Today's news

March 31, 2006

Student group shows support for Oxford lab builders
They have been intimated and threatened by animal rights protestors, forcing one construction firm to abandon the project. But today, the workers building the animal research laboratory at Oxford University were thanked for their efforts. Pro-Test, a group formed by Oxford students and staff fed up with the activities of animal rights protestors, handed out doughnuts and cakes to workers on the South Parks Road site to show their support for their work and the controversial project. Pro-Test's founder, Laurie Pycroft, said: "It's great that Oxford University feel able to publicly support Pro-Test in this way, and it shows that we're succeeding in making institutions and academics feel able to stand up and defend the work they do."
The Guardian

Exeter VC appointed 1994 group chairman
The vice-chancellor of the University of Exeter, Steve Smith, has been named as the new chairman of the 1994 group of research-intensive universities. He takes over from the vice-chancellor of the University of East Anglia, David Eastwood, on August 1. Professor Eastwood has been appointed as the chief executive of the funding council, Hefce. The 1994 group comprises 16 small and medium-sized universities, including St Andrews, Durham, Warwick and Reading.
The Guardian, The Times Higher Education Supplement (Mar 31)

Poorest students hit hardest by fees
Students from poor backgrounds have suffered the greatest financial hardship since Labour introduced university tuition fees, according to government research. Levels of graduate debt soared by 74 per cent between 1998-99, when the Government introduced annual fees of £1,000, and 2004-05. The Student Income and Expenditure Survey said that tuition fees had been a key factor in the increase. Students from the poorest social groups graduated with the largest debts. They owed an average of £9,842; £3,000 more than students from professional backgrounds. Lone parents fared worst, graduating with average debts of £11,101.
The Times, The Guardian

Doctors pioneer new chemotherapy treatment to reduce side-effects
Cancer patients could be spared some of the most distressing and sometimes fatal side-effects of treatment, thanks to a new method of delivering chemotherapy. Currently, the powerful chemicals used to kill cancer cells are injected into a patient's veins, so the drugs are carried all around the body, often leading to sickness and hair loss. But researchers have found a way of delivering the drugs directly to the tumour, localising the effects of the treatment. A team at the University of Bath has developed a method using tiny fibres or beads that are soaked in the chemotherapy drugs.
The Scotsman

Power of the mind 'can boost muscle strength'
Thinking about your muscles can make them stronger, according to a new study. The way athletes think could boost muscle strength and help recovery after injury. A team at Hull University monitored 30 people performing bicep curls. They tried to produce as much force as possible under three conditions - thinking only about their muscles, thinking about the weight they were lifting, and thinking about whatever they wanted. The study found "much more" muscle activity when people thought about their muscles and how they moved, compared to when they just thought about the weight they were lifting.
The Independent

Sat-nav can distract drivers, say researchers
Drivers who take directions from satellite navigation systems could put themselves and other road users at risk, researchers said yesterday. A study of the reactions of volunteers using a driving simulator showed they were more distracted when given audio and visual instructions than if they had no external instructions to follow. Dr Mark Wilson, a sports psychologist from Manchester Metropolitan University, said his findings demonstrated that satellite-based navigation systems distracted drivers and could cause accidents.
The Daily Telegraph, The Times

Antarctic air is warming faster than rest of world
Air temperatures above the entire frozen continent of Antarctica have risen three times faster than the rest of the world during the past 30 years. While it is well established that temperatures are increasing rapidly in the Antarctic Peninsula, the land tongue that protrudes towards South America, the trend has been harder to confirm over the continent as a whole. Now analysis of weather balloon data by scientists at the British Antarctic Survey has shown that not only are the lower reaches of the Antarctic atmosphere warming, but that they are doing so at the fastest rate observed anywhere on Earth.
The Times

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