Sci-Tech Library Newsletter


Newsletter archive > 2000 August 10 Issue

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  1. SEARCH ENGINE NEWS: Google and AltaVista both morphed again …
  2. SOME INTERESTING THINGS ABOUT JSTOR: Analysis of electronic archive use patterns is quite interesting and unexpected.
  4. INTERESTING WEBSITES AND OTHER NEWS FROM THE INTERNET: Top US research universities, what the web used to be, adaptive web technology, digital Library of Congress strategy; Biological Sciences: microbial genetics, Big Picture Book of Viruses, mass extinctions, raptors; Engineering: Australasian Virtual Engineering Library, androids, cameras; Geosciences: Geomatics of Canada, earthquakes, Kansas paleontology; Polar Programs: Antarctica; Mathematical and Physical Sciences: entropy, element games, scuba physics, accelerators, mathematical mistakes, star census; Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences: presidential psychology, nuerosciences, economics web searching, folk psychology?, American Indians of the Pacific Northwest, pharoahs, German socio-economics; Computer Sciences: the Mac, Nug 30, IT knowledge, … and more …
  5. INTER ALIA: Baseball heckling, computer error message haiku.
  1. Google Advanced Search
    New AltaVista Preview
    At last! Google has unveiled an advanced search page. This finally makes Google usable even for folks like me! Pull down menus allow you to tighten up your search logic, excluding keywords and domains, and even to look for pages that link to or are similar specific pages you have found — a neat trick, I must admit. It still does not have full Boolean logic available. I do not see the allowed use of the all-important “or” connector, for instance. Come on, Google, this is an improvement, but you can still surely do better than this!

    AltaVista (still my personal favorite, but I use many others as well) has released a preview page for the “new AltaVista”, which will have many more directory features and a “power search” in addition to the advanced search feature as well as a customizable start page. See the following discussion from Edupage for more details:


    AltaVista on Wednesday will unveil a new search platform called Power Search that aims to help novice users find relevant information more easily. Power Search offers easy-to-use menus that allow users to restrict searches by date, time, country, and other parameters. In addition, Power Search lets users customize searches and organize results in a variety of ways. “Power Search is Advanced Search with training wheels,” says AltaVista’s Vaughn Rhodes. Beyond the improved search capabilities, the new platform offers an E-Mail and Tools productivity application section and one-click access to customized search centers such as AltaVista’s Entertainment Center. The new Search Trends feature displays the top 25 search terms of the week and top five lists in a range of popular categories such as CD titles. Meanwhile, the Search Guides feature offers tips on how to use AltaVista’s tools to find particular Web sites, products, and images. AltaVista also aims to help users search its own site more easily with a new entertainment service that helps users find items among AltaVista’s 6,000 broadcast and Internet radio streams and its 35 million audio, video, and image files. (eWeek Online, 1 Aug 2000 via Edupage)


    Over the past few years several of our patrons from academia have asked why the NSF Library did not participate in JSTOR, a consortium of academic libraries that digitize and provide complete archives of important academic journals. We did not participate because at the time JSTOR was only open to purely academic libraries. They have since opened their doors wider, and consequently we are able to bring this fabulous resource to the desktops of NSF staff.

    JSTOR creates access only archival issues of journals, not current issues. However, they strive to present the entire archive of each journal, from its first published issue to a “moving wall” of more current issues (i.e., all issues published up to five years before the current date, or two years before the current date, etc.). New journal titles become available as JSTOR is able to reach agreements with publishers, gather a copy of every single older issue that has been published, and digitize them. Since, in most cases, the NSF Library only has sufficient shelf space to retain 5 years of printed journals, JSTOR dovetails neatly to expand our collection without taxing our physical space resources.

    One of the important aspects of JSTOR is that it encourages university students and others to look back in time when they are doing research. An oft-voiced complaint in the academic community is that many students are unaware of the importance of research that was published before the “digital age”, and they ignore anything that isn’t available online. JSTOR addresses this issue.

    Kristen Garlock recently reported on some interesting presentations at the JSTOR Participants’ Meeting of ALA, as follows:

    In a recent communication, “JSTOR Usage Patterns and the Impact of Electronic Access on Archival Journal Literature” by Kevin Guthrie, several interesting points were made about patterns of usage reflected by JSTOR statistics. Guthrie states:

    “As a first measurement of the value of the articles in JSTOR, we analyzed the top ten most frequently viewed and printed articles for each title in the JSTOR database. What we found is that there are more older articles among the top ten than we originally expected. We wondered if this varies by field, and it does. We calculated the average age of these top ten articles for the various fields and found some surprises. In economics, for example, the average age of the top ten most frequently printed and viewed articles was 13 years. More dramatically, in the field of mathematics, the average age of the most used articles was 32 years. These data are by no means conclusive, as some of the JSTOR journals have only been digitized relatively recently, but the early findings seem to contradict existing assumptions about the value of older literature.

    Citation data alone do not reliably predict electronic usage. Judging by the most-used articles in JSTOR, citations and usage are not closely correlated, suggesting that citations should not be used as the sole factor in selecting content to be digitized. To give just one example, the most frequently viewed article from one of the top journals in the economics collection has rarely been cited in other articles. The article, published in 1973, was cited only fourteen times between 1974 and 1999. Nevertheless, this article has been viewed 1,895 times and printed 1,402 times since it was made available in JSTOR, making it the 4th most-used article in economics.

    The concept of ‘value’ for research articles needs to be clearly understood as libraries consider acquisitions and cancellation decisions for electronic content.

