Today's news

August 25, 2004

Brits want to return to Mars
Undaunted by the failure of the Beagle 2 Mars mission or criticism of the way it was managed, the team behind it yesterday urged the European Space Agency to try again. If the ESA is reluctant to launch " Beagle 3 " in 2007, Colin Pillinger, the lead scientist, said, then Nasa, the American space agency, might find room for it in a mission in 2009. The Beagle team published a 280-page report yesterday into the mission’s failure, which essentially admits that it does not know what went wrong after the probe separated from the Mars Express orbiter on December 19 last year.
Times, Guardian, Daily Telegraph, Financial Times

Students shun American studies
Applications for undergraduate American studies have fallen 13 per cent in a year, to barely 3,500 for this academic year. The subject has one of the highest proportions of its graduates in low-grade jobs or unemployed after graduation. But there is speculation the drop has more to do with antipathy to the US.

Putting a better price on education
John Blundell, director general of the Institute of Economic Affairs, comments on BPP plc's link-up with the private University of Buckingham to challenge the degree machinery of the state universities.

Feeling sheepish over picture of ewe
The way to soothe an anxious sheep is to show it a picture of another sheep, scientists at the Babraham Institute near Cambridge suggest. The researchers put sheep into a darkened barn on their own and projected life-sized images of sheep, goats and symbolic faces, on a screen. Goats and triangle shapes did nothing for the fretful Ovis aries , but once shown faces of other sheep, the anxious captives seemed to calm down.

Sugar warning on fizzy drinks
Cans and bottles of sugar-sweetened colas, lemonade and fruit drinks, which many people think can be drunk with impunity, are today implicated as a major cause of obesity and linked to a rise in diabetes by scientists in the United States. A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association says the problem may be that the drinks fail to make people feel full in spite of being loaded with calories. The human race has not yet evolved to cope with these sugar-loads.

Cubist portrait is a mouse-click away
Fancy turning dreary family snaps into Cubist works of art modelled on the works of Picasso? Two computer scientists at the University of Bath have devised a program that will misplace noses and effortlessly put ears in the wrong place. The effect could even be useful as the researchers had to teach the computer how to pick out the elements of photographs that, until now, only human beings could recognise as important. The software could help to speed up computerised animations, reducing the flickering effect that results from the slow and laborious way they are made at present. Times

Letters and comment
- A degree in bullying and self-interest. No thanks; Poly Toynbee comments on the decline of American studies. Guardian
- Academics lacking entrepreneurship; Dylan Jones-Evans, North East Wales Institute. Times
- On the economic structure of universities; City University v-c David Rhind. Financial Times

- John Weightman, French scholar, reviewer and translator, died on August 14, aged 88. Independent
- John Clark, the pioneering scientist whose entrepreneurial skills paved the way for Dolly the sheep, died on August 12, aged 52. Guardian

Please login or register to read this article

Register to continue

Get a month's unlimited access to THE content online. Just register and complete your career summary.

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 3 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments