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Durham First

Media Round-up...

Expert offers modern guide to Homer

Dr Barbara Graziosi, Department of Classics and Ancient History, joined a group of distinguished speakers in BBC Radio 3's series ‘The Essay: Greek and Latin Voices', looking at major figures of Greek or Roman literature, philosophy, history and politics. Dr Graziosi focused on Homer and examined the bard's role and status in the ancient world. She considered whether he was like the bards depicted within the Iliad and the Odyssey and revealed who the real Homer was.

Bird in water

Europe's birds face crisis unless we tackle climate change

An atlas, co-authored by three Durham University academics, has provided a landmark advance in our understanding of the potential impacts of human-induced climate change on wildlife.

A Climatic Atlas of European Breeding Birds maps potential changes in distribution of all of the continent's regularly occurring nesting birds. The atlas shows that we need urgent action to cut greenhouse gas emissions if we are to avoid calamitous impacts on birds.

The authors are Professor Brian Huntley, Dr Yvonne Collingham and Dr Steve Willis, School of Biological and Biomedical Sciences, working alongside the RSPB.

Wind turbine

Key role for North East in wind power plans

The North East of England could lead the way on wind-produced energy, according to a Durham University renewable energy expert. Professor Peter Tavner, Head of the School of Engineering, suggests UK Government plans to see all home electricity provided by wind power by 2020 are achievable. He emphasised that Durham and the North East could both benefit from the plans and help accomplish them.

Migrating birds over-wintering in the UK could be to blame for bird flu outbreak

Lecturer in microbiology and infectious diseases, Dr Robert Paul Yeo, School for Health, suggested the source of the outbreak of avian flu in Dorset could be migratory birds over-wintering in the UK. Dr Yeo commented that the main risk is to commercial stocks of birds and said this reinforces the need for monitoring wild bird deaths for the presence of the virus. He said: "We now have to consider that the virus may be endemic in the wild bird population in the UK."

Space

Super-computer could throw light on "mysterious" dark energy

Cosmologists have run a series of computer simulations of the Universe that could ultimately help solve the mystery of dark energy. The research, co-authored by Professor Carlos Frenk, Department of Physics, tells researchers how to measure dark energy - a repulsive force that counteracts gravity.

Scientists believe dark energy, making up 70 percent of the Universe, is driving its accelerating expansion. If this acceleration continues to accelerate experts say it could eventually lead to a Big Freeze as the Universe is pulled apart and becomes a vast cold expanse of dying stars and black holes.

A double Durham first for Theology & Religion

The Department of Theology & Religion has taken the lead in the UK public academy by establishing an endowed Bede Chair of Catholic Theology and the Durham Centre for Catholic Studies. The launch event will take place from 8th-10th May.

Skeleton

Strange burial positions show pacific island life

Analysis of strange burial positions and skeletons' teeth has given clues about earliest Pacific Island society.

The research team, led by Dr Alex Bentley, Department of Anthropology, analysed skeletons' teeth from seventeen excavated skeletons found in some unusual burial positions at the earliest ancient cemetery in the Pacific. The scientists identified a small group of immigrants, mostly buried with the head to the south, and one with three heads on his chest.

The results from the team's analysis strongly suggest that some people had migrated from distant coastal locations, potentially as far away as Southeast Asia.

Composer writes music to celebrate university

The world premiere of a classical composition celebrating the University's 175th anniversary was performed for BBC Radio 4 by the Durham University Consort of Voices, directed by Professor Jeremy Dibble, Department of Music.

The piece of music was written by Estonian composer Dr Arvo Pärt, who holds an honorary degree from the University. He based his composition, ‘Morning Star', on a setting of Bede's prayer which hangs over the Venerable Bede's tomb in Durham Cathedral.

The radio programme also featured a carol composed by Dr Bennett Zon, Head of Music at the University.

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