Today's news

August 26, 2005

Future dentists being turned away
The Scottish Executive’s record on dentistry was said to be “in tatters” yesterday after it emerged that would-be dental students are being paid to stay away because of insufficient numbers of training places. Dundee University, home to one of only two dental schools in Scotland, is offering successful applicants a cash sum if they agree to postpone their studies after receiving an “unprecedented” number of acceptances. Opposition MPs have reacted angrily to the news that there are not enough university places to go round despite the well-publicised shortage of NHS dentists across Scotland. Richard Lochhead, SNP MSP for North East Scotland, said that the Executive must put promised funds for dentistry towards extra training places.
The Times, The Scotsman

British Jewish student dies in terrorist stabbing after praying at Wailing Wall
A British student has been stabbed to death and another student injured in an attack in Jerusalem. Shmuel Mett, 21, a Jewish student from Golders Green, north London, who was due to marry in October, was killed by a man wielding a foot-long kitchen knife. Police said it was a terrorist attack carried out by a Palestinian. Mr Mett and Sammy Weisbart, 22, a fellow student at an Orthodox seminary in the city, had been praying at the Wailing Wall on Wednesday evening and were taking an evening stroll through the narrow streets of the Old City when they were attacked.
The Daily Telegraph, The Times, The Independent, The Scotsman

World's biggest microscope to peer into the Big Bang
British scientists have completed an instrument that will track fragments of atoms moving at almost the speed of light, fit into the biggest machine on the planet and answer questions about the first infinitesimal fraction of a second of time. The last of four barrel-shaped measuring devices of carbon fibre and silicon, engineered to precisions measured in microns (millionths of a metre) has been assembled at Oxford University and shipped to Cern, the European nuclear research establishment in Geneva, this week.
The Guardian

Experts confirm Earth spin theory
Scientists today confirm one of the most surprising and controversial ideas in geophysics - that Earth's solid inner core is spinning slightly faster than the rest of the planet. Four US seismologists used long-term earthquake records to prove the point. They tracked tremors that occur fairly regularly off the South Sandwich Islands in the South Atlantic Ocean and analysed the seismic traces on the other side of the world in Alaska. Because the seismic waves pass through Earth's centre, the scientists were able to relate the varying seismographic data over time to changes taking place inside the planet.
The Financial Times, The Guardian, The Times

Trees don't suck up carbon dioxide as hoped
Trees don't seem to grow any faster when given an exrtra dose of carbon dioxide, Swiss scientists have found. Their study could shatter the widespread belief that rising concentrations of carbon dioxide may be kept partly in check by blossoming plant growth. Some researchers have suggested that as carbon dioxide levels rise, plants will thrive on the gas, which they use to photosynthesise; trees may be prompted to grow faster and grasses to spread, for example, which would help to suck up some of the excess carbon dioxide. But a study of a large patch of deciduous forest near Basel in Switzerland, which has been artificially sprayed with excess carbon dioxide for years, has shown no such increase in growth.
Nature

A million species in a thimble of soil
The world has become a significantly more crowded place. Scientists report today that soil teems with around 100 times more species than they had previously thought. The work at the Los Alamos national laboratory in New Mexico means that a thimbleful of soil typically contains at least one million bacterial species, rather than just 10,000. The implications were described as "staggering" by Bill Sloan of the University of Glasgow and Tom Curtis of the University of Newcastle in the journal Science . They argued that new mathematical methods were needed to understand the vast diversity of life on Earth.
The Daily Telegraph

Letters
Regarding A-level marks and university entry.
The Times

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