Science and Technology: Gates Foundation to computerise Romanian libraries


The Gates Foundation, established by Microsoft's Bill Gates, plans to bring free computer and internet access to libraries in Romania. Also in science and technology this week: a Croatian scientist and her colleagues calculate a key date in human evolution.


Romanian libraries will be computerised under a project sponsored by the Gates Foundation. [World Bank]

The Gates Foundation has announced plans to computerise Romania's public libraries, providing free access to computers and the internet for all Romanians. The country's Culture Ministry has held talks with the foundation and presented a map of the Romanian library system, in preparation for a feasibility study. The project is part of the foundation's Global Libraries initiative.


Croatian scientist Maja Paunovic and her German and US colleagues have calculated the date when Neanderthals diverged from modern human beings. The calculations are a milestone in efforts to decode the complete genome of Neanderthals, the extinct hominids whose existence was discovered 150 years ago with a fossil find in a German quarry. Paunovic is part of a team led by Svante Paabo of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany. Comparing human, Neanderthal and chimpanzee DNA, the team found that the divergence took place about 516,000 years ago.


A regional scientific gathering on protection of the Adriatic Sea and its natural resources took place at the Institute for Biology in Kotor, Montenegro, from November 18th-21st. The meeting drew experts from Albania, Italy and Montenegro. Concrete proposals will be reviewed at a meeting next year in Teramo, Italy.


Serbia's Academy of Sciences and Arts (SANU) celebrated its 165th anniversary on November 19th. At a formal ceremony, Minister for Science and Environment Protection Aleksandar Popovic said that SANU is a key Serbian institution and that allocating it sufficient budget funds for science and research is a government priority. SANA admitted 13 new members, raising the total number of academicians to 151.


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UNICEF and the Japanese government organised an international seminar in Tirana on bird flu, focusing on communication during health emergencies and appropriate measures to minimise pandemic outbreaks. Carrie Auer, UNICEF representative in Albania, said the event -- which took place on November 20th -- was the first of six such seminars to be held in Central and Eastern Europe.


The Bulgarian Education Ministry will provide 437m euros from EU structural funds for education and science in 2007-2013. The ministry will organise information days in 15 towns, where it will present financing opportunities under the programme titled "Development of Human Resources". Schools, universities, municipalities and NGOs will be able to apply for financing. The project is expected to focus on the introduction of new IT to increase the quality and accessibility of education.

(Various sources 20/11/06 - 27/11/06)

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