Today’s physics news: University applications down; BBC improves science content; Women key for best science results

Here’s our physics news roundup for Thursday 29 November 2012.

University applications from UK students down 8.4%

The number of UK-born students who have applied to start university next year has fallen by 8.4%, with a 9.9% drop in applicants from England, according to statistics released by the university admissions service. This continues the downward trend in university application rates prompted by the introduction of fees of up to £9,000 a year in autumn 2012. The latest statistics, published by the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (Ucas), show 120,194 applicants from the UK, compared with 133,357 this time last year. By this point in 2010, before tuition fees were introduced, there were 157,116 applicants.


BBC praised for improving science content

The BBC Trust has praised the corporation for making “significant progress” following criticism of its science coverage, but called for further action in putting more women on screen. Last year’s critical independent review, which said the BBC gave too much weight to fringe views on issues such as climate change – has “had an impact on output and is likely to continue to do so”, according to the trust. On the issue of gender balance, the BBC said it was “working hard to increase the number of female scientists we put on air, in the knowledge that women form 12% of the scientific, engineering or technology industry”.


Scientists take note: women are key to the best results

Several hundred scientists and researchers will convene today in Brussels at the European Gender Summit to hear about how greater inclusion of women in research will transform their work. Curt Rice, a researcher and organiser of the event, explains how.


Italy cancels 1bn euro SuperB collider

Physics World can confirm rumours that the Italian government is to withdraw €250m from the €1bn SuperB particle accelerator, which was set to be built at the University of Tor Vergata on the outskirts of Rome. The decision, which effectively cancels the project, was made yesterday when Fernando Ferroni, president of the National Institute for Nuclear Physics (INFN), met Italian science minister Francesco Profumo to discuss funding for the project.

Physics World

EPSRC grant: now no crystal ball required

A controversial requirement for grant applicants to the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council to identify the national importance of their proposal over a 10- to 50-year time frame has been dropped by its new chair, Paul Golby. The requirement was announced last year as part of changes to the EPSRC’s peer-review processes in line with the research council’s “shaping capability” agenda to grow, maintain or shrink subject areas based on their perceived strategic importance and existing excellence and capacity.

Times Higher Education

Not monkeys, so why the peanuts?

Forcing academics to carry out applied research is like forcing politicians to design aircraft, according to Nobel laureate Andre Geim. The professor of physics at the University of Manchester told the Royal Society’s Astellas Innovation Debate last week that applied research should be left to industry, with academics funded to play to their strengths and carry out basic research.

Times Higher Education

Scientists find most powerful quasar ever

It emits as much energy as a hundred Milky Way galaxies, each day it chews up a mass equivalent to our own Sun, and it then spits it out at a speed of 8,000 kilometres a second. Astronomers from the European Southern Observatory in Chile have found the most powerful quasar ever.

The Times (Subscription only)


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