Today's news

October 31, 2003

Scientists test Blair and find him wanting

More than 100 leading scientists have made an appeal to Tony Blair to save British science from a tide of neglect and abuse that is driving the brightest brains abroad. In a letter delivered to Downing Street yesterday, 114 eminent researchers, including a Nobel laureate and a host of Royal Society fellows, blamed Mr Blair for a "backward slide" in the climate for debate over technologies such as genetic modification. The letter was provoked by a largely hysterical media response to recent GM farm trials, reported as spelling doom for the technology but which in fact showed almost unbridled benefits, the scientists said.
( Times )

Green dye student driver banned
A student yesterday blamed his erratic driving on green body paint with which he had covered himself for a fancy dress party. Jerome Oswald-Jones, , was stopped by police after ignoring red lights and crashing into parked cars. Officers found him covered in a green dye. The Kent University student and part-time taxi driver pleaded guilty to drink-driving and dangerous driving at Canterbury magistrates' court last month, but argued that he would never have driven had it not been for the disorientation caused by the paint. He was banned from driving for 30 months.
( Daily Telegraph )

Chinese students protest at Japanese peers
Chinese students protested at Northwest University, Xian, after a show by visiting Japanese students that they said insulted China. "They were shouting, 'Japanese devils go home', and, 'Little Japanese leave China'," a witness said.
( Times, AFP )

Scientists claim drug could reverse Down's syndrome
Scientists from Stanford University, California, claim to have made a breakthrough that could reverse the mental effects of Down's syndrome. They have found a gene that appears to be responsible for the neuronal damage, which they consider to be reversible. The announcement is made today in Chemistry & Industry magazine.
( Daily Mail )

Forget mass-suicide, lemmings fall prey to predators
Scientists from Helsinki University in Finland have cleared up the mystery of why lemmings suddenly disappear en masse. They have categorically ruled out the suicidal leap over a cliff myth, saying that the regular cycle of boom and bust in the lemming population is entirely due to the rodent's four predators - foxes, owls, skuas and stoats.

Ötzi the Iceman died a few miles from his home
More than 5,200 years after he collapsed and died on an Alpine mountainside, the life story of Ötzi the mummified iceman has been pieced together. In an extraordinary piece of detective work, scientists believe they have pinned down the Italian valley where he was born and traced his movements up to the time he was killed by an arrow aged 46. The research, published in Science , provides an unprecedented window into the life of a prehistoric man.
( Daily Telegraph )

China and India back EU's space race against US
Despite intense objections from Washington, China and India will invest £140 million and £210 million respectively in the European Union's Galileo global satellite system, a network of 30 orbiting satellites designed to open up a lucrative field of high technology and support industries that require pinpoint accuracy.
( Daily Telegraph )

Celestial red arc is brightest star factory
European astronomers have discovered the biggest, brightest and hottest star-forming region so far identified in the universe. Despite being 12 billion light years away, the Lynx Arc region can be seen from Earth with small telescopes. It is about a million times brighter than the Orion nebula.
( Guardian )

Professor Sally Baldwin, 62, the British academic who died tragically in an accident at a Rome station on October 28.
( Guardian )

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