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Science and Technology Library Newsletter: January 21, 2000 Edition.
Newsletter Archive > 2000 January 21 Issue

Sci-Tech Library Newsletter

1/21/00


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  1. ARCTIC BIBLIOGRAPHY NOW AVAILABLE AS DATABASE: A seminal reference work now part of the Arctic and Antarctic Regions database.
  2. IMPACT FACTORS: Available at the ISI website.
  3. TIP OF THE WEEK – FINDING NEWS STORIES ON THE INTERNET: Easier with special tools!
  4. NEW E-JOURNALS
  5. INTERESTING WEBSITES, ETC.: New web directory, Internet statistics, machine translations, Bizarre kitchen fun; Biological Sciences: Biology Work Bench, tide pools, virtual creatures, space life, species life, Houston, gene almanac; Polar Programs: polar flights; Geosciences: global warming; Mathematical and Physical Sciences: lunar eclipse, FUSE, commuters physics, statistics, statistical mechanics; Engineering: Leaning Tower of Pisa, intelligent micromachines, transportation; Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences: Stories of the Dreaming, economics statistics … and more!
  6. INTER ALIA: Shackleton in DC, a real millennium bug, buy an obelisk!
  1. ARCTIC BIBLIOGRAPHY NOW AVAILABLE AS DATABASE

    The Arctic Bibliography database is now available on the web through the NISC Arctic and Antarctic Regions collection.

    The American Geological Institute, with funding from the National Science Foundation, has completed a project to digitize the Arctic Bibliography. The original bibliography was produced by the Arctic Institute of North America with funding from government agencies in the United States and Canada.

    The Arctic Bibliography covers the literature of the Arctic region through the early 1970s. The 114,716 references with English abstracts have been digitized from the 16 published volumes and the unpublished 17th volume of the Arctic Bibliography. Subject coverage includes publications in the arts, sciences, and technology in more than twenty languages.

    Arctic and Antarctic Regions includes over 934,000 bibliographic records (many with abstracts) from 1800 and earlier to present. This database anthology combines 12 database files from various institutions and government sources to produce the world's largest collection of international polar databases. [additional information] (http://www.nisc.com/dbmonth/AAR.htm)

    Access to Arctic and Antarctic Regions is available on CD-ROM and online using NISC's web-based search service BiblioLine. To obtain a free thirty-day trial on BiblioLine, please register at: http://www.nisc.com/request/bibltrial.asp (http://www.nisc.com/request/bibltrial.asp).

  2. IMPACT FACTORS ON WEB

    ISI's “What's Hot in Research” website has links to webpages with sci-tech journal article publishing and impact factors in the following types of displays:

    1. Journals ranked by impact in particular subject areas.
    2. Universities ranked by impact or quantity of papers produced.
    3. An individual paper with particular impact.
    4. Studies of publishing and impact of a particular country.

    Although impact is only one of many possible measures of research importance, these are certainly interesting information items.

  3. TIP OF THE WEEK – FINDING NEWS STORIES ON THE INTERNET

    It used to be that if you wanted to do a search for newspaper stories, you had few options, and most of them were too awful to think about. Major newspapers, like the New York Times, might have cumbersome paper indexes with tiny print available at the local library, but most papers were indexed only at their morgues. More recently a few online services became available, like the Newspaper Index and Nexis, but these commercial services can be expensive and are not necessarily widely available or easy for the layman to use. These services are still absolutely the best or only way to do many searches, but finally there is an additional option available for everyone's use.

    The WWW has changed the world of newspaper publishing. Many newspapers have full text web versions available for free. Some of these have only the current day's stories available, some have an archive. Some have an archive that you can search for free, but full text of stories is only provided for a price. Some papers, like the New York Times (http://www.nytimes.com/), have “protected” websites (the New York Times requires free registration, for instance). As you may know, protected websites are often not available to general search engines, and you may have to go to that particular site if you want to be able to search it.

    But a great many newspapers are readily available and searchable.

    Using a general search engine like AltaVista or HotBot might be a way to search for news stories. It can be done, but to get a nice, clean search you generally have to craft an extremely elegant search statement. Also, remember that the general search engines do not have the capability of visiting every website every day, so the chance of their picking up a recent news article is not very high. They are not really a good choice for finding newspaper stories on the web.

