Today's news

July 23, 2004

Merger creates an academic cash giant
Manchester will become Britain's first half-billion pound university in terms of academic earnings. The merger of Manchester University and the University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology creates an academic giant rivalling Cambridge and Oxford universities, University College London and Imperial College London. The big five each attracted more than £400 million a year from teaching and research grants and student fees in 2002-03 according to figures from the Higher Education Statistics Agency - accounting for a fifth of the sector's income.
Times Higher

PM to announce third-term agenda at Warwick
Warwick University is the unlikely setting over the next 48 hours for Tony Blair's final challenge in his "great July escape" mission. The Prime Minister will deliver a key speech to Labour’s National Policy Forum tomorrow, setting out a vision for the full third term.
Times

The Thai icon, the curse, the king and I
Michael Wright, a British author who has lived in Thailand for 45 years and lectures at Thammasat University, is facing ritual curses, allegations of criminal defamation of two dead kings and demands for his deportation after casting doubts on the authenticity of one of Thailand's most important cultural artefacts. The 3ft-high engraved stone obelisk, known as Inscription One, was added to Unesco's Memory of the World register last year. But when Mr Wright and Piriya Krairiksh, the director of the Centre for Thai Literary Studies at Thammasat University, set out their theory in a Thai-language newspaper it caused outrage.
Daily Telegraph

Scientists float idea to turn tide in Venice
A plan to pump sea water deep into the rock on which Venice stands has been devised to help stop the city's subsidence. Scientists from the University of Padua say that the engineering work could push the ground upwards by 30cms. Venice has sunk by about 23cm over the past 100 years. Experts believe that the process is accelerating and that the next 23cm could sink in half that time. St Mark's Square on the Venice waterfront now floods about 60 times each winter, compared with ten times a century ago.
Times

Babies think differently before they speak
Babies think in a different way from adults before they begin to talk, according to research published this week in Nature magazine. The finding, by Sue Hespos, assistant professor of psychology at Vanderbilt University, Nashville, US, sheds light on the way thought processes are influenced by the language people learn.
Financial Times

Martian meteorite found in Antarctica
A meteorite from Mars, only the seventh of its type found, has been discovered in Antarctica, Nasa said this week. The rock is a nakhlite - named after the first known specimen that fell in Nakhl, Egypt, in 1911. Scientists believe they came from thick lava flows that crystallised on Mars 1.3 billion years ago and were sent to Earth by a meteorite impact 11m years ago. The specimen was found in December 2003 about 466 miles from the South Pole by a mission searching for rare meteorites.
Financial Times

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