News in Brief

March 24, 2011

Journal retraction

Space claims seem to not add up

A mathematics journal has retracted a paper by an Indian mathematician who claimed that science and spirituality "came from space", the Retraction Watch website has reported. The paper, "New parallel theory", was written by M. Sivasubramanian of the Dr Mahalingam College of Engineering and Technology in Pollachi, India. It was published last October in Applied Mathematics Letters, which bills itself as "an international journal of rapid publication". A notice in this month's edition says that the paper has been retracted at the editor-in-chief's request owing to "falsified findings" and "unsubstantiated claims". It says that the article represents a "severe abuse of the scientific publishing system" and apologises that the mistakes were not detected before publication. But it was the unusual content of the paper that attracted Retraction Watch's attention. Reflecting on spirituality's "promise" that everything in the Universe was created in pairs of opposites, including "origin and end", "man and women" (sic) and "ugly and beauty" (sic), its author states that "both science and spirituality came from space".

Living Wage campaign

'Massive victory' at London Met

London Metropolitan University has won praise from unions after agreeing to pay staff the London Living Wage, despite the university's financial difficulties. It has committed to paying all directly employed staff at least the London Living Wage rate, currently £7.85 an hour, from 1 August. In an email to staff, Malcolm Gillies, vice-chancellor, says London Met will apply the same conditions to staff on new or renewed contracts. The university's Unison branch, which has been campaigning for the change, described the commitment as "a massive victory" and said it would mean that London Met's lowest-paid staff would soon receive a fair living wage. Max Watson, branch chair, said: "Unison is determined to close the widening pay gap at London Met. This commitment is an important step in that direction." The London Living Wage is set every year by the Greater London Authority.

Overseas students

Shine! awards spot 12 stars

A dozen overseas students have won places in the final of a national competition on the strength of their accounts of their time spent studying in the UK. Now in their ninth year, the British Council's international student awards, known as Shine!, are held in association with Times Higher Education. This year's Shine! finalists are: Xi Xu, who is from China and studying at University College London; Sabrina Bhundoo (Mauritius/Nottingham Trent University); Xirong He (China/Northumbria University); Tian Peng (China/University of Manchester); Pavan Kumar Sriram (India/University of Southampton); Valentine Resiato Nkoyo (Kenya/York St John University); Divesh Hiranandani (India/University of Warwick); Maria Xi Zhang (China/University of Bath); Mur Aizaan (Malaysia/University of Aberdeen); Ilka Johanna Illers (Germany/Bangor University); Margaret Mary Nimoh (Ghana/Queen's University Belfast); and Sze Han Haidee Ng (Hong Kong/The Leys School, Cambridge). The winner will be announced on 13 April.


Readers responded online to the argument by John Martin, the director of University College London's Centre for Cardiovascular Biology and Medicine, that although science is of great importance, true fulfilment is achievable only through the humanities.

Peter Coles writes: "I'm a scientist, and I think the government should be spending more on science, but I also think that the government shouldn't be robbing the arts and humanities the way it is. As a matter of fact, most scientists I know are passionate about some form of artistic endeavour and I'm sure few would disagree with the premise that art is one of the things that make life worth living. I certainly don't."


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