From today's UK papers

February 19, 2002

Academics will oppose bill that curbs freedom
British universities will demand changes to the government's new Export Control Bill to assure explicit protection for academic freedom. Universities UK said yesterday it would press for an amendment to the legislation being considered by the House of Lords. It warned that parts of the bill were so broadly worded that "essentially all of science and technology falls in to it" - meaning that the government could suppress scientific work before it appeared, and limit communication about it. (Independent)

Manchester University profits from biotech float
Manchester University is set to make £3.5 million from the flotation of Neutec, a biotech firm run by two of its professors that targets hospital "superbugs". The public offering, which values the business at a higher than expected £35.4 million, will also prove profitable for a leading City pharmaceuticals analyst and Allen McClay, one of Northern Ireland's wealthiest men. (Guardian)

Independent school launches venture fund
One of England's top independent schools is setting up a mini-venture capital fund to help enterprising 17 to 25-year-olds start their own innovative companies. The scheme, run by Manchester Grammar School, has been highlighted by Gordon Brown in his drive to build a more entrepreneurial culture. (Financial Times)

Engineers have a new bridge to cross
The country is courting economic disaster if it fails to halt the declining numbers of British research students in key subjects such as engineering, science, computing, law and economics, academic leaders have warned the government. The findings of a survey by the Royal Academy of Engineering reveal that university engineering departments are struggling to fill PhD places. (Guardian, Financial Times)

Animal cull 'based on incorrect assumption'
Tony Blair's order to slaughter more than 10 million animals to combat foot and mouth was based on flawed, biased and poorly thought through scientific advice, the former chief scientist at the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, David Shannon, said yesterday. (Daily Telegraph)

Experts piece together dinosaur with permanent smile
A dinosaur with a permanent smile and jaws packed with 1,000 teeth has been unearthed in an African desert by Chicago University scientists, who describe it as one of the most bizarre animals ever to walk on four legs. The discovery of the long-necked dinosaur with a skull shaped like a hammer-head shark was made in the same area of Niger where scientist last year found a giant crocodile that was so big it could eat a dinosaur for breakfast. (Independent, Guardian)

Old rats feel young again on health shop pills
A pill that could rejuvenate ageing humans has been tested successfully on a troupe of elderly rats, scientists said yesterday. University of California researchers gave a combination of two natural substances that are available in health-food stores to elderly rats and the results were dramatic. (Daily Telegraph, Guardian)

Postcard was an English invention
Britain was today basking in the glory of another historic victory over Germany after 142 years of hurt and humiliation. Philatelists have proved the postcard was an English and not a Teutonic invention. Until yesterday, the world had laboured under the impression that the greeting card was a German or Austrian innovation, although the Americans had also claimed to be first. But the postal historian Edward Proud has finally proved conclusively that the postcard bears the stamp of British genius. (Guardian)

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