Reporter 423, 21 September 1998

In the news

Scientists fuel debate at BA conference

Dr Ben Clennell, of the School of Earth Sciences, told the British Association Festival of Science conference in Cardiff that vast fields of frozen gas crystals below the ocean floor could be a new fuel for the next century. Dr Clennell spoke about the discovery on the BBC World Service and Radio 5 Live and articles appeared in the Times, Guardian, Independent and Daily Telegraph. An article in the Express also suggested that escaping methane could help to explain the mystery of the Bermuda Triangle.

Later at the conference Professor of Earth Sciences Joe Cann told delegates that scientists have found a clue to the creation of life on earth. The Financial Times, Guardian, Daily Telegraph and Daily Express all featured articles about the discovery of hydrogen-emitting ocean vents on the mid-Atlantic ridge which mimic conditions on Earth nearly four billion years ago.

A conference examining the development of dance culture and organised by music lecturer Dr Steve Sweeney-Turner was reported in both the Independent and Observer. Both cited an examination of the rise of dance icons Tricky and the Prodigy. Dr Sweeney-Turner said dance culture cannot be ignored by academics as it is the hegemonic form of pop music in the late 1990s.

Under the headline ‘Robodoc lends a hand to physios’ the Independent on Sunday reported on pioneering work at the School of Mechanical Engineering to develop a physiotherapy robot. The project, devised to help physiotherapy patients exercise their limbs, has so far produced a prototype robotic elbow flexer which ‘intelligently’ flexes the human elbow joint. The robot could become a vital physiotherapy tool.

Computer animation research by Professor of Artificial Intelligence David Hogg and his colleagues was featured in a Financial Times look at ‘virtual immortality’. The Leeds team has successfully taught a computer to simulate handshaking and are now trying to teach it to respond to facial expressions.

In July an impressive stained glass window depicting some of Yorkshire’s most famous structures including the Ribblehead Viaduct and Leeds-Liverpool Canal, was unveiled at the entrance to the School of Civil Engineering. The THES, Yorkshire Evening Post and the Surveyor all featured photographs of the window, which was commissioned to mark the 50th anniversary of the School.

The Fine Art students who received widespread media attention when they claimed to have spent a grant for an art show on a Spanish holiday were awarded a First for the group project according to the Guardian and Times.

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