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Academy Honors 18 for Major Contributions to Science
The National Academy of Sciences has selected 18 individuals to receive awards honoring their outstanding scientific achievements. The awards will be presented on April 28 at a ceremony in Washington, D.C., during the Academy's 140th annual meeting.
Sceptical Questions and Sustainable Answers.
Danish Ecological Council, 2002.
The Nations Report Card: Geography 2001.
The World Fact Book 2002.
The Decline of the Steller Sea Lion in Alaskan Waters: Untangling Food Webs and Fishing Nets.
BIO2010: Transforming Undergraduate Education for Future Research Biologists.
Interim Report of NRC Review of NASA's Pioneering Revolutionary Technology Program.
Penn GSE Perspectives on Urban Education
“The mission of Penn GSE Perspectives on Urban Education is to provide an interactive forum to investigate critical issues in urban education. The purpose of an electronic journal format is to provide a vehicle for fostering conversations about the complexities of urban education among practitioners, researchers, policymakers and graduate students, groups who often work in isolation from each other. We imagine that the larger community interested in these issues will use the format to provide scholarship, commentary, and critique essential for investigating critical issues in urban education. We hope that the potential for dialogue through an electronic journal will lead to increased cooperation and understanding among all those concerned about urban education.”
Every week, Science Update from AAAS brings you compelling science news and information. These brief radio stories are available in RealAudio format at this website. The current week of programs is shown, and archives are also available.
Science that Can't Be Done on Earth
“Some experiments simply can't be done on Earth. That's why NASA is building the International Space Station, a full-time low-gravity research lab. It's also why NASA schedules space shuttle missions dedicated to scientific research. One such mission began [recently] when the space shuttle Columbia (STS-107) blasted off carrying 80+ scientific experiments. About half are commercial, sponsored by businesses who hope to make the next big profit-making discovery. The rest are pure science. ‘We'll be doing experiments in fundamental physics, biology, firefighting, medicine, climate . . . the variety is impressive,’ says Charles, who is the STS-107 mission scientist. ‘Space is a truly alien environment,’ says Charles. ‘Many things behave differently up there.’ ”
This interesting article discusses the project and has links to a variety of related articles.
Wonderville (Science Alberta Foundation)
Wonderville was created to spark kids' interest in science. In Wonderville, they can engage in scientific experiments, locate cool science facts, download exclusive screensavers and desktop wallpaper, and even find out about careers in science, all while having fun. Teachers and parents will want to know that the scientific activities are based in the Alberta Learning science curriculum for grades 4 - 6 and include outcomes, objectives and technical requirements contained in a 'Read Me' file specific to each activity. Requires Flash 6. (added 1/26/03, reviewed 1/26/03) (From Blue Web'N)
The Truth About the Brown Recluse
Expanded information on this story
Spider (urban) Myths
Brown Recluse, the Violin Spider
Arachne and other spider myths
This item from Morning Edition, Wednesday, December 18, 2002 sets the record straight about the much feared Brown Recluse Spider.
“A Kansas family barely noticed the spiders sharing their home, until their daughter discovered they were living with the infamous brown recluse. A nightly six-month hunt turned up some 2,000 recluses in their house. Yet no one in the family was ever bitten. Researchers say the shy spider has been wronged by its fearsome reputation.”
Check these other links for more information about the Brown Recluse and other spiders.
“A century and a half ago, a fungus called phytophthora infestans destroyed Ireland's potato crop, precipitating a famine that killed more than a million people and forced another million-and-a-half to emigrate to the United States and Canada. Now, more virulent strains of the same disease are attacking potato crops all around the world and threatening to trigger new famines in some Third World countries.” This website about the documentary “Hot Potatoes” covers historical and scientific information about the blight and has links to further information.
