Today's news

July 27, 2005

End in sight for London Met contract dispute
One of the longest-running industrial disputes in a UK university could be coming to an end with a tentative agreement between London Metropolitan management and the lecturers' union Natfhe announced yesterday. A 15-month dispute over lecturers' contracts had become increasingly bitter with academics delaying students' exam results and a war of words between the union and the vice-chancellor, Brian Roper. The dispute, which arose following the merger of the University of North London and London Guildhall, became a battle over who was running the new institution and its style of management.
The Guardian

Plan for Dalai Lama lecture angers neuroscientists
The Dalai Lama is at the centre of an unholy row among scientists over his plans to deliver a lecture at a prominent neuroscience conference. His talk stems from a growing interest in how Buddhist meditation may affect the brain, but researchers who dismiss such studies as little more than mumbo-jumbo say they will boycott the Society for Neuroscience annual meeting in November if it goes ahead. Jianguo Gu, a neuroscientist at the University of Florida who has helped to organise a petition against the Dalai Lama's lecture, said: "I don't think it's appropriate to have a prominent religious leader at a scientific event."
The Guardian

Washington picks male professor for women's studies job
Eyebrows have been raised by the appointment of a man to head the women's studies department at the University of Washington in the United States. David Allen, a professor of psychosocial and community health in the university's school of nursing, was offered the post earlier this month. He has already been teaching on women's studies programmes and had worked in the equivalent department at the University of Wisconsin before moving to Washington in 1988. Professor Allen said he was flattered by the appointment, but recognised there could be some in the department who think a woman should have got the job.
The Guardian

Student smokers face total ban
Students are to be banned from smoking in their own rooms under plans to make Glasgow University Britain’s first smoke-free campus. Pro-smoking campaigners yesterday described as ridiculous a proposal to stop students in the university’s nine halls of residence from lighting up in the privacy of their own rooms. The ban, which was agreed in principle by the university’s governing “court” last month and will come into force on October 1, goes far beyond legislation banning smoking from all public places in Scotland from next March. The ban will extend to the university’s two unions, departments, staff club, the principal’s lodging and all university vehicles.
The Times

Space shuttle roars back into orbit
Discovery triumphantly soared off its launch pad on Tuesday, marking the return of the space shuttle to space. “It’s one of the nobler things we do on behalf of mankind,” said Bill Readdy, Nasa’s associate administrator of space operations. While all at Kennedy Space Center cheered Discovery through her climb to space, Nasa officials are holding off on the official celebrations until the orbiter is back on solid ground. If all goes according to schedule, Discovery will land at Kennedy Space Center at 0546 EDT (0946 GMT) 7 August. “That’s when we’ll know this is a safe flight,” says Nasa Administrator Mike Griffin.
New Scientist, Nature

'Dragon' disarms landmines safely
A simple new method for clearing landmines without using explosives was unveiled yesterday by a team of British scientists. The "dragon" device "burns out" rather than explodes landmines, which is the method currently favoured by the United Nations. Experts at Cranfield University, in Oxfordshire, who have worked on the project for four years, have designed the dragon so it can be manufactured locally and operated without expert training.
The Scotsman

Why buying dinner is the path to love
Extravagant but intrinsically worthless gifts such as expensive dinners and opera tickets are the most efficient way for a man to win a woman’s affections, according to research. A model of human courtship patterns developed by British scientists has found that lavish presents with no lasting value beyond memories provide clear signals of a man’s serious interest.
The Times

From the Director of Finance at Cambridge University rebuking claims over risky investments.
The Financial Times

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