Today's news

September 7, 2004

Shy genius + $1m maths conundrum = $0
A reclusive Russian academic might have won $1 million for solving one of the oldest puzzles in mathematics, but he shows no interest in claiming the money or even talking about it. Grigori Perelman, of the Steklov Institute of Mathematics in St Petersburg, first announced his solution to the century-old Poincaré Conjecture in November 1992, in a proof published on the internet. He followed it with a second internet instalment, and is said to be pondering a third. The British Association Science Festival in Exeter was told yesterday that far from wanting to be a millionaire, Mr Perelman has shown a modesty more fitting to the 18th century than the 21st. The rest of the maths world is sucking its collective pencil over his proof of the conjecture, which relates to the topology of multidimensional spaces and is considered one of the greatest problems in differential geometry.
Times, Daily Telegraph, Guardian

Scientists in India develop new cure for TB
Indian scientists yesterday said they had discovered the first new medicine to treat tuberculosis in more than four decades, marking a breakthrough in combating a disease that kills 3 million people worldwide each year. In tests on animals, the drug cleared tuberculosis infections within 2-3 months, compared with 6-8 months achieved by existing treatments.
Financial Times

Academic claims Aboriginals got to America first
The first people to colonise American were Australians, according to a contentious study of a "lost tribe" that perished in California in the 18th century. A team of geo-archaeologists has analysed human remains that have led to a theory on the colonisation of the Americas that promises to rewrite the history books. The theory was set out at the Festival of Science by a team from the Natural Environment Research Council led by a Mexican scientist, Silvia Gonzalez, of Liverpool John Moores University.
Daily Telegraph, Times

Schools told to let pupils take water into lessons
Secondary schools have been told to allow pupils to carry water and consume it during lessons because of evidence that it improves their health and academic performance. Charles Clarke, the Education Secretary, said access to drinking water at a number of points around a school was not sufficient. "Pupils should be permitted to carry water with them and consumption encouraged both in class and during break and lunch time," said his "healthy living blueprint", published yesterday.
Daily Telegraph

Ivory powers
Investigation of the problems faced by a new group of vice-chancellors as they take up their posts around the country.

Has the cash run out?
The Learning and Skills Council has rejected suggestions that it has run out of money after announcing that it has to delay payments to colleges in the new academic year.

Cinderella awaits the ball
Predictions on what lies in store for further education when the Tomlinson report is published next month.

Declaration of independence
Alan Smithers talks about why he left Liverpool for Buckingham University and why the government is messing up secondary schooling.

Green lights
Feature on an Oxford masters course that is attracting students from around the world aiming to find new ways to tackle environmental issues.

Women in HE will speed African development
Open University vice-chancellor Brenda Gourley reports on the work of the Association for Strengthening Higher Education for Women in Africa.

Is engineering in need of a sex change?
A look at the Open University's Bachelor of Engineering degree.

Scientists have to be more accountable to the public
Extracts from the speech by Dame Julia Higgins, President of the British Association for the Advancement of Science at the BA Festival of Science.

- John Thomson, professor of Medieval History at Glasgow and leading historian of the 15th century who specialised in heresy and the Lollards, died on September 2, aged 70. Independent
- Laurence Hayek, microbiologist and keeper of his Nobel laureate father's flame, died on July 15, aged 70. Independent

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