Today's news

April 13, 2006

Top science departments lure most commercial labs
Top university departments are acting as honeypots to overseas firms setting up research and development labs, a study published today shows. Economists at the Institute of Fiscal Studies have found that the clustering of research labs close to top-rated departments is particularly strong in the pharmaceuticals and chemicals sectors. A chemistry department with a top 5 or 5* rating in the 2001 research assessment exercise acts as a magnet for UK firms, but the effect is even more marked for foreign-owned companies.
The Guardian, The Financial Times

Telescope's great leap forward to finding ET
A telescope has begun scanning the skies for light signals to Earth from aliens in case ET makes contact with a laser, not a radio. The telescope at Harvard University’s Oak Ridge Observatory outside Boston is the first instrument dedicated exclusively to searching for light pulses from alien civilisations. Scientists say the project marks a new approach to looking for life in outer space. “The opening of this telescope represents one of those rare moments in a field of scientific endeavour when a great leap forward is enabled,” said Bruce Betts, of the California-based Planetary Society, which funded the $350,000 (£205,000) project.
The Times

Happiness is working for yourself
People who run their own businesses have such flexibility and independence that they enjoy far greater job satisfaction, experts claim. The self-employed work longer hours for lower wages than their wage-slave counterparts. But scientists found entrepreneurs put up with longer hours because they were worried about how much money they would have in the future. The report, by academics at the University of Durham, also discovered numbers of female entrepreneurs have not increased since the 1990s. Simon Parker said young businessmen and women were more likely to take risks in new markets than established entrepreneurs.
The Daily Mail

Antibiotic speeds recovery from asthma attacks
Patients who suffer severe asthma attacks may recover more quickly with the help of certain antibiotics, a new study suggests. It indicates that the antibiotics may have a beneficial anti-inflammatory effect on the airways of sufferers. However, experts caution that further research is necessary before doctors begin prescribing these drugs to asthma patients. About 20 million people in the US suffer from asthma, and the condition is increasingly common in other parts of the world. Doctors say steroids can help to treat the underlying lung inflammation associated with the condition, but they add that better drugs are needed to treat asthma attacks.
New Scientist

Scientists say robots are the answer for stroke sufferers
Thousands of people left disabled after suffering a stroke could be rehabilitated with the help of robots. Scientists at Nottingham University claim robot-assisted therapy could help people recover movement and vision after a stroke. In a three-year-study, due to be launched later in the year, the university will evaluate new methods of therapy that could help improve quality of life for thousands of patients every year. Using a computer-controlled robot and a joy-stick, patients will be physically assisted as they attempt simple motor tasks such as touching a visual target or guiding an object on a screen.
The Scotsman

'Missing link' to earliest humans revealed
A barren piece of desert in the heart of Ethiopia has proved once more why it deserves to be called the "cradle of mankind". Scientists have unearthed a set of fossils in the Ethiopian Afar region that they believe is a "missing link" between a primitive ape-like creature that lived more than 4.4 million years ago and a later ape-man who became our own ancestor. The discovery means that the region now boasts the discovery of the fossilised remains of eight distinct species that represent different stages in the evolutionary transition from ape to anatomically modern man.
The Independent, The Scotsman

Lecturers pay is not the only issue involved in the strikes.
The Independent

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