Today's news

August 9, 2006

Go Dutch - save a fortune in fees
Dutch universities are the first in continental Europe to offer a full range of postgraduate courses taught and assessed in English. The fees represent exceptional value: €1,500 a year (£1,000) compared with a minimum of £3,500 in the UK. It is possible to pay as little as €500 because many European Union students are eligible for an annual rebate of €1,000. Add a lower cost of living and budget air fares, and you have a compelling economic argument for student migration.
Daily Telegraph

Bacteria may have eaten through Alaskan oil pipe
The unexpected prime suspects for the corrosion that threatens to cut off 8 per cent of US oil production are bacteria that colonise the sludge that collects in pipes. The affected 5km stretch of pipeline carries oil from BP's Prudhoe Bay oilfield in Alaska to the Trans-Alaska Pipeline, which connects all of Alaska's oilfields to seaports. On Sunday, BP announced plans to begin shutting down its 400,000-barrel-a-day Prudhoe operations while it replaces 25km of suspect piping. BP officials say the best guess so far is that bacteria colonised part of the pipe and corroded the metal.
New Scientist

Another museum in the frame as works go missing
Drawings worth several million pounds have been stolen from the Russian State Archive of Literature and Art in the second big art robbery in the country to come to light in as many weeks. Lax security at museums was already under scrutiny after it emerged last week that more than 220 artefacts worth $5 million (£2.6 million) had been stolen from the State Hermitage in St Petersburg. Now the archive says that it is missing a large number of drawings by the architect Yakov Chernikhov, a leading light in the Constructivist movement of the 1930s.
The Times

Fog lifts on genius of Monet
With their bold brushwork and vivid colours, Monet's paintings of London are viewed as stunning examples of the Impressionist style. He was perhaps the best known of group of artists who set out to capture the essence of a subject's appearance rather than the detail. However, it seems his paintings are a lot more realistic than was thought. Research has shown that, despite the blurred lines, they are, in fact, highly accurate observations of the world at that time. They could provide experts with a new visual record of urban Victorian London and reveal the true levels of fog and pollution that so often obscured its landmarks during the era.
Daily Mail , Daily Telegraph , The Guardian , The Independent , The Times , New Scientist

Copper could help keep Africa clean
In Africa's ongoing struggle against tuberculosis, a group of scientists and industry representatives are now exploring a plan to introduce copper pipes, doorknobs and work surfaces to the country's waterways and clinics. The metal's known antibiotic activity, they say, could provide a simple way to help fight the deadly infection. Past research has shown that copper has strong anti-bacterial properties against worrisome pathogens such as the superbug MRSA.

Killer whales have own 'caller ID'
Killer whales sing with their own distinctive style of song, new research has revealed. Group calls to signal changes of movement while hunting and other messages have been found to be delivered with an "individual signature", according to a team of academics from St Andrews University and two American institutions. This communication ability appears to put killer whales on a par with chimpanzees and bottlenose dolphins, which similarly customise group signals.
The Scotsman



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