Today's news

September 19, 2002

A-level results in chaos
Education secretary Estelle Morris ordered an unprecedented re-mark of disputed examination scripts last night, throwing A-level results into chaos. Head teachers have demanded an independent inquiry and extra university places for those who have been rejected on the basis of artificially lowered grades.
( The Daily Telegraph, Financial Times, The Independent, The Times, The Guardian, Daily Mail )

Fear and loathing among v-cs
“We’re well skewered” – report on vice-chancellors’ responses to higher education minister Margaret Hodges’s speech at the Universities UK conference in Aberystwyth. Ms Hodge suggested the state should cease to prop up institutions and departments that were not up to snuff.
( The Independent, education )

Hawaii or resurrection? Hmmm
New Scientist is offering its readers a prize to die for: the chance to be cryogenically frozen after death, in the hope of everlasting life. The magazine is offering an alternative prize – a week in Hawaii and a chance to view the stars through the world’s highest telescope at Mauna Kea.
( The Times, The Guardian, Daily Mail )

Another thing to blame the Tories for
Its official: Conservative governments can drive you to suicide. Researchers from the UK and Australia have confirmed that the rate of suicide was 17 per cent higher under Conservative governments during the 20th century. The findings are published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health .
( Financial Times, The Independent, The Guardian, Daily Mail )

Scientists take a leap forward with antimatter
The world’s first “antimatter factory” has gone into production. Scientists at Cern last night announced that they had made 50,000 atoms of antihydrogen – enough to tackle some of the fundamental questions about the laws of physics, though far too little for science-fiction applications of antimatter such as the warp drive in Star Trek .
( Financial Times )

MS linked to teenage sex, says neurologist
Multiple sclerosis may be a sexually transmitted infection picked up during teenage years, a consultant neurologist claimed yesterday. In a paper published by the British Medical Association, Christopher Hawes of the Institute of Neurology, in London, said some cases might be linked to an unknown agent transmitted “chiefly by sexual contact”. The findings are published in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry .
( The Daily Telegraph, The Independent, The Times, Daily Mail )

Bionic man comes a giant stride closer
Bionic man – flesh reconstructed by science – moved a step closer yesterday. US scientists announced that they had devised a new kind of organic polymer that could twitch at a command from a tiny electric signal and serve as an artificial muscle. The team from Pennsylvania State University report their findings today in Nature .
( The Guardian )

Bugs Bunny dinosaur found
A distant relative of the ferocious Tyrannosaurus rex that appears to have more in common with Bugs Bunny has been discovered. Incisivosaurus gauthieri stood on two legs but instead of rows of razor-sharp teeth, it had two buck teeth suited to being a herbivore.
( The Daily Telegraph, The Independent, The Times )

Daffs on the Christmas list
Scientists have found a way of tricking plants into growing at any time of the year. Californian researchers have found the machinery that helps plants to track the seasons. By tinkering with two sets of proteins in a plant, they can make it flower at will. Their findings are reported in the journal Nature .
( The Daily Telegraph )

Life beyond Earth
Microwave signals that could indicate the presence of water in distant solar systems have been discovered by Italian astronomers, offering hope that Earth-like planets may support life, New Scientist reported.
( The Times )

Victorian women made killing in insurance
Research published in History Today reveals the gruesome truth about two Victorian sisters who were hanged for murder in 1884. The sisters, Margaret Higgins and Catherine Flanagan, were two of nine women involved in killing at least ten people to obtain their life insurance money.
( The Guardian )   

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