Johnson hits the web in search of student guidance
Boris Johnson, the recently appointed Shadow Minister for Higher Education, has gingerly dipped his toe into the academic debate with an appeal for ideas from students on his blog. The outspoken journalist, columnist and politician, in his first public comments in the role awarded to him by David Cameron in December last year, has started an online debate on the future for the Conservative's higher education policy with a promise that his comments may be unguarded, but "so what?".
University honours 1960s star
The singer Engelbert Humperdinck is to be awarded an honorary degree by Leicester University for his tireless charity work and services to his home city. Fans of the veteran singer were disappointed earlier this week when his former chart rival Tom Jones received a knighthood in the Queen's New Year Honours, but the Leicester-born star was ignored.
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Screening will pick up more diseases in embryos
Doctors may soon be able to screen embryos for thousands of individual genes that cause inherited disease, using a technique that has been refined by British researchers. A procedure known as multiple displacement amplification will dramatically enhance the efficiency of pre-implantation genetic diagnosis, which is already used to look for inherited defects before embryos are implanted into the womb.
Long-distance laser brings Mercury closer to Earth
Astronomers have set up the longest laser communication link - a distance of nearly 15 million miles from Earth to a probe on its way to Mercury. It is the first demonstration of a technology that will one day be used to communicate with satellites and test some of the fundamental ideas in physics. The laser beam was sent by Nasa to the Messenger spacecraft, which left Earth in August 2004 and will reach Mercury in 2011, to test the probe's instruments.
Outlawing fishing 'would help save coral reefs'
Marine biologists may have found a simple way of preserving tropical coral reefs that are threatened by pollution and climate change - ban fishing. A study of a coral reef in the Caribbean has found the coral improves significantly when fishing is outlawed. Bans allow big predators such as sharks and groupers to prey on smaller parrotfish, which graze on seaweed living on the coral. Research by a team led by the marine biologist Peter Mumby, of Exeter University, found that although the presence of big predators caused parrotfish to decline, it results in some parrotfish growing bigger, allowing the coral to be grazed more efficiently.