Today's news

July 6, 2004


Local chippie may fry Cambridge alumni
Photographic trophies of the embarrassing drunken antics of dozens of celebrity Cambridge alumni may be auctioned to save a chip shop. The Gardenia, a fast-food establishment that since 1961 has kept students fed after late-night revelry, is threatened with eviction by Gonville and Caius College, which owns the lease to its site in the centre of town. A high-profile campaign to save the beloved chippie, which was signed by thousands of current and former students including Stephen Fry and Michael Portillo, has so far failed to dissuade Caius from proceeding with plans to convert the premises into rooms for its wealthiest students.
( Times )

Beagle leader denies Mars probe was 'amateurish'
Colin Pillinger, the scientist who led Beagle 2 , Britain's failed attempt to land a spacecraft on Mars, yesterday denied that the mission was "amateurish". Professor Pillinger told MPs that he had played up to the image of "boffins going to Mars", but that scientists involved in the project were "at the top of their field". Giving evidence to the Commons science and technology committee, Professor Pillinger, a space scientist at the Open University, also denied that his management of the project had been flawed and had contributed to the failure of the £45 million probe.
( Daily Telegraph )

Loan sparks
Wandsworth council in London last week became the first to publicly warn that students could be left penniless in September if urgent action is not taken to fix the new "Protocol" software, introduced by the Student Loans Company, which is supposed to make it easier for town halls to process loan applications from students entering or continuing in higher education. Wandsworth's student finance team says that last year, under the old system, 93.5 per cent of received applications had been processed by May. This year, using the Protocol software, only 39.5 per cent have been completed in the same period.
( Guardian )

What summer term?
Ian McEwan, the novelist, is not the only baffled parent wondering what happened to the summer term at British universities. He is outraged that his son has received no teaching at all on his biology degree course at University College London since before Easter. "If all students need to do in the summer term is revise and take exams, why are we paying all this money for accommodation if they don't have to be there?"
( Guardian )

Life is sweet
Profile of Sir Adrian Cadbury, who has spent 25 years as chancellor of Aston University.
( Guardian )

Comma chameleons
Article on the criteria for application for colleges pursuing university status.
( Guardian )

Out of step
Measured against the criteria of the Bologna process to establish a common European higher education area by 2010, Britain's promotion of foundation degrees are anti-European, according to German academics.
( Guardian )

Scientists get a titanic surprise at encounter with Saturn moon
Unprecedented images of the surface of Titan, Saturn's largest and most interesting moon, have been captured by the Cassini spacecraft, which began orbiting the planet last week. Cassini 's first of 45 close encounters with the moon - the only satellite in the solar system with its own atmosphere - has revealed details of its surface that have never been seen before.
( Times )

Microsoft wins patent to exploit network potential of skin
In what may seem a move too far to some, the computer software giant Microsoft has been granted exclusive rights to the ability of the body to act as a computer network. Two weeks ago the company was awarded US Patent 6,754,472, which bears the title "Method and apparatus for transmitting power and data using the human body". Microsoft envisages using the human skin's conductive properties to link a host of electronic devices around the body.
( Guardian )

Brain enzyme linked to teenage suicides
A "suicide enzyme" has been identified in the brains of teenagers who killed themselves, US researchers from the University of Illinois at Chicago have reported in Archives of General Psychiatry . The enzyme, protein kinase C, had earlier been linked with mood disorders. The findings show it is significantly less plentiful in the brains of teenagers who have committed suicide than in the brains of a comparable group who died of other causes.
( Times )

Patrick Moore tells of close encounter with death
Sir Patrick Moore, astronomer and Times Higher book reviewer, spoke yesterday of how he nearly died from a bout of food poisoning that caused him to miss his television show for the first time in 47 years. Sir Patrick, 81, who is listed in Guinness World Records as the longest serving television presenter, failed to appear on Sunday night's edition of his monthly BBC1 programme, The Sky at Night, after a bout of salmonella food poisoning, which is thought to have come from a duck egg he ate at his home in West Sussex last Wednesday.
( Independent )

Obituary
Robert Burchfield - editor of the four-volume Supplement to the Oxford English Dictionary (1972-86), chief editor of the Oxford English Dictionaries from 1971 to 1984, and a key figure in the study of the sources and development of the English language - has died aged 81.
( Daily Telegraph )

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