Today's news

November 16, 2006

Protests grow over Reading physics closure
More than 1,600 academics from 20 countries have signed a petition calling on the University of Reading to abandon controversial plans to close its respected physics department. Staff and students will present the petition when they protest outside the university's council meeting on Monday, when the final decision on the fate of the department is due to be made. The University and College Union said the closure of the department was a "knee-jerk reaction to a short-term financial crisis". The support of academics from around the world indicated the level of opposition to the proposal.
The Guardian

Funding council commits £12m to skills projects
Universities will attempt to seize the market share of professional education from private specialist companies in a bid to better meet the needs of employers, a new document from the funding council said yesterday. The Hefce document outlines new regional higher education skills projects, which will be tailored to meet the needs of employers and developed as part of a £12 million investment. Hefce said these projects were part of an ambitious strategy to improve links between universities and employers. A key feature of each scheme will be skills brokerage to meet regional employment priorities.
The Guardian

Business for women event
Edinburgh is hosting a major conference aimed at getting more women into business. Scottish Enterprise's Business Gateway is holding Women into Business at Heriot-Watt University this Sunday. TV presenter Kaye Adams and April Chamberlain, joint managing director of the Comedy Unit, which is behind hit shows such as Chewin' the Fat and Only an Excuse , will be the special guests. There will be a series of workshops on topics such as business development and finance. Marie Dorris, representing Scottish Enterprise, said: "The conference offers women the chance to explore the opportunities of starting a new business."
The Scotsman

Historians Share $1 Million Kluge Prize
American historian John Hope Franklin and Chinese historian Ying-shih Yu will share the $1 million (£529,000) Kluge prize, created in 2003 to honor achievement in fields not covered by the Nobel Prizes. Franklin, 91, is an expert in African-American history and professor emeritus at Duke University. His 1947 work "From Slavery to Freedom" is now in its eighth edition and has been published in six languages. He was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian honor, in 1995, but he told The Associated Press on Wednesday that he was "absolutely swept away" by the Kluge prize.
The Guardian

Neanderthal DNA will help to unlock the secrets of humanity
Neanderthal man has begun to give up his genetic secrets almost 30,000 years after he last walked the Earth, providing critical insights into the genes that make human beings what they are today. DNA extracted from a Neanderthal bone has been analysed in detail for the first time and the genetic code of humanity’s closest cousin will be mapped completely within two years, scientists announced yesterday. The development will allow scientists to compare the human genome with that of our nearest living and extinct relatives - the chimpanzee and the Neanderthal - to tease out the differences between the three. These variations will in turn reveal the genes that make us human.
The Times, New Scientist, Nature

Another decade of E coli danger unless funding rises
Scotland faces having to live with outbreaks of the deadly E coli bug for at least a decade unless the Scottish Executive increases funding for research, a leading microbiologist has claimed. Professor Hugh Pennington said there was still no sign of any major breakthrough to wipe out the killer bug. And he said only increased money for research could speed up any kind of medical advance. Professor Pennington was speaking on the eve of the tenth anniversary of the world's most deadly outbreak of E coli O157, which struck in Wishaw, and killed 21 people.
The Scotsman

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