Sci-Tech Library Newsletter


Newsletter archive > 2000 April 12 Issue

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  1. GOOGLE WEB SEARCH ENGINE — WHAT’S ALL THE FUSS?: Does this search engine consistently produce better results?
  2. NEW E-JOURNALS: Lots of life sciences and economics, also some math, earth sciences, and education journals.
  3. INTERESTING WEBSITES AND OTHER NEWS FROM THE INTERNET: Digitized collections, knowledge management; Biological Sciences: dna, insects, field guides, D. melanogaster genome; Geosciences: weather, the black blizzard, ocean exploration; Engineering: bad designs, constructor, fire research; Mathematical and Physical Sciences: plastics, elemental hangman, visual quantum mechanics; Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences: Native American images, totem pole, psychology resources, a thousand years of work and money, value at risk, memory, and more …
  4. INTER ALIA: Faberge Eggs — just in time for Easter …

    Recently a new search engine appeared on the WWW called Google, and a lot of expert searchers and amateur searchers alike are singing its praises. What makes Google so special? Several attributes, but principally its ability to filter for more desirable sites in its search results.

    All search engines use some sort of algorithm against which they sort search results in an effort to let the more relevant “hits” float to the top of the list. Considerations of relevancy might include factors such as how often your search keywords appear on a webpage, whether they occur at the beginning of the webpage or toward the bottom, whether they are included in the title of the webpage or in the webpage metadata, etc.

    The Google algorithm is based on a different concept — the concept of popularity. A webpage is deemed more important than another if a larger number of other webpages have linked to it. There are other search engines that also look at link popularity, but the algorithm used by Google is quite complex and takes into consideration the relative “importance” of the linking pages as well. If, for instance, your initial query is in the field of chemistry, the webpages that will “float to the top” of your hit list will be the ones that contain your search keywords, and that have been linked from the largest number of other chemistry websites — and additional cachet may be given to websites linked from other sites that are known to be particularly good websites in the same field (i.e., they themselves are highly linked-to from other pages). Think of it as a sort of peer review. The sites that fulfill your search parameters, and that have received the highest peer review rating, will be at the top of your results page.

    Nothing is foolproof, of course. Consider the case of an excellent webpage that is brand new. Other webmasters have simply not had the opportunity to find it and to modify their webpages to link to it. It will probably turn up near the bottom of your hit list even though it may be clearly the best webpage going on your particular subject.

    But, by and large, many searchers that I admire feel that Google often gives them better, cleaner search results than other search engines. Which means a considerable saving of time.

    Google also presents a web directory (, like Yahoo, but, again, the webpages in the directory are laid out in order of relative “importance” rather than in alphabetical order. This means that if you are, for instance, looking for a service, like an online auction page, the top webpages on the list will be the ones that more people continue to use most frequently, and one assumes that folks wouldn’t be continuing to use the pages if they weren’t working well for their needs. This I really like! Will it replace Yahoo? Not yet. Yahoo is still the biggest directory on the web, to my knowledge. But if you are looking for only quality websites, the Google directory is a very nice addition to the field.

    Another interesting Google feature is that the search engine “caches” the webpages it indexes. This means that if a webpage has disappeared or changed its URL between the time Google indexed it and the time it pops up in your Google search, you can still get a “picture” of the website from Google by clicking on the “cached link”, which is right after the URL. Imagine! A way to get around those pesky 404 error messages … I find this to be mind boggling … Again, it isn’t 100%. Not every page contained in Google is actually indexed by Google. And some sites apparently ask Google not to cache them. Still, what a great feature!

    Is Google my favorite search engine? No, it is not. Alta Vista is still my favorite, because I really like the ability to run an extremely complex search statement, and other search engines do not give me the kind of control over my search that I find with the Alta Vista advanced search screen. And Hotbot gives a much more detailed structured search screen — lots of choices. But that is only my personal preference. Do I use Google? You bet I do! You should give it a try, too. Always remember that different search engines have different strengths and weaknesses, and they all look at different parts of the WWW in different ways. If you limit yourself to one search engine, you are missing more than you can even imagine. If you don’t get good results with the first or second try of a search on a particular search engine, always switch to another. No sense beating a dead horse …

    For more information on the concept of link popularity, check out:


    Geometry & Topology
    Washington, DC — SPARC (the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition) today announced its partnership with Geometry & Topology, a high-quality, low-priced Web-based mathematics journal. Geometry & Topology, published by the Mathematics Institute at the University of Warwick (U.K.), is headed by managing editors based at the University of Warwick and a distinguished 25-member editorial board from institutions around the world.

    In line with SPARC principles, Geometry & Topology is a high-quality, low-priced alternative to an existing commercial journal. Geometry & Topology is free of charge on the Web and makes available its complete archive in three softbound print volumes at US $97. The current volume is available for $50 and future volumes will be similarly priced. Pricing is set at approximately $.10 per page plus handling. Geometry & Topology competes with Topology, a commercial journal that sells for over US $1,200 annually.

    Journal of Biotechnology
    EJB Electronic Journal of Biotechnology is an international, scientific peer-reviewed journal edited exclusively in electronic format. EJB publishes review and research articles related to all areas of biotechnology; technical notes are also welcomed. Articles accepted without modifications are published within one month. To publish in EJB as well as its distribution is free. This Journal is supported by the Universidad Catûlica de Valparaìso and CONICYT, the National Council for Scientific and Technological Research of Chile.

