December 10, 2010

Warwick Week – Wikileaks, Medieval Economics and the Diamond Planet

The dangers of Wikileaks

Website WikiLeaks has been the focus of heated debate after publishing details of private government information, mainly from the USA, sparking accusations of terrorism and arguments over freedom of speech. These came to a head this week with the arrest of Wikileaks founder, Julian Assange.

Professor Richard Aldrich, PAIS, said that Wikileaks had the potential to help militants find soft targets:

Essentially what it says to terrorists is at the moment you are attacking highly defended targets of relatively low value, what you could be doing is attacking high value targets that are relatively weakly defended. So it’s the overall message which has the potential to change the pattern of a number of terrorists groups around the world.

Read more in National Post >>

Medieval economics

Research led by economists at the University of Warwick shows that Medieval England was not only far more prosperous than previously believed, it also actually boasted an average income that would be more than double the average per capita income of the world's poorest nations today.

University of Warwick economist Professor Stephen Broadberry, who led the research, said:

Our work sheds new light on England's economic past, revealing that per capita incomes in medieval England were substantially higher than the "bare bones subsistence" levels experienced by people living in poor countries in our modern world. The majority of the British population in medieval times could afford to consume what we call a "respectability basket" of consumer goods that allowed for occasional luxuries.

Read more in the Daily Mail >>

Astronomer helps find diamond planet

A University of Warwick astronomer has played a vital role in finding the first carbon-rich planet orbiting a star 1,200 light years away, which could be home to large rocks of carbon – such as diamond or graphite. The planet was found last year by the WASP project, the UK's leading team of planet discoverers. Now, astronomers led by Nikku Madhusudhan of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have observed WASP-12b with NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope, and found that its atmosphere is dominated by molecules containing carbon.

WASP team member Dr Pete Wheatley, from the University of Warwick’s physic department, said:

The UKs WASP project, funded by the STFC research council, is finding many planets that are prime targets for NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope. It's fascinating to find a planet with so much carbon, and to imagine what other sorts of planet are out there.

Read the press release for more information >>

Creation of the Yvonne Carter Award

An award has been jointly instituted by the RCGP, through its Scientific Foundation Board, and the Society for Academic Primary Care in commemoration of Professor Yvonne Carter CBE. The Yvonne Carter Award for Outstanding Young Researcher is intended support the international development of promising researchers in primary care. Yvonne Carter was an outstanding and inspirational leader who had a remarkable impact on academic general practice.

Read more on the Royal College of General Practioners' website >>

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