All entries for September 2010

September 24, 2010

Warwick Week 10 – T2K in Japan, Imaginary Numbers, Prince and Prize, Elvin

Warwick in the News

Warwick Big in Japan
BBC Science Correspondent, David Gregory has been in Japan with Dr Gary Barker, Department of Physics and colleagues who are currently investigating the properties of neutrinos in the massive T2K experiment. T2K fires a dense neutrino beam from Tokai on Japan's east coast to a huge detector 300km away in Kamioka - the University of Warwick's job is to construct the detector in Tokai.
Read David Gregory’s blog post from Japan >>
Watch the report on BBC iPlayer  - Midlands Today >>

Imaginary Numbers – In Our Time
Prof Ian Stewart and Prof Caroline Series, Department of Mathematics were discussing "imaginary numbers" with Marcus du Sautoy, Professor of Mathematics at Oxford University and Melvyn Bragg on Thursday's In Our Time programme on Radio 4.
Listen again >>

Prince and Prize for World First Formula 3 Racing Car
The World First Formula 3 racing car from WMG has received two significant accolades this month, confirming its reputation as the ultimate green racing car. Just two weeks ago the car was selected to be one the green technologies presented to The Prince of Wales during visit to Birmingham. Now it has also been shortlisted for the THE (Times Higher) award for Outstanding Engineering Research Team of the Year.


Dean of WMS to become next President of Royal Society
The Dean of Warwick Medical School, Professor Peter Winstanley has been appointed as the next President of the Royal Society for Tropical Medicine and Hygiene. Professor Winstanley will become the 51st President when he takes up the position in June 2011
Find out more >>

Professor Patrick Unwin awarded Geoffrey Barker Medal
Professor Patrick Unwin, Department of Chemistry has been awarded the Geoffrey Barker Medal by the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC). This medal is given in recognition of Professor Unwin’s contributions to the field of electrochemistry throughout his career, which have helped raise the UK's standing in this field.

Monash Visit
Colleagues from Monash University have been visiting Warwick this week to participate in a joint senior administrative conference with a group of Warwick senior officers. The aim of the conference is to further develop strategic dialogue between Warwick and Monash in order to continuously improve university performance and student experience.

Research News

Making Silent Electric Vehicles Safer
The University is currently running a major research project to improve the safety of electric vehicles. At the present time, electric vehicles are silent, creating a risk for pedestrians - particularly those with limited sight who rely on the noise that cars make to remain safe on the roads.
Find out more about Elvin the electric vehicle >>
Take part in the interactive evaluation >>

Mass Spectromoty Lab
Earlier this month, the newly built Ion Cyclotron Resonance Laboratory was officially opened at Millburn House which houses state-of-the-art Fourier transform ion cyclotron resonance (FTICR) mass spectrometers. These instruments are used for determining the mass-to-charge ratio (m/z) of ions based upon the cyclotron frequency of the ions orbiting in a fixed magnetic field.
Read more about the opening of the labs >>
Visit the research web pages >>

What’s On?

Undergraduate Open Day – Saturday 25th September
Campus will be busy on Saturday as prospective Undergraduate students and their families will be visiting for the University Open Day. 

Knowledge Exchange Workshop: The Digital Good Life - Thursday 30th September 2010
The Knowledge Exchange team at the International Digital Lab are hosting this event for Midlands-based SMEs to ensure good value and efficiency is achieved through business processes.
Find out more about the event >>

Music Centre - Free Lunchtime Concerts
The Music Centre are hosting a series of free lunchtime concerts that are open to the general public during the Autumn term.
Find out more >>

September 10, 2010

Warwick Comment

A recent report into obesity surgery has shown that it "could save millions of pounds". As reported by the BBC this week: "The Office of Health Economics suggests £1.3bn could be saved over three years if a quarter of eligible patients got treatment through more people working and fewer demands on the NHS."

Professor Sarah Stewart-Brown, Chair of Public Health at Warwick Medical School suggests that surgery isnt' the answer to the problem:

Like so many of the treatments modern medicine offers, obesity surgery has helped and will continue to help some obese people greatly. It will also have created serious problems for a small number of people in whom surgery does not go well and overall, like other modern medical treatments, obesity surgery will have remarkably little effect on the public health.

The epidemic of obesity is very serious and it is not going to be solved by surgery or pills. It can only be solved by changing the obesogenic environment we have created and by making it clear that individuals are also responsible for their health. Obesity is caused by eating unhealthily and not taking enough exercise. So it is a problem individuals can solve for themselves.

