Campus round-up - 5 December 2013

December 5, 2013

Source: © The Estate of Patrick Caulfield, DACS 2013 / © Sir Peter Blake, DACS 2013

Modern masters

The first public exhibition of one of the UK’s most important private collections of modern art has opened at the University of Nottingham. The artwork amassed by David Ross, co-founder of mobile phone retailer Carphone Warehouse, are on show in the Djangoly Art Gallery at the Lakeside Arts Centre until 9 February. Mr Ross is a Nottingham alumnus and a trustee of the National Portrait Gallery. The exhibition comprises 60 works by artists such as David Hockney, Sir Peter Blake (including Babe Rainbow, above bottom right), Damien Hirst, Francis Bacon and Patrick Caulfield (including Cafe Interior, Afternoon, above main picture, and Fig Branch, above top right).

Liverpool John Moores University
What a blast

Scientists are helping to unravel the mysteries of the most powerful cosmic explosions in the Universe – gamma ray bursts (GRB). Using the world’s largest autonomous robotic telescopes – the Liverpool Telescope and the Faulkes Telescope – the Liverpool GRB team at Liverpool John Moores University’s Astrophysics Research Institute has captured details of an explosion that have never been seen before: “the light from the dying embers of a newly born black hole”, formed in the spectacular explosion of a massive star. It has been named GRB 1304A – the brightest gamma ray burst detected for nearly 30 years. The cosmic event is now the subject of five papers published online.

University of Hertfordshire
Determination pays off

When Martin Pistorius was 12 years old he fell sick inexplicably and within 18 months was mute, had stopped eating and was wheelchair-bound. Now aged 37, he has graduated with a first-class honours degree in computer science from the University of Hertfordshire and, while studying, wrote and published a book, Ghost Boy, recounting his journey to recovery. Mr Pistorius used an augmentative and alternative communication system, similar to the one used by physicist Stephen Hawking, to communicate on all aspects of his course.

Thankfully, Uranus isn’t involved

A new ring of space dust has been discovered near Venus. Research by The Open University and the University of Central Lancashire has confirmed the existence of a circumsolar dust ring with a diameter of 220 million km that encircles the Sun and closely follows the orbit of the planet Venus. It is hoped that the discovery, which was reported in the journal Science, will help scientists to understand more about a similar resonance dust ring that exists around the Earth’s orbit. Such rings are created when dust from asteroid collisions and comet debris is repeatedly tugged by a planet’s gravity to form a ring close to the orbit of that planet. 

University of Bedfordshire
Suffer the children

Sexual violence towards children and young people living in gang-affected areas is often seen as normal and inevitable, according to research. A University of Bedfordshire study found significant levels of sexual victimisation within gang environments, and that for some children and young people, sexual violence – including rape – is a fact of everyday life. The study, titled It’s Wrong…But You Get Used to It, was commissioned by the Office of the Children’s Commissioner for England as part of its Inquiry into Child Sexual Exploitation in Gangs and Groups.

University of Surrey
Place your vets

Guildford Borough Council has approved plans for a new university school of veterinary medicine. The centre for education and research at the University of Surrey will embrace a “one health – one medicine” philosophy to encourage collaborations between human and animal healthcare researchers. Construction of the three buildings that will comprise the centre at the institution’s Manor Park campus is scheduled to begin early next year and is due for completion by autumn 2015.

Gene drunk

The mutation of a single gene can cause mice to willingly consume alcohol to the point of drunkenness, a study has found. Scientists from the universities of Dundee, Sussex, Newcastle, Imperial College London and University College London helped to discover that mice with a mutation on the Gabrb1 gene chose to consume 85 per cent of their daily fluid in drinks containing alcohol, whereas normal mice showed no interest. It is hoped that the findings could be used to treat alcoholism in humans, although the causes are thought to be more complex than genetics alone.

University of Reading
Past pastime

Archaeologists have discovered a rare Anglo-Saxon board game piece that would have been used in a backgammon- or draughts-like game. The researchers from the University of Reading found the ancient item in a royal complex at an excavation site in Lyminge, Kent. As well as the game piece, archaeologists have found jewellery, fragments of luxury vessel glass and pits containing animal bones, which confirm Lyminge’s role in royal ceremonial events during the late 6th and 7th centuries.

University of Edinburgh
Exchanges rated

A centre has been launched to study how different societies interact outside traditional diplomatic channels and the “hard power” of nation states. The Centre for Cultural Relations was launched on November at the University of Edinburgh, which said it was the first of its kind in the world. It will look at international events such as the football World Cup or the Arab Spring to study different cultures’ interactions. It will also look at how social and digital media make it easier for individuals to influence events.

University of Sunderland
Little sporting chance

An academic has spoken out about why there are so few British Asian professional footballers. Daniel Kilvington, a media, culture and journalism lecturer at the University of Sunderland, sought to explain why there are only eight such players across England’s top four divisions, despite the popularity of the sport among British Asians. Basing his research on interviews with players, he argues that the problem is down to overt racism, few role models, cultural differences and a lack of opportunities.

Queen Mary University of London
Minds and matters

Interactions between the mind and society will be explored at a recently launched multidisciplinary institute. The Centre for Mind in Society at Queen Mary University of London, which opened on 28 November, brings together researchers in psychology, history, linguistics, economics, computing, medicine and biological sciences. Its linguistics research includes a study of the cognitive implications of multilingualism in Europe, funded by a £4.2 million European Union grant shared by 16 institutions.

Kingston University
Insolvency gold mine

Archive materials on insolvency law are to be digitised thanks to a £5,000 donation. Much of the paperwork of bankruptcy expert Muir Hunter QC – regarded as a “gold mine of information on insolvency issues” by experts – will be made accessible to law historians through the cataloguing exercise by Kingston University. The gift from the Institute of Chartered Accountants of England and Wales to the Muir Hunter Museum of Bankruptcy will help Kingston become “the country’s premier point for discussion and research into the topic”, said John Tribe, principal lecturer in law.

University of Exeter
Financial and attention deficits

A child’s social and economic status has been linked to attention deficit hyperactivity disorder in a sample of almost 20,000 children. Academics from the University of Exeter Medical School looked at statistics on children born in the UK between 2000 and 2002 and found that more children with ADHD came from families living below the poverty line. The data came from the Millennium Cohort Study as part of the Economic and Social Research Council’s secondary data analysis initiative. Ginny Russell, leader of the study, said that discovering more about the causes of ADHD would help target treatment and support more effectively.

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