Today's news

December 20, 2006

I'll fight on, says Oxford 'moderniser'
Oxford University is an "argumentative place", said its vice-chancellor yesterday as he finally admitted defeat over plans to bring in outsiders to run it. John Hood, the New Zealander recruited to bring the 800-year-old institution into the 21st century, said he would not resign over the failure. He would continue to seek changes and the debate, fierce and bitter at times, would form "just another part of Oxford's rich history". A spirit of "mutual trust and respect" was needed in future to help meet the challenges facing the university. Dr Hood was speaking after dons voted by almost two to one in a postal ballot to throw out the changes to the university's self-governing status.
The Daily Telegraph, The Times, The Financial Times, The Independent, The Guardian

Universities get £31m research awards
More than £31 million has been awarded today to promote UK cutting-edge research in fields ranging from renewable energy to mathematical analysis. The money is going to leading research-intensive universities. Four out of the seven awards are for joint projects, indicating how even players like Cambridge and Imperial are having to collaborate to keep up with the international competition. The science and innovation awards announced by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council range from popular concerns, such as a centre for renewable energy at Cardiff University, to ones the lay public will find incomprehensible. Two of the projects, totalling £6.7 million, are to run centres to research non-linear partial differential equations, regarded as vital for eventually solving a wide range of problems in diverse fields from medicine to finance.
The Guardian

Universities share out £5m
Two of Scotland's universities have received a share of £5 million for science and innovation. Edinburgh University and Heriot-Watt University were two of only four in Scotland to make successful bids. The funding comes as part of Science and Innovation Awards, which were introduced by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council in 2005, to support areas of research that might otherwise be under threat. The Scottish Funding Council, the Scottish Executive's agency for distributing cash to universities and colleges, is also contributing £1.17 million in addition to EPSRC's £5.42 million.
The Scotsman

Blair reveals secret 'theory of Mr Tony'
The most important challenge for today's world is to create a "global culture" based on universal values of openness, tolerance, equality, fairness and justice, Tony Blair said today. Speaking to students at a women's university in Abu Dhabi, Mr Blair said that, despite their different religions and different cultures, people of moderation around the world in fact "share the same God and the same values". In the 30-minutes following his speech, the Prime Minister answered questions posed by the Zayed University students on subjects including Palestine, Iran and Iraq - which one student described as having "reached disaster which might lead to civil war".
The Daily Telegraph

Warming seas drive shoreline species north
Climate change has forced seashore creatures around Britain to relocate, with warming seas pushing many species of barnacles, snails and limpets north in search of cooler areas of coast, according to a new study. "Climate change is having a big impact on British shorelines," said Nova Mieszkowska of the Marine Biology Association, who led the four-year MarClim project to track the distribution of 57 species at more than 400 sites around the UK coastline. According to modelling done by the UK climate impacts programme at Oxford University, sea surface temperatures will continue to rise as climate change takes hold. Around some parts of Britain, the temperatures are predicted to rise by up to 3C over the next century.
The Guardian

Two-headed beast from 100m BC
A miniature two-headed creature from the age of the dinosaurs has been discovered in China, astonishing scientists who never imagined that so rare a mutant could be preserved for 100 million years. The skeleton of a young aquatic reptile, known as Sinohydrosaurus lingyuanensis , is the first fossil ever unearthed has two heads and necks, showing that a developmental abnormality seen in modern snakes, turtles, lizards and crocodiles also afflicted their ancient forebears. The find is remarkable because it is extremely rare for any dead animal to be preserved as a fossil: the vast majority decompose without leaving a trace of their existence. For a specimen as rare as a mutant with two heads to survive defies the laws of probability, scientists said.
The Times, New Scientist

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