Today's news

July 24, 2003

Ministers blame regulator for A-level fiasco
Ministers attempted yesterday to pass the buck for last summer's A-level marking problems on to the examinations regulator. The government was responding to a report by MPs. It argued that the problems, which left almost 2,000 sixth-formers with low marks that were lifted after remarking, stemmed from the rushed implementation of A2 and AS exams three years ago. In its official response to the report by the Commons education select committee, the government insisted that it drew up the timetable on advice from the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority.
(Times, Guardian, Independent)

Chinese make diamonds out of thin air
A team of scientists at the University of Science and Technology of China in Hefei, Anhui province, have told New Scientist magazine that it has turned carbon dioxide into diamonds. The Chinese diamonds are made by reacting carbon dioxide with sodium in an oven heated to 440C under a pressure of 800 atmospheres. The diamonds have diameters of a quarter of a millimetre (one hundredth of an inch). These are far too small for jewellery but just right for industrial uses such as cutting tools and abrasives.
(Independent, Daily Telegraph)

Wheelchair that runs on thought
Scientists are creating a motorised wheelchair that can be controlled by thought alone, giving new independence to severely paralysed and quadriplegic patients. The device, which has been successfully tested as a robot on wheels, uses a skull cap peppered with electrodes to pick up brain signals. The system is being incorporated into a wheelchair by scientists from the Dalle Molle Institute for Perceptual Artificial Intelligence at Martigny, Switzerland, and the Centre for Biomedical Engineering Research, in Barcelona, Spain.
(Daily Telegraph, Times)

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