Today's news

July 31, 2002

Virus expert backs smallpox choice
Claims that Britain has bought the wrong kind of smallpox vaccine to guard against terrorist attack were dismissed as “garbage” yesterday by an expert. John Oxford of St Bartholomew’s and the Royal London School of Medicine said the choice of the Lister strain of vaccine made “complete sense”.
( The Daily Telegraph )

New Deal fails most youngsters
Young people in full-time education and training on the government’s New Deal for the unemployed are failing to win jobs or achieve qualifications at the end of it, according to skills watchdog the Adult Learning Inspectorate.
( The Guardian, Financial Times )

£30,000 for dissatisfied student
A mature law student who complained of exam errors, overcrowding and poor teaching on his university course has obtained a £30,000 out-of-court settlement from the University of Wolverhampton.
( The Daily Telegraph )

EU set to agree funding curbs for embryo research
European Union governments are close to agreeing restrictions on the use of EU funds for research into human embryos and embryonic stem cells. Officials stressed that existing research programmes would not be affected by the restrictions.
( Financial Times )

Giant lions unearthed
A remarkable cache of prehistoric marsupial remains, including giant lions, 10ft-tall kangaroos and a wombat the size of a Mini, has been unearthed in remote caves in the Australian outback. A group of cavers stumbled upon the remains, and a team from the Western Australian Museum in Perth travelled to the site this month for a two-week dig.
( The Daily Telegraph, The Times ) 

Small print doesn’t add up for maths don
Britain’s main high street banks will be told to simplify the way they calculate credit card interest after a government committee was forced to consult a mathematician to make sense of one deal. Robert Hunt, a Cambridge University maths lecturer who submitted evidence to the Treasury select committee, spent only five minutes doing the calculation but two hours reading the small print.
( The Daily Telegraph, The Guardian, Financial Times )

Vinland map debunked as 1920s fake
The Vinland map, long claimed as proof that Norse explorers charted North America before Columbus reached the West Indies, has been discredited by British chemists as an elaborate 20th-century forgery. Robin Clark and Katherine Brown of University College London used an advanced analytical chemistry technique to show that the ink used to draw the map dates from about the 1920s or later.
( The Daily Telegraph, The Times, The Independent )

Is maths going down the drain?
Report on the state of mathematics teaching and why too many engineering undergraduates are “perceived to be deficient in mathematical concepts”. Simon Singh says its time to make a fuss about the declining numbers of competent teachers, and biologist Steve Jones joins the debate.
( The Daily Telegraph )

Author wins lofty recognition
The Queen is to appoint William Trevor, the first man of Irish letters, an honorary knight.
( The Times )

Cambridge economist dies
Cambridge economist Brian Reddaway has died, aged 89.
( The Independent )   

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