MITOP - the Mitochondria Project: Database for mitochondria-related genes, proteins and diseases
“MITOP combines all relevant information concerning genetic, functional and human-pathological aspects of the central role of mitochondria in the organism, with an emphasis on nuclear encoded proteins. Separate files were made for each species (human, mouse and yeast), integrating data about nuclear and mitochondrial encoded proteins from publicly-available online resources. Information from 390 yeast, 270 human and 120 mouse protein data sources were collected.”
Heart of Borneo
Three biological survey teams mounted an expedition into the rainforests of the Heart of Borneo, some of the most diverse -- and endangered -- habitats on earth. This colorful site includes brief information about the species, “Ask the Scientists”, dispatches from the field, maps, and more.
This BBC News in Depth website discusses the problems faced by a world with unrelenting increased human population. The website has pages on population, food, energy, cities, waste and tourism, and uses a variety of presentation methods including a slide show and audio files. Also included is a quiz by which you may determine your personal impact on the earth.
An excellent new site brought to you by BIOSIS, this portal to life sciences information on the web includes biology news stories, a chat area, a conference calendar, educational materials, a searchable and browsable interface to free Internet resources that are chosen by subject experts, and more. The search engine allows you to search the web, or to search within your search results -- a feature I really like. My sense is that right now this is a relatively small collection, but it is still definitely a site to be bookmarked.
Build a Family Tree (Men Only)
This genetics game from NOVA isn't for men only to play, but rather is a game to trace the relationships of the men of a family by examining the Y chromosome. “The Y chromosome is the keeper of family history on the male side. Written in the letters of DNA, it carries a record of a man's paternal ancestors. Here is your chance to try your hand at being a geneticist and solve a genealogical puzzle using your power of reasoning and understanding of DNA.”
Banana's Days May Be Numbered
Traditional Vegetative Propagation
Genetic Diversity and Food Security
International Network for the Improvement of Banana and Plantain
Global Consortium Announces Plans to Sequence Banana Genome
Banana: Food and Wealth [.pdf]
In the United States, the banana is one of the most popular fruits in the average grocery store, and rightly known as a good source of potassium. In much of the developing world, such as Latin America and Africa, the banana (along with the plantain) constitute some of the most plentiful and crucial foodstuffs and are the fourth most important food crop after rice, wheat, and corn. In recent years, production levels of both crops have suffered as the rapidly spreading fungus “Black Sigatoka” has taken its toll, often reducing yields by up to 50 percent. Additionally, chemical fungicides used on the crops have harmed the health of plantation workers and the environment, adding to an already problematic situation. In a recent press release, Emile Frisson, the head of the International Network for the Improvement of Banana and Plantain, noted that, “We may seen the extinction of the banana as both a lifesaver for hungry and impoverished Africans and as the most popular product on the world's supermarket shelves.”
The first link leads to a recent Reuters release about the difficulties currently facing the continued success of the banana and plantain crop around the world. The second link describes the propagation process of the banana, which for the cultivated banana, is complicated by the fact that it has no seeds and is sterile. The third link will take users to a brief written by Geoffrey Hawtin for the UNESCO Courier on the importance of genetic diversity and food security. The fourth link goes to the home page of the International Network for the Improvement of the Banana and Plantain, which contains a wealth of material about the importance of bananas and plantains, particularly to the developing world. The fifth link is to a 2001 press release from the Future Harvest group announcing that a global consortium would begin work on sequencing the banana genome, in large part to discover the diversity of bananas that grow and reproduce in the wild. The fifth link takes users to a fact sheet published by the INIBAP highlighting the importance of bananas to the nutritional well being of persons in developing areas. The last link leads to a page devoted to recipes that utilize bananas. [KMG] (From the Scout Report)
The Intimate Machine
This episode of the PBS television show _Scientific American Frontiers_, entitled “The Intimate Machine,” aired on October 22, 2002. The show is divided into four segments. Interactive, animated computer characters created at the MIT Media Lab are the focus of the first part. The second shows a virtual dog that, just like a real pet, can be trained. Advanced monitoring devices that recognize human emotions are examined in the third segment, while the final part demonstrates a furry robot that emulates human emotions. In addition to being able to view the hour-long episode in streaming video on this site, users can also browse certain Web features. [CL] (From the Scout Report)
The Golem Project
Mindpixel Digital Mind Modeling Project
More on these and other distributed computing projects
Be an Educator Astronaut
An Educator Astronaut is a fully qualified member of NASA's Astronaut Corps who has an expertise in K-12 education. Educator Astronauts will be trained to perform all of the functions and responsibilities (space walks, International Space Station deployment, experiment management, etc.) that the Agency's Mission Specialist astronauts are qualified to perform. For the first time, NASA is recruiting individuals with specific experience and expertise in K-12 education. NASA is looking for the Educator Astronauts to help lead the Agency in the development of new ways to connect space exploration with the classroom, and to inspire the next generation of explorers.
