Today's news

August 15, 2005

A-level results to add pressure for university entrance tests
Universities are coming under mounting pressure to adopt admissions tests to distinguish between the best candidates as record numbers of A-level students are forecast to gain top grades this week. With almost a quarter of girls predicted to achieve A grades, it has emerged that the Government is preparing to back nationwide trials of a generic university entrance test, as early as next month.
The Times , The Guardian , Daily Telegraph , The Independent

Animal rights campaigners target Oxford
Oxford University is facing a dramatically expanded new campaign by animal-rights activists trying to stop the building of a multi-million pound research laboratory. Private companies and charitable foundations - regardless of whether they are connected to the planned bio-medical facility - are being targeted after their names were published on an animal-rights website. Oxford University said yesterday that it feared that they could become the targets of violence. The organisation behind the offensive, Speak, says it is trying to choke off the millions of pounds in funding the university receives each year from benefactors such as the Leverhulme Trust and the Rothschild Foundation.
The Independent

Dons told how to get the best from state applicants
Oxford dons have been given new guidelines for interviews that are designed to prevent the “intimidation” of state school pupils and increase their chances of winning a place at the university. Dons have been urged not to assume too much knowledge on the part of the candidate, not to be “cold and detached”, or to sit on chairs higher than those of interviewees, thus forcing them to peer upwards. The guidelines were drawn up to meet concern on the part of the Government that the university admits too many privileged students.
The Times

Online library's novel attraction for bookworms
The "doors" of Britain's first known online lending library are to open for business next week, bringing reassurance for literary luddites who fear the march of technology could overcome the manuscript. My Book Your Book, which operates only in cyberspace, will offer thousands of paperback titles to its members, from fiction hits such as Zadie Smith's White Teeth to the GCSE staple To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. Each member is asked to put 10 of their own books on its "shelves", which they agree to lend to whomever sends them a stamped self-addressed envelope. Readers are given five weeks to chew through their new treat, before it reappears on the online lending list. They then have to pass the book on at the next request. Hundreds have signed up for the service, which costs about £9 - though the fee has been waived for the first 500 to join.
Daily Telegraph

Just a few drinks in pregnancy could harm baby
Mothers who drink even low levels of alcohol during pregnancy could permanently damage their children's intelligence, research suggests. The study of seven-and-a-half-year-olds by scientists in Detroit found lower IQ scores, and memory and problem-solving difficulties among those who had had low-level exposure to alcohol during pregnancy. The research, which the Department of Health says it wants to consider, appears to challenge current British Government advice that pregnant women can safely consume one to two units of alcohol a week.
The Independent

'Urine-power' battery to help fight disease
Scientists have developed a battery that generates electricity from urine. The paper-thin device is designed to run cheap, disposable test kits for diseases such as diabetes. Many such tests use the chemical composition of urine to reveal signs of disease. The new battery will allow the urine being analysed to provide the electricity needed to run the test kit, without having to rely on lithium batteries or external power sources.
The Scotsman

Scientists unravel the spaghetti enigma
It was one of the great riddles of the cosmos. Along with black holes, the structure of space-time and the origins of the Big Bang, some of the greatest scientific minds have struggled with the dry spaghetti question. Why does uncooked spaghetti snap into more than two pieces when bent? This baffled the late, great Richard Feynman, the Nobel laureate and father of modern quantum theory. Now, however, two French scientists believe they have cracked the dry pasta problem. Dr Basile Audoly and Dr Sébastien Neukirch, of the University of Paris VI, will reveal the mathematics that explains the effect in a forthcoming paper in the journal Physical Review Letters . They conclude that the pasta is broken up by so-called flexural waves, after confirming their mathematical model to be a series of experiments in the Laboratoire de Modélisation en Mécanique with "Barilla no. 1 dry spaghetti pasta of length L=24.1cm".
Daily Telegraph

Letter
Regarding the availability of subsidised places for British students to study abroad.
Daily Telegraph

Letters
Regarding lecturers who have left for foreign shores due to poor pay in Britain.
The Guardian

From the weekend papers:

Saturday

  • Universities expected to be inundated with applications before the deadline for top-up fees passes.
    Daily Telegraph

Sunday

  • Article regarding student reticence to insure their possessions
    Sunday Times
  • Google encountering resistance over plans to scan whole books onto its website and make them searchable.
    The Business

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