News In Brief – Michaelmas Week 8

19 November 2011

Kings’ students shave their head for cancer charity

A group of students at King’s College Cambridge have organized an event at which they intend to publicly shave their heads to raise money for Macmillan Cancer Support. The fundraising event was prompted by Kate McCutcheon’s diagnosis with a cancerous brain tumour towards the end of the summer. The tumour has been successfully removed and Kate will be undergoing chemotherapy and radiation for the next eight months. Their donations currently stand at £5,030 and they hope to reach £7,000.

Telegraph writer causes uproar over student protest comparisons

A writer for The Telegraph has compared the London student protests to ‘the Left-wing version of initiation ceremonies’. Guy Stagg, an Online Lifestyle Editor at the Telegraph Media Group and former researcher for the Conservative Party, compared the ‘ trend for sit-ins, protests, and occupy camps’ to the way in which societies initiate new members, stating: “Both provide the perfect setting to get rip-roaring drunk. Both go out of their way to encourage participants to misbehave. And of course student protests, like initiation ceremonies, are all rather pathetic.”

Plans to reduce Girton flood risk

Environment Agency grants announced today will bring benefits for around 100 homes at risk of flooding in the Girton and Oakington areas. This is part of a national project with funding of around £1.3 million, which aims to enable residents to install products to protect property, including measures like flood barriers, airbrick covers and pumps. The scheme for Cambridgeshire encompasses a £422,000 grant for Oakington and Girton, protecting 80 homes and a £126,000 scheme for Bin Brook which will cover 27 homes.

Oxford College bans Tories

The Dean of Corpus Christi College, Oxford, has forbidden students from holding any meetings of the Oxford University Conservative Association (OUCA) for the foreseeable future. Dr. Robin Murphy informed students of the decision via e-mail on 9th November, “as part of my investigations into recent events involving guests brought into college we are now prepared to deny Oxford University Conservative Association (OUCA) permission to book or use any college facility or room for any OUCA related activity.” The ban follows allegations of anti-Semitism reported by The Cambridge Student

Irish students protest over fees

On Wednesday around 15,000 students protested around government buildings in Dublin in anticipation of tuition fee rises in the upcoming budget. Chants, such as “No ifs, no buts, no education cuts”, against educational reforms were led by the president of the Union of Students in Ireland (USI), Gary Redmond. Students wafted placards and played drums while Mr Redmond addressed the crowd outside the Department of Taoiseach building. “We will not let you destroy our country,” bellowed Redmond. He added, “We will fight tooth and nail.”

Children who play video game have brains like gamblers

Cambridge researchers have found that those who spend large amounts of time playing games have brains which resemble those of people with a gambling addiction. The researchers scanned the brains of 154 teenagers while playing two games. They found that those who spent more time playing games had more grey matter in a dopamine rich area of the brain and that the brain’s reward centre in these individuals became activated when they were losing, a trait seen in gamblers which causes them to bet even when the odds are against them.

Tuition fee rise threatens NHS dentistry

The future of NHS dentistry could be vulnerable as students turn to private practice. Dentistry students will end up with debt of more than £50,000. The British Dental Association presented its concerns to the Commons Business Select Committee examining Government reforms of Higher Education, saying “over one third of students said that debt would influence their career path and encourage them into private, rather than NHS, practice. This could be exacerbated if dentistry is included as a subject justifying the highest tier of fee charges.”

Don testifies in libel dispute

Mohamed El Naschie, former editor of the physics journal, Chaos, Solitons and Fractals, has claimed that an article published in Nature in three years ago unfairly damaged his reputation. The article called into question the validity of the peer-review process at the journal while El Naschie was editor. Timothy John Pedley, Maths and Physics don at the University of Cambridge, testified that El Naschie was a visiting scholar with limited access and privileges, and as a visiting scholar was not properly affiliated with the University.

Cambridge Research could find secret to jet lag

Cambridge scientists investigating the concept of biological time have made breakthroughs which could affect the human body clock. The research indicates that daily cycles of biological systems absent DNA or with DNA shut off, could lead to new treatments for people with disjointed biological clocks. “A big problem with drug development targeting sleep and jetlag is that previously we were locked in a model with genes involved,” says lead researcher Akilesh Reddy, of the University of Cambridge in the U.K. “Genes are hard to manipulate with drugs, and gene therapy has been a rip roaring non-success,” he added.

Search for key to language

Cambridge linguists are trying to unlock the key to the ease with which young children learn languages. The study is being led by Professor Ian Roberts and will attempt to find this out by looking into how world languages are built. Professor Roberts said, “The central notion is that the specification that the child has in the genome, the universal grammar, must be of the most abstract properties of language and that different languages manifest these properties in slightly different ways. The empirical question then is to work out what it is about a language that guides the child’s innate ability to acquire it.”

The science of the near-death experience

Cambridge scientists have identified biological explanations for near-death experiences. The researchers conducted a review of the experiences in a collaborative study which showed that the supernatural feelings associated with such experiences are down to changes in brain function, stemming from the brain’s attempt to make sense of a traumatic situation. One of the collaborators, Dr Caroline Watt, said, “As psychologists and scientists it’s good to know what lies behind near death experiences; the research tells us a lot about normal brain function and what happens when we go through traumatic experiences.”

‘Blacking-up’ incident tarnishes sorority

Six members of a sorority at the University of Southern Mississippi have been placed on probation after it was revealed that they ‘blacked-up’ for a 1980’s themed costume party. The students, all members of Phi Mu sorority, were dressed as the Huxtable family from “The Cosby Show”. The students’ names have not been released by the university, although statements have been released which confirm the incident. Phi Mu National President Kris Bridges released a statement saying that the incident is being investigated.