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publishers

Of interest the first part of this weekly bulletin distributed by the
french embassy in Washington.

-------- Original Message --------
Objet: FAST - Issue #146
Date: Wed, 16 Feb 2000 19:25:26 -0500
De: fast@amb-wash.fr
R=E9pondre-A: fast@amb-wash.fr
A: Yves.Epelboin@lmcp.jussieu.fr

** FRENCH ADVANCES IN SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY **

FAST is a free review of mainstream French press on issues of science
and
technology. It appears twice weekly, on Tuesdays and Fridays.

FAST is published by the Science and Technology Office of the Embassy of
France to the United States, and by its CNRS Washington office.
_____________________________________



Paris - February 15, 2000 - Issue #146

> PUBLISHERS PERISH?
> FOR EVERY FALLEN TREE THAT ROTS, A FLOWER GROWS
> WORLD WAR ON CANCER
> BRIEFLY

** PUBLISHERS PERISH?
Things look good for the birth of a global website--already baptized
E-Biosci--for scientific literature in Europe, after a round of meetings
last month in Heidelberg among research organizations, commercial
publishers, and the European Commission. One critical point remains to
be
defined: will the site only accept articles on a "barrier-free access"
basis like the US-based PubMed Central, or will it seek some other
arrangement with the publishers. Officials at the European Molecular
Biology Organization (EMBO), E-Biosci's godfather, are leaning towards
article abstracts as the primary content, with links to articles on
whatever basis each publisher agrees. Obvious advantages include
comprehensive coverage of one or all fields of scientific research. This
reasoning is supported by PubMed's experience; so far only a handful of
journals have agreed to turn over articles for free. Some participants
hesitate, however, fearing such a policy will harden into permanence and
E-Biosci will have lost the leverage to move commercial publishers off
their very profitable positions. Free, searchable, global access to all
scientific literature is the ultimate goal, with reduction of
publishers'
profit margins one of the anticipated results. Publishers feel the winds
of
change blowing, as can be heard in Nature's coyly worded refusal to join
PubMed: "Something like PMC could help enhance Nature's ability to serve
the research community, but [Nature] sees significant unanswered
questions." How to get to global is still under debate. There is,
nonetheless, unanimity on a number of points; Europe must have its own
archive, and at the same time, such a structure must establish
cooperative
relations with its US counterpart. And the E-Biosci initiative will
certainly push along the recently announced EC vision for a Europe-wide
scientific information infrastructure. (Nature, January 27, p347, Darian
Butler)

** FOR EVERY FALLEN TREE THAT ROTS, A FLOWER GROWS
In the search for silver linings in the clouds that blew with
unprecedented
force across Europe in late December, forest ecologists and ecological
pressure groups may have hit on something. French forests were
previously
short on dead tree trunks and this recent influx of supply will
undoubtedly
benefit biodiversity. Decomposing or hollow tree trunks are home to a
wide
range of life forms from insects to mammals as well as birds, reptiles
and
a large number of plant species. And many of these accept no
substitutes.
Back when the term biodiversity sounded like an annual get-together for
germs, the French Forestry Bureau (ONF) obsessively kept its sylvan
acres
swept free of every stray twig, but in recent years good practice
includes
"leaving at least one dead tree and two hollow trees per hectare,"
according to the latest ONF training manuals. Nature's defenders such as
the WWF, meanwhile, have been urging European nations to set aside 10%
of
its forest holdings in wilderness preserves, off-limits to loggers,
hunters, and picnickers, as part of a worldwide 10% program. In France
for
the moment the figure is only 2.5% in nature reserves, and ecological
associations are seeing the widespread storm damage as, well, a
windfall.
Why not, they argue, place thousands of damaged acres aside and once
again
let the forest primeval thrive. The answer of course is that
biodiversity
includes homo sapiens who need forest products and local villages that
survive by supplying them. The WWF has proposed a symbolic forest of
5,000
hectares (12,000 acres or 20 sq. miles) where the only persona non grata
would be men. The ONF is mulling over an idea of its own to create 3
reserves of 1,000 hectares each, representing each of three forest
types:
classic French hardwood, alpine, and mediterranean. Biodiversity with
its
vaunted abilities to supply new molecules and to favor adaptation in the
face of coming climate change is enjoying great press at the moment, so
it
is likely that some fraction of the recent blow-down will indeed be left
for restocking the animal and plant kingdoms of France.

