Today's news

April 28, 2004


Chemical reaction to university cuts
Swansea University's decision to close its renowned chemistry department to make room for more courses in "soft" subjects such as media studies has provoked an outcry among the scientific elite. In an open letter to Richard Davies, Swansea's vice-chancellor, 18 fellows of the Royal Society condemned the closure. The signatories, including the Nobel laureate chemists Sir Aaron Klug, Sir John Cornforth and Sir Harry Kroto, derided the closure as a short-sighted, money-saving measure. The university insists that it is simply responding to a lack of student demand. There are 40 chemistry departments left in Britain but the Royal Society has predicted that there could be as few as six within a decade.
( Times )

Gloucester criticised for dropping theology
The former Archbishop of Canterbury, Lord Carey of Clifton, criticised Gloucestershire University last night for dropping theology from its undergraduate courses Lord Carey, in his inaugural lecture as chancellor of the new university, which has formal links with the Church of England, said theology departments were ideally placed to nourish the spiritual well being of universities and of wider society.
( Times )

Social science is simply nonsense
Max Steuer warns students thinking of going to university to study social science to think hard. He says that a growing proportion of social science departments are not doing social science at all, rather they engage in what they think of as a literary or philosophical activity at a pitifully low level.
( Daily Telegraph )

Letter: HE not for everyone
Lamenting the skills shortage in Britain, M. J. Pritchard writes that we cannot have a country where the majority are chiefs and the minority are Indians, even though our current nanny state administration might prefer such a controlled society.
( Daily Mail )

British libraries could shut by 2020
Britain's once-proud public libraries, founded 154 years ago as "the university of the street", are starting to die on their feet, according to a report yesterday. They stock too few new books, are not open at times that suit the public and are burdened with too many expensive administrators. Figures on the declining popularity of the service led one analyst to predict yesterday that it could cease to exist within 15 years.
( Guardian, Daily Mail, Independent, Daily Telegraph, Times )

Gene therapy to tackle dementia
Preliminary findings of an experimental form of gene therapy have given hope of a significant advance in the treatment of dementia. Scientists at the University of California, San Diego reported that a nerve growth factor that delays the loss of brain cells led to increased metabolic activity in the brain of Alzheimer's sufferers and a reduction in the decline of cognitive functions.
(Dail y Telegraph )

Yours for £28,000, a clone of the family cat
Cats can now have more than nine lives, after the launch of the first pet cloning service by Genetic Savings and Clone, California. The company funded research at Texas A & M University that produced "CC, (Carbon Copy)" the world's first domestic cat clone in 2001. Five customers have already each paid $50,000 (£28,000) for a copy of their cats.
( Daily Telegraph )

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