Today's news

April 23, 2004


Decline and fall for the Oxford ball
After hundreds of years of leaping off bridges, baring their buttocks and showering each other with bubbly to celebrate the end of finals, the party is over for Oxford students. Growing complaints from police and residents about rowdy celebrations every June have forced the university to devise a code of conduct. On-the-spot fines of up to £70 will be levied for offences such as "fluid-spraying or egg-hurling", while more serious crimes, such as daubing university buildings with satirical graffiti, will be punished with £500 penalties or arrest. The Student Union will decide whether to give the code its approval next week.
( Times, Guardian )

University 'lottery' as thousands are rejected
The scramble for university places is hitting students harder than ever. Today head teachers criticised the way places are being awarded, calling the system "a lottery". Official figures show the number of applicants for courses is at an all-time high. And top universities are rejecting students with record numbers of projected straight A grades. Labour MP Barry Sheerman, chairman of the Commons education committee and governor of the London School of Economics, called for urgent action to sort out the mess.
( Evening Standard )

Flooding may cost Britain £bn a year
Flooding will be costing Britain up to £ billion a year by the end of the century, according to a high-level investigation by government-appointed scientists. The 60-strong body of experts led by Sir David King, the government's chief scientist, said that radical measures will need to be taken to fight the sort of floods expected over the next 80 years if sea levels continue to rise and the weather becomes increasingly stormy.
( Independent, Times, Daily Telegraph, Financial Times )

Drink coffee for the taste of success
Kevin Warwick, professor of cybernetics at Reading University has discovered that a dose of coffee appears to boost IQ by three points in the short term. He presented his findings yesterday at the annual training conference of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development. If you don't like the taste of coffee, he has other recipes for career success including watching chat shows and meditating, which both relax the brain, keeping it fresh for a bout of heavy thinking.
( Financial Times )

Cheap test gives early warning of cancer
A simple and cheap test that measures hormones in the blood is capable of predicting who is at risk of developing the commonest cancers, scientists say today. The study in The Lancet is based on data from 10,000 people from several countries and has been carried out at the Christie Hospital, Manchester, a renowned cancer centre, and at the University of Berne, Switzerland.
( Daily Telegraph )

Curry spice may help treat cystic fibrosis
Turmeric, the bright yellow spice used to colour curry powder and mustard, contains a substance that may help to treat cystic fibrosis, according to research revealed in the journal Science.
( Daily Telegraph )

For a long life, choose prose not poetry
Does writing poetry pose a health threat? Is there any such thing as the Sylvia Plath effect? And is the phrase "live fast, die young" more applicable to sensitive young souls describing their torment in verse than to James Dean-style tearaways? According to James Kaufman of California State University, whose research has just been published in an obscure publication called Journal of Death Studies , the answer could be yes to all three questions.
( Guardian )

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