Today's news

October 7, 2004

Universities face legal threat for favouring state pupils

Universities that try to meet government targets on admitting more state school pupils risk falling foul of the Human Rights Act, funding chiefs have admitted. The Higher Education Statistics Agency published benchmarks last week that suggested that leading universities should increase dramatically the proportion of their intake from state schools. But research published yesterday collated for the Headmasters' and Headmistresses' Conference and the Girls' Schools Association by Alan Smithers of Buckingham University claimed that any moves to sideline private school pupils would contravene the 2000 Human Rights Act and that the danger of legal action has been recognised by the Higher Education Funding Council for England.
( Financial Times , Daily Mail , The Independent , The Times )

Professors tell Bush to rethink fiscal policy
More than 150 professors from leading US business schools have sent a letter to President George W. Bush urging a dramatic revision of the Administration's fiscal policy, including substantial reversals of tax policy.
( Financial Times )

'Kiss of death' cell research wins Nobel prize in chemistry
Research into the way body cells destroy unwanted protein, which has important implications for treating many diseases including cancer, has won this year's Nobel prize in chemistry. Two Israelis, Aaron Ciechanover and Avram Hershko, and an American, Irwin Rose, discovered that cells attach a molecular "kiss of death" label to proteins that fall short of internal quality controls.
( Financial Times , The Guardian , The Times )

Trinity president to step down
Michael Beloff, who earlier this week said Government ministers should "get their tanks off Oxford's lawns", has decided to step down after ten years as president of Trinity College.
( The Independent )

Dragons really did roam ancient China
An early Tyrannosaurus rex resembling the mythical Chinese dragon has been discovered in one of the world's richest graveyards of dinosaur bones. The creature, unearthed in the Yixian Formation in China's Liaoning province, lived up to 130 million years ago. Dilong paradoxus - its generic name comes from the Mandarin for emperor and dragon, and its species name from its unusual features - was the size of a turkey, had a single nose bone, a massive jaw, a long neck and hands with three fingers.
( The Guardian , The Times , The Daily Telegraph )

'Lion killer' may be new breed of ape
An elusive new species of great ape, known to locals as the "lion killer", may have been discovered in remote forests of Democratic Republic of Congo. The creatures are far larger and more aggressive than normal chimpanzees and have provoked much debate among experts. Some believe they are a previously unknown species and should join the other great apes. But others say they are unusually aggressive chimps with odd gorilla-like characteristics. A report in New Scientist says the new species was first tracked in 2002 by a US primatologist, Shelly Williams of the Jane Goodall Institute in Maryland.
( The Daily Telegraph , Daily Mail )

Cow genome mapped
Scientists in the US and Canada have created a genetic map of a cow. The sequencing of the DNA for the Hereford breed will be published on a free public database.
( The Times )

Love on the wing
Scientists from the University of East Anglia have discovered that monogamous birds separated by hundreds of miles during the winter manage to meet up again year after year to breed. The black-tailed godwits, which breed in Iceland, keep up their annual romantic rendezvous for as long as a quarter of a century - arriving at the appointed place at the appointed time, even though they winter in different parts of Europe.
( The Daily Telegraph )

Hydrogen fuel has 'high price'
Replacing gas-guzzling cars and lorries with "environmentally friendly" hydrogen-powered vehicles would require 100,000 new wind turbines or 100 new nuclear power plants, according to a study by Andrew Oswald, an economist at Warwick University.
( The Daily Telegraph )

Why is there no information on class sizes at universities?
Comment by Bruce Charlton.
( The Independent )

What more do you want?
With the advent of top-up fees, students will need more than grotty bedsits and run-down lecture halls. A report on how universities are responding.
( The Independent )

Operation offers paralysed hope of walking again
Victims left paralysed by spinal cord injuries could be walking again in ten years, said Geoffrey Raisman. A new technique will transplant nerve endings inside the nose into a patient's spine, which, it is hoped, will create a bridge over the damaged spinal cord and restore feeling. Professor Raisman, the director of the new Spinal Repair Unit at University College London, said clinical trials in humans could begin within two to three years.
( Daily Mail )

Maurice Wilkins, unsung hero of DNA's double-helix structure, has died, aged 87. He shared the Nobel prize awarded for the momentous discovery with Francis Crick and James Watson.
( Financial Times , The Guardian , The Times , The Daily Telegraph )

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