A federal judge has rejected a lawsuit by Hebrew University of Jerusalem against GM for the auto company's use of an Albert Einstein image pasted onto a muscled physique, The Detroit News reported. Hebrew University said that Einstein's will gave it rights to the use of his image. In this case GM used the image in an ad that ran in People magazine with the tag line "Ideas are sexy too." Judge Howard Matz ruled that GM was within its rights. "[Einstein] did become the symbol and embodiment of genius. His persona has become thoroughly ingrained in our cultural heritage. Now, nearly 60 years after his death, that persona should be freely available to those who seek to appropriate it as part of their own expression, even in tasteless ads," he ruled.
Fifteen British universities have joined other science and charitable organizations in pledging to be more open about the use of animals in research and to promote public discussion of the ethical issues involved, Times Higher Education reported. The pledge follows concern by some scientists and others that support in Britain is dropping for the use of animals in research.
Six Italian scientists and a former government official were convicted of manslaughter on Monday for playing down the risk of a 6.3-magnitude earthquake that killed 309 people in L’Aquila in 2009. The scientists were sentenced to six years in prison, and must also pay $10.2 million in court costs and damages, The New York Times reported. The scientists -- seismologists and geologists -- plan to appeal.
Academics around the world have condemned the prosecution of the Italian scientists as not only unfair but also unfounded, scientifically speaking. Earthquake prediction is a famously inexact science, with increases in risk measured in thousandths or hundredths of a percent. Although a series of tremors preceding the L’Aquila tragedy indicated increased hazard, the risk of a major earthquake remained very low, on the order of 1 percent, explained Tom Jordan, director of the Southern California Earthquake Center and a professor of earth sciences at the University of Southern California. Jordan wrote a report commissioned by the Italian government in which he offered recommendations for how scientists could more effectively communicate the risks of seismic events to policymakers and the public.
The verdict, he said, could derail efforts to improve communication. “People are worried that this verdict could throw a lot of cold water on the relationships that scientists have with the public,” Jordan said in an interview with Inside Higher Ed.
Iranian students enrolled at universities outside Iran are struggling with the impact of the collapse of the value of their country's currency, Reuters reported. As Western nations have strengthened sanctions against Iran, the Iranian currency lost one-third of its value compared to the dollar in just 10 days this fall. For some students abroad, they suddenly lacked enough money to pay tuition. Iran's government estimates that it has 35,000 students enrolled in other countries.
Historically, the United States has been a popular destination for Israeli graduate students, but not undergraduates. That is starting to change, Haaretz reported. A decade ago, only a handful of Israelis came to the United States before graduate school, but now 70-100 do so. Last week, EducationUSA held its first undergraduate college fair in Israel (where it has previously organized events for graduate and professional schools). More than 600 young people attended.
U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer on Wednesday stayed a federal appeals court's order requiring Boston College researchers to turn over oral history transcripts to the British government, citing the scholars' planned appeal to the high court, The Boston Globe reported. Ruling in July in a case involving research into the violence in Northern Ireland during the period known as the "Troubles," the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit concluded that concerns about confidentiality, academic freedom and scholarly research could not trump government's interest in investigating crime.