Today's news

December 22, 2006

Stay-at-home students could undermine top colleges
More students are choosing universities near their home in a trend that could undermine the traditional hierarchy of British universities, a higher education think-tank has warned. There is a widespread and "probably accurate" view that degrees from some universities are more valuable in the job market than others, the Higher Education Policy Institute said. However, as more students want to save money and stay at home while they study, the dominance of several leading institutions could begin to fade.
The Guardian

Filter could stop spread of vCJD through transfusion
A new blood filter device could in future prevent people being infected with the human form of mad cow disease through transfusions, it was revealed today. The technique can effectively remove the rogue prion proteins responsible for transmitting brain diseases such as variant CJD. Although so far tested only on hamster blood containing the prions that cause scrapie, a related disease affecting sheep, scientists believe it can be developed for humans.
The Independent

Chinese PhD students say ‘humbug!’ to Christmas
Ten doctoral students from three of China's top universities have posted an online petition slamming local Christmas celebrations and calling on people to "resist Western cultural invasion", state media said today. The students from the elite Peking, Tsinghua and People's universities railed against "American and European culture" expanding throughout China along with "their technological and economic domination", the China Daily said. "Occidental culture has been more like storms sweeping through the country rather than mild showers" said the paper, quoting from the petition dated with China's traditional lunar calendar.
The Scotsman

Genome expert is named director of science centre
An international expert in genome sciences has been appointed as the first director of a centre that will specialise in animal and agricultural science. David Hume will head up the project, which will see about 450 scientists and support staff based at Edinburgh University's new Easter Bush campus. The centre will be established over the next 18 months, bringing together experts from the university's Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies, the Institute for Animal Health Neuropathogenesis Unit, the Roslin Institute and the Scottish Agricultural College.
The Scotsman

Viking longships plan perilous trip to new museum
Viking longships ruled the seas 1,000 years ago and even crossed the Atlantic and now three of them may face a new perilous trip, albeit just 6 km (4 miles) across Oslo. Oslo University, which looks after the ships, wants to move the ancient wooden vessels from the Viking Ship Museum on the edge of the Norwegian capital to a new city-centre museum for all Viking artefacts. But Wednesday's vote for the move by the university board sparked disputes yesterday about whether or not they were strong enough to survive or would splinter apart on the way.
The Scotsman

The giant that looked down on all Europe
A huge new species of dinosaur discovered in Spain is the largest land animal ever known to have lived in Europe and one of the biggest creatures to have walked the Earth, research has shown. Turiasaurus riodevensis , which belongs to an entirely new group of the long-necked herbivorous dinosaurs known as the Sauropods , weighed between 40 and 48 tonnes when fully grown, and measured between 30m and 37m (100ft-120ft) from head to tail. The upper bone from its front leg - the humerus - was as tall as an adult man, and the claw on its hoof was as long as a rugby ball. It was as heavy as six or seven elephants.
The Times, New Scientist

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