Reporter 430, 1 February 1999

In the news

Explosive progress - but who told the KGB?

The explosives detector developed by Professor David Batchelder and Dr Simon Webster, featured in Reporter 429, has sparked worldwide interest. Our sources tell us it is "all over the papers in Saudi Arabia," and it was also featured in France's Le Figaro and ABC News in America.

At home the device was mentioned in the Guardian, Daily Telegraph, Yorkshire Post and on the BBC Science web site. Professor Batchelder has also been interviewed for BBC Radio Leeds, BBC News 24 and Radio Five Live.

The Midas team (Molecular Innovation Diversity and Automated Synthesis), headed by Professor Ron Grigg, was highlighted in the Yorkshire Evening Post.

The team is working with a robotic lab assistant which enables them to invent and examine hundreds of chemical compounds. They are expecting to hear soon that their ground-breaking work will lead to the marketing of new drugs to treat high blood pressure and help control potentially fatal blood clotting.

The Times and the Guardian both reported on a survey led by Babatunde Gbolade on access to emergency contraception from hospital accident and emergency departments. The study, carried out by the department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, found that most A&E departments referred women to their GP or family planning clinic.

Half of the departments surveyed said many of their staff were strongly opposed to providing this service, mainly due to fears that their departments would be overstretched.

Professor Roger Hainsworth was featured in the Yorkshire Evening Post for his award of £25,000 to find out why people faint for apparently no reason. Prof Hainsworth will study 600 patients over three years to help people who mysteriously faint with potentially disastrous consequences.

The Yorkshire Evening Post also reported on a new three-year study on UK dialects. The study will involve a team of experts who will travel to all rural and urban areas of the country to record the nation's speech characteristics.

Dr Clive Upton, who teaches dialectology in the School of English, leads the Survey of Regional English. Dr Upton was quoted in the article that one of his favourite newer dialect expressions is "one sandwich short of a picnic".

And finally, retired KGB colonel Stanislav Lekarev took part in a Channel 4 documentary looking at the development of espionage during the 20th century. He described how when he was a "student" at Leeds, he passed information to his superiors in an old tennis ball.

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