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STREET ARTISTS TO ADORN TATE FACADE 1 April_ 2008 Tate Modern is Powered By Docstoc
1 April, 2008

Tate Modern is to get a summer facelift, with a group of the world's most acclaimed street
artists being asked to produce work for the building's Thames-side facade, it was
announced yesterday.

It will be the first commission to use the facade and each artist will have an area of about
15x12 metres for the exhibition, entitled Street Art at Tate Modern.

Cedar Lewisohn, the exhibition's curator, said he hoped the work, to be displayed
between May and August, would open eyes to the variety of street art. "There is exciting
stuff happening around the world and there is more to street art than just the household
name or two we know in this country."

Lewisohn has been working closely with the artists. They include Blu, from Bologna, Italy,
who mainly produces huge drawings, often portraying a macabre fascination with death
and the inner body. The other Europeans are the photographer JR, from Paris, and
Sixeart, from Barcelona, an artist often inspired by comic books.

The others include Os Gemeos, twin brothers from São Paulo, who began making graffiti
more than 20 years ago; Nunca, who produces street work influenced by South American
cultures; and Faile, a New York collective formed in in 1999.

Resources: Guardian Unlimited

2 April, 2008

Britain's first human-animal hybrid embryos have been created, forming a crucial first
step, scientists believe, towards a supply of stem cells that could be used to investigate
debilitating and so far untreatable conditions such as Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's
and motor neurone disease.

Lyle Armstrong, who led the work, gained permission in January from the Human
Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) to create the embryos, known as
"cytoplasmic hybrids".

His team at Newcastle University produced the embryos by inserting human DNA from a
skin cell into a hollowed-out cow egg. An electric shock then induced the hybrid embryo to
grow. The embryo, 99.9% human and 0.1% other animal, grew for three days, until it had
32 cells.
Eventually, scientists hope to grow such embryos for six days, and then extract stem cells
from them. The researchers insisted the embryos would never be implanted into a woman
and that the only reason they used cow eggs was due to the scarcity of human eggs.

Catholics object to the idea of putting human and animal DNA in the same entity and to
the notion of creating what they regard as a life for the purposes of research, a life that will
then be destroyed.

John Burn, head of the Institute of Human Genetics at Newcastle University, said the
embryos had been created purely for research. He told the BBC's Six O'Clock News last
night: "If you look down the microscope it looks like semolina and it stays like that. It's
never going to be anything other than a pile of cells. What it does is give us the tools to
find out the simple questions: how can we better understand the disease processes by
working with those cells in the body?"

Resources: Guardian Unlimited

3 April, 2008

An all-female Iranian theatre group; a singing Lebanese nun; a play that presents
testimony from Dutch volunteers with the SS: all these will form part of this year's
Edinburgh international festival.

And, on perhaps a less elevated but more sumptuous note, Matthew Bourne, creator of
such hit ballet-theatre pieces as The Car Man and his all-male Swan Lake, will premiere
his dance version of The Picture of Dorian Gray, which will see the usually carnivalesque
Bourne move into darker territory with this new Oscar Wilde adaptation.

This is the second Edinburgh festival programmed by Australian artistic director Jonathan
Mills, who took on the role as a rank outsider for the job in late 2006. The festival would,
he said, focus on the dynamic, ever-changing identity of Europe and the cultures on its
fringes, looking at art from its fluid boundaries and borders. "When I came to the UK I
realised that a lot of my preconceptions about living in the UK were wrong," he said. "My
received cliches about a Europe hidebound by tradition were challenged. A lot more was
in flux politically than I had imagined."

Big names in the festival will include a residency from the visionary Russian conductor
Valery Gergiev, who will bring his Mariinsky Opera (formerly the Kirov) to Edinburgh in a
Polish-language production of the rarely seen Szymanowski opera King Roger. The
Szymanowski was, said Mills, "a moment of personal indulgence - but I believe
Szymanowski is as important as Janacek and up there with Berg and Sibelius. King Roger
is a masterwork of the operatic repertoire."
Gergiev will also lead the London Symphony Orchestra through all seven of Prokofiev's
symphonies and all his violin concertos, with the Greek virtuoso Leonidas Kavakos as

The Venezuelan conductor Gustavo Dudamel, who took Edinburgh and the Proms by
storm last year when he brought his Simón Bolívar National Youth Orchestra of
Venezuela to the UK, will return - this time with the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra.

