Today's news

January 9, 2003

Morris tells government to admit mistakes
Former education secretary Estelle Morris last night broke a three-month silence since resigning last year to urge the government to be more ready to admit mistakes to help turn back a growing tide of voter cynicism. Ms Morris, who stood down in October amid a string of crises in her department, warned in an interview that politicians must be willing to explain their actions. They should be braver about using a "new vocabulary" that would admit uncertainty or difficulty, she said, but indicated they would only do so if they felt the media would hold back from condemning them for weakness.
(Guardian)

Finis coronat opus
Bill Clinton, a member of University College, is being proposed as a candidate for the Oxford chancellorship. Traditionally Oxford's public orator heralds such great occasions with a Latin citation. Today’s Leader in the FT presents a preview: " Magnam gaudeam nuntio vobis. Habemus Cancellarius! Guilelmus Clinton est, quondam collegium universitatem discipulus et imperator stati americani consociati

Stem-cell researchers set global programme
The world's principal funding agencies for stem-cell research have agreed on a broad programme of international collaboration. The nine agencies held their first joint meeting in London yesterday under the auspices of Britain's Medical Research Council. One working group will look at the best ways to characterise the limited supply of stem cell lines. Another group will draw up an "ethical map" of the world. This will show the legal and ethical framework within which stem-cell research can take place in each country. An issue raised by the meeting was the acute shortage worldwide of scientists trained to work with stem cells. As a first step, a training website will be set up for stem-cell research.
(Financial Times)

Debunker of global warming debunked
Bjorn Lomborg, the director of Denmark's Environmental Assessment Institute and a leading would-be debunker of mainstream scientific opinion on issues such as global warming and overuse of natural resources has been found guilty by a Danish government committee of "scientific dishonesty". Professor Lomborg was subject to a year-long investigation by the Danish committee on scientific dishonesty.
(Guardian, Independent)

Rock that may mark new dawn for man
The discovery in a Spanish cave of what is claimed to be the world's oldest burial artefact is set to provoke a fierce scientific debate about the exact moment when man's mind was lit by the spark of imagination and creativity. Palaeontologists who discovered the axe-head placed among ancient bones in a cave at Atapuerca, near the city of Burgos in central Spain, yesterday claimed that this key moment in the evolution of man's mind had to be placed at a time well before our own race, Homo sapiens , reached Europe.
(Guardian)

Gravity clocked at speed of light
Scientists have measured the speed of gravity for the first time, proving that Einstein was right and that it does indeed travel at the speed of light. Astronomers at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory in Charlottesville, Virginia and the University of Missouri in Columbia measured the change in the position of a quasar – the bright region of a distant galaxy – as the gravitational field of Jupiter bent passing radio waves, New Scientist reports today.
(Daily Telegraph, Times)

Secret of the long-life burger
Adding ground peppers and cooked tomatoes to beefburgers extends their shelf-life by up to two weeks without the need for artificial preservatives, a team of Spanish and Mexican researchers from at Zaragoza University has found.
(Daily Telegraph)

Only one generation left to save the world
The human race has only one or perhaps two generations to rescue itself, according to the 2003 State of the World report by the Washington-based Worldwatch Institute. The longer that no remedial action is taken, the greater the degree of misery and biological impoverishment that humankind must be prepared to accept, the institute says in its 20th annual report.
(Guardian)

Engineering prize on offer
The Royal Academy of Engineering is looking for entrants to its MacRobert Award, which carries a prize of £50,000. The award is open to individuals or teams up to five-strong from any size of company that have made and commercially exploited a significant engineering breakthrough. The deadline for entries is January 31. Last year’s winner was Cambridge Display Technology.
Details: www.raeng.org.uk/prizes/macrobert
(Financial Times)

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