Today's news

September 22, 2006

University workers hit by increase in violence
University and college staff in Edinburgh are facing growing levels of violence and abuse from students, lecturers' union leaders warned yesterday. One staff member has been sent a death threat by e-mail while others have found abusive messages landing in their inboxes. Others have reported being pushed or facing aggression from students, sometimes over relatively trivial matters. One has told how a student became aggressive after being told they would be deducted marks for handing in an assignment late. The 30 serious incidents reported to universities and colleges across the city over the last three years do not represent the true scale of the problem, according to union leaders.
The Scotsman

Map thief resented prestigious libraries
A dealer of antique treasures who admitted stealing more than $3 million (£1.6 million) in rare maps was resentful of the world's top libraries and acted to finance his rich tastes and rising debt, prosecutors said on Thursday. Shedding light onto why Edward Forbes Smiley III stole 98 of the world's most precious maps over seven years, papers filed in Connecticut's US District Court said he initially acted because he felt he had been wronged and slighted. "Although he had a large degree of access to many libraries for his research and used such access, he did not steal maps from every library that he visited," prosecutors wrote.
The Scotsman

Aids discoverer finds new hope of cure after trials of vaccine
The scientist who discovered the Aids virus more than 20 years ago said he has developed a potential vaccine against the disease that has killed 25 million people around the globe. Robert Gallo, who in 1984 along with the French scientist Luc Montagnier was the first to identify that HIV caused Aids, said the latest discovery had made him more optimistic that the disease could be beaten than he had felt for a decade. Almost 40 million people are living with HIV, most in sub-Saharan Africa, and four million more are infected each year. A vaccine that would halt its spread is the holy grail for researchers, but despite 20 years of effort and the expenditure of millions of dollars, all attempts to do so have so far failed.
The Independent

Douglas emerges from the fringe
Gavin Douglas, a 23-year-old graduate of Northampton University, yesterday took the Fashion Fringe 2006 title at London Fashion Week with a collection inspired by the lifestyle and clothes of the black community of Victorian London. "This is brilliant. Now I can take my career to the next level," said Douglas, from Birmingham, the youngest son of a Jamaican-born mother as he received his trophy from last year's winner, Erdem Moralioglu, who will present his collection at London Fashion Week today.
The Daily Telegraph

Flies explain mystery of sleep
The more we gossip, socialise and learn, the more we need to nap, scientists report today in a study that sheds new light on the mystery of sleep. Many theories have been advanced over the years to explain why we need so much sleep. Today, scientists put forward new evidence that our bodies require sleep so our brain can process what we have learned during the day. The insight is reported today in the journal Science by Indrani Ganguly-Fitzgerald of the Neurosciences Institute, San Diego, California, who used fruit flies for her experiments with colleagues in Washington University, St Louis. Flies sleep, as we do, and share important genes. Unlike humans, however, they make ideal and compliant experimental subjects and can be studied at genetic level.
The Daily Telegraph, Nature

Conspiracy theorists must face the truth of Mars hill
New images of the "face" on Mars have been obtained by Europe's Mars Express spacecraft. They reinforce what scientists thought from the beginning – that the face is just a naturally sculpted hill. The "face" appeared in a photo of Mars's Cydonia region taken in 1976 by Nasa's Viking 1 spacecraft. Nasa scientists believed from the beginning that the feature was simply a hill that happened to look like a face because of the way the Sun cast shadows across it at the time the photo was taken. However, the image sparked speculation that the face was built by aliens and that Nasa was trying to cover it up.
New Scientist

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