    Proceedings of the Society for Experimental Biology and Medicine
    The Society for Experimental Biology and Medicine has been a leader in facilitating interaction among biomedical sciences primarily through the publication of Proceedings of the Society for Experimental Biology and Medicine (PSEBM). Published monthly (except August), PSEBM provides both research and review articles as well as meeting symposia and rapid communications on topics of general interest in endocrinology, molecular biology, nutrition, experimental medicine, physiology, genetics, immunology, biochemistry, microbiology and other biomedical specialties.

    There is currently a free trial period for access to PSEBM, which will be available until November 1, 2000

    Journal of Neurochemistry
    International Society for Neurochemistry is pleased to announce that the full text of the Journal of Neurochemistry. The Journal of Neurochemistry is devoted to the publication of high-quality original findings in areas relevant to molecular, chemical, and cell biological aspects of the nervous system.

    There is currently a free trial period for access to the Journal of Neurochemistry, which will be available until January 31, 2001.

    Molecular Biology and Evolution
    Molecular Biology and Evolution (MBE), the official journal of the Society of Molecular Biology and Evolution, is a monthly publication of research at the interface between molecular and evolutionary biology. This includes: investigations of molecular evolutionary patterns and processes; tests of evolutionary hypotheses that use molecular data; and studies that use molecular evolutionary information to address issues in fields such as anthropology, biochemistry, developmental biology, ecology, genetics, genomics, and molecular medicine.

    The site is free and available to all on the Internet until June 1, 2000.

    Journal of Insect Physiology
    All aspects of insect physiology are published in this journal which will also accept papers on the physiology of other arthropods, if the referees consider the work to be of general interest. The coverage includes endocrinology (in relation to moulting, reproduction and metabolism), pheromones, neurobiology (cellular, integrative and developmental), physiological pharmacology, nutrition (food selection, digestion and absorption), homeostasis, excretion, reproduction and behaviour. Papers covering molecular approaches to physiological problems will also be included. Communications on structure and applied entomology can be published if the subject matter has an explicit bearing on the physiology of arthropods. Review articles are also welcomed.

    Access to the full text of this journal is temporarily free. In the course of the next few months, access will be limited to users that are affiliated to a library that subscribes to the print edition of the journal.

    Journal of Geochemical Exploration
    The Journal of Geochemical Exploration covers all aspects of the geochemistry of the environment and the application of geochemistry to the exploration and study of mineral resources and related fields. Topics include: the description and evaluation of new or improved methods of geochemical exploration; sampling and analytical techniques and methods of interpretation; processes of geochemical dispersion in rocks, soils, vegetation, water and the atmosphere and geochemical distributions in and around mineralized environments.

    Papers that seek to integrate geochemical, geological and geophysical methods of exploration of the environment are particularly welcome. Given the many links between exploration and environmental geochemistry, the journal encourages the exchange of concepts and data, in particular to promote sustainable development of mineral resources while protecting the environment.

    Access to the full text of this journal is temporarily free. In the course of the next few months, access will be limited to users that are affiliated to a library that subscribes to the print edition of the journal.

    Journal of Geodynamics
    The Journal of Geodynamics is an international and interdisciplinary forum for the publication of results and discussions of solid earth research in geodetic, geophysical, geological and geochemical geodynamics, with special emphasis on the large scale processes involved. Papers addressing interdisciplinary aspects, analyses, results and interpretation will receive special attention. Original research papers, including ‘letters’, as well as topical reviews are invited on:

    The emphasis lies on endogenic and also interacting exogenic processes and their geological effects in the widest sense, as well as on results obtained from geophysical, geodetic and geological measurements and analytical techniques applied to deduce them.

    Access to the full text of this journal is temporarily free. In the course of the next few months, access will be limited to users that are affiliated to a library that subscribes to the print edition of the journal.

    Journal of Development Studies
    The Journal of Development Studies is one of the best known and well-established international journals in the area of development studies. Since its foundation in 1964, it has published many seminal articles on development and opened up many new areas of debate. Priority is given to papers which:

    • are interdisciplinary
    • provide critical tests, based on empirical work, of alternative theories, perspectives or schools of thought
    • are relevant to important issues in development policy.

    The editors also welcome critical surveys of the literature in important fields of development policy and practice. Each issue keeps the reader up-to-date with the latest research and also contains reviews of recently-published books on development. Abstracts and table of contents are available without a subscription.

    Journal of Finance
    The Journal of Finance publishes leading research across all the major fields of financial research. It is the most widely cited academic journal in finance and one of the most widely cited journals in economics as well. Each issue of the journal reaches over 8,000 academics, finance professionals, libraries, government and financial institutions around the world. Published six times a year, the journal is the official publication of The American Finance Association, the premier academic organization devoted to the study and promotion of knowledge about financial economics. Membership in the AFA includes a subscription to The Journal of Finance. The Journal provides public access to full-text supplements of papers.

    Journal of Financial and Quantitative Analysis
    The Journal of Financial and Quantitative Analysis (JFQA) is published quarterly in March, June, September, and December by the School of Business Administration at the University of Washington in Seattle, Washington U.S.A. The JFQA publishes theoretical and empirical research in financial economics. Topics include corporate finance, investments, capital and security markets, and quantitative methods of particular relevance to financial researchers.

    Subscribers have access to full-text articles in PDF format. Abstracts can be viewed without a subscription. Selected articles can be downloaded in PDF format without a subscription.

