Here’s our physics news round-up for 20 August 2012
Half of pupils failing in GCSE maths and science
Hundreds of thousands of teenagers are being denied the chance to pursue highly-skilled careers after failing in science and maths at secondary school, according to research. Figures show that in some areas fewer than a third of pupils finish compulsory education with at least a GCSE C grade in maths and two separate sciences – seen as the minimum requirement for further study or apprenticeships. The report, by Education for Engineering (E4E), a body representing the engineering industry, found that almost a fifth of pupils were not even entered for two sciences.
Where physics meets biology
In this blog, Athene Donald details her career as a scientists working at the crossover between physics and biology. Donald describes the most famous example of where physics and biology came together — Watson and Crick resolving the structure of DNA — and highlights materials produced by the Institute of Physics to help university departments to introduce the interdisciplinary field to undergraduates.
Minister ‘sympathetic’ over Ulster university’s admissions blunder
A Stormont minister has said he will look sympathetically on a university facing possible financial penalty for exceeding student numbers after an email glitch saw hundreds of course offers sent in error. The school of engineering at the University of Ulster mistakenly responded to 370 applications with congratulatory offers when only 194 places were available. The university has decided to allow the majority of those who received the email to take a place.
In a letter to the times, Sir James Dyson says that science and maths are experiencing a renaissance and it’s exciting to imagine what today’s students will discover in the future.
The Times (Subscription required)
Sun stays nearly spherical, even when it freaks out
New research has shown that despite sunspots, coronal loops and flares, the Sun remains remarkably constant in its globular shape—findings that have left researchers scratching their heads. The researcher found that if you shrank the Sun down to beach ball size, the difference between its north-south and the east-west diameters would be thinner than the width of a human hair.