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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 project to study shipwrecks in European waters ... a discovery of a dinosaur with feathers ... foods that can keep you healthy ... and a vitamin-enriched drink for people in developing countries.
Archeologists from six nations are working to study and protect four wrecked ships in northern European waters. The European Union has provided money equal to about one-million dollars for the three-year project. The E-U says these ships play an important part in European cultural history.
Archeologists from the Maritime Museum of Finland helped organize the project. Scientific organizations from five other nations also are taking part. They are Germany, Sweden, Britain, Denmark and the Netherlands.
The program has a number of goals. The archeologists want to learn why some shipwrecks last a long time while others fall apart. They hope to develop a plan for deciding when shipwrecks are threatened with destruction. They also want to learn the best ways to raise ships from the bottom of the ocean. And, they are planning ways for the public to see the wrecks without risking damage to the underwater environment surrounding them.
The scientists say the shipwrecks are in good condition. Two lie in the Baltic Sea, one near Germany and the other near Finland. Another is in the North Sea off the coast of the Netherlands. A fourth lies in Lake Vattern (VECK-ten) in Sweden. The oldest ship sailed in the thirteenth century. The most recent sank in Eighteen-Fifty-Six.
Instruments placed on the wrecked ships will report on currents, the salt level in the water and other conditions. Scientists know that bacteria and waves influence the breaking down of ships over time. However, little is known about other underwater processes.
Before the project began, the Finnish archeologists had worked on the wreck of one of the ships being studied. This wooden sailing ship is called the Vrouw Maria (FRAH-Wah Mah-REE-ah). It sank in Seventeen-Seventy-One while it was sailing from Amsterdam, the Netherlands to Saint Petersburg, Russia. It was carrying artworks and other objects to Russian Empress Catherine the Great.
The ship now lies under forty-one meters of water off the coast of Finland. The archeologists will compare the Vrouw Maria with the other wrecks. They say this should help them decide if they should try to raise the ship.
Underwater cameras will record all the wrecks so the public can see them. One official said the project will try to develop Internet computer Web sites for each of the sunken ships.
American and Chinese scientists say they have discovered new evidence that modern birds developed from dinosaurs. The researchers found remains of a dinosaur that appears to have had feathers but could not fly.
The researchers said the feathers on the dinosaur fossil have almost the same structure as feathers on modern birds. They also suggested that the dinosaurs may have developed feathers over time to keep warm, not to fly.
The publication “Nature” reported findings about the dinosaur fossil last month. The fossil was about one-hundred-twenty-eight-million years old. The scientists found it in the Beipiao (BAY-BYAU) Paleontological Museum in China. The fossil had been uncovered in northeastern China. They identified the animal as a dromaeosaur (DRAH-mah-soar).
Mark Norell of the American Museum of Natural History in New York City took part in the research. He said the fossil has feathers on its tail and legs. Some of the feathers measure up to thirteen centimeters.The dromaeosaur ate meat. It was almost one meter long. It had hollow bones, like a bird. Scientists believe it was able to run fast on two powerful legs.
Last year, the same team found an older dromaeosaur fossil. It was about one-hundred-thirty-million years old. It was discovered in the same northeastern area of China. The scientists said the older fossil apparently was partly covered with soft feathers called down.
The latest finding by the Chinese and American team adds to a major scientific debate. In recent years, many scientists have accepted the idea that modern birds developed from dinosaurs. A few scientists still argue that birds developed from another kind of reptile.
Some experts welcomed the discovery about the dinosaur as proof of the bird theory. Others said bird feathers might have accidentally become mixed into the fossil as it formed. Several years ago, scientists discovered that people had placed objects identified as feathers in a dinosaur fossil from China.
Experts say the food people eat greatly affects their health. They say that some foods are especially good for preventing disease.
Many foods contain substances that protect against tissue damage. One of these is tomatoes. The substance lycopene is released when tomatoes are cooked. Lycopene helps reduce the risk of developing cancer in the digestive system, which processes food.
The dark green vegetable spinach contains folic acid that prevents problems in developing fetuses. It also lowers blood levels of homocysteine. High homocysteine levels have been linked to heart attacks and strokes. Another vegetable, broccoli, can help protect against cancers of the breast, colon and stomach.
Oats help lower blood pressure and protect against heart disease. They also may improve the levels of sugar in the blood. This reduces the chance of developing the disease diabetes.
Fish that contain omega three fatty acids help prevent blockages in the arteries. Omega three also lowers bad cholesterol and may protect brain cells from diseases like Alzheimer's. Fish that provide a lot of omega three acids are salmon, herring, mackerel and bluefish.
Garlic may help protect the heart by reducing cholesterol and making the blood less sticky. Health experts also suggest cooking with olive oil because it has been shown to help prevent cancer and heart disease.
Studies show that drinking green tea may help prevent cancer of the liver and stomach. Blueberries have been shown to help protect against heart disease and cancer. Experts say the skins of red grapes contain substances that increase the good kind of cholesterol in the blood. To get this protection, you can drink red wine... but not more than a few glasses a week. Drinking too much alcohol can be dangerous.
The Coca-Cola Company is developing a new healthy drink for people in developing countries. The new drink is called Vitango. It tastes like orange drink. Vitango is a mix of fine particles that becomes a liquid when water is added. It contains twelve vitamins and minerals that are lacking in the diets of people in developing countries.
Vitango is designed to help prevent blood problems, blindness and other common sicknesses in developing countries, especially in Africa and South America. Coca-Cola tested the drink by giving it to students at two schools in Botswana last year. At the end of eight weeks, test results showed that levels of iron and zinc in the students’ blood had increased.
Vitango is still being developed. However, officials believe it will be on the market by the end of this year. The Coca-Cola Company will offer it first in at least one country in Africa and South America. In time, the company hopes to sell it throughout the world at as low a cost as possible.
Vitango would compete with a similar vitamin drink already on the market called Nutristar. The Procter and Gamble Company began selling Nutristar in Venezuela last October after several years of research. Nutristar contains eight vitamins and five minerals. U-N experts say these drinks are an effective way to help meet the health needs of people in developing countries.
This SCIENCE IN THE NEWS program was written by Jerilyn Watson, Nancy Steinbach and Jill Moss. 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.