    Journal of Financial Markets
    The Journal of Financial Markets publishes high quality original research on applied and theoretical issues related to securities trading and pricing. Area of coverage includes the analysis and design of trading mechanisms, optimal order placement strategies, the role of information in securities markets, financial intermediation as it relates to securities investments — for example, the structure of brokerage and mutual fund industries, and analyses of short and long run horizon price behaviour. The journal strives to maintain a balance between theoretical and empirical work, and aims to provide prompt and constructive reviews to paper submitters. Abstracts and full-text articles can be viewed without a subscription.

    Journal of Economic Education
    The Journal of Economic Education offers original articles on innovations in and evaluations of teaching techniques, materials, and programs in economics. Articles, tailored to the needs of instructors of introductory through graduate-level economics, cover content and pedagogy in a variety of mediums. Editorial decisions are directed from the Executive Editor’s offices, in the Department of Economics, College of Arts and Sciences, at Indiana University. The JEE is published quarterly by Heldref Publications in cooperation with the National Council on Economic Education and the Advisory Committee on Economic Education of the American Economic Association. Full-text articles can be downloaded in PDF format for issues from 1998 to the current issue. Abstracts and table of contents can be viewed in HTML format. Full access is available without a subscription.

    Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung / Forum: Qualitative Social Research (FQS)
    ISSN 1438-5627
    FQS is a newly established multilingual online journal for qualitative research. The main aim of FQS is to promote discussion and cooperation between qualitative researchers from different nations and social science disciplines (Anthropology, Communication, Criminology, Cultural Sciences, Education, Ethnology, History, Linguistics, Management Information Systems, Medicine, Nursing, Philosophy, Politics, Psychology, Social Work, Sociology). The unique attributes of the internet — speed, flexibility, interactivity — are employed to develop, in comparison to traditional print media, new discourse forms and standards for quality. It is an experimental project which means being an open project where FQS’s content and formal design are developed together with all of its participants — readers, authors, editorial board members and editors alike. The January issue is freely available online at, see these sites also for additional information about FQS.

    Journal of Technology Education
    The Journal of Technology Education provides a forum for scholarly discussion on topics relating to technology education. Manuscripts should focus on technology education research, philosophy, and theory. In addition, the Journal publishes book reviews, editorials, guest articles, comprehensive literature reviews, and reactions to previously published articles.

    Energy Physics Libraries Webzine
    We are happy to inform our colleagues in the field of High Energy Physics that the Webzine dedicated to the HEP libraries has released its first issue. Please feel free to circulate this news to other national library lists. This message is also a call for articles and news related to the field of HEP, astronomy, mathematics and computer science libraries.


    Directory of Digitized Collections
    A joint project of the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Memory of the World Programme and the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA), this site aims to catalog major digitized heritage collections and on-going international digitization projects. Although the database only contains 72 collections at present, its potential as a central point for information on digitized collections worldwide is considerable. From the main page, users can conduct a keyword search or browse the database by new or all records. Entries for collections include country, collection name, URL for the collection and institution, a description of varying length, type of material, and language. The site also includes a form to add a record, which potential participants can use to nominate their collection. [MD] (From the Scout Report)

    Of special interest are collections such as Albert Einstein: Image and Impact, American Environmental Photographs 1891–1936, Omaha Indian Music, Inventing Entertainment: Motion pictures and sound recordings of the Edison company, Forest flora of New South Wales, and more …

    Knowledge Management WWW Virtual Library
    Created by author and founder/ chairman/ chief knowledge architect of, the Knowledge Management WWW Virtual Library is an award-winning digital library dedicated to knowledge management and intellectual capital information. This all-inclusive site features an extensive collection of research papers, articles, and interviews on topics such as data mining, complexity theory, and “the human side of knowledge management;&lrdquo; these documents can be found in the Themes in Knowledge Management section. Users are encouraged to participate in several ever-changing online discussion forums; archived discussions include Data and Knowledge; Creative Abrasion of Knowledge, Information, Intellectual Capital; and Jump Starting Communities of Practice. Because there is so much information on this site, at times we found it somewhat difficult to navigate and search. However, for those interested in knowledge management, it should be an invaluable resource. [EM] (From the Scout Report)

    Jones’ Digital Telecommunications & Multimedia Encyclopedia
    This online reference from Jones International, a leading firm in online postsecondary education, features dozens of entries on telecommunications and media topics and innovators. The entries are categorized by “technologies and trends, biographies, legislation, and company profiles.” Included here are substantial hypertext articles on the history and development of printing, photography, computers, and software; as well as entries on crime on the Internet, cybersleuthing, Brian Eno, George Lucas, the Telecommunications Act of 1996, and Xerox among others. Each week a new article is featured, and the entire encyclopedia is searchable (though we were unable to retrieve results on our visit). [DC] (From the Scout Report)

    Biological Sciences

    The DNA Learning Center (DNALC)
    “The DNA Learning Center (DNALC) is the world’s first science center devoted entirely to public genetics education and is an operating unit of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, an important center for molecular genetics research. The DNALC extends the Laboratory’s traditional research and postgraduate education mission to the college, precollege, and public levels. Its multi-disciplinary staff has experience in elementary, secondary, and collegiate instruction; biochemistry and molecular biological research; design, photography, and fine arts; science journalism; public relations and development; and opinion research. Federal grants provide about half of the DNALC’s annual operating budget of nearly $1,000,000, with the balance provided by foundations, individuals, program fees, and royalties.”

    “Welcome to the web site, designed, researched and produced by Dexter Sear at Io Vision. This site aims to help you really see insects for the miniature marvels they represent and to understand how intertwined our cultures have become with these alien creatures.”

