Today's news

September 4, 2006

Solution to lack of scientists: pay cash to top maths pupils
Pupils who get top grades in maths A levels should be given a £500 reward, according to the head of the British Association for the Advancement of Science (BA). The former economist and journalist, Frances Cairncross, is echoing the concerns of business leaders by expressing concerns that the supply of scientists in Britain is drying up. Ms Cairncross, rector of Exeter College, Oxford, will make her comments in a speech at this week's BA Festival of Science in Norwich. Her presidential address will also call for the UK to make adapting to the inevitable consequences of climate change a priority.
The Guardian, Financial Times

Experts to review advances in tax system
A far-reaching review of the tax system is being launched today by the Institute for Fiscal Studies, the leading public finance think-tank. The review has been timed to coincide with the 30th anniversary of the Meade report, a highly influential critique of tax policy that the IFS published in 1978. The new commission will be chaired by Professor Sir James Mirrlees of the University of Cambridge, who shared the Nobel Prize for Economics in 1996. Robert Chote, director of the IFS, said there was a clear need for another thorough review of the tax system, given advances in economics and the new challenges facing governments.
The Financial Times

Killer bug on move with global warming
A flesh-eating bacterium that can kill is spreading northward in salty European waters in response to climate change, a scientist will warn the BA Festival of Science. Paul Hunter, professor of health protection at the University of East Anglia, will explain how patterns of infectious disease are altering. He says much time has been spent predicting the impact of global warming on the spread of disease but some tropical illnesses are already shifting northwards. "There already are indications of significant disease burden occurring as a result of climate change, even in Europe."
The Daily Telegraph

Increased flood risk linked to warming
Rainfall reaching almost monsoon levels has become increasingly common in Britain over the past 40 years, according to climate scientists who have sifted data since the 1960s. Flooding risks have also risen sharply close to rivers in areas that were previously considered high enough to avoid damage. The number of deluges, prolonged rain periods and flash floods has risen particularly sharply in the north of England and Scotland, with spectacular events including the creation of a lake larger in surface area than Windermere when the Ouse broke its banks near York in 2000.
The Guardian

Scientists crack secret of tougher egg shells
A new breed of hen which can produce eggs with extra-hard shells has been developed by scientists in Scotland. Experts at the Roslin Institute - where Dolly the cloned sheep was created - say they have devised a way of selectively breeding hens to produce eggs with toughened shells. They claim the development will save the UK's poultry industry £17 million per year in damaged eggs. The scientists have been working with colleagues at Glasgow Veterinary School and Leuven University in Belgium to produce the new hens. During the project, they discovered a genetic link between hens and the thickness of the shells of their eggs.
The Scotsman, The Times

From the weekend's papers:


  • Education Secretary Alan Johnson encourges universities to join price war. The Times


  • Teenagers studying science A levels should be paid a "bounty" and gain extra university entrance points for achieving top grades. The Sunday Telegraph
  • Glasgow University is to run a series of night classes for insomniacs. The Sunday Times
  • The number of Scots starting degrees at Cambridge University is set to hit a three-year high. The Scotsman

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