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Science and Technology Library Newsletter: July 18, 2006 Edition.
Newsletter Archive > 2006 July 18 Issue

Sci-Tech Library Newsletter


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  1. Café Scientifique!
  2. Academic Live Search to Get Major Boost: Academic Live Search is Microsoft’s answer to Google Scholar…
  3. Google US Government Search Launched
  4. Science Policy
  5. Around DC & on the Net
  6. New E-Books and Reports
  7. Interesting Websites and News: Resource of the Week: Knight Science Journalism Tracker, Science Online Seminars, Draft International Standard Bibliographic Description — Comments due October 15, Australian Museum Online, Set to Debut in Beta Soon, Top 5 Science Blogs; Biological Sciences: Big Cat Diaries, Panda, Inc., Jean-Michel Cousteau: Ocean Adventures; Education and Human Resources: National Center for Case Study Teaching in Science; Engineering: Nanotechnology Consumer Products Inventory, Rocket Science 101, Inventor of the Week Archive: George Ferris; Geosciences: The National Hurricane Survival Initiative, Rapid Climate Change, Careers in the Geosciences, BBC Climate Change Experiment; Mathematical and Physical Sciences: S.O.S. Mathematics, Mathematics Across the College Curriculum, KABOOM!; Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences: The Colors of Clay: Special Techniques in Athenian Vases, Unearthing Tse-whit-zen …and more… plus news items from Edupage

  1. Café Scientifique!

    Café Scientifique (Arlington) Presents Geologist Tom Wagner

    Geologist Tom Wagner
    From Dust to Us: a Brief History of the Earth and Moon
    Tuesday, August 1, 2006
    The Front Page — 4201 Wilson Blvd, Arlington
    6:00–6:30  Light hors d’oeuvres (Buy your own drink or meal)
    6:30–8:00  Short presentation, followed by Q&A
    • Free and open to the public.
    • No science background required!
    • Limited seating — first come, first seated.

    WHY: Why not? (And because science needs you.)

    BACKGROUND: Café Scientifique (Arlington) and its cousin, Café Scientifique (DC), are organized and sponsored by the National Science Foundation. The goal: to make science more accessible and accountable by featuring speakers whose expertise spans the sciences — and who can talk in plain English. Generally held on first Tuesdays of the month. We welcome your input. Complete a survey on-site, or write to Mary ( or Sarah (

    HISTORY: Begun in France and the U.K. as a way for the public and scientists to mingle and discuss science issues in an informal setting — generally a friendly pub. (See the Café Scientifique website.) Nearly 30 cafés now exist in the U.S. NSF inaugurated its monthly café in spring 2006.

  2. Academic Live Search to Get Major Boost

    CrossRef Data Coming to Microsoft and Academic Live

    CrossRef, the cross-publisher linking network with over 1,600 participating publishers, announced today that it had reached an agreement with Microsoft Corp. who will become the first official CrossRef Web Services Search Partner. CrossRef will provide Microsoft with a bulk feed of metadata from hundreds of participating CrossRef member publishers.

    Microsoft is using CrossRef Web Services to assist in the indexing of scholarly content for Windows Live Academic Search, a beta of which was launched in April 2006. This new search service is designed to help students, researchers and university faculty conduct research across a spectrum of academic journals. The program is a cooperative effort between Windows Live Search, CrossRef, and several leading publishers. (From Resource Shelf)

    This will greatly expand the subject area covered by this new search engine.

  3. Google US Government Search Launched

    Google U.S. Government Search

    Search engine giant Google announced June 15 the debut of a new search engine page, Google U.S. Government Search. The new facility draws on official government Web sites at the federal, state and local levels to give the public searchable access to news and information from a single search box and directory. A user can customize his or her government search page—both its appearance and what the engine trawls for. A user can also permanently add specific government links and news feeds—as well as commercial ones—to his or her page. Google U.S. Government Search mines sites ending in .gov, and selected .com, .edu and .us sites. If you are a U.S. government site webmaster, and you want to make sure you are listed, click on Google’s Sitemaps facility to notify the company. (From Federal Daily)

