Today's news

January 20, 2006

Millionaires' club - academics reap the rewards of research
A growing number of academics are joining the ranks of the super-rich as they sell their ideas and inventions through spin-off companies. The first survey on the academic rich, compiled by The Times Higher Educational Supplement , reveals dozens of multimillionaire dons. The list is dominated by professors, or former professors, from Oxbridge and Russell Group institutions - which represents 19 top universities - but also includes lecturers from Bradford, Dundee and Ulster universities. The survey identified 12 academics as the highest earners whose discoveries have made them worth hundreds of millions of pounds. This includes John King, a former lecturer at Queen's, Belfast, who has been valued at £160 million, and Brian Bellhouse, an Oxford engineering professor, whose wealth is estimated at £40 million.
The Independent, The Times Higher Education Supplement (Jan 20)

Medical school candidates to take aptitude tests
Students who want to study medical and dental degrees at 24 British universities from next year will have to sit a new aptitude test before they apply. The clinical aptitude test (UKcat) is being developed by a consortium of universities, which includes Edinburgh, Birmingham, Manchester and King's College, London, and will have to be sat by anyone wanting a place in their medical schools from 2007. The difference between the UKcat and similar admissions tests that have been introduced to help universities decide between top candidates is that it will be taken before students fill in their Ucas forms. The consortium hopes to give candidates and admissions officers a better idea of the suitability of the former to a medical career before they apply for courses.
The Guardian

Reuters to fund journalism institute
A new institute of journalism is to be established at Oxford University backed by £1.75 million funding from Reuters. The Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism is being backed by five years of funding from the Reuters Foundation to establish and develop a research centre of excellence in the study of journalism. Speaking at the Oxford Media Convention, the vice-chancellor of Oxford University, Dr John Hood, outlined plans for the institute to become one of the most authoritative sources of reliable analysis of journalism at an international, national and local level.
The Guardian

Teaching intelligent design will confuse children, says Vatican
The theory of "intelligent design" is not science and teaching it in schools alongside Darwinian evolution only confuses pupils, the official Vatican newspaper has said. Professor Fiorenzo Facchini, a specialist in evolutionary theory at the University of Bologna, argued in L'Osservatore Romano that "intelligent design" belonged to the realms of philosophy and religion but not science. The Vatican article dealt another blow to those Christians in the United States who want children to be taught the theory alongside Darwinism. "God's project of creation can be carried out through secondary causes in the natural course of events, without having to think of miraculous interventions that point in this or that direction," wrote Professor Facchini.
The Daily Telegraph

Folk medicine in cancer fight
Researchers claim to have found a way of making cancer cells "commit suicide" - thanks to African folk medicine. The study at Queen's University Belfast based its work on a West Africa anti-malarial treatment. The academics are in the early stages of designing drugs which they hope could be used to treat cancer by killing off the cancerous cells. The work has been funded by the Association for International Cancer Research.
The Scotsman

'No link' between cellphones and brain tumours
The largest study so far has found no evidence of a link between cellphone use and brain tumours. UK researchers interviewed 966 people from across Britain diagnosed with brain tumours, as well as 1716 apparently healthy controls between December 2000 and February 2004. The epidemiological survey found no evidence that using a cellphone increased the risk of developing a tumour or that prolonged usage increased risk either. The study did find an association between the location of a tumour and side of the head that patients said they most often used to make calls. But when the team considered handedness – which correlates to the side of the head to which cellphones are most commonly held – there was no link.
New Scientist, The Times

Scientists take a shine to 'stainless' silver
Scientists have invented a form of low-maintenance silver that keeps its shine without polishing. The creators of the stainless silver alloy say their metal resists the discolouring effect of pollutants to retain its lustre. Researchers at Sheffield believe that their invention could boost the worldwide demand for silver. Hywel Jones, from Sheffield Hallam University's materials and engineering research institute, said: "The biggest problem with silver as a precious metal is that it tarnishes with time. "The yellowing or blackening of the metal means that traditional silver items like cutlery are increasingly unattractive for the modern market, because they need a lot of upkeep.
The Daily Telegraph

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