This year sees the theatre programme considerably bumped up compared with previous
festivals. The National Theatre of Scotland, which premiered Gregory Burke's Black
Watch at the 2006 festival - a play that has toured to Broadway, Los Angeles, Australia
and is now playing in Glenrothes, Fife, the heartland of the regiment's recruiting grounds -
will present a new work by David Harrower. The play, 365 One Night To Learn A Lifetime,
charts the journeys of adolescents in care as they make their first steps in the world by
way of so-called "practice flats". The National Theatre's artistic director, Vicky
Featherstone, will direct. "It's a collection of picaresque, convulsing, turbulent, colliding
narratives," said Mills.

Resources: Guardian Unlimited

7 April, 2008

Treatments for cancer and arthritis could be improved by new research identifying 20
sections of genetic code linked to height.

The genetic variants, which can make a difference of up to six centimetres (2.3 ins),
provide insights into how the body develops normally.

Unlike other body size characteristics such as obesity, which is caused by a relatively
even mix of genetic and environmental factors, 90% of normal variation in human height is
thought to be down to genetic factors.

Last year, scientists identified the first common gene variant to affect height, but it made a
difference of only 0.5cm.

In the latest research, scientists analysed DNA from 30,000 people across Europe,
including participants in the Wellcome Trust's case control consortium, the biggest study
ever undertaken into the genetics of common diseases.

They identified 20 regions of the genome, also known as loci, which influence how tall a
person becomes; having all or a majority of them can result in an extra six centimetres in
The results, published yesterday in Nature Genetics, mean that scientists now know of
several dozen genes and genetic regions that influence height.

Half of the new loci contain genes whose functions are already known. Many regulate how
cells divide and have implications for the understanding of how cancers grow. Other
genetic regions are known to be important in how embryos develop or act as master
switches to switch other genes on and off.

Of particular interest is a gene already implicated in osteoarthritis, the most common form
of the condition that involves wear and tear of the body's tissues.

But scientists are unclear of the function of the other half of the newly identified genetic

They compared their discovery to that of the FTO gene last year, which was the first
common gene found for obesity. Though it has been linked to weight gain, researchers do
not know what the function of the gene actually is.

Resources: Guardian Unlimited

8 April, 2008

David Hockney has given the largest painting he has ever made - a landscape 12 metres
long by 5 metres tall (40ft by 15ft) - to the Tate.

                        The work, Bigger Trees near Warter (2007), is a monumental-scale
                       view of a coppice in Hockney's native Yorkshire, between
                       Bridlington and York. It was painted on 50 individual canvases,
                       mostly working in situ, over five weeks last winter.

Although Hockney settled in Los Angeles in 1978, he has always spent Christmas at his
mother's house in Bridlington. Four years ago, he began to work there seriously, splitting
his time between Yorkshire and California, with the rolling chalk hills around Bridlington
the focus of his art.

Trees especially have caught his attention. In 2006, he made a series of five oil paintings
of Woldgate Woods, returning to the same spot between March and November to chart
the drama of the changing of the seasons.
Each of those works was made up of six panels, and for Bigger Trees near Warter
Hockney scaled up his efforts to produce a single complete work of 50 panels that fit
together like a jigsaw.

He said that trees were "like faces - every one is different. Nature doesn't repeat itself".
Winter trees were particularly difficult to capture, he said. "You have to observe carefully;
there is a randomness."

The clump of trees is dominated by a mighty sycamore that sits in the foreground of the
picture, its curling branches spreading over 30 of Hockney's canvases. "They were
probably planted 150 years ago, and they left room for the trees to grow," he said.

Hockney started Bigger Trees Near Warter on January 12, when he made initial paintings
of the scene over six canvases, working in the open air.