  4. Science Policy

    Science, Policy and Social Inequities

    Science and technology have made profound contributions to the alleviation of suffering and poverty in the world, and these contributions help to justify the world’s increasing investment in R&D. However, disenfranchised groups and less-developed nations are often less able to benefit from the continual rapid advance of science and technology than people who are wealthier, better able to participate in societal decision making, and living in affluent nations. Moreover, the continuing concentration of global wealth, combined with the prospect of world-transforming revolutions in such areas as nanotechnologies, genomics, and robotics, demand a careful consideration of the ways in which inequity and inequality may be linked to the R&D enterprise. CSPO hosted a Workshop on Science, Policy and Social Inequities, May 21–23, 2006, to investigate sources of inequity that may be inherent in the organization of research and innovation in the U.S. and internationally. Areas of discussion included clinical trials, genomics, forensics, human subjects research, climate forecasting, and information technology. The workshop aimed to identify and communicate approaches to R&D policy that could help overcome entrenched inequities related to technical advance. (From CPSO)

    IAP Releases Statement on the Teaching of Evolution

    According to BBC News, “the world’s top scientists have joined forces to call for ‘evidence-based’ teaching of evolution in schools.”

    House Fully Funds President’s Science Initiative

    The House of Representatives has passed legislation to fully fund the President’s American Competitiveness Initiative.

    With passage of the bill the House is on record supporting an 8 percent increase for the National Science Foundation, and a 14 percent increase to the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s core research programs. Also earlier this year the House passed legislation to increase funding for the Department of Energy’s Office of Science. The increased funding for these agencies fufills the research part of the President’s initiative. (From ACM)

    Business Groups Push for More Action on Competitiveness/Science Education Legislation

    Recent articles in Congressional Quarterly and Tech Daily and a Capitol Hill event well-attended by members of Congress and staff are two examples of how a coalition of business groups, lead by The Business Roundtable, are calling on the President and Congress to be more pro-active with the American Competitiveness Initiative (ACI) and ACI legislation, much of which includes programs for math and science education.

    On June 27 business groups belonging to the Tapping America’s Potential campaign, held a Math and Science Fair in Rayburn House Office building, to “demonstrate the importance and urgency of House action on the American Competitiveness Initiative (ACI) and to feature the contributions that business is making to bolster U.S. competitiveness.” During the event prominent companies, including Apple, Carnegie Learning, ExxonMobil, GlaxoSmithKline, General Motors, HP, IBM, Intel, Lockheed Martin, McGraw-Hill, Motorola, Nortel, Raytheon, Siemens, and Texas Instruments, exhibited their initiative(s) to improve science, technology, engineering and/or math education (K-20) and to inspire the next generation of scientists and engineers. (From NSTA Legislative Update)

    House Endorses ACI, Defense, and Space R&D Increases

    In budget actions through the end of June, Congress has so far endorsed the large proposed increases for select physical sciences funding agencies in the President’s American Competitiveness Initiative (ACI), and has continued to support Administration plans to dramatically expand development investments for new space craft and weapons technologies. But although the House would add billions of dollars to proposed cuts in some basic and applied research programs, the federal investment in research would still decline in fiscal year (FY) 2007. (From AAAS R&D Funding Update)

    Scientific Openness and Federally Sponsored Research

    “Openness is a core principle of science, and scientists who work for government agencies should be able to speak freely and honestly about their research results and what they mean … Agency heads may have good reasons for asking their scientists to avoid making policy pronouncements … but they must be careful not to stifle scientific findings for partisan purposes.” (From AAAS News Archives)

  5. Around DC & on the Net

    Legal/Forensic Evidence and Its Scientific Basis

    Audio and slide presentations from the recent National Academy of Sciences’ symposium “Legal/Forensic Evidence and Its Scientific Basis” are now available online. In this symposium, leading researchers discussed the impact of scientific approaches to validating evidence for our justice system, including memory, DNA, fingerprints, and images.

    Ben Franklin’s Scientific Salon
    For Café Scientifique Fans in DC…An August Option…

    Dr. Shawn Carlson — Exec. Director, Society for Amateur Scientists
    Ben Franklin — Amateur Scientist
    Is Science for Amateurs? Ben Franklin Thought So!
    A discussion about:
    • how science has evolved as a profession
    • the role of amateur scientists yesterday and today
    • how “public” accessibility to science has changed
    Tuesday, August 1, 2006
    Lobby Bar, Wardman Park Marriott Hotel in Washington, DC. — Next to Woodley Park Metro Station
    6:00–6:30  Cash bar and bar fare available
    6:30–7:00  Short presentation by Carlson
    Counterpoint by “Ben Franklin”
    7:00–8:00  Discussion and Q&A
    • Free and open to the public.
    • No science background required!
    • Limited seating — first come, first seated.

