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Women, leadership and mosques
Scholars and female Muslim preachers and leaders from Europe will meet in Oxford University to discuss the phenomenon of Islamic women rising through the ranks to hold important leadership roles in Muslim mosques and madrasas.

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Origins of nature discussion held

The Archbishop of Canterbury and Professor Richard Dawkins discussed the origins of nature in front of a full house at the Sheldonian Theatre on Thursday 23 February 2012.

Professor Dawkins and Dr Rowan Williams took questions from Sir Anthony Kenny on four topics: the nature of individual human beings now; the origin of the human species as a whole; the origin of life on earth; and the origin of the universe. ‘That should be enough to be getting on with,’ Sir Anthony said.
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Treating sleep problems may be important in schizophrenia
A study of schizophrenia patients has found profound disruptions in their sleep patterns, with half also having irregular body clocks that are out of synch with the pattern of night and day

The Oxford researchers argue that the extent and severe nature of these long-term sleep problems should be considered for treatment along with the other symptoms of schizophrenia, as they have such a strong impact on mood, social function, mental abilities and quality of life.

‘The people in our study were stable in mood, taking medication and yet they still experienced enormous sleep problems,’ says first author Dr Katharina Wulff of the Nuffield Department of Clinical Neurosciences at the University of Oxford.

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Scholarships for study at the Blavatnik School of Government
The University of Oxford has announced that ten new scholarships are to be made available to graduates admitted for study at the Blavatnik School of Government. It means at least one-third of the students in the School's first cohort in 2012 could each receive full funding of up to a maximum of £47,250.

Read more: http://www.ox.ac.uk/media/news_stories/2011/111219.html

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The role of social media in protests

A study has explored the dynamics behind social network sites in recruiting and spreading calls for action that contribute to riots, revolutions and protests.

Led by Oxford University and published in the journal Scientific Reports, the study finds that the most influential group consists of a small group of users close to the centre of a network. This group, described by the researchers as the ‘spreaders’, plays a critical role in triggering chains of messages reaching huge numbers of people. However, early participants in the protest and those starting the recruitment process, have no characteristic position within the network: they are the leaders of the movement and first movers in their local networks. They spark the initial online activity that recruits the spreaders, but they are scattered all over the network, suggests the study.

Read more: http://www.ox.ac.uk/media/news_stories/2011/111612.html

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Mystery of car battery's current solved

Chemists have solved the 150 year-old mystery of what gives the lead-acid battery, found under the bonnet of most cars, its unique ability to deliver a surge of current.

Lead-acid batteries are able to deliver the very large currents needed to start a car engine because of the exceptionally high electrical conductivity of the battery anode material, lead dioxide. However, even though this type of battery was invented in 1859, up until now the fundamental reason for the high conductivity of lead dioxide has eluded scientists.
Read more: http://www.ox.ac.uk/media/news_stories/2011/mystery_of_car.html

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Antimalarial drugs appear safe in early pregnancy

Malaria in early pregnancy significantly increases the risk of miscarriage, but taking antimalarial drugs is relatively safe and reduces this risk.

That’s the finding of the largest ever study to assess the effects of malaria and its treatment in the first trimester of pregnancy.

Despite the risks of malaria for pregnant women, there is very little published evidence on the effects of malaria and taking antimalarial drugs during the first trimester of pregnancy.

Read full article: http://www.ox.ac.uk/media/news_stories/2011/111213.html

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Road to world's largest telescope

Today saw the ESO give the go-ahead for work to begin on a series of roads on a mountain in Northern Chile.

But these aren’t just any roads; they will give access to Cerro Armazones, the site that has been chosen for the European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT).

E-ELT is planned to be the largest optical and infrared telescope in the world: it will be tens of times more sensitive than any current ground-based optical telescope.

Read full article here: http://www.ox.ac.uk/media/science_blog/111209.html

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A rare genetic variant that appears to be directly and causally linked to multiple sclerosis (MS) has been identified by Oxford University researchers.

Importantly, the mutation in the CYP27B1 gene affects a key enzyme which leads people with the variant to have lower levels of vitamin D, adding weight to the suggested link between vitamin D and MS.

Read full post here: http://www.ox.ac.uk/media/news_stories/2011/110912.html

The poorest students coming up to Oxford in 2012 will find themselves better off than many of their counterparts at other English universities, according to a new independent body. Financial support for Oxford students with household income below £16,000 is to be the highest no-strings support of anywhere in the country.
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