Today’s physics news: Physics-based business to boost Scottish economy; Scientists change the colour of gold
Here is the physics news for Thursday 25 October 2012.
Physics-based businesses boost Scottish economy
Almost 10% of the Scottish economic output comes from physics-based sectors, according to new research. The Institute of Physics report showed the contribution of physics-based businesses to the economy was up £1bn since 2005 to £8.5bn in 2010. The sector contributes 9.8% Gross Value Added (GVA) to the economy, compared with the total UK average of 8.5%.
United action is needed to protect the European science budget
Yesterday, a petition aimed at fighting cuts to the EU science budget went live, sponsored by the Initiative for Science in Europe. David Cameron, along with a number of other leaders, is lobbying vigorously to oppose an increase in the next budget above inflation. But the truth is that the EU funds a lot of British science, and Horizon 2020, the EU’s research programme, is part of the budget under threat. According to the Campaign for Science and Engineering (CaSE), what’s at stake is €80bn (£63bn) in research funding, with the UK enjoying a larger-than-average share of this pot.
Tuition fees ‘don’t add up’ despite increase to £9,000
Ministers have used inaccurate calculations to produce wildly over-optimistic predictions of the income from trebling student fees to £9,000, academics say. They estimate that the introduction of higher tuition fees could bring in £1 billion a year less than the Government expects and may produce no savings at all or cost even more than the system it replaced. The detailed analysis published today by the Higher Education Policy Institute says that calculations are based on “highly uncertain and optimistic assumptions that remain too low”.
The Times (Subscriber only)
Pharmacy recruitment may be unhealthy in high doses
In this article on an “unsustainable” rise in pharmacy provision in UK universities , Elizabeth Gibney alludes to a recent report commissioned by the Institute of Physics and published on 11 October that found that prospective students in physics were less likely than the average student to be deterred by annual tuition fees of £9,000. The report found that although fees had no impact on “traditional” physics students, many of those in already under-represented groups – such as women, ethnic minorities and students from lower socio-economic backgrounds – said they were more worried about new fee levels and incurring debt.
Southampton scientists change the colour of gold
Scientists in Southampton are now able to change the colour of gold. The technique involves embossing tiny raised or indented patterns on the metal’s surface which alters the way it absorbs or reflects light. Prof Nikolay Zheludev, who leads the nanophotonics and metamaterials team, said it means gold can be made red or green or a multitude of other hues.