    This event is part of the 2006 Naval S&T Partnership Conference, presented by National Defense Industrial Association with technical support from Office of Naval Research. Cafe attendees are welcome to visit the conference exhibit hall on August 1 beginning at 4 pm. Show this email for entrance. For more info on the conference and exhibit hall, visit the Office of Naval Research.

    BACKGROUND: “Ben Franklin’s Scientific Salon” parallels the goals of Café Scientifique and its emphasis on public accessibility. Ben Franklin was born 300 years ago this year, when all scientists were what we would call “amateurs.” Today, science is a valued profession with its attendant requirements and consequences. What is the role of amateur scientists in the 21st century, and how would Ben Franklin fit in today? Prepare to enjoy a spirited discussion.

    Recent Science Online Seminars

    Arginylation of Beta Actin Regulates Actin Cytoskeleon and Cell Motility with Anna Kashina Ph.D., University of Pennsylvania
    While post-translational modifications such as phosphorylation and glycosylation are well characterized, the function of arginylation, or the addition of arginine to the N-terminus of proteins, remains a mystery. In this Science Online Seminar, Dr. Anna Kashina, at the University of Pennsylvania, discusses the role of arginylation of beta actin in vivo. These findings indicate that posttranslational arginylation of a single protein target, beta actin, can regulate its intracellular function, inducing global changes on the cellular level, and may contribute to cardiovascular development and angiogenesis.

    Pre-mRNA splicing requires proofreading of U2AF/3' splice site recognition by DEK with Juan Valcárcel, ICREA and Centre de Regulacio Genomica
    Juan Valcárcel discusses his lab’s work characterizing a novel mechanism for 3' splice site discrimination involving DEK, a chromatin-associated protein implicated in autoimmunity and cancer.

    Examining Natural Selection in Humans with Stephen S. Schaffner and Pardis C. Sabeti, Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard
    Stephen Schaffner and Pardis Sabeti review the approaches for detecting natural selection in humans using genome-wide data surveys, describe results from recent studies examining genome-wide data sets and discuss the prospects and challenges ahead.

    Bruce Rosenstein on Special Libraries 2006: Change and Challenges in the Digital Environment

    A May 15 presentation at The Library of Congress. Runs 47 minutes. Video.

    Bruce Rosenstein of the USA Today library discusses the current state of special libraries in the United States, focusing on trends, threats, opportunities and the impact of e-resources and technology. He also examines the personal qualities necessary for today’s special librarian to succeed.

    National Academies Podcasts

    Sign up for the National Academies’ new podcast program using your media player. Subscribers will automatically recieve audio from our most recent public briefings. Once the audio is downloaded, subscribers can listen to it on their computer or on a portable device.

    The Face of Contemporary Portraiture in the Wake of Recent Revolutions in S&T

    Lecture and reception with Anne Collins Goodyear, curator, National Portrait Gallery,
    Thursday, July 20, 2006.
    Lecture: 6–7 p.m.,
    Gallery Hours: 5–-8 p.m.,
    500 Fifth St NW, Room Keck 100.

    Anne Collins Goodyear will lecture on developments in portraiture from the 1960s to the present, devoting special attention to the impact of new advances in technology and science, such as video, digitization, and genetics. Artists to be discussed include Nancy Burson, Douglas Gordon, Elizabeth Peyton, Marc Quinn, Gary Schneider, and Andy Warhol.

    Anne Collins Goodyear is assistant curator of Prints and Drawings at the newly renovated National Portrait Gallery. Goodyear has a long-standing interest in the relationship between art, science, and technology. She received her doctoral degree from the University of Texas at Austin, in 2002, and wrote her dissertation on “The Relationship of Art to Science and Technology in the United States, 1957–1971: Five Case Studies.” She has also studied the impact of flight on 20th-century art and is the author of essays in “Reconsidering a Century of Flight,” “Defying Gravity: Contemporary Art and Flight” and “2001: Building for Space Travel.”

    This lecture is held in conjunction with the exhibition “Evolving Identities in the Genetic Age: Photographs by Ariel Ruiz i Altaba.” The exhibition will be on view by appointment from Monday, July 10 – Friday, Oct. 13 at the National Academies’ Keck Center, 500 Fifth St., N.W. Call (202) 334-2436 or email to make an appointment.

  6. New E-Books and Reports

    Women for science. InterAcademy Council, 2006.

    Engaging Science: Thoughts, deeds, analysis and action. Wellcome Trust, 2006.

    The Global Technology Revolution 2020, In-Depth Analyses Bio/Nano/Materials/Information Trends, Drivers, Barriers, and Social Implications. Rand, 2006.

