Today's news

June 30, 2004


Clinton tipped to follow Ustinov at Durham
A "well-placed source" says that former US President Bill Clinton could be in line for the chancellorship of Durham University. A university spokesman said that it is far too soon to be speculating, but was not surprised that names are being floated about who will replace the late Sir Peter Ustinov. University members and graduates can submit suggestions until the end of August. It will be nearer Christmas before a joint committee of the university's senate and council make a decision.
( Daily Express )

Open access jeopardises all, Reed chief warns
The rise of open access publishing of scientific research could jeopardise the entire academic publishing industry, according to the chief executive of Reed Elsevier, the world's largest publisher of scientific journals. Sir Crispin Davis issued the warning in the company's in-house Review newsletter. The defence of Reed's business model, which relies on academic institutions paying hefty subscriptions for publications, comes as a committee of MPs prepares to report on the state of scientific publishing in the UK after an extensive review.
( Guardian )

Woman expects baby after pioneering ovary transplant
Scientists at the Catholic University of Louvain, Brussels, report that a 32-year-old cancer patient, left infertile by chemotherapy, is 24 weeks pregnant after a pioneering ovary transplant that restored her fertility. Slices from one of her ovaries were removed, frozen for six years, then re-implanted. She is due to give birth to a girl in early October. The case will be presented at the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology conference in Berlin.
( Times, Guardian, Independent, Daily Mail )

Passive smoking risks are double earlier estimates
The risks of heart disease faced by passive smokers are double what was previously estimated, a study published by the British Medical Journal has found. The researchers noted that most studies on passive smoking examined the risks of living with someone who smoked. They said that while this was important, it did not take into account the additional exposure at work and other places such as pubs and restaurants.
( Times, Daily Telegraph, Guardian )

Probe arrives at Saturn after six-year odyssey
After a journey of more than six-and-a-half years, the international probe Cassini is set to start its investigation of Saturn, gliding between two of its rings and entering an orbit around the planet. Cassini is already sending back remarkable pictures of its approach to Saturn, whose orbit it will join at 00.47 GMT tomorrow. The probe will use its large main antenna as a shield against possible debris as it passes a gap in the planet's rings.
( Independent, Financial Times )

Bavarian king was just crazy about palaces
Mad King Ludwig II of Bavaria, who squandered a royal fortune on extraordinary castles, was not really mad - he was suffering from a rare disorder dubbed compulsive palace-building. That is the verdict of Heinz Haefner, one of Germany's leading psychologists who was given access to the secret archives of Prince Franz of Bavaria, a descendant of the unfortunate king. The findings, published in the Proceedings of the Heidelberg Academy of Sciences , will force a re-examination of one of the oddest and most controversial figures in 19th-century German history.
( Times )

Nettlewear has sting in the tail
The stinging nettle is about to be rescued from its status as an irritating weed, with its strong fibres being used as yarn for knickers and jeans. A textile student from De Montfort University, Leicester, will mount the catwalk at the Royal Show this weekend dressed in nettlewear, as part of university research into developing Urtica dioica as a commercial crop. The project is being funded by the Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.
( Guardian )

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