On a trip to LA, looking at images of his Woldgate Woods paintings, he had the idea of
working up the same scene over a much bigger scale, figuring out how he could do so
without a ladder, and in a small house in Bridlington.

First, Hockney sketched a grid showing how the scene would fit together over 50 panels.
Then he began to work on individual panels in situ. As he worked on them, they were
photographed and made into a computer mosaic so that he could chart his progress,
since he could have only six panels on the wall at any one time. Gradually, with the help of
the constantly updated computer mosaic, Hockney built up the picture.

The work had to be created quickly, since not only did he have a deadline in the shape of
the Royal Academy show, but he also needed to get it done before spring kicked in and
the trees came into leaf. Finally, the artist rented a small warehouse where he was able to
see the complete work for the first time.

The work can now be shown in its entirety in Tates Modern, Britain and Liverpool, though
Tate director Sir Nicholas Serota doubted there was a wall large enough at Tate St Ives to
take the whole work. But it can also be seen in halves or quarters. The complete work will
go on display at Tate Britain next year.

Resources: Guardian Unlimited

9 April, 2008

The BBC has signed a deal with Nintendo to make its iPlayer available via Wii games
consules, as new figures show that The Apprentice is the most popular show on the
broadband TV catch-up service.
                       Figures for the first three months of 2008, after the BBC relaunched
                      the iPlayer service and backed it with a major marketing campaign
                      over Christmas, show there were 1.1 million iPlayer users each
                      week over the period on average.

Users of the iPlayer made 17.2 million requests for streams or downloads of BBC video
between January and the end of March, according to the latest figures from the

The Nintendo Wii deal, announced today at the Mip TV programming market in Cannes, is
the latest part of the BBC's strategy to make web-based content available on TV screens,
as well as increase the iPlayer's audience by making its content more widely available.

Users will be able to access the iPlayer through the Wii console's internet channel.

"Nintendo is a very attractive console because it is family orientated, but it also connects
to the TV and internet and has a large installed userbase," said Ashley Highfield, the
BBC's director of future media and technology.

"Our strategy is that we have to reach as many people as we can and this is the last 10
yards of missing rail track," Highfield added.

The iPlayer has seen growth of 25% month-on-month since the Christmas Day launch,
the latest figures reveal.

April Fools' Day last week was the iPlayer's busiest day ever, with the BBC's spoof natural
history video clip featured former Monty Python star Terry Jones introducing flying
penguins accessed nearly 1m times. This was nearly double the iPlayer traffic from the
previous day.

The most requested show on the iPlayer over the first three months of this year has been
first edition of the new series of the The Apprentice, broadcast on BBC1 on March 26,
followed by Louis Theroux: Behind Bars.

Virgin Media will shortly begin offering the iPlayer to its cable TV viewers through a
specially branded interface.

The iPlayer is already accessible via Apple's iPhone and wireless-enabled iPod Touch
and the BBC is also working on versions for more handheld devices and games consoles.

Resources: Guardian Unlimited

10 April, 2008
Ian McEwan, JK Rowling and Khaled Hosseini have won the top prizes at the Galaxy
British Book awards, which left both Nobel laureate Doris Lessing and glamour model
Katie "Jordan" Price disappointed.

                       Ian McEwan's On Chesil Beach, which failed to convince last year's
                      Booker judges but outsold all its rivals, found recognition through the
                      Reader's Digest Author of the Year award. The novel saw off
                      competition from The Cleft by Doris Lessing, who won the Nobel
                      prize for literature earlier this year.

JK Rowling has taken this year's Outstanding Achievement honour.

The Nibbies, as they are usually known, are decided by various combinations of
publishers, booksellers and the general public - and booksellers have grown really very
fond of the 40m-selling author, who already has four Nibbies to her name. The prime
minister appeared by videolink before a starry audience including Ewan McGregor and
Russell Brand, to praise his friend "Jo", an author whose work "has got the whole country
reading", and quietly raised a great deal of money for charity.

Commenting on her prize, Rowling said she was thrilled "and quite pleased that I haven't
been pensioned off just yet with a lifetime achievement award".