    Creative system disruption. EU, 2005.

    Study on the Economic and Technical Evolution of the Scientific Publication markets in Europe. EC, 2006.

    European Commission: Study on the Economic and Technical Evolution of the Scientific Publication markets in Europe. (response). ALPSP, 2006.

    Matthias Schonlau, et al. Conducting Research Surveys via E-mail and the Web. RAND, 2006.

    Final 2006 Climate Action Team Report to the Governor and Legislature. Climate Action Team (California), 2006.

    Opportunities to Address Clinical Research Workforce Diversity Needs for 2010. NAP, 2006.

    Beyond Mapping: Meeting National Needs Through Enhanced Geographic Information Science. NAP, 2006.

    Dynamic Changes in Marine Ecosystems: Fishing, Food Webs, and Future Options. NAP, 2006.

    Examining the Health Disparities Research Plan of the National Institutes of Health: Unfinished Business. NAP, 2006.

    Toward a New Advanced Hydrologic Prediction Service (AHPS). NAP, 2006.

    Environmental Protection Issues in the 109th Congress. CRS, 2006.

    Turn the Page: The Net Benefit of Digital Publishing. Deloitte & Touche LLP, 2006.

    Five Chemical Alternatives Assessment Study. Toxics Use Reduction Inst., 2006.

  7. Interesting Websites and News

    Science Online Seminars

    A few weeks ago, Science launched the Science Online Seminars — our compelling new online audio/slideshow feature. A new seminar has been posted, “Pre-mRNA splicing requires proofreading of U2AF/3' splice site recognition by DEK,” featuring J. Valcarcel of the Institució Catalana de Recerca i Estudis Avançats.

    Now Showing on a Computer Near You — Every other week, the editors of Science select an author of a breakthrough paper to discuss the application of the research and/or the methods and protocol.

    You’ll meet the leading scientists whose cutting-edge papers have made Science the premier scientific journal. You’ll hear thought-provoking accounts, supported by visuals, as they describe their work in critical areas of interest to life scientists.

    Science Takes You Behind the Breakthroughs, 24/7
    The show starts whenever and wherever you want to watch it. Just go to Science online from computers everywhere

    Australian Museum Online

    Established in 1827, the Australian Museum has long been a buzzing hive of activity, with a wide a range of scientific discoveries to its credit, and a long tradition of educational outreach. For those who can’t make a journey to the Museum, this website affords users remarkable access to specific materials created for this website and materials culled from in situ exhibits. Visitors should begin at the “Features” section, as it contains over fifteen compelling exhibits, ranging from explorations of the Great Barrier Reef to the process of decomposition. If these engaging exhibits weren’t enough, the “Explore” area allows users access to fact sheets that deal with bats in Australia, the aboriginal people of coastal Sydney and meteors that have found their way onto the continent. The site is rounded out by the “Research and Collections” section, which allows users to learn more about the Museum’s different departments, which include herpetology, marine ecology, and biodiversity. [KMG] (From the Scout Report)

    Draft International Standard Bibliographic Description — Comments due October 15

    Whether you are a cataloger or a reference librarian or a person interested in metadata, take a look at IFLA’s new International Standard Bibliographic Description. “In the early 1990s, IFLA’s Division of Bibliographic Control set up a Study Group on the Functional Requirements for Bibliographic Records (FRBR). Following adoption of the Study Group’s recommendations, the ISBD Review Group was charged to initiate a full-scale review of the ISBDs. The objective of this project was to ensure conformity between the provisions of the ISBDs and FRBR’s data requirements for the “basic level national bibliographic record” (BLNBR). Work was completed on several of the ISBDs in pursuit of this goal. However, in the course of this project, the ISBD Review Group decided to investigate an alternative approach, one that would concentrate on integration of the various ISBDs into a consolidated edition.” (From Resource Shelf)

    Resource of the Week: Knight Science Journalism Tracker

    Resource of the Week
    By Shirl Kennedy, Deputy Editor

    Science news was once relegated to obscure locations inside the newspaper or given brief and/or sensational treatment in the electronic media. Not any more, however. Consider the sheer volume of news coverage devoted to such issues as global warming, pandemic flu, genetically modified foods, cloning, stem cell research, evolution, health care, bioterrorism, catastrophic storms…

    While this week’s resource is targeted specifically at science journalists, my guess is that you’ll find it useful and/or interesting as well — even if you don’t work with science information.

