Today's news

October 10, 2006

Boycott of Israel will fail, lecturers warned
A boycott by UK lecturers of universities in Israel will succeed only in isolating academics who are critical of their government's policies towards the Palestinians, the Israeli education minister warned yesterday. The comment from Yuli Tamir, who is visiting London, comes as Israel attempts to counter a growing boycott movement by academics around the world. Ms Tamir said a boycott was the "wrong political tool" to force change. "In a way, what a boycott does is it weakens the possibility that there will be a real debate in Israel and there will be ways to change or support the way the government behaves."
The Financial Times, The Guardian

Inflation visionary wins Nobel Prize for economics
Professor Edmund Phelps, of New York's Columbia University, has won the Nobel Prize for economics for his work on the relationship between inflation and unemployment. The 73-year-old was rewarded for his work in the 1960s, which showed how inflation does not only depend on unemployment but also on the expectations of firms and employees about future price and wage increases.
The Daily Telegraph, Financial Times, The Guardian, The Independent

Edinburgh professors make history
Three women are to make history at Edinburgh University by taking on top roles in the field of engineering. Rebecca Barthelmie, Rebecca Cheung and Andrea Schaefer's appointments will be the first time that women have held professorships in engineering in the university. Wind energy expert Ms Barthelmie is developing methods to improve the management and efficiency of wind farms. Ms Cheung has done pioneering work in the fields of nanoelectronics and micro-electromechanical systems, while Ms Schaefer has worked on environmental projects, including a system that provides safe drinking water in developing countries.
The Scotsman

IT on campus is a mixed bag
Can a top-rated university really get by with outmoded IT equipment? Apparently so. Computer systems that are up to 15 years old are clunking along in some institutions, according to consultants who looked at 60 departments in 42 universities. But they also say that in some cases this is impairing the ability of academics to carry out their research effectively. Firewalls designed to protect university systems from illegitimate sites and hackers, can prevent academics from communicating with foreign research laboratories. “Libraries and research are moving towards delivering information electronically. This needs a high-speed internet connection,” says Andy Jordan, one of the consultants involved in the research.
The Times, The Times Higher Education Supplement (Oct 6)

Gobbets of material make history A level useless, says Starkey
History teaching at A level is so fragmented and useless that it produces "nothing but elaborately polished mediocrity'' among students, claims one of the country's most eminent academics. David Starkey, the television historian and a Fellow of Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge, said events were often taught in isolation leaving pupils with no understanding of the order in which they occurred and little idea of what went on before or after. A levels were too often taught as if they were miniature degrees, with so much analysis crammed in that the periods they covered had to be cut short into "tiny gobbets of chewed-up material''.
The Daily Telegraph

How a drink after work can increase your rate of pay
Employees who enjoy a drink after work earn more than colleagues who go straight home, according to an employment study. Research from the US indicates that social drinkers earn, on average, up to 14 per cent more than teetotallers in the same profession, with women benefiting more than men. Drinkers partial to an after-work pint may have an advantage in many workplaces because they are usually more outgoing and gregarious and use their ability to mix well to great effect at work. By drinking moderately outside the office they are also more likely to socialise with managers, colleagues and clients, building contacts and relationships as a result, researchers from San José State University, California, suggest.
The Times

Acid found in moss might be used in chemotherapy
A compound derived from moss could be used to treat cancer patients, researchers said. A study presented at the National Cancer Research Institute conference in Birmingham found that usnic acid, which is found in tiny lichens, could be used in chemotherapy drugs to kill cancer cells. Laboratory tests have shown the compound is an effective anti-cancer agent, and lacks the toxic side-effects of traditional chemotherapy drugs. Dr Virginia Appleyard, from Dundee University, said: "The interesting thing about this research is that many of the current drugs in chemotherapy provoke DNA damage.
The Scotsman

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