    But help is available.

    There are numerous search engines on the web that are built just to look for news stories and only news stories, and they are very clever little tools, indeed! Additionally, the little devils search these newspaper sites at least daily – sometimes hourly – so you are able to find yesterday's and even today's breaking news. Some even search some of the protected websites, like the New York Times.

    For listings and links to a variety of these wonderful search engines, check the following websites:

    Some of the search engines you will find listed on these pages, like CNN Interactive (http://www.cnn.com/SEARCH/) or BBC News (http://www.bbc.co.uk/home/today/), only search specific news sources, but many of them, like NewsIndex (http://www.newsindex.com/) (one of my personal favorites) or NewsBot (http://www.newsbot.com/), search across a wide variety of newspapers and their archives. For instance, when I tried a search on these engines on the word “Antarctica” I received about 40 hits from sources such as the Washington Post, the Boston Globe, and ABCNews. As always when you are using an unfamiliar search engine, it is a good idea to look for a “help” button and check the specs to make sure you are using the engine properly, unless you are just doing a very “plain vanilla” search strategy. Just as with any search engine, familiarize yourself with several. If you don't find what you are looking for right away with one search engine, move on to another one. As always, each search engine is different and has different strengths and weaknesses.

    Also keep in mind that there are even more specialized news sources available to you on the WWW. There are sites that keep track of only science news, or even only chemistry news, optics news, anthropology news, engineering news – whatever your special interest might be. Likewise, there are sites that keep track of news stories on science and government, or news stories available in an audio or video format. (Contact Stephanie Bianchi if you would like a list of these sources.)

    Why not let the news headlines come to you? There is a lot of push technology out there for news sources, and some of them are very customizable, with categories for science and technology news. The NSF Custom News Service (http://www.nsf.gov/home/cns/start.htm) is one very specialized source for this kind of service, but there are also services available from EntryPoint (http://www.pointcast.com/) (Formerly Pointcast), CNN (http://www.cnn.com/), and others. These services work in various ways, but they all bring you the news without your having to remember to check it for yourself each day. This can be wonderful, or it can be annoying. But you can always remove yourself from the services if you find they don't meet your needs.

    If you have tried the above sources and still can't find the elusive news item you need, remember to always ask your librarian – let a professional do the hard stuff!

  4. NEW E-JOURNALS

    Platinum Metals Review
    http://chemweb.com/library/jm/display.exe?jcode=jmpmr

    Platinum Metals Review from Johnson Matthey PLC is now available on ChemWeb.com and is completely FREE of charge to all members. Platinum Metals Review, published continuously since 1957, is a quarterly survey of scientific research on the platinum metals, and of developments in their applications in industry. It aims to review some of the many uses and potential uses in which the platinum metals play an important role. (Free registration to Chemweb required).

    Signal Transduction Knowledge Environment (STKE)
    http://www.stke.org/

    The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and Stanford University Libraries' HighWire Press are pleased to announce the public release of the Signal Transduction Knowledge Environment (STKE). The STKE is the first venture for AAAS and HighWire Press into the arena of “knowledge environments”. This product is based on two major themes: published content from journals which contribute to the field of signal transduction, and original material solicited from experts in the field which will be represented on this site only. Knowledge environments, in general, build on a broader theme of integrating multiple sources of information available on the Web into a unified site for readers. The success of this integration will be measured by feedback from the readers of the site.

    The STKE has something akin to an “issue” in some of its original content. Each week there will be a new release of information including reviews, perspectives and a section called “This Week in Signal Transduction”. There are a number of features on the site which will feel familiar to publishers and readers of journals and their online sites.

    At this time the site is free to the public to use, but users must register. At some time in the next 4-5 months, access control through a paid subscription will go into effect. The precise extent of this control, the subscription model and the pricing is yet to be determined.

