Today's news

June 27, 2006

Luther King archive retained by alma mater
The archive of Martin Luther King will stay in his home city of Atlanta in the possession of his alma mater, Morehouse College, thanks to a last minute, $32 million (£17.5 million) deal. The archive, which includes early drafts of his famous "I have a dream" speech and his Nobel prize address, was put up for sale by his family following the death of his widow, Coretta Scott King. Sothebys in New York was due to sell the archive of 7,000 items on Friday and several universities, as well as the Smithsonian Institution and the Library of Congress, were said to be vying to house what the auctioneers described as the "the most important archive of the 20th century in private hands".
The Guardian

Degree inflation sparks call for standardisation
Degree classifications should be standardised to ensure that some UK universities do not inflate qualifications, a new study warns. Researchers at the University of Salford and Manchester Metropolitan University teamed up to analyse degree classes across the UK. They found that degree awards at many UK universities varied considerably. The researchers applied the course marks of 120 geography students from Salford to the degree awarding classifications at 10 institutions, ranging from older "red brick" to new universities.
The Guardian

Creationism taught by design
Creationism is finding its way into university lecture halls, raising concerns with some academics that the biblical story of creation will be given equal weight to Darwin’s theory of evolution. Compulsory lectures in intelligent design and creationism are going to be included in second-year courses for zoology and genetics undergraduates at Leeds University. But there’s a twist: lecturers will present the controversial theories as being incompatible with scientific evidence. “It is essential they (students) understand the historical context and the flaws in the arguments these groups put forward,” says Michael McPherson, of Leeds University.
The Times, The Times Higher Education Supplement (June 23)

Professor to give warning over festival cash
A leading professor from Australia is to add weight to the argument that further investment is essential if Edinburgh is to hold on to the title of the best festival city in the world. The talk, by Professor Jack Carlsen from Curtin University in Western Australia, is in response to the recent "Thundering Hooves" report commissioned by the Scottish Art Council, which raised concerns that Edinburgh could lose its crown as festival city of the world if more investment were not made into the festivals.
The Scotsman

Dishing out health advice
Nutrition clinics are to be held at Napier University to help students understand how their health is affected by what they eat. The College of Naturopathic Medicine is running the clinics at the university's Merchiston campus on July 15 and 16 to help people beat common conditions such as hay fever by eating better foods. Naturopathic nutrition stresses the use of whole and organic foods as medicine. It can be an effective answer to many health complaints and common conditions such as hay fever relief.
The Scotsman

Pesticide exposure raises risk of Parkinson’s
Exposure to pesticides – even at relatively low levels – may increase an individual’s risk of developing Parkinson’s disease by 70 per cent, according to a study of more than 140,000 people. Researchers say that the findings strengthen the hypothesis that such chemicals somehow promote the development of the disease. In recent years, experts have identified genetic mutations that apparently predispose people to develop Parkinson’s. But some mystery remains because not everyone with the mutations will get the devastating neurological disorder, which is characterised by rigid and slow movement or other problems with body coordination.
New Scientist

Cellphone radiation makes brain more excitable
Cellphone radiation can make nearby areas of the brain more excitable, according to a study carried out by Italian researchers. The scientists say their study suggests that people with conditions related to brain excitability, such as epilepsy, could be adversely affected by cellphone use. Other experts, however, question whether the radiation generated is powerful enough to have any ill effect. A team led by Paolo Rossini at Fatebenefratelli Hospital in Milan tested the effect of cellphone radiation on brain activity in 15 healthy male volunteers.
New Scientist

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