Oxford to give outsiders equal say on its future
Oxford University has published plans to end nearly 900 years of self-government by creating a board of directors with a majority of members from outside the university. John Hood, the vice-chancellor, set out proposals yesterday to reform Oxford’s governing Council by reducing its membership to 15, including eight people appointed from business and other fields outside the university. An Academic Board of 36 members would also be established to try to end rivalry on academic issues between the central university and individual colleges.
The Times, The Guardian
Epic obsession of an amateur leads to the home of Odysseus
After a two-year odyssey of his own, an amateur British historian claims to have located the mythical land of Ithaca - the island homeland of Homer's legendary Greek hero Odysseus. For centuries, scholars the world over have argued over the whereabouts of the lost kingdom, ruled over by one of the Greek heroes of the Trojan war. Now, thanks to 21st-century computer technology, space photography and the obsession of a management consultant from Surrey, the riddle may have been solved. Robert Bittlestone was backed up by James Diggle, professor of Greek and Latin at Cambridge University, and John Underhill, professor of stratigraphy at Edinburgh University, who agreed with his findings.
The Independent, The Times, The Guardian
Is HIV evolving weaknesses?
HIV is one of the best studied organisms in history, yet there is still much we have to learn about it. And one of the big unknowns is how the virus is changing as it spreads through the human population. Research published this week suggests that it may be evolving to become less virulent. But how that will affect the progress of the HIV pandemic, or the number of people who will be killed by Aids, remains almost impossible to say.
Doctors warn of hepatitis 'timebomb'
More than 400,000 people are unaware that they are carrying the hepatitis C virus and at risk of developing chronic liver disease, according to a report published yesterday. Doctors gave warning that Britain was facing a hepatitis C timebomb, with 150,000 expected to die over the next two decades because the Government had failed to recognise the extent of the threat. William Rosenberg, from Southampton University and a lead author of the report, said: "If we continue to do nothing about hepatitis C then between 100,000 and 300,000 people will have to endure preventable liver disease. If we catch it in time, it can be treated with drugs that cure 40 to 80 per cent of those infected."
The Daily Telegraph
Space mission aims to crack mystery of Earth's twin
European scientists are preparing to monitor the neighbour from hell. Venus Express , a robot spacecraft little bigger than a fridge, is to be the first mission to the second rock from the sun in 15 years. Venus is 4.6 billion years old, of similar diameter and mass to the Earth, and made of the same rocks. It occupies the same neighbourhood and should be warm and welcoming, like Earth. But it is not. Fred Taylor, of Oxford University, said: "It's very disturbing that we do not understand the climate on a planet so much like the Earth. It is telling us that we really don't understand the Earth. We have ended up with a lot of mysteries."
Communication: key to consciousness?
US researchers may have uncovered one of the keys to human consciousness, the phenomenon that many see as science's final frontier. Giulio Tononi and his co-researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison have discovered that during deep sleep when, to all intents and purposes, consciousness has been switched off, certain areas of the brain seem to lose the ability to communicate with one another. These areas are the so-called higher regions of the brain that, in a fully conscious individual, exhibit a ferment of activity, sending messages that integrate the flood of information with which the waking brain has to contend.
The Financial Times
Smart beer mat orders refills
A beer mat that knows when a glass is nearly empty and automatically asks for a refill has been created by thirsty researchers in Germany. Andreas Butz at the University of Munich and Michael Schmitz from Saarland University came up with the idea while out drinking with their students.
New Scientist, The Daily Telegraph