World in Brief – 28 May 2015

May 28, 2015
Five young men playing video games
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United States

Fraternities ‘top liability risk’

US university fraternities, or male student societies, are widely considered to be a significant risk to institutions, according to a survey of university risk managers. The University Risk Management and Insurance Association survey of 60 managers found that about two-thirds judge the potential for problems arising from fraternities to be among their institu­tions’ “top liability risks”. Most of those interviewed are not con­vinced that their institution’s current strategies for addressing fraternity risks are sufficient.


Science Picnic: a feast for the mind

Europe’s largest outdoor event aimed at promoting science focused on the theme of light. Poland’s annual Science Picnic, now in its 19th year, was held in Warsaw. The Ministry of Science and Higher Education, one of the partners behind the picnic, offered visitors the chance to sample experi­ments with a Crookes radiometer (a device for measuring the intensity of light) and optical illusions. The event also promoted the ministry’s “Occupation: Scientist” campaign, where its “ambassador” Monika Koperska – winner of the first Polish FameLab competition for three-minute presentations of scientific projects – spoke about the phenomenon of “white balance”.


Trio charged with stealing tech secrets

Three Chinese professors are among six men indicted in the US “for what authorities say was a long-running conspir­acy to steal valuable technology from two US firms”. Reuters reported that the US government “alleges that the men carried out their plan with the intent of benefiting the Chinese government and Tianjin University”, and other bodies including “a university investment arm called Tianjin Micro Nano Manufacturing Tech”. The indictment centres on an alleged plan to set up a company in China to exploit stolen US technology that filters wireless signals in mobile phones.

Latin America

Exploit the rich PhD pickings

A report suggests that the surplus of PhD graduates in industrialised countries could be a “great oppor­tunity” for Latin American countries to attract talent. Writing in the journal International Higher Education, Iván Pacheco, a visiting scholar at the Center for Inter­national Higher Education at Boston College, said that most Latin American countries lack a clear policy for recruiting abroad. Often efforts are focused around bringing expatriates home from their work overseas, he added.


Woman earns doctorate that was stalled by Nazis

A 102-year-old German woman has passed her PhD 77 years after the Nazis stopped her from completing her studies. Ingeborg Syllm-Rapoport is believed to be the oldest person in the world to gain a doctorate after she received the title from the University of Hamburg. Professor Syllm-Rapoport was barred from her final oral exam on diphtheria in 1938 because her mother was Jewish. Nevertheless, she went on to become an expert on neonatal medicine in the US, where she qualified as a doctor, before returning to Germany. Having had to revise almost 80 years of medical advances in diphtheria despite her failing eye­sight, Professor Syllm-Rapoport’s performance in her 45-minute viva was described by examiners as “brilliant”.


Ray of light for Syrian refugees

A university for Syrian refugees is to be built in a joint project between Turkey and Qatar. The university will be located in the Turkish city of Gaziantep, close to the Syrian border. Fatma Sahin, the mayor of Gaziantep, told Turkey’s state-run press service Anadolu Agency that several potential sites had been located. The Qatari embassy had been conducting planning studies, she added. About 1.5 million Syrians are estimated to have crossed the border into Turkey to escape the conflict in their homeland.

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