Today's news

March 1, 2007

University funding to rise by 6%
Universities in England will share around £7.14 billion for teaching and research in the coming year, the funding council, Hefce, announced today. Hefce also confirmed that institutions would receive an extra £75 million over the next three years to fund and encourage the study of physics, chemistry and engineering. The extra cash injection from government is a recognition that these subjects are expensive to teach and that, until this year, their popularity among students has been waning. The £7.14 billion funding allocation is 6.4 per cent more than last year and enough to fund an extra 33,000 places for full-time students.
The Guardian, The Financial Times, The Times, The Times Higher Education Supplement (March 2)

German rules force man to urinate in bottle in exam
Exam supervisors at a German university stuck to rules so rigidly that a man with a bladder dysfunction had to urinate in a bottle in front of 120 fellow students because they would not let him go to the toilet. Overseers at the University of Freiburg in southwestern Germany told the -year-old, whose bladder control was impaired in an accident that left him on crutches, that he would be failed if he left the room during the exam. None of the three supervisors would accompany the man to the toilet despite other students' protests. Eventually one female student emptied her water bottle so the man could go to a corner of the room and relieve himself.
The Scotsman

Academics to unveil avian flu 'futures market'
Researchers at the University of Iowa will today unveil a futures-style market in avian flu, and plan to recruit a global network of health professionals to help determine where and when a pandemic could strike. The university has already developed trading systems that use the information from collective human predictions to forecast the outcome of political elections and used the model in 2004 to test a market identifying the likelihood of influenza outbreaks in Iowa.
The Financial Times

Canada to study polar ecosystem for climate clues
The largest research project ever undertaken in the Arctic will study the impact of global warming on the sensitive region's ecosystem next winter, Canadian project leaders said today. Researchers will troll a frigid open channel on the Beaufort Sea using a retrofitted icebreaker to study the Arctic environment and its shrinking sea ice. The C$40 million (£17 million) investigation involving more than 200 researchers from 14 countries is believed to be the largest single study in the International Polar Year program, launched today in Paris.
The Scotsman

Scientists create world's thinnest material
Researchers have created the world’s thinnest sheet - a single atom thick - and used it to create the world’s smallest transistor, marking a breakthrough that could spark the development of super-fast computer chips. This innovation will allow ultra small electronics to take over when the current silicon-based technology runs out of steam, according to Professor Andre Geim and Dr Kostya Novoselov from the University of Manchester. They reveal details of transistors that are only one atom thick and fewer than 50 atoms wide in the journal, Nature Materials .
The Daily Telegraph, The Times

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