The Conversation

Antibiotics: Even Low Use In Children Can Have A Negative Impact On Health – New Research

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  By Oliver van Hecke in The Conversation.   GPs in the UK carry out over 300m patient consultations every year and at least a quarter of these deal with children. Almost two-thirds of such appointments are for coughs, sore throats, or earaches – illnesses which young children commonly get. Doctors and nurses group these types of illnesses […]

How England’s Broken Planning System Has Created (Not Reduced) The Risk Of Floods

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  By Lee Bosher in The Conversation.   Recent floods in England have been described as unprecedented or even “biblical” events, often with the misguided assumption that they were unavoidable or unpredictable. That is not the case. Over the past few decades, development practice in England has led to more than 300,000 homes being built in […]

Fake Drugs That Could Kill Are On The Rise In Western Countries – Here’s Why

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    By Susanne Lundin and Rui Liu in The Conversation.   Fake medicines – illegal and substandard pharmaceuticals – have until now largely been a problem in low and middle-income countries. Ranging from lifestyle products to lifesaving medicines, such products are now also on the rise in the Western world. The spread is concerning, […]

Gut Microbes Can Be Picky Eaters – Here’s Why It Matters

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    By Tim Spector in The Conversation.   We choose our food for a variety of reasons, including personal preference, availability, cost and healthiness. But we should also take our gut microbes’ preferences into account, a new study published in Cell suggests. The bacteria in our guts, collectively known as the microbiota or microbiome, live on […]

The Victorians Caused The Meat Eating Crisis The World Faces Today – But They Might Help Us Solve It

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    By Paul Young in The Conversation.   Increasing consumption of meat rich diets throughout the world in the 21st century raises pressing concerns about human health, animal welfare and environmental sustainability. Too much mass-produced meat is bad for us, bad for the livestock we eat, and bad for the planet on which we live. […]

Why The Way Healthcare Professionals Measure Patient Pain Might Soon Be Changing

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    By Richard Day in The Conversation.   The last time you went to see a doctor, it was probably because you were in pain – it’s by far the main reason people access the health service. And if you did go because of pain, your doctor probably asked you to rate it on […]

Are Shared E-Scooters Good For The Planet ? Only If They Replace Car Trips

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  By Jeremiah Johnson, Associate Professor of Environmental Engineering, North Carolina State University.   Shared dockless electric scooters, or e-scooters, transport riders over short distances in cities. Ride share companies promote them as an environmentally friendly choice that reduces dependence on cars. To properly assess these claims, it’s important to consider all relevant environmental factors, including the materials and energy […]

Heatwaves And Flash Floods: Yes, This Is Britain’s ‘New Normal’

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  By Hayley J. Fowler in The Conversation.   “It’s hard to believe, isn’t it, that we had a heatwave just last week?” Those words were spoken by a BBC news presenter, in front of graphic images of fire service rescues, as heavy rain caused floods and landslides which closed many roads and railway lines. In […]

Waterfall Illusion: When You See Still Objects Move – And What It Tells You About Your Brain

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  By Niia Nikolova and Nick Wade in The Conversation.     Humans are fascinated by visual illusions, which occur when there is a mismatch between the pattern of light that falls on the retina, and what we perceive. Before books, films, and the internet allowed illusions to be shared widely, people were captivated by illusions in nature. Indeed, it is […]

Older And Poorer Communities Are Left Behind By The Decline Of Cash

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  By Daniel  Tischer, Jamie Evan’s and Sara Davies in The Conversation.   A future without cash seems almost inevitable. Recent statistics paint a damning picture: while cash accounted for 62% of all payments by volume in 2006, this dropped to 40% in just a decade and is predicted to fall yet further to 21% by 2026. […]

Scientists Alone Can’t Solve The Antibiotic Resistance Crisis – We Need Economists Too

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By Laurence Roope, Richard Smith and Sarah Wordsworth in The Conversation.   Driven by widespread antibiotic use, bacterial infections are becoming increasingly resistant to treatment, and the pipeline for new antibiotics is running dry. Recent reports estimate that, without action, by 2050 resistance to antimicrobial drugs will cause up to 10m deaths a year globally and reduce […]

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

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  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

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      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

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    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 ?

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    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

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      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

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    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

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  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

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  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

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  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 […]

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