Today's news

October 8, 2002

Britons win Nobel prize for medicine
Sir John Sulston was yesterday awarded the Nobel prize for medicine, along with another Briton, Sydney Brenner, and an American, Robert Horvitz, for their work on the growth of nematode worms, a key to understanding cell growth in humans. Sir John, based at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute in Cambridge, built on Dr Brenner’s work, started in the 1970s. Dr Brenner spent most of his working life at the Medical Research Council in Cambridge. Dr Horvitz’s laboratory is at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The scientists share a £700,000 prize. (Guardian, Telegraph, Times, Financial Times, Independent)

Labour website spin like Orwell’s 1984
The new Labour party is accused of creating a "social statistical utopia" on its website to show improvements in schooling and other public services. Four distinguished geographers have taken apart the website’s figures for local areas and say Labour has consistently adjusted and manipulated data without acknowledging it. The team is led by professors Danny Dorling of Leeds University and Ron Johnston of Bristol University. (Guardian)

Gene linked to breast cancer
Scientists have discovered a gene that could be linked with 60 per cent of breast cancers. Researchers from the Cold Spring Harbour Laboratory in New York and the University of Washington found the gene DBC2 was missing or inactive in 11 out of 19 cases of sporadic breast cancer and in seven out of 14 cases of lung cancer. (Independent)

Copyright rules could hit academics
Tough new copyright rules could make lawbreakers of academics, teachers, librarians and computer programmers, digital rights campaigners have warned. The government is planning to push through legislation by the end of the year to comply with the European Union’s copyright directive. (Financial Times)

Single mum breaks Oxford college mould
Twenty-year-old Rebecca Williams has become the first undergraduate in Wadham College, Oxford’s history to take her child with her to university. (Daily Mail)

Plugging the brain drain
Britain’s wealthiest universities are digging deep to stem the flight of top professors seeking superstar status, and salaries, across the Atlantic. (Guardian)

Heavenly body bodes ill for Pluto
Astronomers have discovered a massive object, which they have named Quaoar, on the outskirts of the solar system. Pluto was considered the outermost planet of the solar system, but Quaoar is further still from the Sun. (Guardian, Independent, Times)

Global warming gives pests taste for London living
Two species of vine weevil previously unable to survive Britain’s cold winters have been discovered in southwest London. Max Barclay, curator of beetles at the Natural History Museum, discovered the creatures in the UK. (Guardian)

Landlords find dust a mite risky
Landlords could face compensation from tenants who have developed asthma because of dust mite infestation in their homes, according to research carried out at Strathclyde University. (Times)

Thames used as cemetery by ancient Britons
Londoners have been throwing objects, including bodies, into the Thames for 400,000 years. It was a sacred river of the dead for prehistoric man, when elephants, wild cows and bears roamed the forests of the river valley, according to a new exhibition at the Museum of London. (Times)

Old school tie best way to a better job
Privately educated students earn higher salaries than their state school counterparts. Academics at the University of Warwick and the London School of Economics found that extra income earned with employers of graduates is proportional to school fees: the higher the fees, the better the connections and the greater the wage. (Daily Mail)

Remaking the grade
Universities plan to move away from A levels as the sole entry criterion. They are investigating new admissions methods that will downplay the importance of A levels and could spread the practice of making lower offers to students from disadvantaged backgrounds. (Guardian)

Grade A mess
As the huge scale of the exam regrading becomes clear, next year’s students reveal their uncertainties. (Guardian)

No holiday in Rome
To graduate in Italy, students must study for up to 10 years in a system that is crowded, bureaucratic and poorly resourced. No wonder the private sector is growing. (Guardian)

The fees illusion
Think top-up fees will mean business as usual plus more money? Think again, says Peter Scott. (Guardian)

Browse but don’t borrow
Many university libraries either do not allow the public to borrow books or charge them for the privilege, but how does this square with lifelong learning? (Guardian)


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