  5. INTERESTING WEBSITES AND OTHER NEWS OF THE INTERNET

    New General Web Directory
    http://www.hubat.com/

    This is a broad web directory on the order of Yahoo, but has a cleaner interface (also, alas, less detailed) and seems to be a bit more exclusive about the websites it lists. I haven't played around with it enough to really get a feel for it, but it sure looks interesting. The Hubat folks have this to say about themselves:

    “We develop technologies, products and services that automate the building of customizable and high quality business and personal directories based on our proprietary SPARKLE algorithm for web data mining and FASE algorithm for information retrieval. The directory serves as the point of information organization, integration, access, and navigation for businesses and individuals. We have already implemented the algorithms and developed a beta directory building tool that has been used to automatically create the web directory shown at this web site.”

    Research Surveys, Statistics and Trends (Internet)
    http://www.westward.com/research/surveys.htm

    This site has links to various surveys and statistical sources about the Internet, such as the CyberAtlas-Size of the Internet, the Georgia Tech Internet User Surveys, and The Media in Cyberspace – an Annual National Survey.

    Need a Translation?
    Here are two websites that will provide a free machine-generated translation of a word, phrase, or entire webpage. Languages available are limited, usually to English and other western European languages. Also remember that machine-generated translations certainly do have their limitations, but are often enough to give you the sense of what you are reading, if not the nuances, and they are remarkably quick. In general, the more technical or academic the subject, the better the translation will be. (On the other hand, aphorisms are lots of fun to try on machine translators!) Check out the following websites:

    You can also download free software that will do the same kind of translations from Babylon.com (http://www.babylon.com/). It has several additional features, as well, such as currency converters.

    If you know of more, please share the URL's!

    Bizarre Stuff You Can Make in Your Kitchen
    http://freeweb.pdq.net/headstrong/

    A “sort of warped semi-scientific cookbook of tricks, gimmicks, and pointless experimentation, concoctions, and devices, using, for the most part, things found around the house.” Included are projects in chemistry, electricity, food, weather, physics and optics, astronomy, earth science, life sciences, and more. Instructions are included for making things from glowing pickles to steam engines; fake blood to Tesla coils. Related links are available. – dl (From Librarian's Index to the Internet)

    Biological Sciences

    Biology WorkBench
    http://biology.ncsa.uiuc.edu/

    “The Biology WorkBench is a revolutionary web-based tool for biologists. The WorkBench allows biologists to search many popular protein and nucleic acid sequence databases. Database searching is integrated with access a wide variety of analysis and modeling tools, all within a point and click interface that eliminates file format compatibility problems.” This site requires registration, but appears to be free.

    The Tide Pool Page
    http://web.mit.edu/corrina/tpool/intro.html

    An interactive tour of a tide pool. Included are Tide Pool Tips for safe viewing and minimizing human impact upon this fragile ecosystem, information about some of the organisms found in tide pools, how tides work, and a list of related links. (From Blue Web'N)

    This is a truly lovely page designed primarily for children but of interest to all levels. It also includes an “Identify the mystery critters” module.

    Virtual Creatures
    http://k-2.stanford.edu/creatures/

    The Virtual Creatures project is funded by the US National Science Foundation as a research and development project through which an interdisciplinary team can explore the educational potential of a new way of seeing living creatures and interacting with them. Take a look at the guts of a frog with no need to take a classroom blade to a real amphibian. Frog Island – looking like a computer game – allows students to study different aspects of the creatures' habitats by 'visiting' different parts of the island. And a simple jumping Java frog helps you understand the forces needed by a frog to jump over a rock! (From New Scientist Planet Science)

    NASA Space Life Sciences Outreach
    http://weboflife.arc.nasa.gov/

    “This is yet one more site from NASA. They are documenting the ways life sciences are researched in space – both for space and terrestrially. The content ranges from simple factoids to more technical papers. You can usually tell which you are about to see. However, I do have to question some of the content levels assigned. Some looked a bit hard for an elementary student to read while others would have been slow paced and boring to a high level reader. Any one paper really can not span all that. I first saw this site months ago and it has greatly improved. I do question the amount of screen taken by the menu across the top. The addition of better graphics and media really help. The pages include reference areas for teachers as well as students.” – Martin H. Badke (From Finger Searcher Science Seeker – see bottom of this page for full attribution statement.)

