Today's news

August 5, 2005

Evolution dispute set to split Catholic hierarchy
The conflict at the highest level of the Catholic Church about the truth of Darwin's theory of evolution breaks out publicly today. Recent comments by a cardinal close to the Pope that random evolution was incompatible with belief in "God the creator" are fiercely assailed in today's edition of The Tablet , Britain's Catholic weekly, by the Vatican astronomer. In an article with explosive implications for the Church, Father George Coyne, an American Jesuit priest who is a distinguished astronomy professor, attacks head-on the views of Cardinal Christoph Shönborn, the Archbishop of Vienna and a long-standing associate of Joseph Ratzinger, the German cardinal who was elected as Pope Benedict XVI in April.
The Independent

Malaysian university sacks outspoken professor
A Malaysian political science professor who frequently criticised government leaders and policies said today he has been sacked from the public university where he works without being given a reason. Ramasamy Palanisamy, who worked at the government-funded National University of Malaysia for 25 years, told reporters he was victimised for being outspoken. "I speculate that my public role in writing and speaking on political and social issues, such as the lack of democratic space [and] the plight of the Indian community, led to the dismissal," said Professor Ramasamy, a minority ethnic Indian.
The Guardian

University bails out student company
The University of Portsmouth has bought out its student union's catering and entertainment company after it went into administration. The student-run University of Portsmouth Student Union Trading Limited, which provides food, bar and entertainment facilities at the student union, went into administration yesterday following a court order to freeze its debts. The University of Portsmouth Enterprise Limited immediately purchased all the trading company's assets.
The Guardian

US military sends scientists to film school
According to the New York Times , the US military is paying hundreds of thousands of dollars to send scientists on a screenwriting course in Los Angeles, with the aim of producing movies and television shows that portray scientists in a flattering light. It is being billed as a radical solution to one of America's most vexing long-term national security problems: the drastic decline in the number of US students pursuing science and engineering.
The Guardian

New era of cheap gene maps
Personalised maps of an individual’s genetic code could soon be available for as little as £550, scientists have said. New methods of sequencing the human genome have already reduced the cost of the procedure from about £11 million a time to about £1.2 million. The ultimate goal is to make it possible to decipher a unique genetic blueprint for as little as $1,000, or about £550. At this low price, it would become plausible for doctors to order individual genome maps for their patients.
The Times , Daily Telegraph
New breast cancer drug outperforms tamoxifen
A new drug, anastrozole, has been shown to be more successful than any previous treatment in preventing the recurrence of breast cancer. A trial, published in The Lancet, found that it was more effective than tamoxifen, which for the past 20 years has been the standard treatment. The new drug, which was tested by 3,244 women in Austria and Germany with early-stage breast cancer, is, however, eight times more expensive.
The Independent , The Guardian

Scientists working on one-shot flu vaccine
British scientists are working on a revolutionary "universal" vaccine to provide lifetime protection against all types of flu. A single jab would offer permanent immunity against influenza and prevent the need to develop new vaccines every year to combat new strains of the virus. Cambridge biotech firm Acambis also hopes its vaccine could protect people against global pandemics such as bird flu.
The Scotsman

Day of mindless fun for A-level washouts
Hurtling around a bone-shaking roller coaster, hemmed in by shrieking children, may not be the perfect antidote to failing all-important exams. But from August 18 Alton Towers is offering free entry for two days to A-level students who get three Us - marks so low they are unclassified. The theme park's marketing manager, Mike Lorimer explains, the offer is only open to "genuine failures."
The Guardian


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