Public Library of Science on the Internet / West Antarctic Ice Sheet Melting / Eating Fish May Lower Risk of Stroke

This is Sarah Long. And this is Bob Doughty with SCIENCE IN THE NEWS, a VOA Special English program about recent developments in science. Today, we tell about a way to make important research information free to people around the world. We tell about a study that says eating fish may prevent strokes. And we tell about new research in Antarctica.

A group of leading scientists wants to permit people all over the world to use important research information without having to pay for it. Harold Varmus is leading the effort to create the Public Library of Science. Doctor Varmus is a former Nobel Prize winner in medicine. He is the president of the Memorial-Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City. He is also the former director of America's National Institutes of Health near Washington, D-C.

The Public Library of Science will offer the latest scientific information on the Internet. The results of scientific research will be useful to scientists, doctors, students and the general public.

This information is usually published in major scientific journals like Science and Nature. Some experts believe that scientific publications are entering a new period. Today, information can be published on the Internet's World Wide Web. This greatly reduces the cost of publishing a journal. Many scientists believe that it is now time to use electronic publishing to permit everyone to use the latest knowledge and research. Currently, researchers present their work to major scientific publications.

Institutions and individuals pay for the right to read that information. The Public Library of Science will ask researchers to pay about one-thousand-five-hundred dollars to present their research. Other scientists would investigate and confirm the research. Then, the information would be put on the World Wide Web for free.

The policy of the Public Library of Science will permit all kinds of scientific knowledge to be used as long as the name of the researcher is provided. The policy is based on that of the GenBank library of genetic research. GenBank is operated by the National Institutes of Health. Scientific organizations around the world add to the GenBank information every day. Researchers can use it freely and immediately. This has been an important aid in the fast progress of gene research.

Many people think that researchers will want to send their work to the Public Library of Science. They believe that one of the reasons is because it is such a good cause. Such a free scientific resource will permit scientists in poor countries and students all over the world to learn about the newest scientific developments.

Supporters of the project also point out that the people who pay taxes will no longer have to pay two times to read research. Taxpayers pay nearly forty-thousand-million dollars for scientific research each year.

The Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation in San Francisco, California, has given nine-million dollars for the project. The Howard Hughes Medical Institute in Chevy Chase, Maryland also supports the Public Library of Science. The organization says it will pay the extra costs involved in developing the project.

However, the success of the project depends on how many scientists seek to publish their research in the Public Library of Science. Many younger researchers may not want to risk publishing in such a resource. These scientists may believe they need the recognition that famous scientific journals provide. Yet, established scientists may see the Public Library of Science as a way to help the cause of science. Many scientists agree that sharing and cooperation are important values in science.

You are listening to the Special English program SCIENCE IN THE NEWS on VOA. This is Bob Doughty with Sarah Long in Washington.

An American study has shown that eating a small amount of fish every month can reduce the risk of stroke. The study showed that men who ate seafood even once a month cut their risk of the most common kind of stroke.

Over the years, many studies have shown that eating fish is important for good health. Those studies showed that people who eat fish reduce their risk of stroke and heart attack. People in Iceland and Japan, for example, eat more fish on average than other people. People in those countries also have the world's lowest death rates from stroke and heart disease.

The new study is surprising because it shows that eating even small amounts of fish appears to produce the health effect. The National Institutes of Health provided money for the study. The Journal of the American Medical Association published the findings.

Doctors at the Harvard University School of Public Health in Cambridge, Massachusetts carried out the study. They studied the diets of more than forty-thousand men during a twelve-year period. The men were asked how often they ate fish. They also were asked about the kinds of seafood they ate.

The Harvard team found that eating fish had a protective effect against ischemic (eh-SKEE-mic) strokes. An ischemic stroke is caused by a blockage in the flow of blood to the brain. This is the most common kind of stroke. Eighty percent of all strokes are caused by a blockage. Ischemic strokes often result in death. They also are a leading cause of severe disability in many western countries.

Albert Ascherio (as-CARE-ee-yo) was a member of the Harvard team. He says the study found that men who ate fish a few times a month had almost half the risk of stroke compared with men who never ate fish. However, there was no evidence that eating fish more than a few times a month reduced a man's risk of stroke even more. Eating fish a few times a month was just as good as eating fish almost every day.

The doctors say fish helps because its fatty acids make the blood flow more freely. They say this helps to prevent blockages in the blood flow. The doctors say eating different kinds of seafood is the best plan of action. They say men should include fish in their diet to reduce the risk of stroke.

A new report says a huge piece of Antarctic ice has been melting and releasing water into the world's oceans for the past ten-thousand years. The West Antarctic Ice Sheet covers five-hundred-eighty-thousand square kilometers. The report warns that the ice sheet could disappear in seven-thousand years if the melting continues at its current rate. It says this might raise sea levels around the world by about five meters.

John Stone from the University of Washington wrote the report. He warns that a quick or sudden melting of the ice sheet could cause serious problems for some islands and coastal areas.

Mr. Stone's team measured chemicals found in rocks on seven mountains in Antarctica. The tops of these mountains were completely covered by ice ten-thousand years ago. As the ice began to melt away, radiation from deep space started hitting the rocks. This changed the chemical formation in the mountains. The scientists could estimate how old the rocks were by studying the chemicals.

Ten-thousand years ago, large areas of ice had nearly all melted across Europe and in North America. The new study shows that the huge area of ice in West Antarctica was just starting to melt by then.The new report was published in Science magazine.

Earlier this month, another group of scientists completed a rare, over-land trip to Antarctica's southern most point. The scientists traveled almost one-thousand-three-hundred kilometers to the South Pole. Along the way, they removed pieces of ice from the ground and collected other information. The scientists plan to compare this evidence with other ice cores gathered from other parts of Antarctica. From this, they hope to get a better understanding of the continent's climate and the effect of rising temperatures.

This SCIENCE IN THE NEWS program was written by Mario Ritter and George Grow. It was produced by George Grow. This is Bob Doughty. And this is Sarah Long. Join us again next week for more news about science in Special English on the Voice of America.

Voice of America Special English

Source: SCIENCE IN THE NEWS - January 28, 2003 : Public Library of Science on the Internet / West Antarctic Ice Sheet Melting / Eating Fish May Lower Risk of Stroke
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