    Increasingly, one hears that usage data should be used more aggressively by librarians in acquisition and cancellation decisions for current journal subscriptions. It is important to recognize that usage is only one aspect of the value, not the entire value. Citations and citation impact factors reflect another kind of value.

    The fact that top used articles in JSTOR may be infrequently cited, or that top-cited articles may be infrequently used, does not prove that one or the other is more important; rather, it indicates that both components must be considered. Usage statistics provide important information about the value of a journal on a campus, but they are more likely to reflect the value of the journal as a teaching resource than as a research resource. Both perspectives should be taken into account when using these data to help make subscription decisions.”

    For more information on JSTOR usage statistics, check

    Kristin reports another interesting use of JSTOR which is illustrated by Fred R. Shapiro, who has searched the JSTOR archives to determine the history of new English words and phrases.

    “Unlike other dictionaries, the OED [Oxford English Dictionary — available on CD in the NSF Library] is an historical dictionary in which word usage is traced backed to earliest instance of occurrence. Fred discussed what an enormous task compiling the OED was in the past — thousands of readers using index cards searched through written material for the first instances of words. These were submitted to the OED on 3 x 5 cards, and, until now, submissions have been accepted on faith.

    Now, with JSTOR’s broad coverage, the ability to search across disciplines, and the ability to sort by date, it is possible to search for word origins much more easily. Fred has been using JSTOR for some time to document earlier usage of several words. … One memorable correction he has made from research in JSTOR is in the date of the phrase ‘lies, damned lies, statistics.’ This phrase has previously been attributed to Mark Twain. Fred discovered this phrase in an 1896 statistics journal (Baines, J. A. ‘Parliamentary Representation in England Illustrated by the Elections of 1892 and 1895.’ Journal of the Royal Statistical Society. Vol. 59, No. 1., pp. 38–124).”


    Plant and Cell Physiology

    Plant and Cell Physiology: US/Canada
    Plant and Cell Physiology: International
    Plant and Cell Physiology (PCP) is an international journal devoted to the publication of original papers in the biological sciences including: physiology, biochemistry, biophysics, chemistry, molecular biology, cell biology and gene engineering of plants and micro-organisms. PCP online contains the full content of each issue of the journal, including all figures and tables, beginning with the July 2000 issue (Volume 41, Number 7). The full text is searchable by keyword, and the cited references include hyperlinks to Medline and to the online full text of many other frequently cited journals.

    Through the rest of 2000, the online journal is available through a free-trial period. After that time, access to the full-text of articles is by institutional license, which comes with all institutional subscriptions, or by individual subscription available to print subscribers. All other access (e.g., to Abstracts, eTOCs, searching, Instructions to Authors) is freely available.

    EMBO Reports

    EMBO Reports: US/Canada
    EMBO Reports: International
    EMBO Reports consists of three sections. In the Science & Society section is material on the impact that politics, society, and the financial world have on the environment in which sciences, especially life sciences, are performed. Equally, it will show the consequences for society of the latest scientific research.

    The Reviews section provides high-quality reviews of the latest scientific developments, reports on papers of importance which are published in other scientific journals, and incisive reports of meetings at which the latest data are presented.

    The final section of EMBO Reports contains shorter, sharply focused scientific reports. These studies from all areas of molecular life sciences are characterised by their quality as well as their interest to readers who are not specialists in that topic. The refereeing process is rapid and expert with weekly online publication of accepted reports to facilitate speedy dissemination.

    Access to the full-text of articles is free during 2000, but from 2001 will be by institutional license, which comes with all institutional subscriptions, or by individual subscription available to print subscribers. All other access (e.g., to Abstracts, e-ToCs, searching, Instructions to Authors) is freely available.

    Acoustics Research Letters Online (ARLO)
    On July 1, 2000 the Acoustical Society of America will launch its second archival journal, Acoustics Research Letters Online (ARLO), the international electronic letters journal of acoustics. For the prior 15 months ARLO appeared in the Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, JASA (print and online), as part of the initial testing period. ARLO introduces several advances that promise to be a model for all publishers of scientific research. In particular, ARLO offers authors rapid peer review and publication of their letter-sized submissions (in as little as one month) with its unique Manuscript Management System (MMS), co-developed with the American Institute of Physics (which calls the system Sci-Edit). Authors are also invited to submit multimedia content, which is reviewed and archived, as well as color figures when appropriate.

    Readers of ARLO have a special benefit as well: ARLO is free to individual readers possessing Netscape or Internet Explorer browsers, guaranteeing maximum worldwide dissemination of authors’ research results. Authors pay a manuscript fee, and libraries are asked to pay a nominal subscription fee to support the editorial process, as well as archiving, linking, search functions, and security, which are provided by our publisher, the American Institute of Physics.


    The Top American Research Universities (2000) [.pdf, Excel]
    Created by the Lombardi Program on Measuring University Performance, part of _TheCenter_, a privately funded research enterprise focused on the humanities and social sciences, this site offers an alternative to the better-known published university rankings. Claiming that most of these rankings “rely on relatively unreliable data” and “focus attention on relatively insignificant differences among similar institutions,” the site offers an analysis and data set that rank private and public research universities in accord with nine institutional characteristics: total research expenditures, federal research expenditures, endowment assets, annual giving, faculty members in the National Academies, faculty awards, doctoral degrees, postdoctoral appointees, and entering freshmen SAT scores. The survey then places them in tiers based on how many top-25 mentions they get. A description of the methodology and the rankings and data tables (in .pdf and Excel format) are easily accessed from the main page. [MD] (From the Scout Report)

