Today's news

March 23, 2005

Scientists admit pressures to tailor tests
More than one in 10 scientists claim to have been pressured by a commercial financial backer to "tailor" their research conclusions, according to a new survey. It paints a gloomy picture of a highly skilled, professional sector that feels demoralised and undervalued by the public. It reveals that pay has emerged as an important issue, while many are tempted to quit because of worries about funding and lack of career progression.
The Guardian

Graduate brain drain threatens poorest nations, says OECD
More than half of known graduates from some of the world's poorest nations are living abroad in a brain drain that threatens the countries' long-term development, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development warned yesterday. In a report entitled Trends in International Migration, the rich countries' think-tank fears "the possibility that emigration of highly skilled workers may adversely affect small countries".
The Financial Times

Hewitt announces £2.8m for women in science
The UK resource centre for women in science, engineering and technology received a £2.8 million funding boost from the trade and industry secretary, Patricia Hewitt, today. The centre, designed to assist the recruitment, retention and progression of women in science and engineering, will receive an additional £800,000 in 2006/07 and a further £2 million in 2007/08 from the recently announced science budget allocations.
The Guardian

Go-ahead for NI fees
University top-up fees for students in Northern Ireland got the go-ahead in the House of Lords - despite severe criticism from opposition peers. Critics of the move said that the government had a major struggle to get the order through the Commons and accused it of behaving in an "overbearing" and "arrogant" manner. Peers backed a Tory amendment regretting that ministers had not given the people of Ulster a say on the issue "either through democratically elected institutions or by means of a referendum."
The Guardian, The Scotsman

Fruit and veg 'better than drugs'
Fruit and vegetable extracts could be more effective at beating disease than current drugs, doctors said today. They claim naturally occurring chemicals can be harnessed to create supplements able to treat cancer and heart disease. "This could be as important as the discovery of antibiotics," said Dr Paul Clayton of Westminster University, who was presenting the findings to the Royal Society of Medicine today. Researchers hope to create "functional foods" containing a concentrated mix of natural chemicals.
The Evening Standard

Universities to help deliver health targets
Universities and colleges will play a key part in developing the role of NHS personal health trainers who will help deliver the targets of the government's public health white paper, the health minister Melanie Johnson revealed today. The trainers will work in the community and offer people advice about stopping smoking, loosing weight and the benefits of a healthy lifestyle, according to the white paper, Choosing Health, which was published last November.
The Guardian

Glow of alien planets glimpsed at last
For the first time, astronomers have seen the glow of alien planets circling sun-like stars. "This is a new era," says the leader of one of the teams, Drake Deming from Nasa's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, US. "This is the first time we have actually seen light." Although planet hunters have bagged almost 150 extrasolar planets since the first one was spotted 10 years ago, until now they have only inferred the planets' presence by measuring the wobble in the host star's orbit or the dimming of the starlight as the planet passes in front of it. No one had yet seen the light from a planet directly.
New Scientist, The Guardian

Women writers: dull, depressed and domestic
Their novels are part of the literary canon, their struggle to be recognised well chronicled, but the efforts of George Eliot, Jane Austen, the Brontë sisters and Virginia Woolf have done little to change negative views of women writers. In the introduction to 13, a collection of poetry, short stories and extracts from novels, published by Picador, the authors Toby Litt and Ali Smith make a sweeping condemnation of the subject matter, writing style and preoccupations of female writers.
The Guardian

Can you trust someone by looking at their face?
According to research published yesterday, we make instant decisions on whether to trust people on one aspect of their looks alone. A study by Dr Lisa DeBruine, an honorary visiting researcher at the schools of psychology at the Universities of Aberdeen and St Andrews, discovered we instinctively trust faces which most physically resemble our own - and contrary to a popular misconception, it has little to do with sex appeal.
The Scotsman

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