Sugar intake is critical particularly in the form of fizzy drinks and snacks. Changing to healthier eating patterns, consuming for example more fruit and vegetables, and becoming more physically active both increase feelings of wellbeing so there are immediate positive returns for those who take these steps. Whatever the results the Office of Health Economics study, let us not fool ourselves into thinking that surgery is the answer.

Warwick Week – Kelly Holmes, Swimming the Channel, World Rankings, Spending Cuts

Warwick in the News

Olympic star Dame Kelly Holmes visits Warwick
Double Olympic champion Dame Kelly Holmes will be visiting the campus this weekend to work with 21 talented young middle distance athletes who are part of her ‘On Camp with Kelly’ mentoring and education initiative.
Find out more >>

Sociologist swims the English Channel for her research
Prof Karen Throsby, Department of Sociology swam the English Channel in 16 hours and nine minutes last week as part of her research into “embodiment and identity in an extreme sporting culture”.

Vince Cable highlights WMG as “outstanding” centre of innovation and industry partnership
WMG was hailed as a role model of partnership between science research and industry in a key speech by Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills Dr Vince Cable at an event on Wednesday.


Warwick ranked 53 in the world
In the latest QS World University Rankings published on Wednesday 8th September, the University climbed five places on the previous year to be ranked 53rd overall in the world.
Read Vice-Chancellor Professor Nigel Thrifts comments on global university ranking >>

Institute of Digital Healthcare
The University of Warwick has joined forces with NHS West Midlands to create the new Institute of Digital Healthcare, a collaboration aimed at improving people’s health and wellbeing through the use of innovative technologies.
Read the press release >>

Director of the Centre for Lifelong Learning retires after 20 years
Dr Russell Moseley, Director of the Centre for Lifelong Learning has retired after more than 20 years. During his time at the University, Dr Moseley has been a champion for widening participation in education for adults across Coventry and Warwickshire.
Read the announcement >>

Research News

High profile celebrity illnesses can be good for public health
New research suggests that high profile celebrity illnesses can be good for public health. The study from researchers at Warwick Medical School also showed that media coverage of Jade Goody’s illness led to 100,000 more cervical cancer screenings.

Short sleepers at higher risk of type 2 diabetes and heart disease
People who sleep less than six hours a night may be three times more likely to develop a condition  which leads to diabetes and heart disease according to new research from Warwick Medical School.


Spending cuts: what the economists say

With the government Comprehensive Spending Review due in October, the BBC asked leading economists for their view on the impact of budget cuts. Read the comments on the BBC website.

In a highly critical speech to the Lords in July, the former Tory peer accused the government of "grotesque exaggeration of the dangers of debts and deficits":

"To advocate capital cutting at a time of recession is the worst remedy that one could possibly have.

"It is an insane policy and it will not only destroy the coalition, but it will do enormous damage to the country."

He rejects the idea that failing to cut the deficit will hurt future generations.

"A deficit does not impose a burden on future generations. There is no repayment burden because the government, unlike private individuals, can and normally does repay their maturing debts by continuing to borrow.

"If, however, the public deficit is cut now, there will undoubtedly be a burden on both present and future generations.

"Income and profits will be lowered straightaway; profits will fall over the medium term; pension funds will be diminished; investment projects will be cancelled or postponed; and schools will not be rebuilt, with the result that future generations will be worse off."

September 03, 2010

Warwick Week – IGGY, Learning Grid, Soccer in China, Blair's Memoirs

Warwick in the News

IGGY in Botswana
Last  week, some of the world’s brightest young people took part in the IGGY U Summer School in Botswana thanks to a special partnership between the Botswana Ministry of Education and Skills Development (Education Hub) and the International Gateway for Gifted Youth (IGGY). Young people from Botswana, South Africa, Brunei, Ghana, Tanzania, and the UK will enjoy special courses in Mathematics, Creative Writing, Chemistry, Physics, Marketing and Entrepreneurship.
Read more on the THE website >>

Learning Landscapes
Warwick’s Learning Grid has been held up as shining example of creativity in campus design in a Guardian article on the revolution in University architecture and design.

…the Learning Grid is, according to its manager, Rachel Edwards, "a technology-rich, flexible and informal learning environment, open 24/7 with a capacity for 300 people". Essentially, this is a fusion of a library and a common room. It allows disciplines to cross. It encourages students to help one another as well as themselves. It is generating fresh lines of research. "It's been breaking down the gap between students and teachers," says Neary, "with students becoming part of the academic project rather than consumers of dispensed knowledge."”