    New Scientist: The Last Word
    More than a thousand questions on scientific phenomena receive articulate answers from readers of the London-based weekly science news magazine, “The New Scientist.” View responses to queries about bubbles, liquids, and ice; gadgets and inventions; and mysteries and illusions. It’s easy to submit an answer or post a new question to the unanswered questions file. And if you enjoy the eccentric nooks and crannies of scientific exploration, consider the drunken slug at the bottom of the bottle or the whimsical little people effect. (From Yahoo’s Picks of the Week)

    Workshop Envisions National Information Infrastructure for the Physical Sciences
    “The time is now, the need is now” was the conclusion of a workshop held May 30–31, 2000, at the National Academy of Sciences to address issues and gaps in communicating and using information in the physical sciences. A panel of distinguished experts in science, science policy, information science, and scientific publishing envisions a far-reaching, comprehensive information infrastructure for the physical sciences to increase the productivity of the scientific enterprise in the United States.

    Scientists are changing the way science is being done, and traditional means of access to the scholarly record are no longer sufficient to meet researchers’ needs and expectations. Rapid advances in information technology are dramatically altering the nature of scientific communications and are providing ways to realize what could only be envisioned in the past. The report emphasizes that the ability to compete is based on an ability to know quickly.

    Information Contact: Dr. Walter L. Warnick, Director, Office of Scientific and Technical Information, (301) 903-7996,

    Deja Vu
    The Web hasn’t really been around for that long, but much has changed in its short history and, in Internet years, a lot has happened. That’s why, when you come across a historical survey of “the Web as we remember it,” it’s perfectly fine to use lines like “re-live an era” or “read about the old times.” Deja Vu makes it clear: we’ve browsed a long way, baby. Check out the site’s browser emulator, a nifty, interactive tool that allows you to experience “web surfing” as it happened on the old classics: NCSA Mosaic, Mosaic Netscape, Lynx, line-mode browser, and others. It’s history in the making so, um, “gopher it.” (From Yahoo’s Picks of the Week)

    GPO New Electronic Titles
    A new service, named New Electronic Titles (NET), will help in locating electronic Federal Government information titles. This tool replaces the Browse Electronic Titles (BET) locator service.

    Each week the NET will contain a list of newly identified online U.S. Government information products added to the FDLP/Electronic Collection (EC). Entries will appear in a true title arrangement. Users will be linked to information products on GPO Access, Federal agency websites, FDLP partnerships and the FDLP/EC archive.

    As part of this service, LPS will announce the availability of all new congressional hearings that are to be placed on GPO servers and made available through GPO Access. After four weeks, the oldest NET list will be moved to the NET archive.

    Full bibliographic information for the new titles and former BET entries will be available in the online Catalog of U.S. Government Publications (CGP) The CGP is the prime resource for identifying, locating, and accessing both tangible and online U.S. Government information products.

    Adaptive Technology for the Internet: Making Electronic Resources Available to All
    On July 24, the American Library Association (ALA) announced that the full text of Barbara Mates’s best-selling book is now online and free to all users. Geared toward librarians planning for the accessibility of electronic resources, the book lays out how to “become ADA compliant, publicize efforts and welcome a new community of users to the library.” Technologies covered include HTML coding for accessibility, screen readers, voice recognition systems, and hearing assistance devices. Offered by chapter in HTML format, this book is an invaluable resource for library staff and anyone interested in accessibility issues and electronic resources. [MD] (From the Scout Report)

    TransHub — The Encyclopedia of Terminology
    Created and maintained by Michael Molin, this metasite and mailing list indexes a very large number of glossaries, dictionaries, and encyclopedias in a wide variety of disciplines. Aimed at translators, TransHub has considerable potential for almost any user. The index is navigated via a pull-down menu at the bottom of the browser window, which lists resources by category (General, Legal, Business, Computer, Technical, Science, Medical, and Social) and topic. After selecting a topic, users must click on the pull-down menu again to select individual resources. The front page also offers a number of links to major search engines. Clicking on the Enter graphic on the main page leads users to the archive of the TransHub mailing list, which apparently lists all the new additions to the site on a monthly basis. Here users can read the logs, subscribe, or perform a keyword search of the archives. Free registration is required to use this section, but not the index on the main site. [MD] (From the Scout Report)

    LC21: A Digital Strategy For the Library of Congress
    This report, commissioned by the National Research Council and made available by the National Academy Press (last mentioned in the February 6, 1999 _Scout Report_) takes a hard look at the impact of digital information on the Library of Congress’s traditional mission (and by implication, the mission of all US libraries) to collect, preserve, and make accessible the intellectual work of the American people. Even though the American Memory Website created by the Library of Congress is hugely successful and a national model for digitizing historical collections, the report points out that the problem of collecting and preserving materials that are “born digital” is far more urgent. New digital information is being created at a rapid pace, and much of it is more ephemeral than the paper-based materials now become digital at American Memory. The report not only outlines the problem clearly, but makes recommendations for action. For example, the report urges the Library to immediately define policies for collecting Websites created in the US, and to form a high-level planning group to develop digital preservation strategies. LC21 is fascinating reading for all crystal ball gazers concerned with the future of libraries. [DS] (From the Scout Report)

    We are pleased to announce DoIS (Documents in Information Science). DoIS is a bibliographic database of articles and conference proceedings published in electronic format in the area of Library and Information Science. DoIS is based in the RePEc ( open library model that has a large following in the Economics discipline. In that model, publishers of documents provide data about their documents on public access servers. These data are available for the use in digital libraries. RePEc has collected data about 26,000 electronic papers through 140 contributing archives. It is currently the largest distributed library of research papers in the world.