    This fabulous site is full of gorgeous photography and fascinating learning resources about insects of all kinds. Sections of the site include a photo gallery in which you can enlarge pictures which show various views of various insects, a multitude of articles on the interweaving of insects into our culture (insects in textiles, insects in psychiatry, insects in mythology, etc.), learning modules on insects (so far only butterfly wing patterns, but a promise of more to come) and further links. (Thanks to Yahoo’s Picks of the Week)
    This new nature portal offers online searchable field guides to over 4,800 plant and animal species. Derived from 35 different Audubon Society Field Guides, Regional Guides, and Nature Guides, the database is keyword-searchable by group (mammals, amphibians, fishes, trees, etc.) or browseable within subheadings for each group. The field guide entries include a large thumbnail image, description, and varying additional information. Users can also conduct an advanced search by size, color, habitat, region, and other options within each group. Registered members (its free) can add selected plants or animals to their “Life List,” which is saved at the site, along with notes or comments. While the field guides alone make the site worth a visit, there is more, including an Ask an Expert message board, Habitat Guides, news features, tips for teachers, and in the future, a comprehensive Outdoor Planner. [MD] (From the Scout Report)

    The Genome Sequence of Drosophila melanogaster

    1. “Mapping of Fruit Fly a Genetic ‘Milestone’”
    2. Fruit Fly Genome Sequenced
    3. CeleraScience
    4. Drosophila melanogaster Genome
    5. FlyBase
    6. Berkeley Drosophila Genome Project
    7. Human Genome Project
    8. Science Magazine — Genome Landmarks (requires subscription)

    On Thursday March 23, 2000, a historic milestone was marked as researchers announced they have completed mapping the genome of the fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster. The achievement, which was announced in a special issue of the journal Science, culminates close to 100 years of research. Drosophila melanogaster is the most complex animal thus far to have its genetic sequence deciphered. The findings have important implications for human medical research and for completing a map of the human genome. Mapping the fruit fly genome has been a broad collaborative effort between academia and industry in several countries. While a foundation was laid by US (Berkeley), European, and Canadian Drosophila Genome Projects, Celera Genomic finished the job over the last year by employing super-computers and state-of-the-art gene-sequencing machines. The techniques learned and used in this last phase of mapping may now be applied to more rapidly decode genes of other organisms, including humans. This week’s In The News takes a closer look at this important landmark.

    The Washington Post (1) offers comprehensive coverage of the findings in its March 24, 2000 article, “Mapping of Fruit Fly a Genetic ‘Milestone.’” (2) follows up with additional news. Next, Celera Corporation, responsible for the final high-tech stage of completing the sequencing, provides this CeleraScience page (3). This page contains three related articles as well as links to other sections of the CeleraScience site, including a Discover System link with access to the Celera Drosophila Sequence. Fourth, the National Center for Biotechnology Information offers a Drosophila melanogaster Genome Page (4) with access to the actual genome sequence data. Flybase (5) is an outstanding resource and includes a database for information on the Drosophila Genome. The sixth resource, the homepage for the Berkeley Drosophila Genome Project (6), represents fundamental research for this project with BLAST, a search feature for the Drosophila genome; a Berkeley Fly Database; Map Viewers; Analysis Tools; and online publications and laboratory methods. Next, for those users interested in the National Institute of Health’s Human Genome Project (7) for which this research has important implications, this page offers links and background. Finally, users with institutional access or personal subscriptions can access the original research as it appeared in a special genome research issue of Science Magazine on March 24. 2000 (8). This page offers a section referring back to Genome Landmarks and past special Science issues devoted to genomics. [KR] (From the Scout Report)


    Weather Webpages

    WW2010: The Weather World 2010 Project
    University of Illinois has developed “a WWW framework for integrating current and archived weather data with multimedia instructional resources using new and innovative technologies.” Some pages need a fast Internet connection, and they still cling to Fahrenheit temperatures, but the content is rich and well formed.

    NOAA: Weather
    U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration must have the world’s biggest weather-related Web site. Fortunately, much of it is written at a level that is suited to inquiring youth.

    Meteorological Service of Canada
    The Meteorological Service of Canada maintains a smaller website with a friendly approach. A parallel organization, the Canadian Meteorological Center at, has the heavy stuff (scientific tables, satellite data, etc.)

    Live Weather Images
    If you have an Internet connection fast enough for downloads of graphic images, add this to your “weather supersites” list. It links to hundreds of satellite weather images, all over (literally) the globe — showing everything from snow depth to typhoons to tree pollen. My favourite is “N & S America Cloud Cover” (filed under “Current Weather Images in General”), the current GOES-8 radar image of nearly half the planet! As your students view it, ask them to determine with the help of a globe or world map:

    1. the latitude/longitude of this geostationery satellite,
    2. what percentage of the planet it “sees”,
    3. from that, how high up it is.

    It’s a problem-solving exercise in circle geometry, using the usual theorems plus longitude. Younger students can answer it intuitively. WeatherImages is maintained by Mark Brooks of Albemarle, North Carolina, with the support of voluntary donations from its user base. Thanks to Norm Gilberstad of the B.C. Ministry of Education for suggesting this site.

