Today's news

January 13, 2006

History is history at Middlesex University
Middlesex University has announced it is to drop its history courses, following a review of its academic programmes. The university said it would not accept any more history students from September. Existing students will continue to be supported during their courses, it added. The announcement is a result of an ongoing review of the sustainability of courses, part of wider cost-cutting at the university. No decisions have been made about other degree programmes. Last month, Middlesex confirmed it was making 175 voluntary redundancies - including 33 academic staff - in a bid to save £10 million in operating costs. The move is expected to save about £5 million.
The Guardian

Stem cell researchers plan to create rabbit-human embryos
Hybrid rabbit-human embryos could be created in a plan under discussion by scientists and the fertility watchdog as a result of the Korean stem cell scandal. The team had intended to use human eggs to clone embryos in its efforts to create human stem cells for research on motor neurone disease, which kills 1,000 people a year in Britain. But the scientists, including Professor Ian Wilmut, who led the effort to clone Dolly the sheep, have been forced to think about alternatives as a result of the furore triggered by the falsification of stem cell data in South Korea. Dr Hwang Woo-suk's team appear to have coerced women into donating eggs.
The Daily Telegraph, The Independent, The Scotsman, The Guardian

College keeps ban on veils and hoodies
Imperial College has revised its dress code following protests from students but for security reasons it will still not permit hooded tops or the veils worn by some Muslim women. In a revised code agreed with the student union, the college says it applauds the variety of appearance brought by individual styles and choices of dress. Saris, turbans, skullcaps, kippahs and clerical collars are all welcome on campus. But security fears, heightened by animal rights protests as well as the July 7 bombings in London, mean the college insists all employees, students and visitors must be readily identifiable - usually by comparing their face to the photograph on their college identity card.
The Guardian

Dark discovery sheds light on the universe
A British-led team of astronomers may have discovered the first invisible galaxy without stars and held together by a mystery force. Scientists have suspected the existence of "dark galaxies" - areas in the universe containing a large amount of mass that rotates like galaxies, but with no stars - for years. But the mystery VIRGOH121 galaxy, 50 million miles away, is the first to tick all the boxes needed to prove the theory. Without any stars to give light, the galaxy could be found only using radio telescopes. It was first seen with the University of Manchester's Lovell telescope in Cheshire, and the sighting was confirmed using a telescope in Puerto Rico.
The Scotsman

I was only horsing around, says student held over gay gibe
The Crown Prosecution Service has decided not to pursue a case against an Oxford University student who went up to a mounted policeman and suggested that his horse was gay. The horse did not complain, but the police did. Sam Brown, 21, from Belfast, was out on the town with friends last May celebrating the end of his finals. Mr Brown, then of Balliol College and now a graduate in English literature, decided to exercise his skill in the English language when he and a group of carousing friends encountered a mounted patrol of the Thames Valley Police in the city’s High Street. “Excuse me,” Mr Brown ventured to the officer towering above him, “do you realise your horse is gay?”. It seemed a harmless enough, if not rivetingly witty, remark. Moments later, however, Mr Brown was sobered when officers arrested him and charged him under Section 5 of the Public Order Act for making homophobic remarks.
The Times

Scientists trot out green pigs that glow
Taiwan, home to the world's first transgenic glowing fish, has successfully bred fluorescent green pigs that researchers hope will boost the island's stem cell research, a professor said yesterday. By injecting fluorescent green protein into embryonic pigs, a research team at National Taiwan University bred three male transgenic pigs, said Professor Wu Shinn-Chih, of the university's Institute and Department of Animal Science and Technology. "There are partially fluorescent green pigs elsewhere but ours are the only ones in the world that are green from inside out. Even their hearts and internal organs are green," Professor Wu said.
The Daily Telegraph, The Times

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