    Biological Sciences

    The Comprehensive Microbial Resource (CMR) Home Page — TIGR
    The Institute for Genomic Research (TIGR) has launched the searchable Comprehensive Microbial Resource (CMR), offering access to data from all (TIGR) genome sequences completed to date. From the _Aeropyrum pernix K1_ genome through _Vibrio cholerae El Tor N16961_, all genomes or subsets of each may be queried. The CMR includes the Omniome database containing sequences, annotations, and associated information “such as taxon and gram stain pattern, the structure and composition of their DNA molecules … and many attributes of the protein sequences predicted from the DNA sequence (such as pI and molecular weight).” Genome researchers will find this new CMR tool useful, as it allows users to mine completed genomes in ways not previously possible. [LXP] (From the Scout Report)

    The Big Picture Book of Viruses
    As it’s name suggests, this website offers a simple, bright, and bold guide to the fascinating world of viruses (fortunately, not of the LoveBug variety). Whether you want to search for a picture by virus name, by structure type, by host, or by the type of disease that the virus causes — all needs are catered for. And for all budding virologists out there, you even have the opportunity to contribute your own virus pictures. Check out the link to tutorials and on-line courses, which offer a basic but comprehensive grounding in this diverse subject. (From New Scientist Planet Science)

    The Extinction Files
    Part of the BBC Evolution website, this visually attractive site focuses on natural mass extinctions, presenting descriptions of the events, species affected, theories, and a nice selection of hotlinks.

    The Santa Cruz Predatory Bird Research Group
    Get wrapped up in raptors or take a bird’s eye view and get hung up on hawks with the SCPBRG. Formed in 1975, the Group helped bring the peregrine falcon population of California bank from the brink and has become a serious resource for agency biologists, industry, and university researchers looking for expertise in avian problem solving and management of raptors and other birds. The Group is actually part of the University and is truly a site with hidden talons. (From New Scientist Planet Science)


    AVEL — Australasian Virtual Engineering Library
    Launched on July 8 by a consortium of universities and professional groups, this metasite serves as a gateway for engineers and information technology professionals, with over 2,000 categorized and annotated links to Australasian resources. The database is searchable by keyword or browseable by seven major categories and numerous sub-categories. The site also features a search engine for full-text papers that displays abstracts as well as a link to the full text. Additional resources include job and conference notices, and a latest resources added section. [MD] (From the Scout Report)

    Androids Among Us
    “ This site is devoted to androids. An android is an anthropomorphic robot — i.e. a robot that looks like a human. Many android developers call their creations ”humanoids” rather than androids. We also have robotics links, robot links, animatronics links, and research links.” This site is extensive and fascinating. It includes: World’s greatest android projects, Entertainment androids Valerie, a Domestic Android, World’s largest robotics sites, World’s smallest video cameras, Smaller android projects, Historical android projects, Androids and robots in the movies, Fun Animatronics Sites, Android sub-assembly projects, NASA Anthropomorphic Projects and more. Lots of illustrations add to the sites considerable appeal. (Thanks to BriefMe Magazine)

    Field Cameras of the United States: 1879–1930
    The years following the Civil War were exhilarating times for imaging technology, with a surge of innovation in the design and manufacture of field cameras. This homespun database for collectors of these early cameras is hosted by Mr. “Matthew_Brady” and built on his research at the George Eastman House. You’ll find intriguing images and descriptions of these hefty, accordion-like antiques, including details of construction, materials, dimensions, and notes on additional camera features. (From Yahoo’s Picks of the Week)


    Geomatics Canada
    “Geomatics Canada,” a web resource sponsored by Natural Resources Canada/Ressources Naturelles Canada, with the goal of a better understanding of the environment, accesses a broad range of subjects related to geomatics. “Geomatics is the science and technology of gathering, analyzing, interpreting, distributing and using geographic information. Geomatics encompasses a broad range of disciplines that can be brought together to create a detailed but understandable picture of the physical world and our place in it. These disciplines include: 1.) surveying & mapping; 2.) remote sensing; 3.) geographic information systems (GIS); and 4.) global positioning system (GPS).” From this site, for example, one can find information on how to obtain geospatial data and satellite photography of Canada. There is also a link to the on-line “National Atlas of Canada”, “Canadian Earth Observation Network”, and other sites. (From Infomine)

    Earthquake Hazards Program — USGS [.pdf]
    National Earthquake Information Center Home Page
    Announced this week, this site will serve as a portal to all US Geological Survey (USGS) earthquake information, both real-time and historic. At the site, visitors can find information on past, present, and predicted future earthquake activity; access a range of publications, maps, and fact sheets; use a number of earthquake education activities; link to various earthquake research centers; and read in-depth information on selected recent earthquakes worldwide. While the site does offer some detailed information, it is probably still best suited for K–12 students and general users. Researchers and university students will continue to use the National Earthquake Information Center, which offers a searchable database, near real-time earthquake coordinate information, and global seismograph station information, among other resources. [MD] (From the Scout Report)

