Science - November 27, 1997

English Summary

English Summary

English Summary
  • Ecologist Frans Vera has attacked the widely accepted theory that Western Europe was covered with forests in ancient times last month in his WAU thesis. His Dutch colleagues find his new theory - herbivores kept the landscape partly open - challenging, but it lacks scientific proof, they argue. The core of the discussion is about the use of palynology, whereby the composition of the vegetation in ancient times is deduced through pollen analysis. The alleged herbivores should have been eating grass, but grasses do not show up in the pollen diagrams. Vera is not satisfied with this criticism - the old theory is wrong for ecological reasons and therefore his colleagues should free their minds from the old theory
  • American journalist Gina Kolata wrote a book about Dolly, the first cloned sheep. The outside world was quite surprised when the Scottish researchers Ian Wilmut and Keith Campbell succeeded in producing Dolly last year, but they already had done the same trick - cloning differentiated cells - with Megan and Morag, two other sheep. They published their results in Nature, but this passed their colleagues by, because the parents of Dolly were unknown scientists and prominent colleagues had said that cloning would be impossible. Just half a year after Dolly's birth the mass media have now overrun the research institute in Roslin, a village with more sheep than inhabitants
  • Wageningen has four refectories, at the student clubs. The university is spending more and more money on these restaurants: in 1991 it spent three guilders on a meal, now it is subsidises them to the tune of seven guilders a throw. The number of students has dropped and students prefer to make use of supermarkets since their opening hours have been extended. The university is looking into how to economise on the refectories: lowering the subsidy for a meal or closing one of the restaurants?
  • The three members of the Executive Board of Knowledge Centre Wageningen, responsible for the merger between WAU and DLO, have hired a chauffeur. The managers are so busy with consultations outside Wageningen that they want to prepare their meetings in the back seat of the car, with a phone near at hand. The style of the managers on the road is changing. The former vice-chairman of the board drove an old Jaguar, imported from England, which was right-hand drive. The image has changed from stylish easy riding to high pace efficiency

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