Today's news

April 4, 2005

Brussels hopes extra research money will aid innovation
The European Commission will this week set out plans to double its research budget to €70 billion (£48 billion) as it seeks to bolster growth and competitiveness and catch up with the US and Japan's spending on innovation. The seven-year blueprint for research and development, to be launched on Thursday, will underline plans to help transform the European Union into a "knowledge-based" economy that will deliver a new range of high-tech innovations.
The Financial Times

Imperial invites City to take a stake in science
Science university Imperial College is seeking to raise £20 million from City investors by selling shares in its technology commercialisation division ahead of a potential stock market flotation. The college, part of the University of London, has hired Cazenove, the Queen's stockbroker, to raise the funds in a private placement. The cash will be invested in spin-out companies. Imperial College Innovations is already a private company but is entirely owned by the university.
The Guardian

Struggle with sums? You could have maths anxiety
People who struggle with arithmetic may have a mental block caused by "maths anxiety", psychologists say. They have identified the condition as a distinct form of anxiety which interferes with the brain's working memory. It can mean even individuals who should be competent at maths find simple arithmetic beyond them. Dr Sheila Ford, from the University of Staffordshire, who led a team of psychologists investigating maths anxiety, said: "There is a theory that maths anxiety is a form of anxiety in its own right which has an effect on performance".
The Independent, The Guardian, The Daily Mail

'Editing' technique can rewrite genes
Scientists at a company in California have developed a potentially revolutionary technique to permanently rewrite any gene in the human body. The breakthrough brings hope to millions of people with genetic diseases such as sickle-cell anaemia - but campaigners have warned that the technology, called gene editing, could be abused by parents who want to alter the physical characteristics of their children after they are born.
The Guardian

Human blood cells coaxed to produce insulin
Tantalising experiments that seem to have made human blood cells start producing insulin have raised the prospect of a new treatment for diabetes. Although the treatment has only been tried in mice so far, it might mean people can be cured with implants of their own cells. But even the researcher whose team carried out the work says he will remain sceptical until other groups have repeated it. “If it’s true, it would be very nice, but the data is very preliminary,” cautions Bernat Soria, chairman of the European Stem Cell Network.
New Scientist

Apes use screams to send out social signals
After two years of research, psychologists from the University of St Andrews believe that subtle differences in vocalisations may have been developed to provide important clues for nearby allies. Led by a PhD student, Katie Slocombe, the research team found that chimpanzees scream differently depending on whether they are the aggressor or the victim and these calls are intended to tell nearby allies and relatives about the identity and social role of the group members involved in a fight.
The Independent

Letter
Regarding the changing role of Oxford's libraries.
The Daily Telegraph

From the weekend's papers:

Saturday

  • More than three million student loan accounts are being checked after £564 was wrongly deducted from the personal account of a woman whose debt was paid off more than four years ago. The Daily Telegraph
  • The Liberal Democrats have set up a £100,000 fighting fund to help to target student voters who could tip the balance in marginal seats. The Daily Telegraph
  • Shirley Pearce has been named the next vice-chancellor of Loughborough University. The Guardian

Sunday

  • Scottish executive faces paying £35 million in compensation to English students who have been charged more for studying at universities north of the border than home-based Scots. The Times
  • Despite its healthy image, researchers have found that the modern chicken contains nearly three times the fat it did 35 years ago. The Times
  • A British academic has claimed that, far from gaining inspiration for his famous work, The Starry Night, from his garret window - as is commonly thought - Vincent van Gogh copied the image from a sketch drawn by an Irish astronomer. The Times

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