Today's news

December 17, 2003

Government must act now to save science
The government must act now to tackle the "plummeting popularity" of the sciences in schools and universities, Sir Alistair MacFarlane, chair of the Royal Society education committee, said today. He called for a sustained effort to tackle the crisis in science education and warned that the introduction of variable top-up fees could particularly put off students from enrolling on some undergraduate courses in science, engineering and technology.
( Guardian )

AUT to ballot strike action over pay deal
University employers today said they were deeply disappointed with the Association of University Teachers' decision to ballot for strike action after yesterday's pay talks collapsed. But they refused to be drawn on how the last-ditch talks fell apart after accusations from the AUT that the Universities and Colleges Employers Association had abruptly withdrawn an offer to renegotiate. The strike ballot of the AUT's 47,000 members will take place between January 13 and February 11 in the new year.
( Guardian )

Pupils shine brightest at grammar schools
The first league table to assess the quality of teaching in England's state secondary schools, as distinct from the raw ability of pupils, is dominated by grammars. Only one of the top 20 schools in the "value-added" table, which records the improvements made by pupils aged 11 to 14, is a comprehensive school.
( Times, Daily Telegraph )

50p test to combat infertility disease
A test costing only 50p for Chlamydia, a sexually transmitted disease which is a common cause of infertility in women, has been developed by researchers from the University of Cambridge.
( Daily Telegraph )

Wright Brothers' flight to be repeated
A replica of the Wright Brothers' historic Flyer is to take off, weather permitting, from a beach in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, today, to celebrate the hundredth anniversary of powered flight. The recreation of Orville Wright’s original flight on December 17, 1903, which lasted just 12 seconds and reached an estimated altitude of 118ft, comes after years of painstaking work to reconstruct the first aircraft. The team of engineers led by Ken Hyde, founder of the Wright Experience museum in Warrenton, Virginia, has been advised by experts from Nasa's Langley Research Centre and Old Dominion University.
( Times )

Scientist gives Rudolph wings
If Father Christmas really wants to get his sleigh airborne next week, scientists say he should call on the services of a flying dinosaur. Paolo Viscardi, a flight physiologist at the University of Leeds, has calculated that flying reindeer would need wings 10 metres (33ft) long - three times the wingspan of the wandering albatross and more impressive even than the bird with the largest known wingspan, the extinct South American Argentavis magnificens. The other technical hitch is in the arrangement. Mr Viscardi said the sleigh would have to be dangled beneath the reindeer, rather than strung behind.
( Guardian )

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