    Oceans of Kansas
    This Website is the labor of love of Mike Everhart, who in 1978 found his first mosasaur, an extinct giant marine reptile that resembles an overgrown crocodile. From that point forward, Everhart devoted his energy to hunting for fossils of marine reptiles, and he now is Adjunct Curator of Paleontology at the Sternberg Museum of Natural History. Oceans of Kansas provides information about life in the Cretaceous Western Interior Seaway, a broad sea that once stretched across much of modern day America, including Kansas. The Smoky Hills Chalk of Kansas contains hundreds of marine reptile fossils, and visitors to this Website can view color illustrations and images of mosasaurs, plesiosaurs, and other marine reptile fossils from Kansas and all over the world. This site combines original writings by Everhart with links to other excellent resources on the Western Interior Seaway, marine reptiles, and general paleontology. Oceans of Kansas is updated regularly with many paleontological researchers adding links. Recent features include exciting new reconstruction paintings from the Paleo-Life Art page and a color photo of a newly restored mosasaur skull from the Pierre Shale of South Dakota. Whether you are a practicing paleontologist or just a natural history buff, this information-rich site is not to be missed. [HCS] (From the Scout Report)

    Polar Programs

    Wired Antarctica
    Learn more about Antarctica; why is it important and what you can learn there. Researchers from prestigious institutions in Canada and the U.S. put together this site with lessons, worksheets, activities, and loads of information about this frozen continent. (From Blue Web’n)

    Mathematical and Physical Sciences

    Entropy on the World Wide Web
    This directory covers entropy in several areas that include: information and coding theory, dynamical systems, logic and the theory of algorithms, statistical inference and prediction, the physical sciences, economics, biology, and the humanities and social sciences. Each category includes a brief overview of the role of entropy, links to on-line articles and textbooks, and suggestions for further off-line reading. — cl (From the Librarian’s Index to the Internet)

    Element Games
    Element Games, from Jefferson Lab, is a series of Internet based games (Java) to test your knowledge of the elements and memory skills. Element concentration tests your memory as you have a series of cards, which you are given time to view face up, before they are turned face down and you have to remember where each cars/element was. Element Hangman or rather the vanishing atom man, is pretty much like any other hangman game except in this case you have to guess the element before the atom man loses all of his constituent particles. With the Elemental Flash cards you have to supply either the element’s name or it’s chemical symbol. With the Element Matching Game you need to match the element with the symbol. The Elemental Math gets a bit more tricky as you have to calculate protons, neutrons or electrons of the element from the information supplied. There are a couple of puzzles to print out for use in the classroom, bingo and a word search. I'm not saying that chemistry isn’t fun but this is definitely a more fun way of committing the elements to memory than merely repeating them over and over again in sequence. (From Chemweb)

    Scuba Physics
    While one of the Alchemist Ed’s is off on his hols, diving nonetheless, webpicks found a site with Buoyancy and Gas Laws, as applied to diving. So there is a practical value to paying attention in class to all those Laws derived many moons ago. These pages hosted by go from buoyancy, and understanding The Archimedes Principle, to Dalton’s Law and the partial pressure of gases, paying particular attention to oxygen and nitrogen, of course! There is also a Java Pressure / Volume Calculator, which uses Boyle’s Law to calculate volume changes with depth. It might be worth looking at the Introduction to Gas Theory before diving into Boyle’s Law, if you’ll pardon the pun. (From ChemWeb)

    Particle Accelerators
    “By accelerating particles to very high energies and smashing them into targets, or into each other physicists can unravel the forces acting between them. CERN’s accelerators are amongst the world’s largest and most complex scientific instruments. Built at the leading edge of technology, these are some of the finest monuments of 20th century science.” This site from CERN has a wealth of information, nicely illustrated, on how the varieties of particle accelerators work, the accelerators at CERN, and various uses for these fabulous machines.

    Glossary of Mathematical Mistakes
    “This is a list of mathematical mistakes made over and over by advertisers, the media, reporters, politicians, activists, and in general many non-math people.” Includes the mistake of the month (this month it is mysterious alternative movie soundtracks), mistake archive, math mistakes in the news, puzzles and problems, sources and links. This website is fun, even for folks who don’t like math! (Thanks to BriefMe Magazine)

    The Mathematical Atlas
    “A brief tour of the broad subfields of mathematics. It is our intention that this tour provide enough description of the terrain to help you select the heading of the Mathematics Subject Classification appropriate for a specific inquiry. (There are 63 main headings and thousands of subheadings; the areas with index pages of their own offer a tour of their subareas and links to adjacent territory.)” This interesting website provides definitions, brief history, bibliographies, and brief explanations of every area of mathematics.

    The Two Micron All Sky Survey at IPAC

    2MASS Second Incremental Data Release Gallery
    2MASS Homepage
    On July 14, NASA announced the public release of a huge collection of images (1.9 million) from the Two-Micron All Sky Survey (2MASS), the most thorough census of stars ever made. Using two automated, 51-inch telescopes, one in Arizona and the other in Chile, the three-year-old survey has so far taken images of half a million galaxies and 162 million stars. By its completion in 2001, the survey’s catalogs will contain more than 300 million objects. A sampling of these images has been placed online at the 2MASS site at the Infrared Processing and Analysis Center (IPAC) at the California Institute of Technology. The twelve-page gallery contains some amazing images, including the center of the Milky Way, the Sombrero galaxy, the Crab Nebula, and the Dark Nebula, offered as large thumbnails which link to a full-sized image. Users can learn more about 2MASS at the survey’s homepages at Caltech and the University of Massachusetts. [MD] (From the Scout Report)

    The Spacewatch Project, University of Arizona Lunar and Planetary Laboratory
    Last week, collaborators from Harvard and University of Arizona astronomy labs announced their discovery of a new moon, S/1999, orbiting Jupiter. Details of the discovery and other interesting developments in astronomy can be found at the Spacewatch Project page, provided by the University of Arizona Lunar and Planetary Laboratory. The Hot News page houses black-and-white .gif images of the new outer Jovian Satellite, S/1999. A timeline of Spacewatch history, table of asteroid detections, and an archive of images (also black-and-white) from Spacewatch telescopes are among the features of this site. For those interested in the mechanical aspect of the project, full-color images of the Spacewatch telescopes accompanied by descriptions and diagrams and a summary of survey scanning and object recovery techniques are available. Other parts of the site include Publications, People, Funding, and Links. [HCS] (From the Scout Report)

    Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences

    APA — What Makes a Good President?
    How do Bush and Gore match up to the key characteristics the American Psychological Asso. has rated in past presidents? Check out this interesting news release and make your determination.