    Species' Life Cycles – NWF
    http://www.nwf.org/wildalive/lifecycles/

    The National Wildlife Federation (NWF) provides these colorful pages summarizing different stages of several species's life cycles. Focusing on the interconnected and fragile nature of existence, this site features a half dozen species: Karner Blue Butterfly, Dwarf Wedgemussel, Chinook Salmon, Indiana Bat, Grizzly Bear, and Mauna Kea Silversword. This could serve as a fine supplement for introductory courses on basic ecology, population biology, conservation biology, or wildlife management. [LXP] (From the Scout Report)

    Three Acres of Houston
    http://www.houstonlot.org/

    The ecology, throughout the year, of a random lot in Houston, Texas. Hundreds of photos and descriptions of the plants, animals and fungi that can be found in a city lot. Also information about the geography of the lot. A fascinating bit of urban ecology.

    Gene Almanac
    http://vector.cshl.org/

    This site provides DNA from the Beginning, “a multimedia primer on the basics of DNA and heredity.” The Resources section offers Bioservers, which allow for the use of bioinformatics or the use of computers to solve biological problems; Bioforms, interactive exercises; the Biology Animation Library covering DNA concepts; and Nucleotide Sequences, complete nucleotide sequences for a set of plasmids. GeneNews has links to recent news about genetics and genetic research. Requires RealPlayer and Shockwave. Related links are available. – dl (From Librarian's Index to the Internet)

    Polar Programs

    PolarFlight: The Aerial Exploration of the Polar Regions 1897-1939
    http://members.tripod.com/PolarFlight/index.htm

    To visit this site you do have to put up with the advertising banner, but it is worth the effort. This is a neat little website chronicling ten historical polar exploration flights, starting with the 1897 balloon flight attempted by Salomon August Andrée. The site also includes vintage photos, a bibliography, maps, a link page, and more.

    Geosciences

    Global Warming “Undoubtedly Real” – NAS Press Release
    http://www4.nationalacademies.org/news.nsf/isbn/0309068916?OpenDocument

    Reconciling Observations of Global Temperature Change – NAP
    http://www.nap.edu/books/0309068916/html/

    Board on Atmospheric Sciences and Climate (BASC)
    http://www4.nationalacademies.org/cger/basc.nsf

    EPA Global Warming Site
    http://www.epa.gov/globalwarming/index.html

    Weathervane: A Digital Forum on Global Climate Policy [.pdf]
    http://www.weathervane.rff.org/

    Global Warming I – NPR's Morning Edition [RealPlayer]
    http://www.npr.org/ramfiles/me/20000113.me.01.ram

    Global Warming II
    http://www.npr.org/ramfiles/me/20000113.me.02.ram

    A major new report issued by the National Research Council of the National Academies on January 12 concludes that global warming is “ ‘undoubtedly real,’ and that surface temperatures in the past two decades have risen at a rate substantially greater than average for the past 100 years.” In particular, the report examines the apparent conflict between surface temperature and upper-air temperature. The former has risen about 0.4 to 0.8 degrees Celsius, or 0.7 to 1.4 degrees Fahrenheit, in the last century, while no appreciable warming has been detected in the “atmospheric layer extending up to about 5 miles from the Earth's surface.” The report offers a number of explanations for this discrepancy, including long-term (over 100 years) measurements of the surface temperature compared to short-term (about 20 year) data collection from the upper atmosphere, and uncertainties in temperature measurements. While this new report will certainly bolster global warming prevention advocates, it is highly unlikely to settle the debate once and for all.

    Users should begin with the National Academies of Sciences site, which offers a press release, and National Academies Press, which features the full text of the report. Also of interest is the BASC site, which contains links to related reports and other climate sites, and the Environmental Protection Agency's new Global Warming site, where users will find a variety of information and resources on climate change. Weathervane, a current awareness resource for climate change news, offers recent news stories, papers, reports, and analysis. Finally, yesterday's National Public Radio's _Morning Edition_ featured a two-part story on the new report; both parts are offered in RealPlayer format. More resources on global warming and climate change can be found in Signpost, the Scout Report's database. These include The Woods Hole Research Center's The Warming of the Earth, Pace University's Global Warming Central, and Global Climate Maps from the UN's Food and Agricultural Organization. [MD] (From the Scout Report)

    Mathematical and Physical Sciences

    Lunar Eclipse
    If you missed the Lunar Eclipse on Thursday, keep track of when the next one might be with the Five Millennium Lunar Eclipse Calendar (http://spacescience.com/headlines/y2000/ast19jan_1.htm#table).
    You can also be prepared with your camera by checking the Lunar Eclipse Photography (http://www.mreclipse.com/LEgallery/LEphoto.html) website.