    (Above weather listings from Network Nuggets)

    National Drought Mitigation Center (NDMC)
    The School of Natural Resource Sciences at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln hosts this site on drought mitigation. Designed to help “reduce society’s vulnerability to drought,” NDMC offers a wide range of information on drought and how to prepare for and deal with it. Newcomers should start at the Drought Science and Impacts sections for background information. The Drought Watch and Climatology sections offer access to a huge variety of online data summaries, tables, and maps — including several indices of current drought condition in the US — in addition to links to related research sites. (NDMC is also one of the several agencies responsible for the Drought Monitor, discussed in the February 2, 2000 _Scout Report for Science and Engineering_). For information on mitigation, see the Mitigation, Drought Links, and Network sections. Given the large proportion of the country currently classified as being on drought watch or experiencing drought, this site will serve as a timely information resource for students, educators, or the general public. [LXP] (From the Scout Report)

    The Day of the Black Blizzard
    This is a subsection of the excellent Discovery Channel Online site and provides a glimpse into the lives of people living on the US Great Plains. The story is told of the day dust became a terror. Farmers in this region had always suffered the Dust Blues but what started as a gentle breeze on a hot summer’s day became a tidal wave of dust 7,000 feet high by mid-afternoon which engulfed the area and dropped the temperature 50 degrees. The site provides audio clips of eyewitnesses, such as Harley Holladay who was a slip of a lad at the time of the Black Blizzard of Palm Sunday back in 1935. Hick, yey! (From New Scientist Planet Science)

    Dive and Discover
    “Exploring for Mid-Ocean Ridge Eruptions. Join us for a 47-day cruise aboard the Research Vessel Melville during Dive & Discover’s Expedition 3 as scientists probe the dark depths of the eastern Pacific Ocean, looking for new volcanic eruptions on the crest of the mid-ocean ridge.” This site from Woods Hole Oceanographic Inst. and partially funded by the National Science Foundation has daily updates, interviews, slide shows, “infomods” on related topics, and the ability to e-mail to the scientists involved. A very attractive website!


    Bad Designs
    “A scrapbook of illustrated examples of things that are hard to use because they do not follow human factors principles.” A collection of ordinary conveniences that don’t seem to work the way they are expected to, oftentimes complicating what should be a simple task. Many devices are included ranging from doors to top-loading VCRs to confusingly similar drug packaging to staplers, and many, many more. The author is a usability engineer with a Ph.D. in Cognitive Psychology. — dl (From Librarian’s Index to the Internet)

    This site is kind of a two-dimensional erector set that lets you choose a shape, put it into motion, and then tweak it by taking away gravity, speeding it up and more. There are directions for this tool, but younger students could just go in and construct something, then write a story about it. High school and college students could use this when studying physics, evolution, or robotics. (From Blue Web’n)

    Building and Fire Research Laboratory: Fire on the Web [.pdf]
    A subsidiary of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), the Building and Fire Research Laboratory (BFRL) Website contains stellar information for building engineers and fire researchers. Highlights include a searchable and downloadable collection of BFRL publications (in .pdf format); FIREDOC, a searchable 50,000-item bibliographic database for fire research related documents; and a set of DOS-based fire simulation programs which will predict air flow movement and downwind smoke distributions, analyze smoke control systems, and much more. Additional features include a list of Web resources, fire test data and reports, a fire safety engineering section, and a list of conferences. This site contains a germane collection of resources for fire researchers. [KR] (From the Scout Report)

    Mathematical and Physical Sciences

    Sandretto Plastics Museum
    Sandretto has been around for a while and has created a museum in honour one of the most important and diverse products of our age — plastic. This is the virtual wing of the Plastics Museum in Pont Canavese near Turin in northern Italy. This was in fact the first Italian Museum of Plastics and one of the main ones in the world. Plastic? I hear you ask not the most historical of materials but more than a century of fascinating research, inventions and patents has generated a huge number of products that have changed our way of life. Enter a favourite plastic and a product and a year and see a specific exhibit from Victorian cellulose acetate toy boats to a modern polyurethane fridge. (From New Scientist Planet Science)

    Chemical Industry Search Engine Provides Mix of Sites
    Oh, neat, I’ve already written my stupid headline of the week and it’s only Monday. Anyway, The Chemical Industry Search Engine has over 24000 sites relevant to the chemical industry in its searchable subject index, including events, organizations, news, technology, etc. They also have a free newsletter offering editors’ picks of sites in different chemistry categories, including dyes and pigments, software, chemical process engineering, etc. (From Research Buzz)

    Elemental Hangman
    Learn the names of the elements while playing a game of hangman. The computer will randomly pick the name of one of the elements. Discover which element the computer picked by guessing the letters in its name. Each incorrect guess you make causes the ‘atom man’ to decay. Find the element’s name before the atom man completely decays! Want to give it a try? The element hangman game can be found at: (Thanks to Stephen F. Gagnon and Net Happenings) [I understand the producer is going to add information about the element to round out this fun learning tool.]

    Visual Quantum Mechanics: Online Interactive Programs [Shockwave, Java]
    The Visual Quantum Mechanics project, from the Physics Education Group of Kansas State University’s Department of Physics, develops innovative ways to “introduce quantum physics to high school and college students who do not have a background in modern physics or higher level math.” Funded by the National Science Foundation, this resource for educators provides interactive computer visualizations and animations that introduce quantum mechanics. The interactive programs (which require Shockwave) include a spectroscopy lab suite, a probability illustrator, an energy band creator, quantum tunneling, a color creator (a Java version is also available), a wave function sketcher, a wave packet explorer, an energy diagram explorer, a diffraction suite, and a hydrogen spectroscopy program. These online demonstrations should prove to be excellent visual, hands-on teaching aids when introducing concepts involving quantum mechanics. Users can download Shockwave at the site. [KR] (From the Scout Report)

    Internet Resources Physics
    The Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL), a division of the American Library Association, puts out monthly lists of key resources on the Internet. The latest list for March 2000 amounts to a solid, annotated metapage of physics links. Categories for sites include general physics metasites, professional societies, laboratories, preprint sites, reference sources, electronic journals, educational resources, people in physics, and discussion groups. While many of the sites noted here have been covered over the years by the Internet Scout Project (see Signpost), this metapage may save users some of the hassles of searching. [KR] (From the Scout Report)

    Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences

    American Historical Images On File: The Native American Experience
    “This collection of historical photographs is provided with the permission of Facts on File, Inc., and is a comprehensive collection of images of Native American people. The collection is arranged chronologically from the prehistoric period and the Paleo-Indians to 1990 and the appointment of R. Richard West as director of the National Museum of the American Indian. The collection includes information and images which describe the lifeways of various tribes and include historical entries for particular Indian groups. Narrative is provided that provides the historical and cultural background describing the event, person, or subject presented.” This is a true treasure trove. The images are fascinating and thought provoking. They include paintings, drawings, sketches, and photographs. The brief narratives (descriptions) of each image put them in enriching context.

    Prelude to the Study of a Totem Pole
    This Website, designed by a graduate student in anthropology and supported by the University of British Columbia’s Museum of Anthropology, focuses on the history and meaning of a Thunderbird totem pole carved in the mid- to late-1800s by a member of the Gitanyow tribe from the upper Skeena river area in British Columbia. The innovative Website has three components. The In the Village section offers a history of the tribe, the carver, the commissioner (Chief Wixha), and the village in which it was erected. Betwixt and Between explores the time when “the Thunderbird totem pole was in storage or transit between its original home in the village of Gitanyow and its present home in the Museum of Anthropology.” Finally, In the Museum discusses the pole’s cultural and spiritual significances as determined by scholars. The result is a site not only well-linked and highly informative about the totem poles and culture of this area, but one that examines the processes by which “native” meanings are inevitably recontextualized by institutional involvement. A CD-ROM based on this site is due out this year. [DC] (From the Scout Report)

    Psychology Resources: A Guide to Conducting Internet Research in Psychology
    This clearly organized site provides general instruction on finding one’s psychological needle in the haystack of the Internet as well as annotated links and resources focused on the field of psychology. The site offers a tutorial on search strategies as well as annotated — and sometimes indexed — links to the following: search engines and subject directories suited for the discipline, “other information-finding sites” (such as gateways, databases and dictionaries), subject-specific sites, electronic libraries and their databases, online journal search engines and online journal titles, and more. A calendar of Psychology conferences is also posted. The “site was created in December 1999 as an academic research project by Melanie Pahlmann of Regis University in Denver, Colorado,” and updated this month. [DC] (From the Scout Report)

    Center for Nonverbal Studies: The Nonverbal Dictionary
    The Center for Nonverbal Studies, a private, nonprofit research center located on the West Coast whose mission is to advance the study of human communication in all forms apart from language, offers online _The Nonverbal Dictionary of Gestures, Signs, and Body Language Cues_. Compiled by PhD David B. Givens and drawing on the work of anthropologists, archaeologists, biologists, linguists, psychiatrists, psychologists, semioticians, and others who study communication, this text is a fascinating compendium of brief essays on the way we say things without saying anything. From automobile grilles to folded arms to lawn ornaments to high heels, this text elucidates the language of nonverbal communication. New entries are added on a regular basis and featured at the Center’s What’s New page. The Website is affiliated with the Center for Ethnographic Research (CER) at the University of Missouri in Kansas City. [DC] (From the Scout Report)

    A Thousand Years of Work and Money
    This special collection of articles from the _Christian Science Monitor_ examines the evolution of work. “Infinite Quest” considers workers’s needs to have a safe and secure place to work, comparing today’s workers with their counterparts in 1000 AD. “Events That Shook the World of Work” provides short synopses of the 20 most important “inventions and developments, and how they changed the way jobs get done” from the rise of guilds in the eleventh century to the World Wide Web in 1993. The improvements in wages and quality of living over time are outlined in “More Power to More People,” while “The Search for Personal Wealth” deals with the finances of workers throughout the past 1000 years focusing especially on the changes wrought by investing. Finally, “Rooted in Religion, Charities Branch Out” explores the development of not-for-profit agencies. These thoughtful, well-written articles are accompanied by a timeline that charts the evolution of currency. [EM] (From the Scout Report)

    All About Value at Risk (VaR) [.pdf]
    All about Value at Risk (VaR) is a wonderful resource for those interested in this form of risk management assessment. Created by Barry Schacter, the head of Enterprise Risk Management for Caxton Corporation, this site is a clearinghouse for VaR resources including information on various forms of RiskMatrics, a vast collection of published and working papers on VaR, and links to regulatory materials from international organizations such as the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision and the International Organization of Securities Commissions, as well as from the US, Austria, Canada, Australia, the UK, and Hong Kong. Interested users may also register for a free VaR weekly electronic newsletter. [EM] (From the Scout Report)

    Economics America
    Created by the National Council on Economic Education, this site offers many lessons and activities for elementary, middle school,and high school students. One of the lessons, “Hey, Mom, What’s for Breakfast?,” has students choose their favorite breakfast foods and investigate costs associated with those foods. “Do You Always Own Your Own Private Property?” addresses eminent domain and the rights of property owneers. Lessons include links to teacher notes, and the web resources included in lesson plans are carefully chosen. (From Blue Web’n)

    Economic & Business Geography Resources & Reading Lists
    University of Washington geography professor Gunter Krumme has composed this comprehensive bibliography of resources for economic and business geography. Information is categorized in alphabetical order by subject, covering a wealth of topics including land use theory and resources, air transportation, retail geography, and public facilities, among many others. The information contained within each subject heading includes online news briefs, Websites, book recommendations, and other resources from sources across the World Wide Web. [EM] (From the Scout Report)