    Neuroscience Tutorial
    The Washington University School of Medicine provides this impressive, illustrated tutorial on clinical neuroscience, offered in conjunction with the University’s first-year course for medical students. Beginning with a graphic introduction to the brain (Coronal and horizontal sections), the site covers the essentials of clinical neuroscience including the Basic visual pathway; Basic somatosensory pathway; Basic motor pathway; Auditory and vestibular systems; Spinal motor structures; Basal ganglia and cerebellum; and Sleep and language, among other topics. Each section is illustrated with color graphics accompanied by text. The site also includes an index (for improved navigation), as well as a series of links. [LXP] (From the Scout Report)
    Designed as a one-stop information source for economists and economics students, offers an information-rich collection of economics resources. One of the highlights of the site, the research section, includes a vast collection of links to tried-and-true resources from organizations including the Census Bureau, the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Federal Reserve System, and the United Nations. The links are sensibly organized for browsing, and can also be searched by keyword. Economicsearch also contains several tutorials and a _Gazette_ of research and opinion pieces on topics including the Asia Crisis and the Microsoft monopoly. Interested users will want to subscribe to the weekly electronic newsletter _EconNews_ for the latest economics-related news. [EM] (From the Scout Report)

    Folk Psychology vs. Mental Simulation: How Minds Understand Minds [.pdf]
    This Website “provides access to work that was discussed at, inspired by, or is otherwise relevant to the seminar ‘Folk Psychology vs. Mental Simulation: How Minds Understand Minds,’ a National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Seminar for College Teachers held at the University of Missouri-St. Louis” last July. Folk Psychology and Mental Simulation are two competing theories designed to explain how “people understand, predict, and explain one another’s actions, thoughts, and motivations”; both have implications for the understanding and possible treatment of Autism among other conditions. The site currently features fifteen articles and papers — some with abstracts — with another ten to be added soon. Titles include “Autism and the ‘Theory of Mind’ Debate,” “Developing Commonsense Psychology: Experimental Data and Philosophical Data,” and “A Cognitive Theory of Pretense.” Articles are available in .pdf or HTML formats. [DC] (From the Scout Report)

    American Indians of the Pacific Northwest
    The American Indians of the Pacific Northwest is the product of the University of Washington Libraries and this digital collection integrates over 2,300 photographs and 7,700 pages of text relating to the American Indians in two cultural areas of the Pacific Northwest, the Northwest Coast and Plateau. These resources illustrate many aspects of life and work, including housing, clothing, crafts, transportation, education, and employment. The materials are drawn from the extensive collections of the University of Washington Libraries, the Cheney Cowles Museum/Eastern Washington State Historical Society in Spokane, and the Museum of History and Industry in Seattle.

    Pharaohs of the Sun: Akhenaten, Nefertiti, Tutankhamen [QuickTime]
    This new online exhibit coincides with the installation of over 250 objects from the time of the Pharaohs which opened at the Art Institute of Chicago last week. The Website gives visitors the chance to view over 100 artifacts from the exhibit, complete with descriptions of the objects and their cultural contexts. Since many of the objects are three-dimensional, a QuickTime application lets users rotate the object 240 degrees in either direction and zoom in on details. Other sections of the site provide image-supplemented commentary on religion, art, culture, and daily life in the time of Akhenaten as well as descriptions of the excavations that brought the artifacts to the museum and an interactive explanation of how archaeologists piece their finds together. A section of educational materials for teachers is also included. [DC] (From the Scout Report)

    German Socio-Economic Panel (GSOEP): A Representative Longitudinal Study of Private Households in the Federal Republic of Germany [SPSS, SAS, TDA, STATA, and ASCII]
    The German Socio-Economic Panel (GSOEP) is a wide-ranging representative longitudinal study of private households in Germany. The same private households, persons and families have been surveyed annually since 1984. In June of 1990, “the survey was extended to include the territory of the former German Democratic Republic (GDR).” Some 5,900 households participated in the first survey in 1984, and 4,285 households were included in the latest wave in 1998, giving the survey a high degree of stability. Topics in the survey study include household composition, occupational and family biographies, employment and professional mobility, earnings, health, and personal satisfaction. Separate topical modules also cover such issues as social security, education, time allocation, and family and social services. According to its creators, “the GSOEP data give researchers the opportunity to observe and to analyze political and social transformations.” In addition, the site’s search engine features extensive search capabilities that provide detailed information on the variables in the GSOEP dataset. Users can determine statistical parameters and then output frequencies information, item correspondence, and even generate SPSS, SAS, TDA (6.1), and Stata (4.0) command files. [DC] (From the Scout Report)

    Computer Sciences

    Making the Macintosh
    This project chronicles the seminal history of Apple’s Macintosh computer via primary source documents, interviews, and images. Scholar Theodore Roszak writes about the connection between sixties and seventies counterculture and the rise of personal computing in “From Satori to Silicon Valley.” An essay called “Technical Writing and the Macintosh” highlights the unique symbiosis between documentation and development as the Macintosh evolved. Papers on the role of user groups, the design of the mouse, and the influence of innovative marketing strategies offer tools to understand public adaptation of new technologies, then and now.