The Richard & Judy Best Read of the Year, which puts the TV show's hugely popular book
club choices to the public vote, was won by Khaled Hosseini's A Thousand Splendid Suns.
It is Britain's bestselling book so far this year, with 700,000 sales. The Children's Book of
the Year category does not usually attract much media attention or controversy, but there
was much ado last month when Katie Price was shortlisted for Perfect Ponies: My Pony
Care Book.

The fuss was because it is not all her own work. Fatherland author Robert Harris
condemned the decision to nominate it as "emblematic of the tacky culture we live in". He
will be delighted to learn that in the end Horrid Henry and the Abominable Snowman by
Francesca Simon took the award.

Resources: Guardian Unlimited

11 April, 2008

For years nutritionists have recommended a diet high in fibre and low in fat, with plenty of
fruit and vegetables. Now, however, nurseries are being told the food they serve in
accordance with these guidelines is unsuitable for toddlers and could lead to vitamin
deficiencies and even stunted growth.

                       'Nurseries are applying the principles of adult healthy eating to the
                      food they are supplying to young children,' said Sarah Almond, a
                      consultant specialist paediatric dietician who has analysed the
                      results of a trading standards study into nursery food.

The research also found that four out of five nurseries were giving children portions that
were too small and only three in 10 provided them with meals containing enough calories.
According to Almond, the under-five age group has different and specific nutritional
requirements to those children of school age: pre-school children have a high energy and
nutrient requirement. Because they have a small stomach and a relatively
under-developed gut, they cannot consume large quantities of food at a time but need
frequent small meals and snacks throughout the day.

In addition, too much fibre - such as that absorbed through over-consumption of fruit and
vegetables - can result in insufficient intake of other food groups and inhibit the absorption
of key minerals. 'Because a significant number of children attend nurseries from 7am until
7pm, the food and nutrition they receive there are key to their health,' said Almond.
'Nurseries are applying requirements of healthy eating for school-age children and adults
to the one-to-four age group, who have entirely different requirements.'

'The nutritional content of toddlers' meals is a proper science and nurseries are simply not
aware of vital calories, fats, carbohydrate, sugars, fibre, protein, vitamins and minerals.'

Purnima Tanuku, chief executive of the National Day Nurseries' Association, agreed:
'Nationally, nurseries face conflicting advice about food. Consistent advice from Ofsted
and other bodies about nutritional requirements for this age group are badly needed.'

Resources: Guardian Unlimited

14 April, 2008

Fictional robots always have a personality: Marvin was paranoid, C-3PO was fussy and
HAL 9000 was murderous. But reality is disappointingly different. Sophisticated enough to
assemble cars and assist during complex surgery, modern robots are dumb automatons,
incapable of striking up relationships with their human operators.
                      But that could soon change. Engineers argue that, as robots begin
                      to form a bigger part of society, the new machines will need a way to
                      interact with humans. In short, they will need artificial personalities.

                     This week, engineers, psychologists and computer scientists from
across Europe will begin a major project that aims to develop the first robot personalities.

"What we're looking at here is long-term interactions between people and robots in real
situations," said Peter McOwan of Queen Mary, University of London, coordinator of the
£6.6m, EU-funded Lirec project. "The big question is: what sort of properties does a
synthetic companion need to have so that you feel you want to engage in a relationship
with it over an extended period of time?"

Lirec - Living with Robots and Interactive Companions - consists of 10 university partners
from seven countries that will run for just over four years.

Phones and computers have shown how people can develop relationships with inanimate
electronic objects. The next generation of digital servants will deepen these relationships.

Dream machines
1495 Leonardo da Vinci has the idea of a "mechanical knight".
1738 French inventor Jacques de Vaucanson builds a mechanical duck.
1921 The word "robot" coined by Czech artist Josef Capek, from the Czech word for
"compulsory labour".
1950s Unimation introduces first commercial robots (for car factories).
1969 Victor Scheinman, a Stanford AI lab student, creates the Stanford Arm, a
predecessor of all robot arms.
1998 The Furby robot is a bestseller.
1999 Sony releases its AIBO robot pet.
2000 Honda introduces its humanoid Asimo robot.
2003 Nasa launches robotic Mars explorers, Spirit and Opportunity.