    Knight Science Journalism Tracker,
    Source: Knight Science Journalism Fellowship Program, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

    This is a relatively new service for science writers and editors, which provides ongoing access to work being done by others in the same field. “Our goal is to provide a broad sampling of the past day’s science news and, where possible, of news releases or other news tips related to publication of science news in the general circulation news media, mainly of the U.S. Our goal is to have a new batch of posts up each day by 1 pm Eastern time.” Here, journalists can “suggest stories and…comment constructively on one-another’s work” — the goal being “peer review within science journalism.”

    The “Head Tracker” is Charles Petit, an award-winning science and technology writer with more than 25 years of experience. Each posting here includes “brief descriptions of news stories with occasional commentary, headlines and links to their publishers’ Web sites… Priority goes to stories that report or analyze new scientific research, and to reports on science policy and issues.” The assortment on Wednesday afternoon included items on “ocean acidification,” teenage drinking and the brain, avian extinction, whales and sonar, Tylenol and liver damage, anthropology, genetically modified rice and a guy who caught a piranha “as big as a dinner plate” in the Des Plaines River in Illinois. And much more.

    Archives here go back to April 2006, and the entire site is keyword searchable. You can browse through a collection of Petit’s Picks — e.g., stories highlighted by the “head tracker.” Links on the right-hand side allow you to view only environmental, health & medicine, or general science stories. An RSS feed is available; RSS is the perfect medium for keeping up with a site like this.

    If you wish to post to the site, you must register; your identity will be verified as “a journalist or other type of person for whom the site is designed” — an obvious quality-control mechanism. However, anyone can suggest stories for inclusion. (From Resource Shelf) Set to Debut in Beta Soon
    “In a move that was first hinted at during Computers in Libraries, OCLC will create a specialized interface to Worldcat at Paula Hane at Info Today has the details in this NewsBreak. She says the new site (in beta) will go live in the next couple of weeks.

    Of course, this will not be the first time a large union catalog from a major library organization has been available on the web. RLG’s RedLightGreen debuted in October, 2003, a full year before the Open Worldcat program launched in October, 2004.

    ResourceShelf readers know that we’ve been big fans and admirers of the RedLightGreen project (and those leading it) and hope with the recent merger of RLG and OCLC we will see some of the many features (and expertise in terms of usage, promotion, etc.) available from RedLightGreen on OCLC’s The same goes with the expertise RLG has gotten from providing this service for almost three years.

    Btw, RedLightGreen remains online at least for now. It’s currently searching over 120 million books. Of course, it’s one thing to have a database and it’s something else to get people (not librarians or other info pros to use it). Nevertheless, it’s a good step for OCLC. However, one has to wonder if OPACs are becoming easier to use (many would argue this point). Is spending the time to teach a user to go to and use it properly any easier than going to their new and improved library OPAC? In the long run, what might this mean for OPAC developers? Yes, toolbars and plug-ins are cool but will they reach the person who doesn’t even know that library services are available online?” (From Resource Shelf)

    Top 5 Science Blogs

    The top five science blogs on the Net are:

    1. Pharyngula
    2. Panda’s Thumb
    3. RealClimate
    4. Cosmic Variance
    5. Scientific Activist

    Biological Sciences

    Big Cat Diaries

    It’s ten years since Big Cat Diary first hit the small screen! To celebrate, there are additional programmes on TV and daily bonus clips here on the website. A glorious website, don’t miss it!

    Panda, Inc.

    Today is Tai Shan’s birthday. He’s 1 year old. You may not know Tai Shan’s name, but you’ve probably seen his photo. Already in his short life, this youngster has weathered more paparazzi and hangers-on than Maddox Jolie will ever suffer. Tai Shan is a giant panda cub currently in residence at the Smithsonian National Zoological Park in Washington, D.C. And he holds the distinction of being the only panda to survive infancy there. Now, National Geographic marks the wee bear’s birthday with a feature on the steep costs and scientific challenges of caring for giant pandas. This web supplement includes a photo gallery, the “field notes” of two photojournalists (one in the U.S., the other in China), and a coo-inducing video compilation of the birthday boy and his mother, Mei Xiang. (From Yahoo’s Picks of the Week)

