Today's news

September 20, 2005

Student union to defy ban on Islamist debate
Student leaders at Middlesex University last night vowed to go ahead and host a debate with the controversial Islamist group Hizb ut-Tahrir despite their university's ban on the meeting.
The Middlesex vice-chancellor, Michael Driscoll, yesterday ordered the union to cancel the question and answer session - scheduled to take place later this month - following a call from the Education Secretary last week for a crackdown on extremism on campus. Today the student union said it would continue with the debate, but move it from a university building to its own student union.
The Guardian

Israel boycott feud resurfaces
The battle lines of the academic boycott of Israel are being redrawn. After the international row over the Association of University Teachers' plans to boycott two Israeli universities, which were eventually overturned after an emergency conference in May, the union was hoping the debate would disappear over the summer break. But it's a row that won't go away. The British Committee for Universities of Palestine, the pro-boycott organisation, is relaunching its campaign with a campus tour of public meetings involving speakers from Palestinian universities. The aim is to put the boycott back on the agenda by presenting the reality of living under the occupation, says Hilary Rose, one of the architects of the academic boycott.
The Guardian

Dental school gets cash to take more students
The Scottish Executive has agreed a £4.5 million emergency payment to Dundee University to ensure that dental students do not have to defer their studies. A dispute had arisen after it emerged that the university was paying applicants £2,000 to put off their courses. The action came after unprecedented numbers accepted the offer to study on the course, leaving it oversubscribed. Opposition politicians were furious that there were not enough places, despite Scotland’s shortage of NHS dentists.
The Times, The Scotsman

'MRSA reduction implants' planned
Medical implants coated with a diamond-like material could help reduce the prevalence of MRSA, scientists have said. Giving catheters and various medical implants a coating with a diamond-like carbon material can prevent infections such as MRSA developing. Unlike other coatings, the material will not trigger the coagulation of blood. Scientists from Brunel University who developed the coating say it can be used for a wide variety of purposes in engineering and aerospace as well as in medicine.
The Scotsman

SPI Lasers sets sights on Aim
SPI Lasers, a Southampton University spin-out company that makes tiny fibre-optic lasers, is planning a listing on Aim that would raise £12 million and value it at up to £35 million. SPI began life in 2000 producing fibre-optic components for the telecommunications industry, but after the collapse of this market in 2002 switched its focus to producing lasers.
The Financial Times

Cassini sees dusty ‘spokes’ in Saturn’s rings
The Cassini spacecraft has finally spotted dusty "spokes" in Saturn's rings that were first seen about 25 years ago. Researchers hope to monitor how the spokes wax and wane over time to see if the dusty streams signal a change in Saturn's rotation rate. Wedge-shaped trails of dust stretching up to 20,000km in length were first seen radiating outward in Saturn's outer B ring during flybys of Nasa's twin Voyager spacecraft in 1980 and 1981. Since then, the Hubble Space Telescope has also imaged the spokes, which are thought to be caused by dust particles that become charged and float above the plane of the main ring.
New Scientist

Nasa plans another giant leap to the moon
Astronauts could be walking on the moon once again by 2018 under ambitious plans unveiled yesterday by Nasa. And they will get there in Apollo-style spacecraft that hark back to the glory days of the space race. The announcement marks a bold step for the embattled space agency, setting out an exploration plan for the next few decades. But critics argue that the moon-shot is set to be another of Nasa's grand visions that, along with the space shuttle and the International Space Station, will one day wither away through political apathy.
The Guardian, The Scotsman

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