France to spend £3.8bn on new modern ”Cambridge-like” university

London, May 5 (ANI): France is set to build a new modern university campus that will cost 3.8billion pounds, and which will rival Cambridge and Harvard as being one of the best.

The Paris-Saclay super-campus is France”s answer to years of decline in higher education.

“Our goal is to rank among the top 10 universities in the world,” the Telegraph quoted Herve Le Riche, who heads the project in Saclay, a plateau of grain fields dotted with clusters of modern buildings, as saying.

Already home to some top-notch colleges such as the Polytechnique engineering school, the new campus will start opening its doors in 2015 as a grouping of 23 universities, colleges and research institutes.

New laboratories, amphitheatres, student housing along with shops and transport will be built with a view to making France a destination for some of the best and brightest who now head to US and British universities.

Paris-Saclay aims to combine academic training with research from high-performance institutes like the CEA nuclear agency, while tapping into the innovation from big industry names like Thales, a European leader in aerospace.

President Nicolas Sarkozy, whose government is digging deep into its pockets to make the dream of a world-class university a reality, is backing the ambitious project.

Sarkozy got the academic world talking when he announced that one billion euros of his 35-billion-euro national loan programme would go to Paris-Saclay.

France fares poorly in the world universities ranking compiled by Shanghai Jiao Tong University. Paris VI Pierre and Marie Curie University is the top rated French university, coming in at number 40 in the 2009 ranking.

Only two universities in Europe are among the top 10, and those are Britain”s Cambridge and Oxford, with Harvard topping the list and eight of the top 10 being in the United States.

France has only three universities ranked among the world”s top 100.

“We are not going to draw Chinese and Korean students with small schools that take in 80 students,” Cedric Dufour, who heads a students” association backing the Paris-Saclay project, said.

When it is fully up and running in 10 years” time, Paris-Saclay will welcome more than 31,000 students and 12,000 full-time researchers.

“We are building the university of the 21st century. That”s really what”s at stake,” Le Riche added. (ANI)

Astronomers dissect a giant stellar explosion

Paris, April 4 (ANI): A meticulous analysis of data has allowed astronomers to investigate the initial phases of a giant stellar explosion, which led to the ejection of matter at velocities close to the speed of light.

On 19 December 2004, the blast from an exploding star arrived at Earth.

ESA’s (European Space Agency’s) Integral satellite, an orbiting gamma-ray observatory, recorded the entire event, providing information for what may prove to be one of the most important gamma-ray bursts (GRBs) seen in recent years.

As the data was collected, astronomers saw the 500-second-long burst rise to extraordinary brilliance.

“It is in the top 1 percent of the brightest GRBs we have seen,” said Diego Gotz, CEA Saclay, France, who headed the investigation.

The brightness of the event, known as GRB 041219A, has allowed the team to perform a painstaking investigation to extract a property known as the polarization of the gamma rays.

The team has shown that the gamma rays were highly polarized and varied tremendously in level and orientation.

Polarization refers to the preferred direction in which the radiation wave oscillates.

Polaroid sunglasses work with visible light by letting through only a single direction of polarization, blocking most of the light from entering our eyes.

The blast from a GRB is thought to be produced by a jet of fast-moving gas bursting from near the central engine; probably a black hole created by the collapse of the massive star.

The polarization is directly related to the structure of the magnetic field in the jet. So, it is one of the best ways for astronomers to investigate how the central engine produces the jet.

There are a number of ways this might happen.

In the first scenario, the jet carries a portion of the central engine’s magnetic field into space. A second involves the jet generating the magnetic field far from the central engine.

A third concerns the extreme case in which the jet contains no gas just magnetic energy, and a fourth scenario entails the jet moving through an existing field of radiation.

According to Gotz, the Integral results favour a synchrotron model and, of those three, the most likely scenario is the first, in which the jet lifts the central engine’s magnetic field into space.

“It is the only simple way to do it,” he said.

What Gotz would most like to do is measure the polarisation for every GRB, to see whether the same mechanism applies to all. (ANI)