Today's news

November 3, 2003


2bn-letter dictionary of DNA completed

Scientists from the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute in Cambridge have set a new world record. They have decoded 2 billion letters of the alphabet of life, and delivered them freely to researchers in 135 countries. In 10 years the Sanger team has published more than 100 papers in the scientific journals, Nature and Science . Biologists, doctors and medical scientists consult Sanger Institute data over a million times a week.
( Guardian )

Scientists pinpoint 'obesity gene'
Researchers will claim today to have identified an obesity gene after screening 1,200 French adults. Researcher Philippe Froguel of Imperial College and Hammersmith hospital, and colleagues in the US and France, report in the Public Library of Science Biology that one form of the GAD2 gene on chromosome 10 is strongly associated with stimulation of appetite and obesity. ( Guardian, Independent )

Japanese students say sorry for party act
Three Japanese students and a teacher at a university in western China have apologised for wearing brassieres and fake genitals during a performance that sparked protests by thousands of Chinese students. The incident happened on Wednesday night at Northwest University in the city of Xi'an at a party for foreign language students. On Thursday, several thousand Chinese students congregated in front of the foreign students' dormitory, demanding an apology.
( Guardian )

£30,000 find for metal detector fan
A gold sword belt ornament, possibly belonging to the 7th-century Saxon king Caedwalla, has been declared treasure by a coroner after being found on a beach by a man with a metal detector. The British Museum has verified the authenticity of the artefact, which was found a few inches below the sand at Bembridge on the Isle of Wight. The proceeds from its sale can be split between the finder and the owner of the beach. Its value has yet to be determined by an independent panel but it is estimated to be worth £30,000.
( Daily Telegraph )

Putting a face to humanist Petrarch
Petrarch, the Italian poet and humanist who inspired Shakespeare's verse, is to be exhumed from his grave more than 600 years after his death to establish his medical history and what he really looked like. The exhumation is due in three weeks' time as part of a project sponsored by a local bank and co-ordinated by Vito Terribile Wiel Marin, anatomopathology professor at Padua University.
( Daily Telegraph )

Kennedy School of Government founder dies
Richard Neustadt, the American political scholar and adviser to presidents from Truman onwards died on  October 31, aged 84. His most lasting legacy is the Kennedy Institute of Politics at Harvard University. He was husband to Lady Williams of Crosby.
( Daily Telegraph )

Higher education items in the weekend papers
A row has broken out after it emerged that universities are being bribed by the government to accept trainee doctors with sub-standard A levels ( Mail on Sunday ) · Learning from top earners who made it without the benefit of higher education ( Sunday Times )  · Baroness Greenfield hits back at Anderson's scathing review of her book in The THES ( Sunday Times )  · At 76, former high court judge Sir Oliver Popplewell has become the oldest undergraduate to attend Oxford University ( Sunday Times , Independent , November 1)  · Why declaring insolvency to escape student loans is not a bright idea ( Daily Telegraph , November 1) Advice on how to get over the student debt mountain ( Guardian , 1 November).

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