    “Everything I know about Leadership I Learned from Movies”Inc.
    Inc.’s tribute to the 2000 Academy Awards lists the top ten movies that have inspired its readers in their business practices. While the list consists of some business standards like Norma Rae and It’s a Wonderful Life, it also contains unconventional picks such as One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and Dead Poets Society. Each entry’s plot is summarized, and the movie’s overriding business message is constructed and analyzed. This entertaining list brings new meaning to movies such as Twelve O'Clock High. [EM] (From the Scout Report)

    A diverse perspective on memory from sheep brain dissection and memory artists to memories of Nagasaki. Chopping up the ovine brain for instance provides clues about the anatomy of memory, while those of an artistic bent will enjoy the attempts of one artist to paint his childhood hometown from memory and then to compare the views with photographic evidence. The significance of particular places comes through in the paintings, something that is not tangible in the photos demonstrating how memories shape our personal landscapes. There is plenty more, so don’t forget to pay a visit. (From New Scientist Planet Science)

    Two new reports are available from the NCES website:

    Student Work and Teacher Practices in Science
    This report, for science teachers and school administrators, is based on the 1996 Science Assessment of the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). It gives a detailed picture of student performance on the 1996 assessment at grades 4, 8, and 12. The study provides numerous examples of assessment questions, scoring guides for the questions, and student responses, along with information on student attitude and motivation for the study of science.

    Estimation Skills, Mathematics-in-Context, and Advanced Skills in Mathematics
    This report is in three parts, representing special studies made in connection with the NAEP Mathematics Assessments. It provides extensive data on:

    • Mathematical estimation
    • Mathematics-in-context (problems that cut across mathematical content areas
    • Advanced mathematics skills in grades 8 and 12

    The report should be of particular interest to mathematics teachers and school administrators with responsibilities for mathematics instruction. (From Net Happenings)

    Also worth a look:

    Employment Resources in the Earth, Atmospheric, and Oceanic Sciences, from Syracuse University Library — Elizabeth Wallace

    Course Resources on the Web (CROW): Social Psychology

    Top-cited HEP papers


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

    The next-generation Internet2 is serving as a test environment for new applications that will eventually improve the performance of the traditional Internet. Already, more than 170 universities participating in the project are able to collaborate on the high- speed network in real-time and move huge volumes of data in less than a second. Although individuals will never be able to buy Internet2 connections, some of the advances made on Internet2 will be incorporated into the public network over the next five years, says Internet2 director of communications Greg Wood. The Next Generation Internet, which includes several dozen networking projects such as Internet2 that are now in progress, eventually lead to a faster, more intelligent, and more reliable Internet. The Internet2 project began in 1996 as a way for the research community to continue with its plans for the original Internet, which became slow and commercialized in the mid 1990s. Internet2 applications such as video technology and multicasting are already making their way into the mainstream, says Wood.
    (Courier-Journal Online, 20 March 2000 via Edupage)

    Teachers across the nation say they often lack the time, formal training, and readily available help required to effectively integrate technology into the classroom and create the kind of interactive learning atmosphere many educators and business executives believe enhances the learning process. Contrary to popular sentiment, simply putting computers in every classroom is not enough to ensure the equipment will be used to supplement classroom instruction. Some teachers spend hours at home every night attempting to create computer-aided lessons, but most abandon or avoid the undertaking altogether because they lack the patience or know how to successfully attempt such projects.

    Although some schools offer formal computer training and employ a technology specialist to help teachers with efforts to build technology into their instructional methods, the training is usually not extensive enough and the specialists must often be shared between multiple schools. Several different groups have recommended ways for school districts to improve the situation, including placing a full-time specialist in every school, building more planning time into teachers’ schedules, offering more comprehensive computer training classes, and enacting more stringent standards for technology competency.
    (Washington Post, 18 March 2000 via Edupage)

    Scientists at Lucent’s Bell Labs have set a new record for transmitting data over fiber-optic cable by moving 3.28 terabits per second of data over 300 kilometers of Lucent’s TrueWave optical fiber. At this rate, Lucent’s fiber in one second could transmit three times the volume of daily Internet traffic for the whole world. Within years, fiber-optic cable could move tens of thousands of terabits per second of data. This tremendous bandwidth growth will be fueled by the speed of lasers used to encode data and the number of wavelengths a single fiber can carry at once, says AT&T Labs President David Nagel. Researchers are now developing terabit lasers, and the number of pulses a single laser produces is doubling every 18 months. In addition, the number of wavelengths a single fiber can carry at one time is doubling every year. Eighty-wavelength systems are already available, and scientists are working on 1,000-wavelength systems. The Bell Labs’ record accounts for less than half a percent of the potential capacity of current optical networks, according to Kerry Vahala, professor of applied physics at the California Institute of Technology.
    (Wired News, 21 March 2000 via Edupage)

    A group of researchers on Thursday announced the development of opto-chips, a breakthrough technology that could greatly increase the ability of fiber-optic networks to provide high-bandwidth Internet access. The device is a sophisticated electro-optic modulator that sends data as light signals through fiber-optic networks at least 10 times faster than current electro-optic modulators. Meanwhile, the new technology needs only 0.8 volts to operate, compared with the 5 volts today’s devices require. Another advantage of the new modulator is that it does not lose as much data as today’s modulators, which can lose signals and disrupt data streams. Researchers made the new modulator from polymers, while traditional modulators are grown as crystals from lithium niobate. Opto-chips could allow fiber-optic networks to provide high-speed Internet access to an almost unlimited number of customers, and the technology could be commercially available in two years if it passes long-term testing. Eventually, opto-chips could enable users to download movies and huge music files instantaneously, although a number of other technologies would need to be developed first to make this possible.
    (Los Angeles Times, 7 April 2000 via Edupage)

