The University of Leicester says it’s facing a big budget deficit, so it’s got to make some cuts. In the current British climate, that’s nothing unusual. However, the university has decided to cut a lot more from the maths department than elsewhere.
The way they’re going to do this is to sack almost everyone, then ask them to re-apply for slightly fewer jobs than there were before. Once it’s all done, 6 of the 21 mathematicians currently working at Leicester will be out of a job.
There’s some speculation that the reason that maths is going to be hit particularly hard is that it didn’t do particularly well in the last iterations of the REF and the National Student Survey.
The Universities and Colleges Union has started a petition against the cuts, disputing the size of the deficit and the need for so many job losses. They’ve written a response laying out their side of the story. The European Mathematical Society has also said it’s very concerned.
Tim Gowers has written a bit more about what he thinks is going on on his blog. As usual, there’s some good discussion in the comments as well.
via Yemon Choi
An Australian sanitary pad company has hit upon a witty tagline for their product:
Literally thousands of people have signed a petition to tell Libra that that’s not OK.
A new post on Gowers’s Weblog gives, with permission, a letter of resignation from the editorial board of Elsevier’s Journal of Number Theory sent by Greg Martin. Gowers promises that the letter makes “interesting reading”, and he’s right.
Martin points out that it has been over a year since the Elsevier boycott began (covered on this site in the Open Access Update of 25th of May). The boycott currently claims 13,656 researchers have signed up. Martin says that the boycott caused “a flurry of communication back and forth between Elsevier and our editorial board (and those of other journals, I’m sure)”, but, he says “now the dust has settled, and I must conclude that essentially nothing has changed”.
In an interesting letter, Martin reflects on the original Gowers blog post, and on the Elsevier reaction to it, including a proposal to pay a fee to editors for processing articles (Martin says, “we want access to be less expensive; we’re not looking for extra dough in our pockets”).
Read the letter: Elsevier journals: has anything changed?
A petition has been raised for the White House to pressure the USA’s National Security Agency to allow unused discoveries to be declassified, and for “gag order” patents to expire after they have served their purpose.
The petition goes as follows:
The NSA is the largest employer of mathematicians in the United States. Currently, the discoveries of those mathematicians in their official areas of research, being deemed potentially critical to national security, are indiscriminately classified for an indefinite period, with limited circumstances for declassification.
It is requested the White House press the NSA for an expiration policy for the classification status of non-applied discoveries and instituting an expiration for gag order patents in the interest of furthering American academia and industry advancement and in the interest of crediting the discoveries of our nation’s talented NSA employees.
If you agree with that, you can sign the petition at whitehouse.gov. It currently has just over 1,800 signatures, gathered over a week and a bit.
via BikeMath on Twitter.
The petition to put Alan Turing on the next £10 note has received over 22,000 signatures, which triggered a response from the Government:
The Bank of England has been including historic characters on its notes since 1970. The Bank welcomes suggestions from members of the public for individuals who might feature on future banknotes, and publishes a list of these suggestions on its website. These suggestions inform the process when a new note is under consideration.
The mathematician and cryptographer Alan Turing features on the list which can be found at:
This e-petition remains open to signatures and will be considered for debate by the Backbench Business Committee should it pass the 100 000 signature threshold.
So it might yet happen. The bit at the end about 100,000 signatures being enough to put the petition before the Backbench Business Committee is boilerplate for petitions on direct.gov.uk – I don’t think the Bank of England needs new legislation to dictate who goes on the notes.
As well as Turing, the names of three other mathematicians are on the list being considered by the Bank – Mary Somerville, Charles Babbage and James Clerk Maxwell.
via James Grime on Twitter
As was hinted at in a debate in Parliament to mark the centenary of Turing’s birth, a private members’ bill has been introduced in the House of Lords seeking a pardon for Turing – and Turing alone – for his conviction of gross indecency when homosexual acts were illegal in the UK.
The bill has been introduced by Liberal Democrat Peer Lord Sharkey, and the BBC reports that the Lib Dem MP John Leech has said he will take the bill through the House of Commons to make it law.
The Alan Turing (Statutory Pardon) Bill is summarised on the Parliament website:
To give a statutory pardon to Alan Mathison Turing for offences under section 11 of the Criminal Law Amendment Act 1885 of which he was convicted on 31 March 1952.
Meanwhile, the relevant e-petition has surpassed 35,000 signatures.
Source: Alan Turing pardon campaign goes to House of Lords on BBC News.
More information: Alan Turing (Statutory Pardon) Bill on parliament.uk with debate schedule.
The march of the righteous towards victory over the rent-seeking publishers continues apace, so here’s another Open Access round up. I’m not even going to bother trying to remain impartial any more, for the following reasons: