Wetenschap - 14 november 2002

English Summary

English Summary

About ten thousand students from Dutch universities gathered in Amsterdam on Tuesday to demonstrate against the government cuts in the higher education budget.

Wageningen University financed eight buses and participants were enthusiastic about the day. The demonstration, which was followed by a procession and a debate, went off peacefully, and WSO representatives felt the day was worthwhile. Secretary of State Annette Nijs said in her speech that it was not only education that was suffering in this period of economic decline. She was met with a mass of raised hands all making a 'quack quack' movement. A further demonstration in The Hague is planned for Tuesday 19 November.

The 5000 student mailboxes were successfully transferred to a new server this week.

There were few hitches and most questions concerned the new combination of username and password required to be able to read e-mails. All people at Wageningen UR are now on the WURnet, which replaces the old separate networks of DLO and the university. The most visible change is the e-mail addresses, which now all have the same format: firstname.surname@wur.nl. In a few weeks the firewall will also be up and running, which will enable users to go over to new programmes.

The EU Sixth Framework Programme (FP6) started officially last Monday, making 17.5 billion euros available for research.

Wageningen researchers are busy with research proposals, but according to Willem Wolters of the department of Research Strategy the number will have to be reduced by December. In a letter to the research directors of the expertise groups Wolters suggests that it is unrealistic to think that it is worth sending in 400 proposals. This needs to be limited and concentrated. So far most fall under the categories of 'food quality and safety, 'sustainable development, global changes, ecosystems' and 'genomics and biotechnology for health'.

That breathing in polluted air can lead to heart and circulatory problems has been known for a long time.

About a thousand people a year die as a result of air pollution in the Netherlands. What is new is that researchers from the sub-department of Toxicology together with the National Institute of Public Health and the Environment (RIVM) and a Canadian research group have uncovered how part of the process works. Researchers first exposed rats to ozone, which gave them asthma or chronic bronchitis symptoms. They were then exposed to polluted air. The scientists observed that this interfered with the manufacture of a number of proteins in the lung vessels of the rats, producing 'tumour necrose factor alfa' in the heart cells and endothelin-1 which causes blood vessels to contract.

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