Hawking to divorce wife after 11 years' marriage
Stephen Hawking is to divorce for a second time, it was reported yesterday. Lawyers have lodged divorce papers at Cambridge County Court to end his 11-year marriage to Elaine Hawking. The Cambridge University professor, whose book A Brief History of Time has sold more than 10 million copies, made no public comment yesterday on the split, but the couple are both believed to want a divorce following the breakdown of their marriage. Judith Crosswell, Professor Hawking's secretary, said: "This is just a distraction, which is really annoying. We don't have time for any of this."
The Independent, The Daily Telegraph
The research councils halt Islamist project
Research councils today confirmed they have put on hold their involvement in a government-backed project that aimed to identify the growth of Islamist groups around the world. The decision by the Economics and Social Research Council and the Arts and Humanities Research Council followed accusations by academics that they would be putting the lives of British researchers at risk in Muslim countries. In a joint statement this afternoon, the two councils said "a section of our academic community" had raised concerns about the research, which they "have to take seriously".
The Guardian, The Times Higher Education Supplement (Oct 20)
Cloaking device works, sort of, scientists say
US and British scientists said yesterday they had found a way to hide an object from microwave radiation in a first step towards making what they hope will be an invisibility cloak. Such a device could be used to elude radar, but the researchers, like many scientists, are not working with any particular goal in mind but hope its uses will become apparent later. "It's not exactly perfect, we can do better, but it demonstrates the mechanism, the way the waves swirl around the centre region where you want to conceal things," said David Smith of Duke University in North Carolina.
The Scotsman, The Independent, The Times, The Guardian
Nurture can cause a struggle with maths
Women's ability to do maths can suffer if they believe that genetic factors are likely to make them less proficient, according to research. Scientists in Canada have found that women perform better at maths tests when told that female underachievement has a social cause than they do when told that it is the result of an innate predisposition for their sex. While the results, reported today in the journal Science , do not show whether there are any genetic differences between the mathematical abilities of men and women, they suggest that the way people perceive ideas of nature and nurture can have a direct influence on their behaviour.
The Times, New Scientist
Ancient fish fossil provides missing link in evolution of land animals
The discovery of a 380 million-year-old fossil in a remote region of Western Australia has given scientists new insight into the process by which fish evolved into land animals. The perfect skeleton of the Gogonasus fish was found preserved in limestone during an expedition organised by Melbourne's Museum Victoria. "It looks like it died yesterday," said the expedition leader, John Long. "You can still open and close the mouth." Dr Long said the fossil demonstrated that fish developed the anatomical features of four-legged land creatures, or tetrapods, much earlier than once thought.
The Independent, The Times