    FUSE
    http://fuse.pha.jhu.edu/

    FUSE is a NASA-supported astronomy mission that was launched on June 24, 1999, to explore the Universe using the technique of high-resolution spectroscopy in the far-ultraviolet spectral region. The first data is in!

    • New FUSE observations provide clear evidence for the widespread existence of violently heated, hot (half million degree) interstellar gas extending 5 to 10 thousand light years away from the disk of the Milky Way Galaxy and forming a Hot Gas Halo around it.
    • FUSE has uncovered new information on how Hot Star Winds from themost massive stars seed their host galaxies with new material, which helps us to understand how galaxies evolve over cosmic time.
    • FUSE has provided the eyes that allow us to see, nearly everywhere and with unprecedented sensitivity, the most abundant molecule in the universe, molecular hydrogen.

    This terrific website from Johns Hopkins has press releases, animations, photo gallery, sample data, mission status, FAQs, and more! (There is also an article about the project at Chemweb)

    Traffic Waves: Physics for Bored Commuters
    http://www.eskimo.com/~billb/amateur/traffic/traffic1.html

    Ever find yourself stuck behind lines of traffic on the interstate, but when you get to the end of the slowdown there's nothing there? Now you can find out how traffic phenomena like this occur at Traffic Waves, an interesting site created and maintained by William J. Beaty, an electrical engineer in Seattle. As the site reveals, Beaty is not an expert in “traffic physics” but rather a commuter who has had plenty of time to observe traffic patterns and try different experiments. In addition to several essays on traffic patterns and experiments, the site features illustrations, animations, related links, and a FAQ. A fun site for anyone who spends too much time behind the wheel. [MD] (From the Scout Report)

    VassarStats
    http://faculty.vassar.edu/~lowry/VassarStats.html

    Each link from this page will show an annotated list of the statistical procedures available under that rubric. When a particular procedure is selected, it will be launched in a new browser window. Categories include:

    • Basic Probabilities
    • Categorical Frequency Data
    • Proportions
    • Ordinal Data
    • Correlation & Regression
    • Normal Distribution
    • t-Tests & Procedures
    • ANOVA
    • ANCOVA
    • Miscellaneous Procedures
    • Simulations

    The pages on this site have been programmed in JavaScript and will not work unless your browser supports JavaScript. This site is dedicated to the free dissemination of knowledge on the world-wide web. Neat! Also check out the related site (http://faculty.vassar.edu/~lowry/webtext.html), a free, full-length, and occasionally interactive statistics textbook on the web.

    A Century of Physics
    http://timeline.aps.org/APS/home_HighRes.html

    From the American Physical Society, this webiste provides a timeline of the most important events in physics in the 20th century. The story of physics in the 20th century unfolds like a splendid tapestry teeming with people, ideas, and things. In order to find patterns in this tangle, it helps to pick out five color-coded story-lines that stretch like broad, horizontal ribbons from beginning to end. Story lines are:

    • Cosmic Scale
    • Human Scale
    • Atomic Scale
    • Living World
    • Technology

    Statistical Mechanics
    http://www-wilson.ucsd.edu/education/statmech/statmech.html

    From the University of California, San Diego's Wilson Squier Group, these Statistical Mechanics pages offer slide shows (.jpg) to explain “the macroscopic thermodynamic properties in terms of microscopic properties of chemical systems.” Sections include an Introduction to Statistical Mechanics, Boltzmann Distribution Function, Relations of Statistical Mechanics to Thermodynamics, Introduction to Polymers in Statistical Dynamics, and Biopolymers in Statistical Dynamics. Each section contains slides to be viewed in order and a few short movies (QuickTime) putting motion to an aspect of the lesson. This site may be best used by professors and students as a supplement to an existing course. [KR] (From the Scout Report)

