Today's news

October 22, 2004

Manchester merger creates UK's biggest university
The new University of Manchester, with more than 36,000 students, will become Britain's biggest when the Queen hands over its royal charter today. The vice-chancellors of the Victoria University of Manchester and the University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology have simultaneously retired to be replaced by Alan Gilbert, who was headhunted from Melbourne University. Professor Gilbert has already gone shopping for Nobel prize winners in a bid to boost his institution's world ranking.
Guardian, Financial Times, Times Higher: Merger is sealed with £400m wish list

Situation vacant: Magdalen looks for new president
The plummest of plum Oxford jobs will soon come on to the market. Anthony "Tony" Smith, president of Magdalen College for the past 15 years, is about to reach the retirement age of 67. His post falls vacant at the end of this academic year. Smith bore the brunt of Gordon Brown's rage when Magdalen rejected star comprehensive pupil Laura Spence in 2000. But he laughs off the idea that his departure has anything to do with politics.
Daily Telegraph

Western lifestyle diseases linked to single genetic defect
A single genetic defect inherited solely from mothers may play a key role in a range of disorders linked to a Western lifestyle, such as high blood pressure and obesity. The discovery comes from a study of an extended family in the US that has given medical researchers an insight into the root cause of potentially lethal diseases of middle age. The study is published in the journal Science .
Independent

Pill cuts risk of cancer, strokes and heart attack
Researchers have found that taking the oral contraceptive pill, especially long term, is medically beneficial rather than fraught with danger. Women on the pill have a lower risk of heart disease, stroke and breast cancer, according to the largest women's health study ever undertaken. The findings by the Women's Health Initiative in the US were presented at an American Society for Reproductive Medicine conference in Philadelphia.
Scotsman, Times, Daily Telegraph

Wanted: Women prepared to stay in bed for two months
Healthy women, aged 25 to 40, who are willing to stay in bed for two months with their feet slightly above the level of their head, are being sought by the European Space Agency. But the French need not apply. A call for volunteers to test the effects of weightlessness on women has so far attracted hundreds of applications from French women, but hardly any from elsewhere. Details of how to participate in the Women International Space Simulation for Exploration study are available at www.medes.fr/Home.html
Guardian

Gallic outrage over call for all pupils to learn English
English should be made compulsory for all French schoolchildren, according to an official report which appeared yesterday to howls of outrage from politicians and teaching unions in France. Claude Thélot, president of France's Higher Council of School Assessment, said that pupils should learn English automatically, as they do with French and mathematics.
Daily Telegraph

Geologists celebrate universe's 6,000th birthday
Britain's geologists are about to celebrate the fact that the universe is exactly 6,000 years old. At 6pm tonight at the Geological Society of London, scientists will raise their glasses to James Ussher, Archbishop of Armagh, who in 1650 used the chronology of the Bible to calculate the precise date and moment of creation. The geologists selected the anniversary for a day-long conference on some of the fakes, frauds and hoaxes that have plagued geological and palaeontological research for centuries.
Guardian

Warm offices make you type faster
Chilly offices may cause inefficiency among workers and increase labour costs, says a Cornell University study. Researchers measured workers' performance at two temperatures: 68°F (20°C) - the temperature of many work places - and 77°F (25°C). The warmer workers made 44 per cent fewer typing errors and increased their typing output by 150 per cent.
Financial Times

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