All entries for December 2010

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 >>

December 03, 2010

Warwick Week – Finger Lengths and Cancer, Weather Predictions for A&E, and Writing Prize Longlist

Finger lengths point to prostate cancer risk

Men who have long index fingers are at lower risk of prostate cancer, a new study published today in the British Journal of Cancer has found. The study led by The University of Warwick and The Institute of Cancer Research (ICR) found men whose index finger is longer than their ring finger were one third less likely to develop the disease than men with the opposite finger length pattern. Joint senior author and visiting academic at WMS, Professor Ken Muir, says: 

Our study indicates it is the hormone levels that babies are exposed to in the womb which can have an effect decades later. As our research continues, we will be able to look at a further range of factors that may be involved in the make-up of the disease.

Read more in the press release >>

How the weather affects injury rates

Taking the temperature outside A&E could give staff an accurate way to predict number of injuries and who will suffer them. Researchers at the University of Warwick found that even 5C falls or rises could make a difference to injury rates. The arrival of snow and ice led to an eight per cent rise, as the number of slips, trips and car accidents rose. However, the study found other increases linked to the heat of the summer, often viewed as a slightly calmer period in emergency departments.

Read more on the BBC’s website >>

Longlist for the Warwick Prize for Writing announced

The Warwick Prize for Writing, a unique prize launched in 2009, has announced a longlist which includes anthropologists and chemists challenging novelists and poets for the coveted prize of £50,000. The theme for the 2011 prize is ‘Colour’. The eleven longlisted titles comprise six non-fiction, three fiction and two poetry books. From ancient Rome and apartheid South Africa to the aftermath of civil war in Sierra Leone and the cultural history of London, the entries highlight the prize’s diversity and international scope. Nominees include a 1992 Nobel Prize for Literature winner (Derek Walcott), a Samuel Johnson Prize runner-up (Aminatta Forna) and a winner of the James Tait Black Memorial Prize (Iain Sinclair). Professor Nigel Thrift, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Warwick, said:

I’m delighted to see that the international appeal of this literary award has spanned three continents this year resulting in a diverse and intriguing selection of books. This creates a rather challenging but thoroughly enjoyable task and I’m very pleased to be part of the judging process.

Read more in the press release and see the full longlist >>

Professor Wyn Grant receives lifetime achievement award

The University of Warwick’s Professor Wyn Grant was awarded the Political Studies Association (PSA) Diamond Jubilee Lifetime Achievement Award on Tuesday night. The award is the most prestigious honour that the PSA can confer and is just reward for Professor Grant’s 40 years of outstanding scholarship and professional service. He is a researcher in numerous fields, with particular emphasis on interest groups, relations between governments and business, economic policy and globalisation. He is an acknowledged expert on the European Union’s Common Agricultural Policy, and in recent years has collaborated extensively with researchers in the field of biological science.

Read more in the press release >>

Warwick coach heads to Padel Tennis World Championship

The University of Warwick’s head tennis coach Matt Thomas is heading to Mexico to represent the United Kingdom at the Padel Tennis World Championships. The sport, which originated in South America, combines elements of tennis and squash usually in a doubles format. Matt Thomas explained:

Padel has grown rapidly around the world with 11 million people playing the game today. Many tennis and squash players play padel, as the game is a combination of both sports and the the squad currently consists of players that have played at a professional level and at Wimbledon. Padel is played by many professional tennis players around the world, including Andy Murray, as it develops tennis skills such as net play and feel and it is an enjoyable game.

Read more on the BBC’s website >>

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