    Jean-Michel Cousteau: Ocean Adventures

    As Alan Lomax recorded the sounds of hundreds of different indigenous musical traditions throughout his sixty-year career as a musicologist, the legendary Jacques-Yves Cousteau did similar work throughout the world’s oceans. Following in his footsteps, his son, Jean-Michel Cousteau continues to inform and delight with his own series of programs on public television. On this site, visitors can learn more about the work of Cousteau and his colleagues as they examine the lives of sharks, gray whales, and the unique underwater ecosystems off the coastline of the continental United States. For each of these episodes, visitors can view clips of each program, learn about the goals of each expedition, download podcasts, and read a glossary of terms. Of course, there are also some fun items here as well, including free ringtones, interactive games, and screen savers. [KMG] (From the Scout Report)

    Education and Human Resources

    National Center for Case Study Teaching in Science

    To some, the idea of using the case method to teach science may seem a bit like a novelty. This pedagogical method is quite common in the fields of law and medicine, and in recent years, it has been gaining a foothold in some of the sciences. Fortunately for those interested in learning more about this method of instruction, there is the National Center for Case Study Teaching in Science, based at the University of Buffalo. Over the past fifteen years, they have been working on using this method in large and small classes, and they have developed a number of helpful resources along the way. Visitors can look over the case study collection, which is divided into topical areas, such as anthropology, astronomy, food science, and nutrition. Interested parties may also wish to take a look at their upcoming conferences and workshops. Overall, this is a most valuable resource, and one that science educators will want to revisit several times. [KMG] (From the Scout Report)


    Rocket Science 101

    On occasion, when one is asked to describe a common activity or simple concept, the other party may exclaim, “Well, it’s not exactly rocket science.” Well, this website is exactly that: rocket science. To be more precise, NASA has created this elegant and visually stimulating demonstration website that allows guests the opportunity to learn how two different types of rockets (the Delta II and the Atlas V) are constructed. First-time visitors will most likely want to take advantage of the short tutorial that explains the basic part of the launch vehicle, how it is constructed, and how all of these parts effectively help launch a NASA spacecraft. After looking over this section, visitors will want to get started on constructing their own rocket. They will have the opportunity to learn about different parts of each device, and then select each item for the rocket. At the conclusion, visitors will get to see a demonstration of how each rocket works during flight. (From the Scout Report)

    Inventor of the Week Archive: George Ferris

    Profile of George Ferris, who “conceived, designed and built an engineering marvel [the Ferris wheel], which astonished the world at its debut and became a mainstay of American recreation.” Topics include the design, which was based on a bicycle wheel, and the debut of the Ferris wheel at the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago. From the MIT School of Engineering. (From Librarian’s Index to the Internet)

    Nanotechnology Consumer Products Inventory

    “After more than twenty years of basic and applied research, nanotechnologies are gaining in commercial use. Nanoscale materials now are in electronic, cosmetics, automotive and medical products. But it has been difficult to find out how many ‘nano’ consumer products are on the market and which merchandise could be called ‘nano.’

    While not comprehensive, this inventory gives the public the best available look at the 200+ nanotechnology-based consumer products currently on the market. Prior to this inventory, the figure most often cited by the U.S. government was that approximately 80 consumer products containing nanomaterials were being sold.”


    BBC Climate Change Experiment

    “Trying to predict climate change is hard. There are lots of factors involved — air temperature, sea temperature and cloud cover all play a part — as do dozens of other variables. Therefore, there are a huge number of calculations involved.

    One solution is for scientists to use the largest supercomputer they can find. But even the biggest supercomputers are only so good.

    We think you can do better.

    Using a technique known as distributed computing, we’re hoping to harness the power of thousands of PCs around the world. If 10,000 people sign up, we’ll be faster than the world’s biggest computer. And we’re hoping to be even better than that.

    The fastest participants in the BBC climate change experiment, launched in February, have completed their computer forecast of global climate up to the year 2080.

    It’s not too late to join in yourself, if your computer is suitable.

    The National Hurricane Survival Initiative

    The 2006 hurricane season is upon us, and by now most of you don’t need to be told this means serious business. Unfortunately, even after last year’s disastrous Hurricane Katrina, a “dangerously high percentage” of folks in harm’s way remain unprepared. This site, representing the efforts of a consortium of government agencies, nonprofit groups, and private businesses, aims to help those who live in a storm’s potential path prepare for the worst. Resources include safety checklists, steps for early preparation, and a list of hurricane “don’ts.” (Masking tape on windows and buying candles are a no-go.) The “Hurricanes 101” section offers a quick overview of what these beasts are and how the Saffir-Simpson scale measures them. 2006 may prove to be a worse season than 2005, so, please, act now. (From Yahoo’s Picks of the Week)

    Most of this information would be useful for any emergency. Pay attention, folks! Be careful out there!

