Today's news

August 27, 2003

High-tech Oxford gaining on its old rival
Oxford University, which has lagged behind Cambridge as a centre for high-tech business, is closing the gap according to Lord Sainsbury, the science minister. There are 1,400 high-tech businesses in Oxfordshire, employing more than 40,000 people.
(Financial Times)

Revamped support on the way for innovation
According to estimates, UK universities earn £20 million a year in licensing income from scientific and technical ideas, or roughly 1 per cent of their scientific research budget - which comes mainly from the DTI via the UK's research councils. The comparable figure for US universities is 3-4 per cent. An example of the type of company Lord Sainsbury wants to encourage is Yorkshire-based Filtronic, a telecoms equipment supplier that started as a spin-off from Leeds University's electrical engineering department 26 years ago and which has annual sales of £241 million and 3,000 employees.
(Financial Times)

University aims to shame ministers into climate action
A group of scientists in East Anglia has launched an ambitious campaign to slash the region's emissions of carbon dioxide in half the time the government believes is possible. The project, known as Cred, has been set up by Keith Tovey and colleagues at the University of East Anglia's environmental science department. Enthusiastic involvement with the project is snowballing in the local community. (Guardian) Two wind turbines are due to be installed at UEA, generating more than enough energy to power the campus (Evening Standard).

The top-up fees debate trundles on
NUS chief derides relaunch of top-up fees (Daily Telegraph). Universities must forcefully back ministers on top-up fees: Matthew Arnold memorably described Oxford University as the "home of lost causes". A modern Arnold might say much the same of the Department for Education and Skills (Times). Why top-up fees may become graduate tax: Ministers faced ridicule yesterday after being accused of trying to rebrand controversial student top-up fees (Daily Mail)

Better deal for disabled students
Disabled graduates are as likely to find employment as non-disabled students, but they are half as likely to enter higher education, according to the latest research. Information for disabled students available from Skill: www.skill.org.uk
(Evening Standard)

UK scientists planned to put radioactive meat on sale
Documents released at the National Archives in Kew, show scientists in 1955 wanted to find the level of radioactivity needed to make livestock unfit for consumption. The department of agricultural science at the University of Nottingham proposed to inject animals in a research farm with radioactive isotopes and to sell meat from the animals. The documents do not state whether the scheme was put into action. The University of Nottingham and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs had no immediate record yesterday of what happened to the livestock in any experiment.
(Independent)

Scientist sues US attorney-general over anthrax
A scientist at the centre of the investigation of the 2001 anthrax attacks launched a lawsuit yesterday accusing John Ashcroft, US attorney-general, of smearing his name to cover up the criminal investigation's failure. Steven Hatfill, who was publicly identified by Mr Ashcroft as "a person of interest" in the investigation, is seeking damages and an end to what his lawyers say has been round-the-clock surveillance and harassment by Federal Bureau of Investigation officials. He had worked at the US Army's top bioweapons research facility, though not with anthrax.
(Financial Times)

Heart disease deaths fall but treatment still varies
Heart deaths in Britain have fallen by a third in a decade. But figures from the British Heart Foundation show the decline has levelled off in the past two years. To resume the downward curve, Keith Fox of the University of Edinburgh says cardiologists must try to ensure that the best practice is followed everywhere, not just in the top hospitals. His report, published in the European Heart Journal, is based on the findings of a four-year study by the Global Registry of Acute Coronary Events.
(Times, Daily Telegraph, Independent)

New drug offers hope to heart patients
A new drug could help as many as 5 million people in the UK with a condition that doubles the risk of dying from heart disease. Results of a trial of rosuvastatin at Gentofte Hospital in Denmark show that it has a broad range of effects against the metabolic syndrome, sometimes called Syndrome X.
(Times)

Archive of civil rights champion likely to fetch £19m
A draft of Martin Luther King's historic "I Have a Dream" speech is among more than 7,000 documents in his own hand being sold by his family for an estimated $30 million (£19 million). Such is the scale of the material that it took Sotheby’s six years to draw up an inventory. Negotiations are taking place with several institutions. The family wants to keep the collection intact for scholars.
(Times)

Closest Martian encounter for 60,000 years
At 10.51 this morning, Earth will have its closest encounter with Mars in almost 60,000 years - but Britain will be shrouded in cloud all day and night. However, there is time for a second chance to look at the Red Planet as it will remain just as bright well into next month. Budding astronomers can also seek out one of scores of stargazing evenings being held around the country as part of National Astronomy Week. Details at: www.astronomyweek.co.uk
(Times, Guardian, Independent)

Great explorer Thesiger dies
Wilfred Thesiger, acclaimed explorer and honorary fellow of Magdalen College, Oxford - where he read history, died on 24 August 2003, aged 93.
(Independent, Guardian, Daily Telegraph)

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