Today's news

May 25, 2004


Beagle fell victim to Martian heatwave, says Pillinger
Britain's ill-fated Beagle 2 space probe probably fell victim to the wrong kind of weather - a Martian heatwave - Colin Pillinger of the Open University, the mission's chief scientist said yesterday. He said he believed that turbulent dust storms preceding the arrival of Beagle 2 at its launch site had heated the Martian atmosphere, making it less dense. That would cause the lander to fall faster and further towards the surface.
( Independent )
- Beagle loss a mystery as report suppressed ( Times )
- Management failings blamed for loss of Beagle 2 ( Financial Times )
- Beagle inquiry hints at return to Mars ( Guardian )
- Public still in the dark over Beagle ( Daily Telegraph )

Cambridge on top, but new universities on the rise
Cambridge again tops the Guardian 's annual university league tables, which despite little change in the top 10 show many former polytechnics outperforming their more established rivals with the quality of their teaching. In a minor reshuffle within the top 10, Nottingham has dropped to 11th, its place taken by Manchester. The University of Aston rises to an impressive 13th, also scoring highly in the separate subject tables where it ranks second in both chemical engineering and biosciences after Cambridge and Oxford.
( Guardia n)

Mouse traps set to catch copy cats
The first international conference on plagiarism will take place next month at Northumbria University in Newcastle, the base of the national Plagiarism Advisory Service funded by the Joint Information Systems Committee. Northumbria's initial two-year contract has just been extended until October 2005. So far 200 colleges and universities have signed up for the free service.( Financial Times )

All white at the top
Further education colleges look more institutionally racist than the police force. Just over 2 per cent of junior and middle managers are from ethnic minorities, and of the UK's 400-plus colleges there are just five ethnic minority principals. Ethnic minorities are disproportionately represented among casual or part-time staff and among the lowest grades.
( Guardian )

Baby born from sperm kept frozen since 1979
A baby has been born using sperm frozen for 21 years in what researchers hailed as a world record in fertility treatment. The child, a boy, was born following IVF after the father had his sperm frozen in 1979 before being treated for testicular cancer. The boy was born two years ago but details have been released for the first time today in the journal Human Reproduction by doctors at St Mary's Hospital and the Christie Hospital in Manchester who treated the couple.
( Independent, Guardian, Times, Daily Telegraph, Daily Mail )

Toxins and twins
High levels of pollution may increase the number of twins born according to a German study reported in Occupational and Environmental Medicine . Twin birth rates among women living near a toxic waste incinerator were twice as high as for women living elsewhere.
( Times )

Bad hair science
Scientists at the Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, US, have identified an "unruly" gene in mice that may account for bad hair days in humans. Details are published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences .
( Times, Daily Mail )

Students of student life wanted
Archangel Filmworks, which is making a film entitled Spirit Trap - about a group of undergraduates at the mercy of malicious spirits - is seeking British students to advise on student life.
( Times )

Tolkien's house on the market
Lord of the Rings fans can buy their own corner of Middle Earth for around £1.5 million when the north Oxford house where J.R.R. Tolkien is believed to have written The Hobbit and begun the Lord of The Rings goes on the market this week. The six-bedroomed house was Tolkien's family home for 17 years.
( Guardian )

Obituary : Jeremy Black, the Oxford Assyriologist with a love of Iraq, died on April 28, aged 52. ( Independent )

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