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Weekly Intel: Cat parasite schizophrenia, Brexit worries for Erasmus students

A few of the latest university news stories specifically for academic Copenhageners

Erasmus risk for students if UK crashes out of EU

Thousands of students could be denied government funding to study abroad in the future if the United Kingdom leaves the European Union without a deal, Universities UK warns on University World News.

British students currently in Europe on Erasmus+ placements should continue to receive funding for the duration of their time abroad, according to a UK government notice. And young people from the EU and the UK on an Erasmus+ programme can complete their stay without interruption, according to a proposal by the European Commission, in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

However, the proposals require approval from the European Parliament and the European Council before they can take effect. And neither the UK nor the European Commission addresses the future of UK participation in Erasmus+ post-Brexit for those students or academics who are not already participating.

Precocious kid

Max Fischer i januar 2019Wunderkind Max Fischer was the youngest student at the University of Copenhagen (UCPH) when he started studying mathematics at the age of 16 in 2017.

Now it’s February 2019, he is 17, and he is ready to take on his master’s.

He says he will use the prescribed two years to finish it.

“I managed to get through the bachelor’s degree on half the time, because I had read a lot of the math as a tutorial during my primary and lower secondary school, and so I had a good grasp of the curriculum,” says Max Fischer.

Do you, dear reader, want to feel even more inadequate?

Here is a longer interview with Max Fischer where he outlines how he has been ready for university since he was 11 years old.

Chinese professorship and DKK 2.4 million to sacked Hans Thybo

Former professor at the University of Copenhagen Hans Thybo has taken up a professorship at the China University of Geosciences and has been awarded an honour under the Chinese ‘Thousand Talents’ plan. The 2.5 million yuan (DKK 2.4m) prize is partly to Hans Thybo personally, partly for research and equipment.

Hans Thybo was controversially dismissed from his professorship at the University of Copenhagen in 2016. His sacking was subsequently found to be wrongful in a court of arbitration.

Link between cat parasite and schizophrenia

Researchers from Copenhagen University Hospital have found new evidence of a link between infection with the protozoan parasite Toxoplasma gondii and schizophrenia. The brain-dwelling parasite that is estimated to be hosted by at least 2 billion people around the world, doesn’t lead to symptoms in most people who become infected. Commonly carried by cats and present in their faeces – it has been linked to a huge host of behaviour-altering effects. Links have already been documented between T. gondii infections and everything from car crashes to entrepreneurial activity.

In the new study, the researchers from Copenhagen University Hospital in Denmark, analysed data from over 80,000 individuals in what the team calls the “largest to date serological study” in this area. Individuals with the infection were almost 50 per cent more likely to be diagnosed with schizophrenia disorders compared to those without an infection.

UCPH report: Danish govt. ‘streamlined’ information over Iraq war participation

The Danish government deliberately misinterpreted its own intelligence agencies’ assessments before the war in Iraq. This is according to a long-awaited official report on Denmark’s military engagements in Kosovo, Iraq and Afghanistan published Tuesday.

Professor Anders Wivel and associate professor Rasmus Mariager of the University of Copenhagen led the investigation, and they cite a number of examples of so-called ‘streamlining’. “The Danish Defence Intelligence Service’s (FE) assessment that there was no definitive evidence, but that Iraq was considered to possess weapons, was changed to the prime minister’s [Anders Fogh Rasmussen, ed.] declaration that ‘this is something we know’,” the researchers write.

‘Unclonable’ tag, the bane of counterfeiters?

Discovering that your new designer watch is a fake is costly and annoying. Counterfeit medical devices or drugs could have more serious consequences. Now, researchers have created an ‘unclonable’ tag that can never be replicated, even by the manufacturer.

This is the claim by three scientists, Riikka Arppe-Tabbara, Mohammad Tabbara, and Thomas Just Sørensen of the Nano-Science Center and Department of Chemistry, University of Copenhagen, in a new journal article that is summarized in Science Daily here.

New dean at Social Sciences

Mikkel Vedby Rasmussen, who heads the Department of Political Science at the University of Copenhagen has been promoted to new dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences. He replaces Dean Troels Østergaard Sørensen, who has headed the Faculty since 2006.

Egyptology in Copenhagen

The Board at the University of Copenhagen recently had a lengthy discussion on the merits of marketing its rankings that is summarised here. ‘Egyptology’ popped up as an example of a niche subject that does well among its international peers.

The annual Egyptological Conference in Copenhagen will take place on the 7th-9th of May. Call for abstracts ends next week.

Write to miy@adm.ku.dk if you have any ideas, or suggestions for stories or links on the next Weekly Intel!

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