National Science Digital Library (NSDL)
Interview with Director John Saylor
“NSDL is a comprehensive, online source for science, technology, engineering and mathematics education. The NSDL mission is to both deepen and extend science literacy through access to materials and methods that reveal the nature of the physical universe and the intellectual means by which we discover and understand it.”
This is a lovely website. For my money, it could be a lot more user-friendly. The navigation is a bit clunky, and the help screens are puzzling. However, the content of the site is absolutely great! It brings together science resources from all over the net, all nicely annotated and carefully chosen. The site has a nice search engine. Several test searches brought back uniformly helpful results. The resources were uniformly excellent and on target for each of the searches I tried. This site has a lot to offer science educators, and a lot of future potential as well!
Spies that Fly
“The air war in Afghanistan showed that sometimes the hottest pilots are sitting on the ground operating the remote controls of UAVs -- or unmanned aerial vehicles. In newly declassified footage, ‘Spies That Fly’ reveals the astounding capabilities of UAVs and the ambitious plans for future models.” This companion site to the NOVA details the history and technology of UAVs. If you have Flash, you can explore a SAR image of Washington, D.C. There is more to explore at this quality site.
National Society of Professional Engineers: The 2003 NSPE Milton F. Lunch Ethics Contest
Engineering ethics is an important subject for all engineers, and most have learned about it to some degree. The National Society of Professional Engineers (NSPE) is encouraging its members and all practicing engineers to refresh their memory of the subject by entering a contest. This site provides participants with the NSPE Code of Ethics, a sample case, and the actual fact situation that must be analyzed and commented on. The contest rules and judging criteria are also given. Submissions are due by April 4, 2003, and the winner will have $500 awarded to his/ her local or state NSPE chapter. [CL](From the Scout Report)
Reuters: Pressing on with the Mega-Bridge
Stretto di Messina: The Bridge over the Strait of Messina
A news article on January 14, 2003, revealed that construction plans are underway for a massive suspension bridge that would connect Italy to the island of Sicily. Actual construction is not expected to begin until 2005, and forecasts mark 2011 for its completion. However, when completed, it will be the longest suspension bridge in the world. The second site is the project's home page. It has a great deal of information about design plans for the bridge, with specifics of the suspension system, towers, anchor blocks, and more. Several reasons for the bridge are presented, which is important because of the controversy surrounding the bridge's justification. Some videos are also given, but the narration is in Italian. [CL] (From the Scout Report)
Down the Drain: Chicago's Sewers, The Historic Development of an Urban Infrastructure
While many aspects of urban life and history are frequently explored by scholars and journalists alike, one particularly important element of modern living is often overlooked: sewers. The Special Collections Division of the Chicago Public Library has developed this well-thought out site in order to shed some light on the history and development of this unique part of the city's underground infrastructure. Users will want to start by reading five short essays that offer some helpful information on the development of the entire system since the late 1800s, including a section on current efforts to expand the system through the “Deep Tunnel” project. Next, users can browse the Gallery of Images, which contain some excellent photo documentation of the construction of Chicago's sewer system dating back to the late 1920s. Finally, a section devoted to technology allows visitors to learn about how sewage is treated today and to take an online tour of a sewer department yard. [KMG](From the Scout Report)
