vast, dark universe – we have even been able to land spacecraft on our celestial neighbours. Yet its outer reaches are still remarkably unmapped. Now we have discovered 840 small worlds in the distant and hard-to-explore region beyond Neptune. […]

Why Are Britain’s Job Centres Disappearing ?

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  By Dan Flinn in The Conversation.   The jobcentre. It used to be a staple of the British high street, where the unemployed went to sign on and look for work. But Britain’s national network of jobcentres is currently undergoing radical change as the government implements multiple welfare reforms and cuts as part of its continued […]

Greenland: How Rapid Climate Change On World’s Largest Island Will Affect Us All

Greenland

  By Kathryn Adamson in The Conversation.   The largest wildfire ever recorded in Greenland was recently spotted close to the west coast town of Sisimiut, not far from Disko Island where I research retreating glaciers. The fire has captured public and scientific interest not just because its size and location came as a surprise, but also because it is […]

Stimulating The Pathway Connecting Body And Brain May Change Chronic Condition Patients’ Lives

Health and Wellbeing

  By Zoe Fisher and Andrew H Kemp in The Conversation.   Health and wellbeing is something of a buzz phrase these days. It’s become almost an ideal state: if one takes care of their health and wellbeing, then they will be “healthy”. But what exactly is health and wellbeing? The World Health Organization defines […]

Gene Therapies Are Proving Their Worth, But With Million Dollar Price Tags, It’s Not Clear Who Should Pay For Them

Genes

  By Sterghios Moschos in The Conversation.   If you were born with a rare form of blindness, there is now a treatment for you that may restore your eyesight. That’s because gene therapies became a clinical reality in 2017. Yet many people with rare diseases that could be treated in this way may never benefit from […]

How To Future-Proof The NHS – Copy The Bank Of England

NHS

    By Anne Marie Rafferty and Jonathan Grant in The Conversation.   Faced with an ageing population and funding pressures, fresh thinking is needed to brace the NHS for what lies ahead. Perhaps the answer to some of the impending problems in health policy can be solved with a relatively old idea adapted from the world of monetary […]

Cardigans And Anoraks Won’t Cut It: Why There Should Be More Fashion For Older Men

Dress

  By Ania Sadkowska and Katherine Townsend in The Conversation. Now we find ourselves nearly drawing pensions and thinking what? What now? Put a cardigan on and grey shoes? Is there an age when you think: ‘Oh, I can’t possibly be involved in fashion now? I must get some old man kit and plod about in misshapen anoraks.’ […]

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