Today's news

May 2, 2002

New roborat moves at click of a mouse
Scientists have turned living rats into remote-controlled, pleasure-driven robots that can be guided up ladders through ruins and into minefields at the click of a laptop key. The project is funded by the US military.
(Guardian, Times, Telegraph, Independent, Daily Mail)

Roborat experiment condemned
Roborat research is a chance for scientists who carry out serious experiments on animals to stand up and try to put ethical distance between their work and experiments carried out for military or scientifically abstract reasons, argues James Meek.

Law lord wants Supreme Court for UK
Lord Bingham, the country's senior law lord, last night called for a new US-style Supreme Court that would no longer be part of the House of Lords. "Law lords are judges, not legislators, and do not belong in a House to whose business they can make no more than a slight contribution," he said.
(Guardian, Times, Telegraph)

US may curb study by foreigners
American universities yesterday condemned a plan by the Bush administration to stop foreign students in the US studying "sensitive" academic courses, accusing the government of sacrificing academic feedom in its efforts to win the domestic war on terror.

Poll points to big gains for rightwing Dutch academic
Pim Fortuyn, the anti-immigration populist and former sociology professor, is forecast to win 17 per cent of the vote in the Dutch general election in two weeks' time, according to the latest opinion poll.
(Financial Times)

Rude recruits
Despite new intiatives in universities to prepare undergraduates for work, many employers remain unsatisfied with the social skills of their graduate recruits, according to a new survey.

Oxford gets two royal masters for a song
Two important portraits by the Flemish masters Rubens and Van Dyck have been acquired by the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford. Rubens's "The Coronation of Henri IV" has been bought for an "advantageous" £120,000 from a supporter of the museum, and Van Dyck's "Charles I and the Knights of the Garter in Procession" joins the collection after being accepted in lieu of tax.

Tate takes Bacon £20m archive
The Tate is accepting a gift of a Francis Bacon archive containing more than 1,000 sketches and annotated photographs four years after it rejected the offer. Barry Joule, the owner and a friend of the artist, has struggled for years to prove the authenticity of a collection that he says Bacon gave to him days before his death and which has been valued at £20 million.

Museums to check for stolen art
A strict code of conduct aimed at preventing British museums from unwittingly acquiring stolen art or looted antiquities was announced in London yesterday. Museums will have to check thoroughly the recent history of potential purchases, donations or loans under the code drawn up by the Museums Association.

Pressure grows for euro vote
The government was under pressure to call an early referendum on joining the euro after a leading economic think-tank, the National Institute of Economic and Social Research, declared that Britain had already satisfied Gordon Brown's five tests for membership.
(Independent, Times, Financial Times)

UK engineers forsake Phd stipends for City salaries
A recent report by the Royal Academy of Engineering warns that most of the country's top university departments are struggling to persuade the best UK graduates to stay on to do postgraduate research. Many talented engineers are being creamed off to work in the City, where their skills in technical analysis and assessment attract far higher financial awards.

Schools face crisis as best pupils go private
The exodus of middle-class children to private education is threatening the existence of some state schools, according to Matthew Taylor, a former adviser to Tony Blair.
(Daily Mail)

Smallest life form discovered
A bizarre microbe that is probably the smallest living creature in the world has been discovered deep in the ocean off the coast of Iceland. The spherical bug measures just 400 millionths of a millimetre, according to the journal Nature.
(Times, Telegraph)

Research hints at Mussolini's syphilis
Italian dictator Benito Mussolini exploited a grenade wound in the first world war to cover up syphilis, according to new research.

Implant hope for bypass patients
An implant that releases drugs directly into a blood vessel while keeping it propped open could prevent 11,000 heart bypass operations each year, doctors said yesterday. The double-action device, known as a stent, is designed to be used in angioplasties, operations to widen arteries that have closed up.

Mobiles on trains 'pose health risk'
Passengers using mobile phones on a train at the same time can generate microwave radiation levels exceeding international guidelines, says Japanese scientist Tsuyoshi Hondou, a physicist at Tohoku University in Sendai.

Why should anyone obey anyone else? Tom Stoppard writes on the essence of liberty


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