Today's news

May 14, 2004

Oxford hopefuls canvas for poetic licence
Graduates of Oxford University go to the polls tomorrow to elect a professor of poetry - the most coveted post after poet laureate. Tomorrow's poll is the first to be held with an electorate of 135,000 graduates instead of the estimated 50,000 who have bothered to pay £10 and register for the MAs to which all Oxford graduates are entitled. In theory this should make the result less Oxford and academic-centred, and instead more wordly and populist. The new professor is required to lecture three times a year. The salary is £5,457, but he or she can make several times this figure from the enhanced literary profile the post confers.
( Guardian, Non-poet versed in Dylan wows Oxford Times Higher )

Blair won't go before election, says Clarke
Education secretary Charles Clarke last night said it was "absolutely unimaginable" that Tony Blair would step down after bad local and European election results on June 10. "It's absolutely unimaginable. It is a pure Westminster bubble. It's balls. It's just nonsense," he said. Mr Clarke is tipped to run against Mr Brown when Mr Blair does go.
( Independent )

Pound-for-pound scholarship fund
Letter: Warwick University economics professor Andrew Oswald writes agreeing with Sir Eric Thomas that our universities need to learn the art of fundraising but says that we need a way to get former students to make donations. He suggests the government should match alumni donations pound for pound.
( Financial Times )

St Andrews scholarship announced
Jack Vettriano, whose most famous work, The Singing Butler , sold for £775,000, has set up a scholarship at St Andrews University. The self-taught artist has given £75,000 to fund a scholar for four years.
( Daily Telegraph )

Hollywood turned to British Museum for help
The makers of the film Troy turned to Brad Pitt to provide bronzed good looks, but relied on experts at the British Museum for historical accuracy. Observant filmgoers will be able to hear Trojan warriors chatting in Hittite and see dancers performing authentic ancient dance routines. Although the story of the Trojan War was a myth, Lesley Fitton, curator of the Greek Bronze Age at the museum, was consulted over whether the film's epic battle scenes should show the armies with banners and pennants and whether Priam, played by Peter O'Toole, should stand or kneel when praying to the gods.
( Times )

Giant crater clue to extinction disaster
The scar of a huge comet or asteroid impact believed to have triggered the largest extinction event in history has been discovered off the north-west coast of Australia. The possible cause of the "Great Dying", which was much earlier and more extensive than the one that wiped out the dinosaurs, has been found by a team led by a scientist at the University of California, Santa Barbara.
( Daily Telegraph, Times, Independent )

Child's play is all a question of scale, say scientists
Researchers have unravelled one of the mysteries of the two-year-old mind: why toddlers try on dolls' shoes and try to drive tiny cars. It's simple. They haven't mastered scale. A team from Northwestern University, the University of Virginia and the University of Illinois report in Science today that they videotaped children aged 18 to 30 months trying to slide down slides too small for them, trying to squeeze into miniature cars and trying to sit in dolls' chairs.
( Guardian )

Gene clue to success of beating deprivation
Whether a child from a poor background becomes a rags-to-riches entrepreneur or ends up drifting between unemployment and prison appears to depend at least in part on genes. The research, from a team at the Institute of Psychiatry at King’s College London, indicates that the genetic make-up of these children plays a critical role. The findings add weight to the growing scientific consensus that nature and nurture combine to shape human behaviour and health, and are not mutually exclusive forces. The study is published today in Child Development .
( Times )

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