The Tech Museum offers this site (1) dedicated to the basics of satellites and their functions. A Java program complements the Satellite Anatomy section, which illustrates the standard components of three different categories of satellites. More information specific to satellite launches and their orbits can be found here (2). Most of the material is composed of fun experiments that demonstrate satellite operation. One of the most interesting features on this NASA site (3) is the Live 3D Java Tracking Display, which shows hundreds of different satellites and their current position in orbit. A few selected news articles and a separate section on satellite applications are also provided. The European Space Agency provides a look at solar power satellites (4), which could essentially “beam” energy to Earth. While it is not a new concept, the sheer magnitude of a project to construct a solar power satellite has thus far been too great to justify an attempt. At a conference held in December 2002 (5), representatives from the satellite industry convened to discuss current developments. Although many of the articles only address industry outlooks, some are more technology- oriented. For instance, one considers a new navigation system that could improve overall coverage and signal availability. A lesson plan (6) for grades K-5 teaches children how satellites are launched and some basic terminology. The activity uses different sized marbles, clay, and some other items to demonstrate fundamental concepts. Satellites of the Global Positioning System are being used for more than they were originally intended in England. This news article (7) describes how they are used to study earthquakes and corresponding movements in the Earth's crust. In other news (8), the largest communications satellite ever built was lost in November 2002. The failure of one of its launching rockets resulted in the satellite falling in a decaying orbit until it fell into the sea. [CL] (From the Scout Report)
Volcano's Deadly Warning
This is a companion site to the NOVA program that aired in November. Presented is a transcript of an interview with Bernard Chouet in which he describes the mysterious seismic signal he discovered that hints when a volcano might blow. Accompanying this are Quicktime and RealMedia videos, diagrams, and more.
The Paleontological Institute of the Russian Academy of Science in Moscow, Russia
An exhibit of photographs of the “world's largest paleontological institute.” Topics include the architectural motifs of the institute, Mongolian dinosaurs, and Pleistocene and Tertiary mammals. From the Museum of Paleontology, University of California, Berkeley. (From Librarian's Index to the Internet)
What's Up With the Weather?
This site examines “the science and politics of one of the most controversial issues of the 21st century: the truth about global warming.” Topics include fossil fuel consumption, the role ice cores play in our global environment, and predictions for “what would happen to the world's coastlines if the West Antarctic Ice Sheet melted.” Includes a teacher's guide and a FAQ. A production of Nova and Frontline, programs produced by the Public Broadcasting System (PBS). (From Librarian's Index to the Internet)
The Green Eye in the Sky
A BBC In depth report on Europe's largest and most expensive Earth-observation satellite, Envisat. The report covers the excitement up to the launch and images that have been sent by the satellite, including the spectacular collapse a portion of the Larsen B ice shelf in Antarctica. The site includes facts and diagrmas of the satellite, links, audio files, and more.
The Particle Adventure
The Particle Data Group of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboraotry presents this award-winning interactive tour of quarks, neutrinos, antimatter, extra dimensions, dark matter, accelerators and particle detectors. It is written in plain English (yes, it really is!) and with humor. If these particles can be understood at all, this is the place to try and understand them! The site also includes particle phsyics news, links to interesting sites, a glossary, a particle chart, and more. And don't miss the absolutely silly “QuarkDance.org”, fun as only physicists can appreciate it!
