All entries for November 2010
November 26, 2010
During an interview with the American broadcaster NBC that was shown on Friday night, Prince Charles suggested that the Duchess of Cornwall “could be” Queen Camilla when he becomes king, becoming Britain’s first queen consort since the late Queen Elizabeth was crowned in 1937. But will she? Dr Sarah Richardson, Department of History, looks at some incidents of historical precedence:
There is no constitutional reason why the Duchess of Cornwall shouldn’t be crowned queen. There is no law that says a divorcée is excluded and, of course, Charles was himself divorced from Diana. Ever since Henry VIII got divorced, constitutionalists have tended to shy away from worrying about the issue of divorce. It all boils down to whether something is acceptable in the prevailing public opinion of the day. For example, Edward VIII did not have to abdicate for a constitutional reason, he abdicated because Wallis Simpson was considered unsuitable by the government.
Saving sprouts from deadly cigar burns
Brassicas like brussels sprouts, cabbages and broccoli are all susceptible to the turnip mosaic virus, commonly referred to by gardeners as ‘cigar burns’ because of the black spots it leaves on prize vegetables. The Government-funded Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) have invested more than £13 million into helping scientists discover new breeds of plants that are resistant to disease.
One of the most successful projects so far is led by Dr John Walsh, Department of Life Sciences:
TuMV causes really nasty-looking black necrotic spots on the plants it infects - ‘a pox on your’ vegetables! This can cause significant yield losses and often leaves an entire crop unfit for marketing. At best, a field of badly affected brussels sprouts provide some animal fodder, but these vegetables would not be appealing to most shoppers. The virus is particularly difficult to control because it is transmitted so rapidly to plants by insect vectors like greenfly.
Warwick Arts Centre's tribute to wealthy benefactor
Warwick Arts Centre’s new studio has been named the Helen Martin Studio after the wealthy Kenilworth woman who donated the equivalent of £28 million to the university. Helen Martin, of Spring Lane, Kenilworth, loved classical music and regularly attended classical concerts in at the arts centre’s Butterworth Hall.
She was a major benefactor of the university and from its earliest days established a trust fund that in today’s money would be worth £28 million. She insisted on being anonymous during her lifetime and was referred to by the university simply as ‘The anonymous benefactor.’
University of Warwick Vice-Chancellor Professor Nigel Thrift said:
Helen Martin’s name and her support for Warwick is now well known but despite her generosity being behind many of university buildings none of them bear her name. Now we will put that right by naming this fine new studio created as the final part of the recent £8 million redevelopment of Warwick Arts Centre.
History lessons to inform NATO exit strategies
As politicians and military strategists try to negotiate the NATO withdrawals from Iraq and Afghanistan, academics are looking at what history can tell us about how exits have been managed in the past. A research team from Oxford and Warwick Universities will examine two centuries of British imperialism, from the late eighteen century to the 1990s, in a wide-ranging study that focuses on the alliances and deals that the British brokered in conquering and controlling their empire.
The three-year research project, funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, will culminate in a conference in 2013 at which policymakers and academics will assess whether we can learn lessons from past experience.
Dr Daniel Branch, from the Department of History at the University of Warwick, said:
National myths don’t help us understand how empires worked and the fate of those who backed the losing side in anti-colonial rebellions. It is discomforting for some now to consider that as many Americans opposed the revolution there as supported it in the eighteenth century. The same is true for Kenya during the Mau Mau rebellion in the 1950s.
Warwick academics awarded research grants from the Leverhulme Trust
A clutch of young academics from the University of Warwick have been awarded research grants from the Leverhulme Trust. Philip Leverhulme Prizes are awarded to outstanding scholars who have made a substantial and recognised contribution to their particular field of study, recognised at an international level, and where the expectation is that their greatest achievement is yet to come.
Dr Giorgio Riello, of the University’s History department, has been awarded a Philip Leverhulme Prize – one of only 25 young academics in the country to be handed the honour. A further eight academics have been granted Leverhulme Early Career Fellowships – more than ten percent of the national awardees.
University of Warwick’s Deputy Vice Chancellor Professor Mark Smith said:
The University of Warwick’s research has long been established in the top ten of UK universities and these nine prestigious awards are testament to the quality of our young staff at the start of their academic careers. Such colleagues are essential to maintain and enhance Warwick’s research reputation in the future. Warwick is one of the top ten research universities in the UK and these nine awards to some of our young academics show the next generation are ready to keep us in the top ten.
November 19, 2010
Why it's hard to measure happiness
This week the government announced plans to measure the nation’s happiness, or general well-being (GWB) according to David Cameron. Prof Andrew Oswald of Warwick Business School is an expert in emotional prosperity and happiness. He said:
Economic performance is... a means to an end. That end is not the consumption of beefburgers, nor the accumulation of television sets, nor the vanquishing of some high level of interest rates, but rather the enrichment of mankind's feeling of well-being. Economic things matter only in so far as they make people happier.
