Today's news

September 28, 2004

Debt struck students ponder dropping out
Almost a third of students have considered dropping out of university because of financial pressure, research published today shows. About 31 per cent of students said they had thought about giving up their studies because of mounting debts, according to Prudential. A further 15 per cent said they would consider lying about their financial circumstances to get more credit.
Financial Times/Press Association, Independent

Genetic map to help curb ivory poaching
Scientists from the University of Washington in Seattle have unveiled a hi-tech weapon to help combat the illegal trade of ivory in Africa: a map. The team says the map describes variations in the genetic profiles of African elephants across the continent and can be used to verify where collections of ivory originated.

Life in the 'burbs' can damage your health
Living in suburbia takes a greater toll on your health than the big city, according to research from the US. Those who live in the "burbs" are more likely to be obese and suffer from high blood pressure, arthritis, asthma and headaches. Health experts from California's Rand Corporation, analysed data on 9,000 Americans in 38 suburban areas. The scientists blame a fast-food, car-dependent lifestyle.

Stretching before exercise 'can cause harm'
Research on athletes who performed stretching exercises before tests of sporting performance show that nearly all had a bad effect, Ian Shrier, a Canadian epidemiologist, reports in the Clinical Journal of Sports Medicine. A review of six studies of stretching before exercise found that not one demonstrated it prevented injury. The best way to prepare for exercise is to do a proper warm-up routine to get blood flowing to the muscles, the scientist said.

Boy cancer victims helped to become fathers
A technique that could enable boys who become infertile after cancer treatment to have a family later in life is being developed by a team of scientists at the Medical Research Council's human reproductive science unit in Edinburgh. Some 70 per cent of children with cancer now survive the disease, but about 70 per cent of those are rendered infertile by chemotherapy.

Bird barcode checks out
A DNA "barcoding" system has identified four bird species previously thought to have been a single species: the solitary sandpiper, eastern meadowlark, marsh wren and the warbling vireo. The study, by the University of Guelph in Ontario, is published in PLOS Biology .

Call for effort to get students into science
Animal science is in danger of losing its "brand name" among a welter of competing disciplines, a research team has warned. This could result in a mismatch of educational endeavour and the needs of both the scientific sector and the farming industry. Professor Julie Fitzpatrick, director of the Moredun Research Institute, Edinburgh, says greater efforts must be made in attracting pupils at school level to science studies.

Britain's first pet professor
Earlier this year, Danny Mills of Lincoln University became the country's first specialist in veterinary behavioural medicine to be recognised by the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons. Professor Mills will predominantly study the behaviour of dogs, cats and horses to see how their anxieties can be solved. He also looks into the links between human and animal behaviour.
Daily Telegraph

Don't bank on it
Problems in the student loans application system mean that regular payments for up to £25,000 students are unlikely to be waiting for them at the start of term.

Driving ambition at college
Corporate universities are nothing new, but Volkswagen is hoping its new venture near the company headquarters in Wolfsburg, Germany, will bring it academic credibility as well as a more highly skilled workforce.

Clever move
Feature on Nobel laureate Sir Harry Kroto, who is about to head off to Florida to escape grant application exhaustion.

Hoon's son is told to quit university
Chris Hoon, son of Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon, has been asked to leave Hatfield College, Durham after failing re-sit exams at the end of his first year of study.
Daily Telegraph

Aesop discovery has a tale to tell
A 15th-century copy of Aesop's Fables , written in Latin, has been discovered. The volume, one of only three known to exist, was published in Milan in 1497, and consists of a biography and a collection of 67 fables. The book will be auctioned in Swindon on October 7.
Times, Daily Telegraph

Obituary : Frank Farmer, the pioneering medical physicist, died on July 16 2004. Independent

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