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People engaged in the work we call science need to know what is going on in their own field and in related fields. They also need to let their colleagues know what they're doing. And they need to serve notice of their interests and abilities to potential research sponsors and to students who might wish to learn from them.
In like manner, research sponsors seek to discover which institutions and which individuals might be available to conduct studies along certain lines. Students looking for guidance in their chosen fields of interest want to know where that guidance can be found. And members of the general public with an interest in science need to have a means of staying current on developments in many different fields.
The university is the birthplace of most basic science, the intellectual engine that drives the fantastic voyage we label "research and development." Among these institutions, American universities are in the forefront.
What research is underway right now in American universities? How is it going? Where is it taking us? These have been hard questions to answer.
Scholarly journals report the results of research, but only months after the fact. Given the high and increasing costs of paper publishing, they are expensive. This puts them virtually out of reach for many individuals, and even many institutions, especially those in the less-developed nations. Because of the need for precision in scientific expression, the specialized journals often use words that are beyond the comprehension of most laymen, and even of scientists in fields other than their own.
What is needed is science news. The news writer is accustomed to covering complex topics quickly and expressing them in terms that are simple and understandable. Meanwhile, the Internet provides a new opportunity for science news. Huge and growing numbers of people now look there for information of all kinds, making the Internet the bulletin board of choice for any science newsletter. For a science headline or news summary, the Internet can compete with any media, even television.
Bits move virtually instantaneously: a news release sent by e-mail can be on any World Wide Web news page within minutes, while the regular mail release, a cumbersome collection of atoms, sluggishly wends its way through the older system that transports atoms from one place to another. Bits also move more cheaply than atoms, so the cost can be kept low for universities that distribute their science news releases electronically.
These are the forces that come together to make a science news service on the Internet a virtual necessity.
That's Why UniSci. -
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