    Research Group in Mathematical Inequalities and Applications
    http://rgmia.vu.edu.au/

    From Australia's Victoria University of Technology, the Research Group in Mathematical Inequalities and Applications (RGMIA) is comprised of academics and researchers from Australia, Asia, Africa, Europe, and North America. The purpose of the group is to disseminate results via publication, create an awareness of the theory of inequalities, and illustrate the applicability of inequalities in the sciences. Highlights of this site include a preprint series called the Research Report Collection. Every few months, a new volume is added online (.dvi, .pdf, .ps) providing registered users with access to cutting edge research. Another excellent feature is the database of Papers in Theory of Inequalities & Applications. The database contains an expansive collection of publications in the field, all of which are downloadable. Members are invited to send in a list of publications for inclusion in the database. Membership (which provides a username and password, and serves as a measure to protect copyrights) is free via an online form. This is an excellent resource for those in the field of mathematical inequalities. [KR] (From the Scout Report)

    Engineering

    The Tower of Pisa
    http://torre.duomo.pisa.it/index_eng.html

    Saving the Leaning Tower of Pisa is a fascinating problem in engineering, architecture, and archaeology. This webiste, in English and Italian, provides a wealth of information about the tower, its history, and the problems faced by those trying to save it from structural damage or possible collapse. This lavishly illustrated (over 6400 photographs) site is well worth a visit.

    Intelligent Micromachines Initiative
    http://mems.sandia.gov/

    Sandia Labs brings you this look at the fascinating world of micromachines. “Imagine a machine so small that it is imperceptible to the human eye. Imagine working machines with gears no bigger than a grain of pollen. Imagine these machines being batch fabricated tens of thousands at a time, at a cost of only a few pennies each. Imagine a realm where the world of design is turned upside down, and the seemingly impossible suddenly becomes easy – a place where gravity and inertia are no longer important, but the effects of atomic forces and surface science dominate. Welcome to the microdomain, a world now occupied by an explosive new technology known as MEMS (MicroElectroMechanical Systems) or, more simply, micromachines.” Includes an image gallery, a movie gallery, technical information, and more!

    NEW TRANSPORTATION DATABASES

    TRIS Online
    http://tris.amti.com/search.cfm

    The TRIS (Transportation Research Information Services) database has since 1968 been the prime source in all areas of transportation research. Produced and maintained by the Transportation Research Board at the National Academy of Sciences, TRIS is the world's largest and most comprehensive bibliographic resource for transportation information. It contains almost 500,000 records and grows by the addition of almost 20,000 new records each year. Previously available only on CD-ROM or by subscription, it is now available free as TRIS Online from the National Transportation Library.

    National Transportation Library (NTL)
    http://ntl.bts.gov/

    The NTL provides online access to documents and databases covering all aspects of transportation in the United States. Material is contributed by public and private organizations around the country and access to all documents is free. Search or browse this collection for full-text materials on transportation topics covering aviation, maritime, pedestrians, bicycles, freight, traffic control, highways, railways, public transportation, intelligent transportation systems, safety, laws & regulations, and more. A search on the Bernoulli Principle, a physical law basic to aviation, turned up eight documents, six of them searchable PDF files. – jg (Both from Librarian's Index to the Internet)

    Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences

    Stories of the Dreaming
    http://www.dreamtime.net.au/

    Wonderful site of Australian aborigine myths and folktales, in text, audio, and video. “The stories come from the cultures of Indigenous Australians and have been collected from all over Australia. They reflect an essential part of the life of Indigenous Australians.

    Some of the storytellers use words from their own languages in telling their stories. Where possible, a direct translation is included in the story or glossary, but even where this is not possible, you will find it easy to understand what the storyteller means.”

    A truly splendid site!