An only child is a happy child
New research from Prof Dieter Wolke, Warwick Medical School, shows that the more siblings children have, the unhappier they become, due to bullying and competition. The research was featured in The Observer this week:
One of the widest-ranging research projects on family life conducted in Britain has revealed that the fewer siblings children have, the happier they are – and that only children are the most contented.
The findings, shared exclusively with the Observer, suggest that "sibling bullying" could be part of the problem, with 31% of children saying they are hit, kicked or pushed by a brother or sister "quite a lot" or "a lot". Others complain of belongings being stolen by siblings and being called hurtful names.
The figures are the first to emerge from Understanding Society, a study tracking the lives of 100,000 people in 40,000 British households. They will be revealed on Friday in Britain in 2011, the State of the Nation, a magazine published by the Economic and Social Research Council.
The deserving and the undeserving poor
Prof Mark Harrison was discussing the morals of the welfare state on BBC Radio 4’s Analysis programme on Monday this week (15th November).
The 30 minute programme, led by presenter Chris Bowlby considered whether a state welfare system can ever distinguish between those who deserve help and those who do not. Other contributors to the programme included Will Hutton, The Work Foundation; Jose Harris, Emeritus Professor of Modern History, Oxford University; Hazel Forsyth, Museum of London; and Gordon Lewis, Community Project Manager, Salvation Army.
Find out more about the programme and listen again >>
Masons' marks get a revival
A medieval system of marking stone in building work could be a cheap and effective way of ending the modern day frustration of constructing ‘flat-pack’ furniture, according to Dr Jenny Alexander, History of Art Department.
Her research was featured in The Guardian this week as a cheap and efficient solution to complex self-assembly furniture. She said:
If companies that make flat-pack furniture used a system similar to masons' assembly marks to show which pieces went together, it could remove the need for the complex and often impenetrable instruction booklets they currently issue.
November 12, 2010
Inflation and earnings: what is the cost of a pint of beer?
“It were all so much cheaper when I were a lad...” or was it? Professor Ian Stewart looks at how the money in your pocket has really changed over the years. Every day we are bombarded with historical comparisons, intended to demonstrate how badly off we all are, but as Prof Stewart argues, such calculations rarely allow for inflation.
No Need for Heroism?
Dr Angie Hobbs presented a public lecture this week on BBC Radio 3, exploring today's idea of heroism in war, social justice, the arts and sport. Courage, ambition, vainglory, sacrifice ... what does it mean to be a hero now? Dr Hobbs asks: does this ancient idea still have a role in our age of instant celebrity and can it rise above its financial and political exploitation?
Prof Tom Marsh talking Snooker Stars on BBC Radio 5
This week, Professor Tom Marsh spoke on BBC Radio 5, explaining the discovery of a star system that looks like a game of snooker. Warwick's astronomers looked at a binary star system which is 1670 light years away from Earth, consisting of two stars, a red dwarf and a white dwarf. As Prof Marsh commented, “it’s hard to escape the image of this system as being like a giant snooker frame with a red ball, two coloured balls, and dwarf white cue ball.”
VC's Blog: Idealism in Hard Times
Vice-Chancellor Professor Nigel Thrift's latest blog entry on the Chronicle of Higher Education's Worldwise international blog section is available to view online. The Vice-Chancellor comments on higher education conferences in both Britain and the US:
In the face of all the difficulties, participants understood that universities were a vital building block of a global civil society and a global citizenry. They understood the need for more cooperation, so as to form a community of communities which could sometimes act outside the traditional bounds of sovereignty… So in very challenging times, what I got out of these two meeting was not just hope but real propositions for how to change how we think about what universities can be which can inspire us to make renewed efforts to light the way ahead.
November 04, 2010
Warwick academics win grant funding
Two Warwick academics have been awarded funding from the Economic and Social Research Council’s Research Seminar Competition 2009-2010. The scheme aims to bring together researchers from across disciplines to identify new research agendas or capacity-building priorities. Dr Andres Carvajal, Department of Economics, received funding for his games and economic behaviour study group, while Professor Jenny Bimrose, Institute for Employment Research, has been awarded a grant for her work on reframing service delivery, professional practices and professional identities in UK careers work.
Revolutionizing work of electron microscopes
The single layer material Graphene was the subject of a Nobel prize this year but research led by a team of researchers at the University of Warwick has found molecular hooks on the surface of its close chemical cousin, Graphene Oxide, that will potentially provide massive benefits to researchers using transmission electron microscopes. They could even be used in building molecular scale mechanisms.
The world’s largest marine reserve
The British territorial waters of the Chagos Archipelago, in the Indian Ocean, have been designated as a ‘no-take’ zone, where commercial fishing is banned. Professor Charles Sheppard, Department of Biological Sciences, has been working on what is now the world’s largest marine reserve:
Governments need to stand up to the fishing industry lobby before it is too late. We cannot afford to have any more delay by governments in honouring their commitments to protect areas of ocean. Failure to do this would result in the degradation of the habitat, followed swiftly by degradation of the people who would have been supported by the habitat.
Have you heard Warwick in the news this week? Please do share anything you have found interesting...