Today's news

June 26, 2006

Criticised academic found dead
A chancellor at the University of California has died after apparently jumping from a 43-storey building. Denice Dee Denton, 46, chancellor of the Santa Cruz campus, apparently killed herself when she jumped from the Paramount building, where she owned an apartment. Denton had been on sick leave from the school since June 15 and had been expected back at work today, according to the university. She had been heavily criticised over the past two years for an expensive refurbishment of her university home and for the creation of a highly-paid job at the university for her partner, Gretchen Kalonji.
The Times, The Guardian

Reasoning test spots the pupils who should aim for Oxbridge
A new test of reasoning and thinking skills to help universities select students has identified "a large pool" of applicants who should be aiming higher on the basis of their results. Many of the highest scorers were already applying to Oxford or Cambridge. But there were a significant number who had never considered themselves bright enough for Oxbridge, or even one of the top 50 universities in the country. Some candidates, though, who were starting their second year of sixth form and had set their hearts on Oxbridge, scored in the middle and even in the bottom third.
The Daily Telegraph

Computers that can read minds may help fight autism
Visitors to a major science exhibition are to help teach computers how to read confusion, mirth and other expressions. It is hoped that this will lead to the development of ways to help people with autism recognise emotions. The thousands of visitors to next week's Royal Society summer science exhibition are being invited to take part in research with "emotionally aware" computers designed to mind-read by analysing facial expressions. The developers hope that one day smart adverts based on their technology will be able to tell when passers-by look glum and try to sell them something cheering, from an anti-depressant to a holiday.
The Daily Telegraph

Computer grid to combat bird flu
Scottish scientists are working on a new computer initiative to speed up the development of drugs to treat bird flu and malaria. Researchers at the National e-Science Centre at the University of Edinburgh are using a global network called The Grid to help find cures up to 100 times faster than could be achieved through conventional laboratory techniques. Working with colleagues across the world, the scientists have been able to screen thousands of potential cures online in only a few weeks, instead of the process taking many months using existing trial-and-error methods.
The Scotsman

Astronomers reach out to find Einstein's waves
One of the most elusive phenomena in the Universe could soon be measured for the first time after an Anglo-German team of scientists switched on a revamped detector designed to pick up gravitational waves. The Geo600 laboratory near Hanover is set to become the first to prove the existence of the waves - ripples in the fabric of space and time predicted by Albert Einstein’s general theory of relativity but never actually observed. The detector, which consists of two 600-metre arms in an L-shape in a field, has begun 18 months of continuous observations after it was refitted to make it sufficiently sensitive.
The Times

Dodo skeletons found on Mauritius
Scientists in Mauritius have unearthed dodo skeletons which could explain how the flightless bird became extinct. The team of British and Dutch researchers made the discovery while excavating a site on a Mauritian sugar estate. The initial find includes fully preserved leg bones, a beak, wings and skull fragments. "It's a wonderful collection," said Julian Hume, of the Dodo Research Programme. "For once, we have all the pieces to put back together." No complete skeleton has ever been found, and the last stuffed bird was in such bad shape in 1755 that the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, burned it, keeping only the beak and a foot.
The Independent

From the weekend's papers:

Saturday

  • Tougher A level to help identify brightest pupils. The Times
  • Southampton University Medical student’s teenage murderer is jailed for life. The Guardian

Sunday

  • Eton launches £50 million fund to draw in poorer pupils. The Times
  • Glasgow University has suspended its 2006-07 Classical Studies course. The Scotsman
  • A-level decline prompts switch to baccalaureate. The Daily Telegraph
  • Warwick Business School benefits from £500,000 gift. The Financial Times

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