Today's news

October 13, 2006

Khatami lecture attracts protesters
Former Iranian president Mohammad Khatami will face protests from students and human rights groups as he delivers a keynote lecture at the University of St Andrews later this month. The former premier, who ruled the Middle Eastern state until last year, will open a new Institute of Iranian Studies at St Andrews on October 31 and will also be made an honorary doctor of laws by Sir Menzies Campbell, the Liberal Democrat leader and the university's chancellor. Mr Khatami will open the university's institute, which will house 12,000 books donated by Sadegh Kharazi, Iran's former ambassador to France. The collection of Iranian texts, the largest of its kind in Europe, is estimated to be worth more than £100,000.
The Guardian

The value of teapots and other odd conundrums for Oxbridge
The questions look like a bizarre cross between University Challenge and Trivial Pursuit . But the consequences of a bad answer are far from trivial. As sixth-formers prepare to submit their applications to Oxford and Cambridge universities before Sunday’s deadline, a study of 1,200 students has revealed some of the quirkier lines of inquiry from tutors who interview candidates. Last year’s applicants to study politics, philosophy and economics at Oxford claim to have been asked: “If there were three beautiful, naked women standing in front of you, which one would you pick? And does this have any relevance to economics?” Others applying for places on the same course said that they were asked to price a teapot or compare Tony Blair with a 19th-century politician.
The Times, The Guardian

Professor named as new principal of Heriot-Watt
Edinburgh's Heriot-Watt University has revealed Glasgow-based Professor Antonio Muscatelli is to be its new principal. He is currently Professor of Political Economy in the Department of Economics at Glasgow University. Professor Muscatelli is set to arrive at Heriot-Watt in February. He said: "I am delighted to be appointed principal of Heriot-Watt University. Heriot-Watt is recognised internationally for excellence in teaching and research. "I look forward to working with staff, students, and alumni to continue to develop Heriot-Watt's reputation as a research led university."
The Scotsman

Business executives to learn from Caesar
Julius Caesar has clearly not lost his influence. The course brochure for a new management course at Oxford's Saïd Business School reads: "Men at some time are masters of their fates: The fault dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves, that we are underlings." Drawing on this quote and others from the power-hungry Roman leader, the new management programme at the business school will explore organisational power and politics using Shakespeare's play, Julius Caesar . The three-day programme will combine experiential role-plays based on Shakespeare's play with modern management theory and applications to develop a "political toolkit" for organisational leaders.
The Guardian

Student barred over sex film
An Oxford student has been suspended for secretly filming two others romping on a bed in a college room. Jack Orr-Ewing, an Old Harrovian, captured the couple on his mobile phone after they spent an evening in Lincoln College's bar. The woman saw Mr Orr-Ewing, 19, spying through the bedroom window when he stumbled trying to climb on to the windowsill for a better view. The next day the scenes were allegedly posted on the internet and linked to the student website, Oxford Gossip, where it was downloaded by undergraduates and passed around by mobile phone. The one-minute clip, which contains erotic moans and muffled giggling, only ends when the shocked woman turns to face the camera, screaming "Oh my God".
The Daily Telegraph, The Times

Vaccine's the right medicine for rare wolf
Edinburgh University scientists have helped to develop a targeted vaccination scheme that will help save threatened species from extinction. The researchers, working with colleagues from Oxford and Glasgow universities, said animals such as the Ethiopian wolf, the world's most endangered member of the dog family, could be protected. Instead of immunising entire populations, the scientists said they have shown that vaccinating about 25-30 percent of Ethiopian wolves could reduce the number of animals dying from rabies.
The Scotsman

Fossil embryos from China reveal the oldest animals on Earth
The discovery of a group of half-billion-year-old fossilised embryos in China has given a glimpse of the very first animals to evolve on Earth, overturning the accepted picture of how life evolved. Dr James Hagadorn of Amherst College, Massachusetts, who led a team of 15 scientists from five countries, reports in the journal Science that the 160 fossilised embryos, each of which consists of up to 1,000 cells and dates back as far as 580 million years, form the root stock of all of today's animals and were a critical part of the so-called Cambrian Explosion, in which animals became bigger, more diverse and ecologically dominant.
The Daily Telegraph, New Scientist

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