Resources: Guardian Unlimited

15 April, 2008

Last seen several thousand years ago loping through the ancient forests and glens of
Scotland, two moose have arrived at a remote reserve in the Highlands as part of plans to
reintroduce wild animals now extinct in the UK.

                      The male and female moose are part of ambitious and controversial
                      proposals by a millionaire landowner to recreate an ancient
mountain habitat, complete with wolves, lynx and brown bears roaming freely within a vast
fenced-off wildlife reserve north of Inverness.

Paul Lister, the son of the founder of the MFI furniture chain, wants to "re-wild" 50,000
acres around his 23,000 acre estate at Alladale to create a safari-style wildlife reserve.

The moose are to join a family of wild boar living within a far smaller 500 acre enclosure at
the estate where he is already recreating ancient Caledonian forest, planting 80,000
native trees.

He has been keenly pursuing his proposals for several years, but the scheme is attracting
substantial opposition. Critics insist his plans are unlikely ever to be realised. It would,
they argue, be a giant zoo and would illegally put predators and prey together. A herd of
moose, otherwise known as European elk, and fenced off wolves already live in a Royal
Zoological Society of Scotland wildlife park in the Cairngorms - carefully separated by
several large fences.

Executives in Scottish Natural Heritage believe releasing wolves would break the key
principle in reintroducing wildlife, that it should be socially acceptable. Local farmers are
worried these predators would threaten livestock, and Lister has yet to persuade
neighbouring estates to let him use their land.

The Ramblers' Association believes Lister's proposals to erect an 85-mile long,
three-metre high fence around a 50,000 acre area is a clear breach of Scotland's
countryside access laws and would be a blight on the landscape.

Resources: Guardian Unlimited

16 April, 2008

The mobile phone company O2 is slashing the price of the smaller version of Apple's
iPhone by £100, amid fears that sales of the combined phone and music player have
stalled as the California computer company prepares to launch a better version over the

From today the "basic" 8GB version of the phone - which can store roughly 2,000 songs -
will be £169, compared with £269 when the device went on sale in the UK just before

Customers willing to buy the phone, however, will still have to pay O2 at least £35 a month
for their calls and texts. The price of the larger 16GB phone will remain at £329.
Anyone who does rush out to buy the cheap iPhone, however, may find themselves
regretting the decision by the summer as Apple is expected to launch the so-called 3G
version of the iPhone at its Worldwide Developers' Conference in San Francisco in June.

The speculation - which Apple has refused to comment on - is that there will be an 8GB
version of the 3G phone in the US for $399 (£200) and a 16GB 3G iPhone for $499. There
has also been talk of a 32GB 3G iPhone for $100 more.

The existing iPhones stocked by O2 - and its sole independent retail partner, Carphone
Warehouse - use the old so-called 2G mobile phone network.

Customers can connect to the internet over their home computer network or public Wi-Fi
access points, but where this is not an option the existing 2G phone can be very slow to
download information. Music tracks cannot, for instance, be downloaded from the iTunes
store on to the phone without a Wi-Fi connection because the mobile network is so slow.
The next-generation 3G iPhone, however, will have a much faster connection to the
mobile internet.

Apple's exclusive network partner in Germany, T-Mobile, has already slashed the cost of
its 8GB current generation iPhone to just €99 (£80).

O2, which has the iPhone under an exclusive deal with Apple, said the decision to launch
its price promotion, which will run until June 1, "will create additional momentum for what
has been O2's fastest selling device".

Others in the industry, however, believe sales have been slowing down. O2 maintains it
has hit its target of "several hundred thousand" phones sold since launch.

But after the initial hype died down, sales are believed to have slackened off. The
company recently resumed its TV advertising campaign for the phone.

Rival handset manufacturers such as Nokia, LG and Samsung, meanwhile, have
produced similarly shaped phones that can play music and are free to new customers of
other mobile phone networks.

Resources: Guardian Unlimited