Today's news

December 16, 2002

Missing student returns home
Victoria Stephenson, the student whose disappearance prompted a nationwide search, was reunited with her family from London yesterday after walking into a Dublin police station on Saturday. Police are investigating the theory that a family argument lies behind her disappearance from Manchester Metropolitan University last Tuesday.
(Daily Telegraph, Times)

Brilliant memorisers rely on simple trick
Scientists from University College London have discovered that there is no anatomical or psychological distinction between people with encyclopaedic minds and ordinary mortals who can barely remember where they left their car keys. Skilled memorisers do, however, think differently: they use a mnemonic trick, known as the loci method, that is easy to pick up. The discovery emerged from a comparison of the brains of top performers at the World Memory Championships, which is held in London every year. The findings, published today in the journal Nature Neuroscience , suggest that anyone could use the technique to improve memory.

Companies scouting for first-year talent
Full-time MBA programmes have traditionally been seen as a haven for managers who have lost their jobs or fear redundancy. Those starting their programmes this year, however, are in for a rude awakening if they believe they can use business school to lie low and avoid the problem of finding a job until the market revives. This autumn has seen an alarming rise in the number of companies visiting campuses to recruit only first-year students for internship positions for the summer of 2003.
(Financial Times)

Ghost town Britain looms, think-tank warns

Britain's smaller towns and cities are being turned into ghost towns by the collapse of local neighbourhood shops and services, a think-tank report warns today. In the five years to 2000, a fifth of corner shops, grocers', high street banks, post offices and pubs disappeared, according to the New Economics Foundation. That loss of 30,000 local economic outlets is set to be matched again by 2005.
(Financial Times, Guardian, Independent)

Glass of wine can help beat colds too
There is already a wealth of evidence that drinking a moderate amount of red wine lowers the risk of heart attacks, dementia and strokes. Now research by Spanish and American scientists, published in the American Journal of Epidemiology , reveals that wine can also help stave off the common cold by developing immunity against 200 viruses known to trigger the ailment.
(Daily Mail)

Canaletto scrubs up really well
For 150 years the painting known as Grand Canal, Venice , remained in a British gallery identified as a pastiche of Canaletto by an unknown imitator. Recently curators decided it needed a clean. From beneath the grime and a blue wash added later to the original emerged an unmistakable signature that proves it is original after all. Yesterday, the National Galleries of Scotland celebrated their good fortune as the value of the work was revised from £5,000 to £2 million.
(Daily Mail)

Constable's drawings of Victory surface
Three long-lost drawings by John Constable of Lord Nelson's flagship HMS Victory have been discovered during a routine valuation for a family in Glasgow. Constable mentioned the drawings in a letter to a friend, but their whereabouts have remained a mystery until now.
(Daily Telegraph)

Secular challenge to Radio 4
The BBC faces court action over its refusal to allow secular contributors on Thought for the Day . Barbara Smoker, former president of the National Secular Society, has given the corporation until Wednesday to change its policy. Her lawyers believe the ban on non-religious speakers on the regular slot is a breach of her human rights as a potential contributor and listener.
(Daily Telegraph)

Student dies from meningitis
A Cambridge University history student has died of meningitis, weeks into his degree course.
(Daily Mail)

Britain's only lecturer in Cambodian dies
Judith Jacob, who was the only lecturer in Cambodian in Britain, at the School of African and Oriental Studies in London between 1952 and 1988, has died aged 79.

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