    Careers in the Geosciences

    This website contains information about choosing a career, profiles of geoscientists in various career fields, links to the Cornerstone project, and a video about choosing Geoscience as a career as well as job leads.

    Rapid Climate Change

    “The Earth’s climate affects the day-to-day lives of everybody on our planet. Many people are aware that our climate was very different thousands and millions of years ago, ranging from hot tropical to ice age conditions. These changes are often believed to have occurred slowly over a long time. However, large changes in climate have occurred in the past on timescales of a few tens of years. Potentially, such changes could occur during our lifetime.

    The oceans play a big part in determining our present climate and weather patterns, as they transport large amounts of heat away from the tropics towards the poles. For example, the Gulf Stream transports warm water past the British Isles and keeps our climate mild. If changes occur in the way the ocean currents transport this heat, then we will see an impact on our weather.” Includes datasets, models, and more.

    Mathematical and Physical Sciences


    NOVA’s “Kaboom!” offers an in-depth and heart-stopping look at the ultimate chemical reaction — the explosion. Using high speed photography and dramatic reconstruction, the program charts the tarnished history of explosives, rife with terrible accidents, scientific ingenuity, and ultimately, the carnage of war and terrorism.

    Mathematics Across the College Curriculum

    Most people might be aware that mathematics finds its way into a number of instructional programs and courses that are most decidedly not focused on this important discipline. Math is present in a wide range of courses, ranging from fashion design to sociology. Led by The American Mathematical Association of Two-Year Colleges (AMATYC) along with a number of community colleges (including Miami Dade College), the goal of this particular effort is “to create a mathematically literate society that ensures a workforce equipped to compete in a technologically advanced global economy.” The site is divided into several primary sections, including “Courses and Projects”, “Institutes and Conferences”, and “Books and Resources”. Educators and other interested parties will want to head immediately to the “Courses and Projects” area, as they can look through materials created to enhance the mathematically-informed arrangements of such courses as anthropology, English, urban planning, and policy studies. Additionally, there is a section of the site that contains links to dozens of helpful online materials of note that will assist faculty members and others. [KMG] (From the Scout Report)

    S.O.S. Mathematics

    With a development team that includes several well-regarded mathematicians and other such folk, the S.O.S. Mathematics website is a high-quality resource for persons who might find themselves in need of a bit of refresher on topics ranging from algebra to differential equations. Started in 1995, the site currently includes more than 2500 web pages that contain concise explanations of topics that can sometimes be quite confounding. Visitors can use the search engine provided on the homepage, or click on one of the primary sections, which include differential equations, matrix algebra, and complex variables. Within each of these sections there are many more subheadings that provide even more information. Of course, in the unlikely event that one’s question cannot be answered by one of these pages, there is also the “Cyberboard” feature, which allows users to post their own question on one of the many message boards. [KMG] (From the Scout Report)

    Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences

    Unearthing Tse-whit-zen

    Explore the “largest ancient Indian village ever unearthed in Washington” in this 2005 special report from the Seattle Times. A series of articles documents the rediscovery and controversial excavation of the Lower Elwha Klallam tribe’s ancestral home, located in today’s Port Angeles Harbor. Hear present day tribal members describe artifacts from the dig, and learn about their culture through a narrated slideshow and “interactive village.” (From Librarian’s Index to the Internet)

    The Colors of Clay: Special Techniques in Athenian Vases

    This web exhibition from The Getty takes you on a gently guided tour of the various ways in which Athenian vase painters decorated clay vessels between 550 and 340 B.C. Eight styles and techniques are explored: Bilingual, Coral Red, Six’s Technique, Added Clay and Gilding, Outline Drawing, White Ground, Plastic, and Kerch Style. Zoomable images of artifacts, textual captions, and, in a few cases, audio curators’ commentary are used at the site to explain the eight techniques. Learn, for example, that the Bilingual style is called that because pieces have red-figure painting on one side, and black-figure painting on the other, hence they are bilingual. Coral Red was only used for a short time, and by only a few workshops, but this type of piece was prized since the color was enhanced by wine. [DS] (From the Scout Report)


