Today's news

March 4, 2005

Mutiny at Oxford?
The oldest university in the English-speaking world is undergoing a revolution at the hands of a New Zealander - or it will if he has his way. Last week Dr John Hood, the new vice-chancellor of Oxford University and a dynamic former captain of industry, published his second Green Paper in two months. The first focuses on the course Oxford should be following - fewer home students, more postgraduates, more teaching done by PhD students; the second, and the more contentious, is about governance.
The Independent

Bristol University hosts first student film festival
The first ever nationwide film festival to showcase and celebrate the work of UK higher education students comes to Bristol this weekend. Screentest will publicly display the future of British film while providing an event at which student film-makers can gather to discuss, critique and develop techniques and ideas. The festival is being hosted by Bristol University’s Students’ Union and has been organised by the University of Bristol Film-making Society. The Festival will run from Friday 4 to Sunday March 6, after a fortnight of satellite screenings at universities around the country.
The Scotsman

Theatre in bid to expand at Exeter University
Exeter’s Northcott Theatre wants to raise £3 million to expand its capacity by 105 seats to 538 plus 10 places for wheelchair users. The theatre, located on Exeter University’s campus, also wants to expand its restaurant, bar and hospitality facilities. The theatre hopes to raise half the cost from local authority arts bodies, and is planning to raise the other half with an appeal. It is hoped the 20-week long programme of works – which will close the theatre – can begin next February.
The Scotsman

Essex and City Uni's say buy local produce and save the world
Every major supermarket spends millions of pounds a day making sure their warehouse-sized stores are brimming with products ranging from Kenyan mangetout to Scottish potatoes. Professor Jules Pretty, of Essex University, and Professor Tim Lang, of City University, in London, said another way of looking at the problem was to assess the national savings that could be made if everything was done differently. They reckoned more than £4 billion a year could be saved if farmers grew organically, farming subsidies were abolished and if consumers shopped for local produce.
The Independent

The hobbits are in a class all of their own, say scientists
Hobbits, the nickname for the little human relative first discovered last year, were not Homo sapiens but a separate species, analysis of its brain has confirmed. Reconstruction of the brain of Homo floresiensis, the 18,000-year-old hominid standing just over 3ft tall, revealed features that put it firmly on a different branch of humanity’s family tree. The findings refute suggestions that the skeleton belonged to a pygmy, or a modern human being with microcephaly, a congenital disorder that stunts brain growth.
The Times, The Scotsman, The Guardian

Distant galaxy's subtle sidling measured
The nearly imperceptible "sideways" motion of a galaxy has been directly measured for the first time beyond the Milky Way and its immediate galactic neighbours. The observation will improve measurements of astronomical distances and nearby dark matter concentrations. Astronomers study how a celestial object moves by breaking down its motion into two components - movement along the observer's line of sight, called radial motion, and movement across the sky, called proper motion. The first can be measured by studying changes in the wavelength of light, called Doppler shifts, as objects move toward or away from Earth.
Newscientist

Saturn yields its secrets
Saturn, the gas giant with the awesome ring system, has begun to yield its secrets to an emissary from Earth. The inquisitive visitor is Cassini, a Nasa spacecraft the size of a small bus. In January, after a seven-year trip of two billion miles, Cassini delivered a little robot European passenger called Huygens to the surface of Saturn's moon Titan: a first touchdown on a celestial body that might resemble the primitive Earth four billion years ago.
The Guardian

Letter
Regarding the demise of the e-University.
The Financial Times

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