    EconData
    http://econdata.net/

    Guide to regional economic data on the Web with over 400 annotated links to socioeconomic data sources arranged by subject and provider of data. Also lists its ten best sites for finding regional economic data. Additionally, they provide a 100 page User's Guide to finding and using socioeconomic data to analyze local and regional economies (in PDF). The site is sponsored by the Economic Development Administration and a free registration is available to get e-mail notification of updates to the site. – mm (From Librarian's Index to the Internet)

    Edupage

    The following items are from Edupage. To subscribe to Edupage: send mail to: listproc@educom.unc.edu with the message: subscribe edupage Anonymous (if your name is Anonymous; otherwise, substitute your own name). To unsubscribe send a message to: listproc@educom.unc.edu with the message: unsubscribe edupage. (If you have subscription problems, send mail to: manager@educom.unc.edu.)

    ‘DNA COMPUTER’ IS CREATED AND DOES COMPLEX CALCULATIONS
    A research team at the University of Wisconsin has successfully used synthetic DNA attached to a solid surface to perform calculations, moving DNA computing closer to real-world use. Traditional computers run on chips, but chip technology might be reaching the limits of its potential. A number of research teams in the United States are now working to build computers that leverage the tremendous storage capacity of DNA and RNA. Most DNA computers that have been created in the past confine the DNA to test tubes filled with liquid, but the University of Wisconsin team was able to attach the DNA strands to a piece of glass. The Wisconsin team, led by Dr. Lloyd Smith, coded the synthetic DNA strands to hold all possible answers to a problem with 16 possible solutions. The team built several computers, which were able to solve different calculations over a period of several days. Researchers have been working on DNA computing only since 1994, and less than a dozen research groups in the United States are working in this field.
    (New York Times, 13 Jan 2000 via Edupage)

    WIRED CLASSROOMS JOT DOWN THE NOTES
    Georgia Tech University professor Gregory Abowd and a team of researchers are working on Classroom 2000, a project that aims to eliminate the need for students to take notes during a lecture, freeing them to participate in class discussions. The project uses such existing technology as whiteboards, the Web, and audio and visual files. Instead of writing on a blackboard, the professor writes on a whiteboard, which projects the information on a screen for the class to see and also records the information to a computer. All the information provided during the class is stored on a computer and used to create a series of Web pages indexed to the syllabus for students to access over the Web. Two Classroom 2000-ready rooms have been set up at Georgia Tech, while Brown University, Kennesaw State, McGill University, and Georgia State also now have similar classrooms. Although it cost Georgia Tech about $200,000 for its classroom, Kennesaw spent about $15,000 since it already had some of the technology.
    (Washington Times, 10 Jan 2000 via Edupage)

    CYPERSPACE IS TAPPED TO CURB DISEASE
    The Clinton administration today is expected to propose spending $65 million in 2001 to develop a nationwide computer system that tracks infectious diseases such as the flu and hepatitis C. The network would replace a system of phone calls and postcards that notifies authorities about diseases. Jeffrey Koplan, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said the program would use cyberspace to transfer reports from a city clinic to a state public health service to the CDC in one day. More than 35 emerging diseases have been identified since 1973, including AIDS, Legionnaire's disease, Lyme disease, and hepatitis C. The plan reportedly has bipartisan support in Congress.
    (USA Today, 10 Jan 2000 via Edupage)

    FEDS EARMARK $12.5M TO BRIDGE ‘DIGITAL DIVIDE’
    The Telecommunications and Information Infrastructure Assistance Program has been renamed the “Technology Opportunities Program” and is offering $12.5 million in grants to fund projects that will help close the digital divide. The funds will be made available to local governments and non-profit organizations that develop projects that provide opportunities for technologically under-served communities to use the Internet in homes, and to use the Internet for education and business. Next month Commerce Secretary William Daley will promote the grant program when he travels around the country to bring attention to the problem of the lack of access to the Internet for disadvantaged Americans. “New technologies are now the major driving force of our country's economic growth,&qrduo; says Daley. “Access and training, therefore, become essential so that all Americans have the ability to participate and benefit from the new economy.” The program, which has made $135 million in matching grants since 1994, has an application deadline of March 16.
    (E-Commerce Times, 6 Jan 2000 via Edupage)

