The life of an Olympic or Paralympic athlete is characterised by highly planned and structured 4-year cycles designed to lead to peak performance in Olympic/Paralympic year, but what happens when that cycle unexpectedly stretches to 5 years and is threaded with uncertainty?

Image is copyright free by Alla Eddine Taleb from Pexels.

The COVID-19 pandemic created an unprecedented situation with Tokyo 2020 being the first Olympic/Paralympic Games to be cancelled or postponed since the Second World War. The postponed 2021 games will likely be a different experience to previous games with, for example, no spectators at most events (BBC, 2021) and a scaled down opening ceremony (Telegraph Sport, 2021). So, what effect does the postponement have on the athletes and their preparation? This article will explore some of the psychological and physiological impacts of this unusual situation.

What impact did the postponement have?

Obviously, there is variability in how athletes reacted to the postponement of the Olympics/Paralympics in…


Simon Rea previews the 2021 Olympic Games in Tokyo, looking at the new sports featuring, plus who are Team GB’s best chances of winning medals.

Image copyright: ID 222393218 © Sergio Yoneda | Dreamstime.com

The Games are going ahead despite a host of problems

After the successes of Rio de Janeiro in 2016 and London in 2012, the 2021 Olympic Games land in Tokyo amid difficult circumstances. Only domestic spectators will be allowed in the stadiums due to concerns about athletes and spectators bringing in the COVID-19 virus.

It looks like the New National Stadium in Tokyo will not allow any spectators as a national state of emergency has been called in Tokyo, due to rising numbers of coronavirus infections. Athletes will have to undergo regular testing and their movements will be restricted and monitored.

Unfortunately, the Olympic flame that began its journey in…


How does the brain age and what can be done to decrease the onset of dementia? This article has many handy tips for people with dementia and their carers.

Image © Atthapon Raksthaput | Dreamstime.com | ID 99184517

How does the brain age and what can be done to decrease the onset of dementia? This article has many handy tips for people with dementia and their carers.

Supporting people to achieve the best mood and cognitive skills (memory and thinking) can be challenging.

We have outlined the age related changes affecting our brains in this article. So, let’s have a look what happens when our brains are ageing and how we can prevent brain decline (memory and thinking) as we grow older in a few simple steps. …


Recently concussion in football has become a serious issue for debate, and with the UEFA EURO 2020, UEFA Women’s EURO 2022 and FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 coming up it is likely to be in the spotlight once again.

Why is concussion a serious issue?

Media reports have raised awareness of key issues such as the higher risk of concussion in female youth footballers, the need for more effective concussion guidelines, and the link between heading the ball and degenerative brain disease.

The latter has been in the media spotlight with the emotive stories of former England players Nobby Stiles and Jeff Astle, who died from a type of degenerative dementia known as Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE), and Jack Charlton who died with dementia. This was believed to be caused by repeated impacts to the head when heading the ball during their careers.

Consequently, there…


What is planetary protection? This article explores the policies and legislative action of forwards and backwards contamination.

Image of Nasa’s Perseverance. NASA/JPL-Caltech , CC BY-SA

Mars has long been a planet of interest for scientists, especially those involved in the search for life, past or present. There is currently an increase in Mars missions. The United States landed Perseverance in early 2021 and China is planning on doing so in April 2021. The primary focus for any mission to Mars is the search for signs of life (past or present). Therefore it is necessary to discuss ‘planetary protection’. Planetary protection is a collection of policies intended to protect planets (and moons, comets, asteroids, etc.) from contamination.

There are two variants: forwards and backwards. Forwards contamination…


Eleanor Spencer-Regan explores the common thread between Look What You Made Me Do and Lady Lazarus.

Image of Tyler SwiftEva Rinaldi under Creative Commons BY-SA 4.0 license

In the opening shots of the video for her record breaking new single “Look What You Made Me Do”, we see the zombie formerly known as Taylor Swift claw her way out of a grave. This shovel-wielding revenant is a far cry from the “girl next door” who, in the video for her 2006 debut single “Tim McGraw”, innocently frolicked with a Chevy-driving, chisel-jawed high school heartthrob.

Transcript

But even then there were clues that this country princess would grow up to become a shrewd pop culture queen. …


There’s an introduction to satire tucked inside the bear of very little brain. Eleanor Byrne takes us deeper into Hundred Acre Wood.

Thomas Heylen under Creative Commons BY-NC-ND 4.0 licence.

He is famous for his love of honey, and being a bear of “little brain”. So Winnie the Pooh might be a little surprised to find himself the subject of a major new museum exhibition.

Winnie the Pooh: Exploring a Classic will explore the creative partnership of writer A.A. Milne and illustrator E.H. Shepard. Together they produced the much-loved whimsical stories featured in Winnie the Pooh (1926) and The House at Pooh Corner (1928).

The decision by the Victoria and Albert museum in London to hold the exhibition proves that the bear and his friends have become establishment figures. …


It might seem a straightforward question, but technology is about more than gadgets and gizmos. Andy Lane explains what it means to different people.

Image by Michael Schwarzenberger from Pixabay under Creative Commons.

The role and impact of technology in both our personal and working lives is ever growing. Understanding how people shape technology and how technology shapes people’s interactions with each other and the natural world is important not only for those who research, develop and implement new technologies but also for all those people and organisations that have to use those technologies in their working and personal lives.

Technology is not a neutral word. Different people will give it different meaning depending on their viewpoint and context.

Members of the Faculty of Technology are no different but for many years we…


Meg Barker points to some of the problems with Facebook’s new range of gender options.

In the first part of her post Meg Barker welcomed Facebook’s change which allows users to pick from more gender options than ‘male’ and ‘female’. In this concluding part she points to some of the problems.

Catherine Pain under Creative-Commons license.

So what are the problems with Facebook’s new ways of capturing gender? Several people have asked whether there is a cynical aspect to the change, given that it may enable companies to better target their social media advertising. But are there also limitations and constraints in what it offers for our understanding of gender?

The first point to make is that the list is…


Meg Barker explores the world of Facebook gender categories, in the first of two posts.

Catherine Pain under Creative-Commons license.

February is a pretty busy time for somebody who writes about sex, gender and relationships, what with the coinciding of LGBT history month and Valentine’s Day. This year, however, I thought I could rest up a bit on February 14, given that I said everything I wanted to say about the celebration of romantic love last Valentine.

I was wrong. Facebook chose February 14 2014 to do one of the most exciting things that has happened in the area of gender and social media for a long time. It changed its gender option so that, instead of choosing from ‘male’…

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