Today's news

November 11, 2005

Terror Bill fears hit university
University chiefs fear thousands of books will have to be stripped from library shelves under the controversial new Terrorism bill. Academics say thousands of texts within Edinburgh University's collection of 3.4 million books and journals could be defined as "terrorist publications", leaving the institution open to prosecution unless they are removed from the shelves. They say they are also concerned that the possible censoring of libraries will mean the loss of material which supports "legitimate" academic research.
The Scotsman

Teacher training centre fails Ofsted inspection
A centre for teacher training in mathematics at Bath Spa University has failed its inspection by the schools inspectorate, Ofsted. The quality of the training as well as the standards achieved by the teacher trainees at the university was "unsatisfactory", concluded an Ofsted report published yesterday. The report was one of 28 inspections into the 144 teacher training centres in England published by Ofsted as part of its rolling programme of inspections. But it was the only training centre to have failed the latest round of inspections.
The Guardian

Good teaching can be erotic, says lecturer
An "erotic charge" in class can be a characteristic of good teaching, claims an education lecturer who has researched affairs between pupils and teachers. Pat Sikes, of Sheffield University, who fell in love with one of her teachers, said Britain was in a "moral panic" over sexual relationships that began at school. She said she agreed with the argument that "expressions of sexuality provide a major currency and resource in the everyday exchanges of school life and nowhere more so, perhaps, than in the seductive nature and erotic charge often characteristic of good teaching which provokes a positive and exciting response".
The Daily Telegraph

New disease lab for Capital university
Edinburgh University was today set to open a new £7 million research laboratory looking at ways of tackling communicable diseases. The Henry Wellcome Laboratories of Infection Biology and Immunology will investigate the spread of diseases such as malaria, sleeping sickness, elephantiasis and stomach ulcer bacteria. It has been funded with the help of the Wellcome Trust and through the university's own Science Research and Infrastructure Fund. The centre, was due to be opened by Dr Mark Walport, director of the Wellcome Trust.
The Scotsman

New material is relatively promising
Scientists at Manchester University have discovered a new material that could lead to dramatic improvements in mobile phone and satellite communications. Graphene, developed by Professor Andre Geim and his co-workers, is only one atom thick. Electrons travel through it 10 to 20 times faster than through conventional semiconductors, opening up the possibility of superfast communications processors. But remarkably, the electrons have no mass and travel at a constant velocity, approximately 300 times slower than light. This makes them a proxy for light particles, enabling researchers to carry out experiments to, in a sense, verify relativity in slow motion. Dr Kostya Novoselov, a key investigator, said the phenomenon resulted from the symmetry of the crystal structure.
The Financial Times

Did pioneer farmers fail to spread their seed?
A group of travellers brought farming to Europe about 7,500 years ago. But did their children thrive and hand down the skill? Researchers studying ancient DNA say instead that the idea was stolen by more successful locals, as the farmers failed to leave their mark on Europe's genes. The finding adds to a debate about Europeans' origins that "has been raging for the past ten years", says Peter Forster, a geneticist at the University of Cambridge. Scientists have turned to archaeology and analyses of modern DNA to try and settle the question, but they come up with contradictory results.
Nature

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