Read the full article on the Guardian website >>

Soccer kits in China

Research by leading football brand expert Sue Bridgewater shows the Chinese passion for sportswear is a major income driver for the world’s leading football clubs. Sue Bridgewater is Associate Professor of Marketing and Strategy at Warwick Business School and also runs the University’s Centre for Management in Sport.
Read more on the China Daily website >>


Two New US Higher Education Roles for University of Warwick’s Vice-Chancellor
Last week we told you about Vice-Chancellor Professor Nigel Thrift's appointment as a Marshall Aid Commemoration Commission Commissioner by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO). He has also now been asked to join the American Council on Education’s Blue Ribbon Panel on Global engagement which will look at US Universities response to the increasingly globalised landscape of higher education.
Find out more >>

West Midlands Chemistry Technician of the Year
Mass Spectrometry Technician Philip Aston has made the shortlist for the prestigious title of West Midlands Chemistry Technician of the Year. He is one of nine hopefuls hoping to take home the award, which will be handed out at a special ceremony on September 15.
Read the Press Release >>

Portfolios for the Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Pro Vice-Chancellors 2010-2011
Earlier in the year, the posts of Deputy Vice-Chancellor and the Pro Vice-Chancellors were announced. Each year, the roles of these post-holders is amended to reflect the strategic priorities of the University and the portfolios for those posts have now been announced. 
Find out more >>


Unshaken, nor stirred - Associate Prof Steven Kettell from Politics and International Studies comments on the publication of Blair's Memoirs

The publication of Tony Blair's memoirs comes at an opportune moment in British politics. With the New Labour years now receding into the past, and with the new Coalition government seeking to remould the political and economic landscape in its own image, questions about the Labour legacy and its place in the pantheon of British government, are likely to become increasingly germane. The larger part of this debate will, naturally, turn on the Premiership of Tony Blair; the political sun around which the Labour project itself revolved. And so it is that Blair's own contribution has now arrived.

Coming from a Prime Minister who, by the end, had become almost consumed by his desire for a legacy, the publication of his own view of events should be seen as nothing less than a directly personal attempt to stake the claim for his place in history. And history, at least that of the recent variety, is the stuff of which this book is made. Ten years in office offers nothing if not an opportunity to reflect, and Blair's reflections are wide-ranging in scope: from Princess Diana to devolution, from public sector reform to peace in Northern Ireland, from the politics of world leadership to the minutiae of life as Britain's most senior politician.

But two issues, above all else, loom large across the pages: Blair's spiked relationship with his Chancellor, and forlorn successor, Gordon Brown, and his decision to partake in the American-led invasion of Iraq. The foremost of these gives Blair the chance to even a score that one senses has been long in gestation. In an adroitly mustered kick-and-tell, Blair makes clear that it was on his talents and vision, rather than those commanded by Brown, that the electoral success of New Labour was built. Brown, so we are told, was simply ill-equipped and ill-suited to deal with the challenges of the modern Premiership, with Blair's faint praise for his intellectual abilities serving merely as the prelude to a more damning indictment of his poor leadership, strange behaviour and lack of emotional intelligence.

If Blair's antipathy towards Brown is hardly surprising, however, then nor is the line taken in defence of the Iraq war. Faced with allegations of deceit over its reasons, and charged with incompetence over its aftermath, Blair's position retains an uncompromising posture. The threat from Iraq, we are told, remained real (even if this has now been downgraded to a question of intent), as does the civilisational necessity of winning the broader war on terror.

But this raises the most obvious and paradoxical point of the Blair memoirs; namely, that the more they assert the less they convince. On Brown, Blair's claims to political omniscience concerning a calamity-in-waiting are tainted by his public support (albeit belated) for the succession, while on Iraq, Blair's claim to have been unaware of the problems that would be faced in the postwar arena, coming in light of numerous warnings made ahead of the invasion, does more to raise questions about his political judgement than to expunge culpability from the record.

Scholarly dissection of New Labour is set to enjoy a leisurely ebb-and-flow, as measurable comparisons emerge in light of the Coalition's record in office, but for Blair, now three years departed from office, the public die has already been cast. Those for whom the New Labour years are regarded as a wasted opportunity to break the Thatcher mould, and for whom the rottenness of the last Parliament was, to no little degree, a reflection of a self-serving political class cultivated and encouraged by the Blair administrations, are likely to remain unconvinced by repeated asseverations of good intention. If this hand was too frequently played by Blair during his time at the high seat of power, then its ability to carry any weight of sincerity now that he finds himself far from it is even more diminished. Even the donation of Blair's not-inconsiderable royalties to the Royal British Legion has failed to silence his critics; and the cynically-minded may allude (not too-ungraciously, perhaps), that the memoirs will, in any case, do little to dent his status in the cash-rich world of international media celebrity. To that extent, at least until the revisionists take their turn, Blair's legacy in the minds of many looks set to remain a vainglorious and unhappy one. His memoirs will do little to change it.

September 2010

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