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    A new initiative aims to change the perception of computer professionals as a bunch of guys who lack social skills by encouraging a broader range of students to pursue degrees and careers in computer science. The Stars Alliance is an organization currently representing 10 colleges and universities, though officials said they hope to attract more institutions. The organization will send undergraduate and graduate students in computer science into middle and high schools to talk to students. Not only will these visits expose younger students to the idea of going into computer science, it also gives college students an opportunity to talk about technology with people who are likely not as computer-savvy, a skill employers say many technical staff lack. Other efforts of the alliance will include exposing students to Web-development and multimedia courses earlier in curricula, giving them a taste of what lies ahead, rather than bogging down first-year students in “weed-out” math classes. Larry Dennis, dean of the College of Information at Florida State University and a coprincipal investigator of the alliance, said, “We’re looking at curricular and infrastructure changes to make these courses more attractive to everybody. Not just women and minorities, but everybody.” The alliance has been given a three-year, $2 million grant from the National Science Foundation.
    Chronicle of Higher Education, 9 June 2006 (sub. req’d) (via Edupage)


    British inventor and entrepreneur James Dyson has announced plans to start a new school for students between the ages of 14 and 18 to promote the study of engineering. According to Dyson, British schools do not provide sufficient instruction in engineering to students who want to study it. As a result, he said, the country stands to lose out to nations including China and India in science and engineering. The Dyson School of Design Innovation in Bath would cost an estimated 22 million pounds, of which half would come from the Dyson Foundation and half from the British government. The school would also enjoy the support of several leading engineering firms--Airbus, Rolls-Royce, and Williams Racing, a Formula One team. Engineers from these companies would visit the school and speak to students, who would in turn be allowed to visit the companies’ offices.
    BBC, 10 July 2006 (via Edupage)


    A team of researchers at University College London have demonstrated a technique that uses ultraviolet (UV) light--rather than intense heat--to create silicon dioxide, one of the components of today’s computer chips. Highly pure silicon dioxide is key to the way transistors function. Because the compound forms very slowly at room temperature, chip makers today heat the material to around 1,000 degrees Celsius to speed up the process. Not only does this process use remarkable amounts of energy to create the heat, it also carries the risk of damaging other components that are subjected to the heat. Using UV light, the researchers were able to create silicon dioxide relatively quickly at room temperature, without the possibility of warping other materials. If the process is commercially viable, it could save considerable cost in producing computer chips and be more environmentally friendly. Douglas Paul of the University of Cambridge semiconductor physics group noted, however, that despite the advantages of the UV technique, it also results in a greater number of defects.
    BBC, 30 June 2006 (via Edupage)


    Rice University will restart its press, which was closed in 1996, as an online-only operation, publishing peer-reviewed books and monographs. Faced with declining budgets, many libraries buy fewer books, leaving academic publishers unwilling to publish books unless they can justify the printing costs. Rice’s model does away with printing, allowing the press to publish texts not published otherwise while considerably speeding up the publishing process. Because texts will be peer-reviewed, organizers hope the reborn Rice press will be as prestigious--and as valid for tenure or promotion--as a traditional press. The press will operate through Connexions, a site that offers course materials free of charge. Separately, Connexions will also begin offering print-on-demand custom textbooks, assembled from individual modules within Connexions. The textbooks are expected to cost significantly less than comparable offerings from traditional textbook publishers.
    Inside Higher Ed, 14 July 2006 (via Edupage)


    The regents of the University of Texas System have given their approval for Chancellor Mark Yudof to solicit grants and other funding to support a nanotechnology research center. Called the South West Academy for Nanoelectronics, the center would be housed at UT Austin’s Microelectronics Research Center. Among possible areas of study, researchers at the center would investigate how nanotechnology might replace conventional transistors, the building blocks of current computing devices, with smaller processors. Researchers would also look at nanotechnology applications in biomedicine, energy, and health care. Organizers of the center hope to secure $1.5 million from the Nanoelectronics Research Corp., which has given grants to similar research centers at UCLA and the State University of New York at Albany. Backers of the initiative also plan to seek $10 million from the high-tech industry and another $10 million from the state.
    Silicon Valley, 14 July 2006 (via Edupage)


    HP researchers based in England have developed very small chips that can store 512,000 bytes of information and be read by a handheld device. The chips, called Memory Spots, are 1.4 square millimeters and feature small processors, which would allow the chips to actively protect the data they contain. Unlike RFID tags, which company officials said the new chips are not intended to replace, the chips hold significantly more data and cannot be read from several feet away. Whereas RFID chips are designed for inventory and supply-chain applications, Memory Spots have different potential. Because the HP chips have a relatively large capacity, they can store not only text-based information but also audio, video, or images. HP officials said the chips might be used in medical bracelets, for example, or attached to photos to store information about the pictures.
    New York Times, 17 July 2006 (registration req’d) (via Edupage)

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