Today’s physics news: Lib Dem science policy; Nasa plans moon pitstop; open access deal for particle physics
Physics news for Tuesday 25 September 2012.
Lib Dems adopt motion calling for increased science investment
The Liberal Democrats have adopted a motion to build cross-party consensus around large increases to the science and research budget, and to press for a public loans system for postgraduates. The policy motion, adopted unanimously by delegates at the Lib Dem conference in Brighton today, calls for a 15-year commitment to increase a ring-fenced science and research budget by 3 per cent more than inflation. It was proposed by Julian Huppert, the Liberal Democrat MP for Cambridge and a former researcher at the University of Cambridge.
Woman in science: you have nothing to fear but your own subconscious
In this article, Jenny Rohn reports on a new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences which showed that subconscious bias was playing a part in the lack of recruitment of woman into a science faculty. The study showed that faculty participants rated males applicants significantly more competent and hireable than identical female applicants. The authors suggest that subconscious bias might be overcome, and female participation in science increased, by pre-emptively coaching people on recruitment panels to be aware of their in-built biases.
Maths standards barely improve in 30 years
Standards of maths in secondary schools in England have barely improved in the past 30 years, research suggests. Attainment in maths has risen slightly in some areas but grown significantly worse in others even though exam results are more than twice as good. The conclusions were drawn by researchers who asked a group of 7,000 children in secondary schools to sit tests that were given to pupils of similar ages in the 1970s. They found no change in the abilities of today’s secondary school pupils in using algebra and ratio.
The Time (Subscriber only)
Nasa plans Mars pitstop on the dark side of the Moon
Four decades after humans left their last footprints on the lunar surface, Nasa has drawn up proposals for sending astronauts one step beyond — a staging post for Mars hovering on the far side of the Moon. The “gateway spacecraft” would be stationed at Lagrange Point 2 – located 277,000 miles from Earth and 38,000 miles beyond the Moon – where the two celestial bodies’ gravitational fields cancel out each other, providing a stable parking spot in deep space.
The Times (Subscriber only)
Open-access deal for particle physics
The entire field of particle physics is set to switch to open-access publishing, a milestone in the push to make research results freely available to readers. After six years of negotiation, the Sponsoring Consortium for Open Access Publishing in Particle Physics (SCOAP3) is now close to ensuring that nearly all particle-physics articles — about 7,000 publications last year — are made immediately free on journal websites. Upfront payments from libraries will fund the access.
Obituary: Professor Tom Duke
Professor Tom Duke, who has died aged 48, was one of the leading biological physicists of his generation, notable for his work on the organising principles of cells, the workings of the inner ear, and molecular sorting devices. For his work he was awarded, in 2010, the Franklin Medal and Prize of the Institute of Physics.