    Johns Hopkins University is testing the use of an artificial neural network to determine which applicants are likely to enroll in the school. The neural network is a statistical model that imitates the ability of neurons in the human brain to learn patterns. By looking for patterns in student data, the neural network finds the common characteristics of applicants who enroll at Hopkins. Admissions officers could use the neural network to predict which students are likely to enroll and which are not, using the information to decide how many students to accept to ensure a full class. Richard Reeves, who invented Hopkins’ neural network last spring using StatSoft’s Statistica software, says 50 percent of universities will use neural networks in 10 years. Although colleges already use statistical models to predict how many students will enroll, tests at Hopkins showed that the traditional model had an error rate of 6 percent while the neural network had an error rate of 3 percent. The technology used in neural networks has been available for many years, but only recently have hardware and software become powerful enough and cheap enough to make neural networks viable for common use.
    (Chronicle of Higher Education, 24 March 2000 via Edupage)

    Although parents express concerns about their children’s Internet usage, 43 percent of children in the nine-to-17 age group say they have a more positive outlook about school due to using the Internet, according to a survey to be released today by the National School Boards Foundation and Children’s Television Workshop. The survey of more than 1,700 parents and 600 children finds that 53 percent of parents and 48 percent of children who have home access to the Internet use the medium mostly for schoolwork. National School Boards Association Executive Director Anne Bryant says school leaders across the nation will examine the survey’s findings to determine how the Internet can best be used to help educate children. The possibility that their children may see pornography on the Internet is a top concern to 46 percent of parents, while 29 percent are wary of adults who may contact their children online, and 29 percent are worried their children may come across violent content on the Web. A great majority of parents say the Internet has not significantly altered their children’s lifestyle habits, such as the amount of time they spend reading or with friends and family.
    (USA Today, 28 March 2000 via Edupage)

    The Senate commerce, science, and transportation subcommittee met yesterday to discuss ways to bring broadband Internet access to rural areas so all U.S. consumers can participate in the Internet revolution. Broadband providers mostly offer access to urban areas where demand is high enough to make the services profitable. At the hearing, Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) and Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) introduced legislation that would provide a tax break to firms that invest in broadband networks in areas more than 10 miles from the closest town with 250,000 people or more. Rockefeller said, “Unfortunately, rural areas are at a significant technological disadvantage.”
    (Financial Times, 29 March 2000 via Edupage)

    A passion for exploration and a desire to become less isolated from the rest of the world has driven Iceland to the forefront of Internet connectivity. While 55 percent of Americans go online from home, work, or school, nearly 70 percent of the population in Iceland does so. Because the rest of the world rarely sees the island in the uppermost reaches of the Atlantic, the populace has been largely isolated from the world. Essentially, the Internet has enabled the country to join the global community. Prime Minister David Oddsson says Iceland must be connected to the world. In 1996, Oddsson was key in pushing legislation that set aside money for computers in classrooms and support for those interested in pursuing the high-tech world. Computers are now in almost every classroom in Iceland, and within the past five years about 200 information-technology companies have been created. In fact, tech entrepreneurs consider Iceland to be the ideal test market. Cost is a fraction of what it would be in the U.S., and one ad will attract the full attention of the nation’s 270,000 inhabitants. Also, failure in Iceland will not be a major loss.
    (USA Today, 27 March 2000 via Edupage)

    Daniel Jenkins Academy in Polk County, Fla., will become the nation’s first school to offer students a completely online curriculum in a classroom, despite district level educators having doubts that such a system can be effective. Florida High School (FHS), which previously only served individual students, will be the subcontractor for Jenkins’ online system. Although Jenkins principal Sue Braiman originally thought up the idea of an online school because of the space limitations involved with construction of the aging building, parents have been swayed to enroll their children because of the promise of small classes and individualized, self-paced education that lets students build their school days around their learning strengths. Parents’ biggest complaints with the traditional school were discipline problems, overcrowding, overwhelmed teachers, and bomb threats interrupting classes. Although no teachers will be present in Jenkins’ classrooms, students will still share lunch and hallway interactions. Students will also have the opportunity to do away-from-school projects, take field trips, and participate in extracurricular activities at a nearby high school.
    (USA Today, 6 April 2000 via Edupage)

    Addressing an audience of 500 students at Morehouse College, Vice President Al Gore called for government action to help bridge the digital divide in computer use between white and minority Americans. Gore urged the government to ensure that every student is computer literate by the eighth grade. Gore’s proposals include Internet access for all schools and libraries, technology training for teachers, the full inclusion of computers in school curriculums, and the creation of computer learning centers in less fortunate communities. President Clinton has also called for many of these same initiatives. Several recent studies show that the digital divide threatens to widen racial gulfs in the areas of education, employment, and income. A Commerce Department study conducted last summer found that income differences alone cannot explain differences in computer use among different ethnic groups.
    (New York Times, 4 April 2000 via Edupage)


    Faberge Eggs
    With the coming of Easter, a person’s thoughts usually turn to — eggs! And what better eggs to see than those of the famed Karl Faberge, Imperial Silversmith to the Tsars of Russia! These eggs, many of them now a century old, are exquisite in their beauty and craftsmanship. Some historical information is given about each egg.