Today's news

February 18, 2003

Academia says no to war
Anti-war feeling has galvanised British students in a way not seen since the Vietnam and apartheid protests, with campus occupations planned across the country in the event of war. Academics have also been prominent in the campaign, with the lecturers' union Natfhe making both its website and London headquarters available to the Stop the War network in the build-up to last Saturday's rally in London. The contrast with the US is stark. While student unions in the UK are gearing up for lecture boycotts and teach-ins, students in Washington and New York are laying in supplies of bottled water and plastic sheeting as their universities step up security.
(Guardian)

Telecoms company offers students income top-up
A telecommunications company plans to cash in on the student top-up fee proposal with a scheme under which students would earn about £300 a month throughout their university years - without doing any work. Initially, 1,000 students preparing to take their A-levels will be eligible to join Reading-based Comec's scheme. They will receive 10 per cent of the monthly call spend of any client who they introduce to Comec and who signs a contract. On average Comec expect average clients to spend £3,000 a month.
(Financial Times)

No one wants to be a farmer any more
Agriculture students are few and far between after the crisis in the industry puts off many potential applicants. Alison Cardrey cuts a solitary figure in Britain's most prestigious agriculture department, Imperial College at Wye in Kent. She is the only farming student in her year, with no colleagues in the year beneath her and only four students in the year above. Admissions staff are restructuring courses to ensure overall student numbers do not decline, but the statistics across Britain tell a tale of an industry threatened by a shrinking skills base.
(Daily Telegraph)

Hole at the heart of the Milky Way
Fresh evidence suggesting that the Milky Way has a supermassive black hole at its centre has been discovered by astronomers. Research at the University of California, Los Angeles has revealed that a newly discovered star, named S0-16, is moving at a speed of 52 million miles an hour at the centre of the galaxy. This could be achieved only under the gravity of a black hole.
(Times)

Side effect of Mona's diverting smile
The secret of Mona Lisa's smile lies in the way that the brain processes peripheral vision, according to a Harvard University researcher. It seems to fade because its blurry qualities look most striking when seen out of the corner of the eye. Peripheral vision is tuned to lower light frequencies and analysis of the painting shows that the smile gives off light of mainly low-frequency wavelengths.
(Times, Guardian, Independent)

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