** WORLD WAR ON CANCER
The announcement last week of a major new French national initiative
against cancer (FAST #143) was in fact the local face of a worldwide
mobilization that was kicked off last week, also in Paris, by a "summit"
meeting of leading figures from research, care delivery, governments,
and
patient groups. The idea was hatched, in good French fashion, around the
dinner table when a dozen or so internationally renowned oncologists, in
town for a major conference on cancer, were invited by an equally
renowned
French chef-whose family has been struck by cancer-to have a bite to eat
in
his restaurant. Accepting an offer no sane oncologist would turn down,
the
group began brainstorming over what could be done besides simply making
research headway. The result was a commitment to draft a world charter,
to
be signed not only by governments, but also by everyone involved in the
care giving process and by all concerned citizens, who will be able to
sign
it on the Web. The charter, launched by last week's summit, calls for a
greater sensitivity to cancer sufferers, more awareness of prevention,
more
emphasis on quality of care including palliation and on the patient as
an
active partner in treatment. Viewed worldwide, cancer is on the rise and
could become the plague of the 21st century, as it constitutes a health
threat which, paradoxically, increases with the level of living
standards.
Dr. David Khayat of Piti=E9-Salp=EAtri=E8re Hospital and one of the summi=
t's
organizers explains that "international oncology conferences are very
encouraging, for we see the state and the progress of research, but
looking
around at the day-to-day experience of cancer sufferers we see far too
much
pain, anguish, and death. We decided we needed to mobilize everyone,
patients and their associations, doctors, researchers, public officials,
industry, and the media, in waging war against cancer." (Le Figaro,
February 4, p14, Martine P=E9rez)

** BRIEFLY

NANTES... A young researcher from the atmospheric dynamics study group
at
the Ecole Centrale has developed perhaps the first, and certainly one of
the most thorough, simulations of the movement of air pollutants based
on
real data. Several European projects are working with wind tunnels to
understand the dynamics of dispersal, but the Nantes project consisted
of
outfitting a busy narrow street of even facades with a number of sensing
devices to record what happens to auto exhaust during the course of a
day.
Traffic levels, including a distinction between passenger cars and heavy
trucks, were recorded. Cables were suspended at 12 and 16 meters above
street level strung with thermocouples, anemometers for detecting both
light air movement and wind, and CO sensors. Since facades and the heat
they give off have a big effect on movement and chemical transformation
of
pollutants, buildings were also equipped with thermocouples, at ground
and
roof level. A computer program supplied by an architectural research
group
simulates the dynamics of illumination and radiation from building
facades.
Putting it all together has yielded some very impressive "weather maps"
of
pollutant dispersal for various traffic and atmospheric conditions. (Le
Monde Interactif, February 2, pV, Alain Thomas)

IN THE FIELDS... After ten years of lax enforcement, administrative
dithering and political shilly-shallying, and after having been fingered
by
the EU for non-compliance two years ago, France in the person of its
energetic environmental minister, looks like getting serious about
farmers
who pollute water supplies. The sanctions, like the pollution itself,
come
in two forms. Large-scale intensive livestock operations (largely
centered
around Brittany) will be charged a fee based on their relative size in
their region unless they have revamped their facilities to reduce
pollution
from excess manure. Intensive grain farmers on the other hand, largely
found to the west and east of Paris, who overdo nitrogen-based
fertilizers,
will be charged a penalty tax per kilo of synthesized input that is
judged
excessive. What the government and the EU want is to take down the
"don't
drink the water" sign that hangs over large swathes of the countryside.
(Le
Figaro, January 25, p14, Marie-Jos=E9e Cougard)

NANCY... A team of researchers from The Lorraine Laboratory for Applied
Informatics Research (LORIA) has developed a pilot project, Diatelic,
for
home-care at-a-distance via the Internet focused for the moment on
overseeing homecare dialysis from the hospital. Diatelic's challenge has
both technological and human facets, but if it succeeds it may go on a
road
trip to the US. Meanwhile LORIA is also involved in a big
Ministry-backed
project bringing together INSERM, CNRS, INRIA, several university
teaching
hospitals and industrial firms, TILSSAD (for "information technology
integrated with home delivered health care"). The number and caliber of
the
partners is an indication of how big both surveillance and assistance
at-a-distance are likely to become. (L'Est R=E9publicain, January 27, p2,=

Ghislain Utard)

FAST is produced and written by Timothy Carlson.

----
FAST - Copyright (C) 1999
Homepage (subscription, archives): http://www.france-science.org/english
Email: fast@amb-wash.fr
Fax: (202) 944 62 44 =

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