Today's news

November 29, 2005

Universities urged to invest in mentor schemes
Universities should consider setting up well-funded peer-mentoring services for freshers, according to new research, which has found that students who do not have access to such schemes are three times more likely to consider leaving university in their first year. A study of the experience of students settling into university life with and without support from a student mentor has revealed that many freshers are plagued by worries about money and about their academic ability in their first year.
The Guardian

Professor 'covered up for incompetent surgeon'
An eminent obstetrician accused of helping to cover up one of the worst cases of medical malpractice in a generation has appeared before the General Medical Council (GMC) charged with serious professional misconduct. Professor James Owen Drife, 58, of the University of Leeds medical school and a former vice-president of the Royal College of Obstetricians, was charged with providing misleading references for a colleague, Richard Neale, in 1995 and 1996, and of later trying to block a complaint against him in 2000 made to the GMC, of which Professor Drife was a member.
The Independent

Rammell announces more money for Africa
The higher education minister, Bill Rammell, yesterday allocated £250,000 to improve links between African and British universities. The money will fund a £200,000 Africa unit within the Association of Commonwealth Universities to build partnerships between African universities and the UK for research, teaching and management training. A further £50,000 will be spent on the start-up costs to establish the Tabeisa Enterprise Centre in Ghana, in west Africa, which will provide vocational and business training for young people. The centre will replicate one already running successfully in Khayelitsha Township, in Cape Town, South Africa.
The Guardian

Creator of Dolly 'poached ideas'
The man who cloned Dolly the sheep was accused yesterday of hijacking the ideas of other scientists and taking credit for them himself. A former colleague also claimed that Professor Ian Wilmut did not come up with the idea of creating the first animal cloned from an adult cell. Prim Singh, 45, a molecular biologist, made the claims at an employment tribunal in which he is claiming racial discrimination and unfair dismissal by the Roslin Institute, near Edinburgh. He said Professor Wilmut, with whom he worked in a cloning research department, bullied him and "poached" ideas from other staff at the centre. Dr Singh added: ''He didn't have the idea of Dolly the sheep and didn't do the experiment himself. He's quite happy to take all the credit for it."
The Daily Telegraph, The Times

Pollutants link to rise in diabetes cases
The dramatic rise in the incidence of type 2 diabetes could be driven in part by exposure to pollutants as well as obesity, according to a study published yesterday. A link has emerged between the disease and exposure to high levels of persistent organochlorine pollutants, which are most likely to come from eating fatty fish such as salmon and herring from the Baltic. However, the professor who led the Scandinavian study of the families of fishermen emphasised that more research was required on the wider implications. Type 2 diabetes is usually found in older people and complications include heart disease, stroke and blindness.
The Daily Telegraph

Napoleon the inspiration for Hitler, says historian
Napoleon massacred more than 100,000 Caribbean slaves and should be remembered as a genocidal dictator and inspiration for Hitler rather than a military genius and founder of modern France, a French historian said yesterday. "I refuse to bow down before the statue any longer, I have opened my eyes," said Claude Ribbe, a respected black academic and part of a governmental commission on human rights whose book, Napoleon's Crime , is published this week, on the bicentenary of the emperor's great triumph at the battle of Austerlitz this Friday.
The Guardian

Wanted - an idea to fill tiniest hole
Engineers at Cardiff University claim to have drilled the world’s tiniest hole. They have made a device that can drill a hole measuring 22 microns (0.022mm) in stainless steel and other materials. A human hair, at between 50 and 80 microns, would be far too fat to go through such a hole. Frank Marsh, marketing director of the university’s Manufacturing Engineering Centre, said: “The holes we are now drilling in Cardiff with the electro-discharge machining process could be the smallest in the world.”
The Times

Study group spends £40,000 on proving that a hangover hurts
It reads like a fantasy concocted by a student: scientists give group of young people money to go out and get drunk on the understanding that they return the next day to report how they feel. But this is no fantasy. Academics at Glasgow Caledonian University spent £40,000 proving that hangovers make you feel tired and impede concentration. Some people found the study anything but amusing, accusing the Government quango concerned of wasting taxpayers' money.
The Independent

Can custard make science interesting?
Jonathan Edwards, the former Olympic champion, performed a triple jump on a runway of custard yesterday to promote more imaginative experiments in school science lessons. His feat relied on the fact that custard is a "non-Newtonian fluid", a type called a "dilatant" that flows when treated gently but thickens when hit hard. It was meant as an example of the way experiments, which are increasingly endangered in schools, could inspire future scientists and help keep the economy competitive, according to the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts.
Daily Telegraph

Letter
Regarding Imperial's suggestion of banning hijabs.
The Guardian

Letter
From Director-General of Finance & Leasing Association on student debt.
The Times

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