Today's news

February 19, 2007

Anger as Cambridge cuts three languages
The University of Cambridge is under fire over proposals to reduce teaching of Portuguese, Hindi and Sanskrit. Portuguese is to be cut back to a single paper “with minor additional components”; from next year, undergraduates will not be admitted to major in the subject for an honours degree. They will gain a reading knowledge, but no written or spoken knowledge of Portuguese. Maria Lisboa, the sole lecturer in Portuguese, said that it would die out at Cambridge: “It would be extremely unlikely that anyone would choose to do postgraduate work in a department almost entirely devoid of a Portuguese presence, or, from a position of neither writing nor speaking the language.”
The Times

Arabic MBA for Edinburgh
Scotland's Edinburgh Business School, at Heriot-Watt University, is to launch an Arabic-language MBA programme, developed in association with Arab International Education, a Lebanese education company. Edinburgh Business School specialises in distance-learning MBAs and has one of the biggest distance-learning programmes in the world, with 7,000 students studying at any one time. About 15 per cent are based in the Middle East. The School runs MBA programmes in several languages.
The Financial Times

Cancer cells ‘hotbeds of genetic change’
New research shows that tumours are hotbeds of genetic change, with cancer cells mutating several hundreds times faster than healthy human cells. The implications are disturbing for scientists trying to find treatments for advanced cancer. Lawrence Loeb, professor of pathology and biochemistry at the University of Washington, presented the findings at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in San Francisco. “This is very bad news, because it means that cancer cells in a tumour will [undergo] mutations that protect them from therapeutics,” he said.
The Financial Times

Michelangelo gem finished five centuries late
It was an architectural gem that Michelangelo never completed. Now the magnificent façade that he designed for the Basilica of San Lorenzo, Florence, is to be erected five centuries late, thanks to the detective work of Renaissance scholars. Professor Gabriele Morolli, an architectural historian and a member of the reconstruction team, said that he had traced three of the façade’s columns to a depository at Pisa. One has already been brought to Florence and is being guarded “day and night”. The team plans to dig up another of the columns, known to have been buried near the church in the 17th century.
The Times

Driverless cars will mean safer trips
Driverless cars that can predict the actions of other vehicles and negotiate busy city centre traffic will be commonplace by 2030. US researchers believe cars equipped with the latest positioning technology and advanced artificial intelligence will be safer than those driven by humans within 25 years. At the annual American Association for the Advancement of Science conference designers unveiled "Junior", a modified blue VW Passat that will enter a £1 million contest later this year to navigate its way autonomously through a simulated urban environment including other robot vehicles and traffic laws.
The Daily Telegraph, The Times

Scientists call for fuel subsidies ban to protect fish
Scientists have called for a worldwide ban on fuel subsidies paid to deep-sea fishing boats that are putting vulnerable species at risk and damaging corals. Because many types of fish are declining in shallow coastal waters across the world, fishing fleets are increasingly active in deep international waters. Most of the high seas catch from deeper waters is carried out by bottom trawling which involves dragging massive nets along the sea bed – a practice which can destroy deep-sea corals and sponge beds that have taken centuries or millennia to grow.
The Daily Telegraph, The Financial Times

From the weekend's papers:


  • Tony Blair's "payback" scheme has received mixed feedback. The Daily Telegraph
  • Martin Amis joins Manchester University as a professor of creative writing. The Times


  • Canterbury Christ Church College may ban gay marriages. The Mail On Sunday

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