    STUDY OF ONLINE EDUCATION SEES OPTIMISM, WITH CAUTION
    The University of Illinois last week released its Online Pedagogy Report, describing benefits as well as limits to Internet-based education. The report is the result of a one-year study by 16 of the university's professors to determine the ways in which online classes are effective and ineffective. The group received comments from professors who said that some students are more likely to participate online than in person, and that students seem to put more thought into written rather than oral discussions. However, undergraduate students should not take all of their classes online, and schools should not offer undergraduate degrees completely online, with some exceptions, the report says. In addition, professors should limit online class sizes to about 20 students in order to keep classes unified and motivated, the report says. This contradicts the views of some online education advocates who argue that a key benefit of the technology is its ability to reach a large number of students inexpensively.
    (New York Times Online, 19 Jan 2000 via Edupage)

    INTERNET THREATENS PRINTED WORLD
    New Internet-based technologies that promise to replace paper are expected to become more sophisticated and widely used in coming years, possibly posing a large threat to the paper market within 10 years. Already, digital media are challenging newspapers and e-mail is replacing paper for communications in large companies. Paper documents represented 90 percent of organizations' documents in 1995, but that figure is expected to drop to 30 percent by 2005, according to Xplor International, a representative of the document management industry. Although readers enjoy the feel of reading on paper rather than on screen, digital media offers many advantages. Emerging technologies such as Microsoft's ClearType offer to improve the experience of reading on a screen. ClearType's main target is the e-book market. E-books also try to replicate the experience of reading an actual book, and can store thousands of pages that are downloaded over a modem. Meanwhile, the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center has developed electronic paper that looks and feels much like a traditional newspaper, but can update information when an electrically charged device is waved over the surface.
    (Financial Times, 19 Jan 2000 via Edupage)

  6. INTER ALIA

    Shackleton's Incredible Story Now Showing in DC
    In 1914 Sir Ernest Shackleton set out from England on a daring expedition – to cross the entire continent of Antarctica on foot, from the Weddell Sea to the Ross Sea. The expedition failed.

    With their ship, the Endurance, trapped in ice, Shackleton and his men became castaways in one of the most hostile environments on Earth. Shackleton is ultimately most remembered for the unimaginable saga of survival that followed.

    At the National Geographic until February 6. Preview (http://www.nationalgeographic.com/explorer/shackleton.html)

    This exhibit is getting rave reviews!

    The Einstein Planetarium at the National Air and Space Museum (Smithsonian Institution) is [currently] playing a feature show called “And a Star to Steer Her By”, which intersperses discussion of celestial navigation, with the story of Shackleton, as an example of how celestial navigation was used to guide the [Shackleton] lifeboat. They have excellent slides of the original exhibition on their 360 degree screen, as well as a map of the journey they took, which occupies the entire dome.

    Show Times (http://www.nasm.edu/nasm/planetarium/Einstein.html):

    (Thanks to Harold Geller)

    Millennium Bug found by CSIRO entomologists
    http://www.csiro.au/page.asp?type=mediaRelease&id=Millenniumbug

    CSIRO Entomology
    http://www.ento.csiro.au/

    Entomologists at Australia's Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) have announced the discovery of the “real” Millennium Bug, belonging to a new genus of the family Veliidae (small water striders). The bug was found at several mountain streams of southeast Queensland and northeast New South Wales and will be described in a forthcoming publication of the Australian journal Invertebrate Taxonomy. The CSIRO news release is provided above, followed by CSIRO's Entomology page. [LXP] (From the Scout Report)

    GET READY TO BID! – PBS's NOVA to List 36-Foot 25-Ton Granite Obelisk on eBay
    NOVA, the award-winning PBS science series solves the baffling mystery of how a colossal Egyptian obelisk was erected in ancient times as part of their “Secrets of Lost Empires” five-part series, which airs beginning February 1, 2000 on PBS. A large-scale replica of the ancient artifact – a 36-foot, 25-ton granite monument, used in filming NOVA's Pharaoh's Obelisk – will be sold on eBay. (From Net Happenings)


Finger Searcher Science Seeker. The weekly newsletter of science and science education resources on the internet direct from Canada. “ © Martin H. Badke 2000 unless otherwise noted. Reproduction in whole or in part is to be done only with written permission.”


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