    Nug 30 Quadratic Assignment Problem Solved by 1,000 Computers
    The MetaNEOS Project, a collaboration between computational optimization researchers and the Condor and Globus metacomputing teams, presents this site covering the solution to nug30 Quadratic Assignment Problem (QAP). The nug30 QAP is a problem that challenged the optimization technology community from 1968 until this June, when researchers at the University of Iowa and Argonne National Laboratories announced that they had solved the problem in seven days using 1,000 computers at 30 locations. This site furnishes general information about QAPs, the history of the nug30 QAP, links to press releases, a list of the computational pool of processors used in solving the problem, and links to some of the computational optimization labs involved. This information-rich, newsy resource will appeal to many computer scientists. [HCS] (From the Scout Report)

    Free Access to IT Knowledge Academic Edition has/is planning to offer an academic version of its, the service that offers access to the full-text of trade books in computer science.

    Free access to the Academic Edition will be available until August 15, 2000 from using the following logon information [User name: MU1, Password: 7q7q7q (if required)]

    General information on the Academic edition is available at:

    IT is a most impressive service with a remarkable collection of computer books. (Thanks to Gerry McKiernan)


    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 U.S. Department of Defense has procured an IBM supercomputer to model the behavior of the world’s oceans, helping to protect military and commercial ships from maritime disaster. The IBM RS/6000 SP will monitor the ocean’s behavior, predict weather and ocean conditions, simulate battle situations, and design new aircraft and ships. “High performance technology of this magnitude gives us unparalleled capabilities in the daily ocean and global scale modeling we perform to support worldwide DOD operations,” said Landry Bernard, technical director of the Naval Oceanographic Office, where the IBM RS/6000 SP will be installed. The RS/6000 SP uses 1,336 Power3-II copper microprocessors to power its 2 trillion calculations per second, which makes it 170 times faster than “Deep Blue,” the IBM computer that beat chess champion Gary Kasparov. IBM beat out five other vendors to win the contract, which is valued at $12 million.
    (Federal Computer Week Online, 4 Aug 2000 via Edupage).

    The National Academy of Sciences released a report yesterday severely criticizing how the Library of Congress has conducted the archiving of electronic material. The report says the library has neither the digital storage capacity nor the technical expertise necessary to preserve the immense amount of copyrighted material based on the Internet and other electronic sources. Furthermore, the library is so dependent on bureaucratic measures that it cannot react quickly enough to preserve Web sites and other such media that may not exist for long. For example, there is no record of Web sites that went offline before 1996. The library has acknowledged its shortcomings, but its head librarian cautions that the library is likely to be short on funding for its electronic archives. Still, the head librarian believes that the library will be able to maintain these archives through partnerships with other libraries and institutions as well as advances in the library’s own archiving systems. The Library of Congress, like all major research libraries, must also determine what part of the wealth of electronic content is worthy of saving.
    (New York Times, 27 July 2000 via Edupage).

    The Web is expanding so rapidly that today’s search engines only cover a fraction of the existing pages, but some companies are developing new search software that will tap the volumes of information that are now part of the so-called “invisible Web.” BrightPlanet, a company that offers sophisticated search software called LexiBot, on Wednesday released a study estimating that the Web is 500 times larger than the segment covered by standard search engines such as Yahoo! and AltaVista. Although the Web now holds about 550 billion documents, search engines index a combined total of 1 billion pages, BrightPlanet says. One reason that search engines have not kept up with the number of pages on the Web is that data is increasingly stored in large databases maintained by government agencies, universities, and companies. The dynamic information housed in databases is difficult for traditional search engines to access, because the search software is designed to locate static pages. However, BrightPlanet created its LexiBot to find information in databases, as well as data that is covered by traditional search engines. LexiBot targets advanced users in the academic and scientific communities.
    (CNet, 26 July 2000 via Edupage).

    An Internet kiosk was installed in a grocery store in Washington, D.C., on Thursday, as part of a federal effort to form a closer link between the government and citizens. The General Services Administration (GSA) is testing the kiosks, and has already sent the devices to several other cities. The $10,000 kiosk provides information about birth certificates, driver’s licenses, student loans, taxes, and Social Security. Users can also print out federal and local forms and e-mail elected officials. The kiosks will help D.C. and federal governments to better serve constituents, says D.C. Deputy Mayor Norman Dong. The GSA has purchased 36 kiosks, all of which will contain the same federal information. Meanwhile, local governments will be able to customize their section of the kiosks to provide information relevant to their specific region. Although few shoppers noticed the new D.C. kiosk, one user suggested that the device might catch on as people become more comfortable with technology.
    (Washington Times, 31 July 2000 via Edupage).

    Educators and students are beginning to understand both the advantages and the hardships of online education. Online classes have enjoyed tremendous growth in popularity in recent years. For example, the number of online students at the University of Phoenix has grown 60 percent in each of the past three years. Many students in online classes believe they work harder than those in comparable “real-world” classes. Online students often find themselves checking their classes’ discussion sites seven days a week in order to keep up with their instructors and classmates, and some claim instructors are more likely to challenge students whom they cannot see. Teachers also must struggle to keep up with a large number of students, many of whom expect round-the-clock assistance. However, some teachers laud online classes for forcing students to participate in order to succeed. These teachers also believe online classes stimulate the thinking process in a way traditional classes cannot. Still, many observers believe online classes require some real-world interaction, if only the occasional phone call between professor and student. Furthermore, observers recommend online classes only for graduate or continuing education students.
    (Baltimore Sun, 31 July 2000 via Edupage).