ChemCases is a US-based chemistry curriculum development project. You can pick up on many cases studies that look from an inside point of view on how problems are tackled with the help of science. For instance, the story of the first sports drink Gatorade followed a circuitous route with the R&D people at the company having to take into consideration the effects of vigorous exercise, the meaning of sweat and the colligative properties of liquids and mixtures. The result, as you will learn, provides a useful lesson not only in sports science and fitness but osmosis. Other areas cover silicones, the stuff of bathroom sealant and breast implant. Then there's nuclear chemistry cisplatin and cancer, refrigerants for the 21st century, the fat substitute Olestra, pharmaceuticals, fuels and fuel cells. The site is run by staff at Kennesaw State University in Georgia, USA, with financial backing from the National Science Foundation. It is a bit cluttered on the homepage with too much background information that would be better reserved for the “About” page and some of the headings that you might expect to be hyperlinks to more detailed information are not. It is also frustrating aesthetically that the various current pages do not all conform to a standard style and layout. There are one or two dead links too. But, that said, there is lots of useful information to augment any chemistry curriculum here. Rating: 8 out of 10 DB (From New Scientist Current Picks)
The Mathematical Art of M.C. Escher
M.C. Escher is a widely known and popular artist whose work depicts complex, and often impossible, geometrical patterns. This Web site examines the mathematics behind his drawings. Many examples of Escher's work are given, illustrating mathematical principles such as the shape and the logic of space. Tessellations and polyhedra are common building blocks of the drawings. It is quite interesting to see how basic designs are transformed into the intricacies depicted by Escher. The material is certainly worthwhile and is suitable for anyone, regardless of mathematical experience. [CL] (From the Scout Report)
Animals of the Arctic
Animals of the Antarctic
OK, if time is hanging heavy on your hands and you need to create a polar scene on your desk, here is a website that is made to order. Print it out, fold it up!
Marc Deneyer Images of Greenland
Links to Information on Icebergs
The Stunning Picture of an Iceberg From an Oil Drilling Manager Off Newfoundland-Fiction!
Icebergs can't really be this beautiful, can they? This is a site of copyrighted pictures by Marc Deneyer, and the black and white images are incredibly beautiful and powerful.
The second page is a nice annotated linking page to a variety of resources on icebergs.
The third site is a description of the truth about a stunning picture of an iceberg from top to bottom that you may have seen floating around the net. The pictures is no less stunning for knowing its origin! It is licensed to Corbin, and can be viewed here: http://www.successories.com/prodetail.asp?sku=734204, or at http://www.snopes.com/photos/iceberg.htm. Keep in mind that the proportions are about right.
The Nunavut Handbook
Created by local writers, this guidebook to the new Canadian Arctic territory of Nunavut presents cultural and historical information about the Inuit inhabitants, maps, a business directory, and information about recreational and tourist activities. It includes a history of The Nunavut Land Claims Agreement, “the most comprehensive settlement ever reached between a state and an aboriginal group anywhere in the world,” and describes the Nunavut territorial government, government, and non-governmental organizations with directories to all. (From Librarian's Index to the Internet)
What the World Thinks in 2002
The Pew Research Center has assembled this report subtitled “How Global Publics View: Their Lives, Their Countries, The World, America“. The 89-page report is both interesting and sobering.
Bill Trochim's Center for Social Research Methods
This remarkable collection of material has been put together by Professor Trochim of the Department of Policy Analysis and Management, Cornell University. In his own words “This website is for people involved in applied social research and evaluation.” An adequate description of the profusion of material available is impossible; some examples are: Trochim's own Knowledge Base, an “online hypertext textbook on applied social research methods”, previously published separately and noted elsewhere on Sosig; the Simulation Book, a “previously unpublished book of manual...and computer simulation exercises of common research designs”; Selecting Statistics “an online statistical advisor”; links to other sites, advice on using the Web and on designing Web pages. (From SOSIG)
The Center for Spatially Integrated Social Science
Funded primarily by the National Science Foundation, the Center for Spatially Integrated Social Science's primary mission is “to develop unrestricted access to tools and perspectives that will advance the spatial analytic capabilities of researchers throughout the social sciences.” To that end, their Web site will be of great use to those individuals working in the fields of geography, anthropology, urban planning, sociology, and geographic information systems. With that in mind, visitors will want to examine the Core Programs section of the site, which features a best practices in spatial approaches section, a collection of educational resources (such as papers, listings of classic research endeavors in spatially-oriented social sciences, and additional links), and information about relevant national and regional conferences dealing with these approaches. Most helpful for researchers will be the customized searches for spatial resources (with reviews of each individual site) that can be performed through the Center's search engines. [KMG](From the Scout Report)
Children of the Amazon
A collection of eighteen annotated photographs of children of indigenous tribes of Brazil, taken by Denise Zmekhol during 1987 through 1990. Includes photographs from the states of Acre, Mato Grosso, Pará, and Rondônia, and commentary from Zmekhol. From the Center for Latin American Studies, University of California, Berkeley. (From Librarian's Index to the Internet)
The Canela Indians of Northeastern Central Brazil
Based largely on the pioneering research of Bill Crocker, this site on the Canela Indians of Central Brazil is hosted by the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. Designed to educate a general audience about the life and activities of the Canela, the site contains numerous sections that allow visitors to explore a world that few persons will be able to visit. First-time visitors will want to read the short essay (“About the Canela”) before proceeding to the Daily Life chronology, which lists the activities of the Canela on an average day, including a men's council meeting and sing- dancing. A literature section offers numerous papers written by Bill Crocker on various aspects of Canela life, such as their initiation festivals and their relationships with ghosts. Finally, visitors will want to check out a short video showing Canela men engaging in one of their most unique daily activities, log racing. [KMG] (From the Scout Report)
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SUPER-FAST BROWSER WINS SCIENCE PRIZE
A student at Saint Finian's College in central Ireland won top prize in a contest for young scientists in that country for a Web browser that he developed. Adnan Osmani, who is 16 years old, spent 18 months writing the code for the browser, which researchers at University College, Dublin found to be as much as five times faster than other browsers over a dial-up connection. The browser features built-in media players that allow users to watch video or listen to audio while surfing the Web. Access to 120 Internet search engines is also included, as is a talking, animated figure called Phoebe that makes the application easier to use. The browser can read Web pages aloud, which Osmani said might be useful for the young or people with disabilities, who otherwise have difficulty experiencing the Web. Osmani would like to attend Harvard University to study computer engineering and thinks that winning the contest will be “a nice boost to my university application.”
Nando Times, 11 January 2003 (registration req'd) via Edupage
HOW TO FOIL DATA THIEVES, HACKERS
Researchers at the State University of New York at Buffalo are developing software aimed at preventing online break-ins as they happen. Chief researcher Shambhu Upadhyaya, a SUNY Buffalo computer science professor claims that they can generate highly personalized profiles of network users by analyzing the sequences of commands entered at each computer terminal. The “user-level anomaly detection” software draws up regularly updated profiles by closely tracking over time how each person performs an array of routine tasks, such as opening files, sending e-mail or searching archives. The software borrows from risk-analysis economic models, drawing on dynamic reasoning and engineering methodologies. Upadhyaya, who envisions this software used by government agencies and banking institutions, plans to deliver a prototype ready for intensive testing this summer
. Wired News, Jan. 20, 2003.
The NSF Library as a Movie Set
Harry Potter tops the list for the 4th year in a row as the most often challenged book. What are the other candidates for removing from the shelves?
All items from the Scout Report are copyright Susan Calcari, 1994-2003. Permission is granted to make and distribute verbatim copies of the Scout Report provided the copyright notice and this paragraph is preserved on all copies. The InterNIC provides information about the Internet to the US research and education community under a cooperative agreement with the National Science Foundation: NCR-9218742. The Government has certain rights in this material.
Blue Web'n is a searchable library of Blue-Ribbon Web sites categorized by grade level, content area, and type. Visit Blue Web'n online at http://www.kn.pacbell.com/wired/bluewebn/.
Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this newsletter are those of the participants (authors), and do not necessarily represent the official views, opinions, or policy of the National Science Foundation.