    The National Science Foundation yesterday awarded $45 million to the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center to purchase a new supercomputer from Compaq. The new supercomputer will perform 6 trillion mathematical operations each second, making it the fastest nonmilitary supercomputer in the world, Compaq claims. The most powerful military supercomputer, currently being installed in Livermore, Calif., will be able to perform 12 trillion mathematical operations each second. The foundation intends its award to help make civilian supercomputers more comparable to these powerful military computers. After its installation is completed in 2001, the new Pittsburgh supercomputer will be employed for a wide range of scientific projects such as climate modeling and materials science, and scientists are excited about the potential discoveries the powerful new computer could permit. Industry observers were surprised when the foundation selected Compaq rather than supercomputer giants IBM or Intel to build the new machine.
    (New York Times, 4 Aug 2000 via Edupage).

    The U.S. Army is seeking technology partners to implement and support its online equivalent of the GI Bill of Rights for veterans. Dubbed the Army University Access Online project, the U.S. Army’s single-contract, multiple-vendor deal is intended to help recruit and retain soldiers and build an IT skilled soldier and civilian base. The winning vendor must build the site and supply each soldier with a laptop, printer, an ISP account, and a comprehensive array of university and college courses. Rewiring military facilities and administrative support and training also come with the $550 million, six-year contract to be awarded by December. The ultimate goal is to have all one million Army soldiers and their spouses enjoying access to the program, but recruits are expected to have laptops by January.
    (DG News Service, 2 Aug 2000 via Edupage).

    Although a larger number of Americans have high-speed Internet access, such service is not as prevalent in rural, inner-city, and tribal locations, according to a report released yesterday by the FCC. The Congress-mandated report revealed that in Zip codes representing 91 percent of the U.S. population, there is some level of high-speed Internet access. However, such services are overwhelmingly offered in wealthy urban and suburban locations, which some experts believe highlights the “digital divide” that is developing in terms of race and wealth. FCC Chairman William E. Kennard says the market must be closely monitored to ensure equal access. The report found that areas with less access to high-speed services are typically those with large numbers of minorities and low-income residents. Still, just 1 percent of the American public had access to high-speed Internet services at the end of 1999, up from 0.3 percent in 1998. Kennard says the government must encourage equal access to high-speed services.
    (Washington Post, 4 Aug 2000 via Edupage).

    IT administrators on college campuses ranked the importance of a range of technology issues in a recent survey from education-technology consortium EDUCAUSE. The largest emerging issue for campus IT officials is distance education, according to the e-mail survey of 464 high-ranking administrators. Meanwhile, the top immediate concerns are obtaining financing for IT and offering technology support to faculty members. Other issues toward the top of the list include strategic planning, hiring and retaining skilled IT workers, electronic-learning environments, online student services, and network support services. Purchasing and installing campuswide administrative systems ranked as the most expensive efforts. Among the issues of lesser importance to the administrators were digital libraries, vendor relations, outsourcing, Java, and digital records management.
    (Chronicle of Higher Education Online, 3 Aug 2000 via Edupage).

    John Podesta, the White House chief of staff, opened a can of worms when he pledged to rework the nation’s privacy laws, granting e-mail and mobile phone messages the same safeguards against government monitoring that apply to telephone calls. Some privacy advocates claim the proposal would actually reduce the security Internet communications currently enjoy under the Cable Act of 1984. Although phone taps requested by federal agencies can be granted under suspicion of probable cause, the Cable Act can only grant a tap on a cable modem user’s e-mail with a court order based on “clear and convincing evidence” of criminal activity. Cable Act supporters like Marc Rotenberg, director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, do not want the government to make the telephone wiretap law the privacy baseline, and say the tip-off to surveillance targets is important as well. Fellow Cable Act supporter Barry Steinhardt, associate director of the ACLU, agrees that the Cable Act should be the security baseline. Supporters of the Clinton administration’s plan include Peter P. Swire, the federal chief privacy officer, who says that the reduction of cable privacy laws is necessary to prevent Internet networks from becoming centers of criminal activity.
    (New York Times Online, 4 Aug 2000 via Edupage).


    Baseball Heckle Depot
    Need some snappy one-liners to torment the opponents’s right fielder? Did the umps forget their glasses again? The Baseball Heckle Depot will serve all your heckling needs, with over 660 wisecracks and putdowns. Organized by heckle recipient (umpires, pitchers, fielders, and batters), the site is easy to navigate, also offering chants, posters, and some ballplayer comebacks. Other content includes a ranked list of ballpark fans and a heckling hall of fame. Users can also print out the visiting team’s roster (and follow a link to their salaries) and vote for the heckle of the month. [MD] (From the Scout Report)

    Error Message Haiku
    In Japan, they have replaced the impersonal and unhelpful Microsoft error messages with their own Japanese haiku poetry, each only 17 syllables, 5 syllables in the first line, 7 in the second, five in the third…

    Oh, a file that big?
    It might be very useful.
    But now it is gone.

    The Web site you seek
    Cannot be located but
    Countless more exist.

    Chaos reigns within.
    Reflect, repent, and reboot.
    Order shall return.

    Aborted effort:
    Close all that you have worked on.
    You ask far too much.

    Windows NT crashed.
    I am the Blue Screen of Death.
    No one hears your screams.

    Yesterday it worked.
    Today it is not working.
    Windows is like that.

    First snow, then silence.
    This thousand dollar screen dies
    So beautifully.

    With searching comes loss
    And the presence of absence:
    My Novel? not found.

    The Tao that is seen
    Is not the true Tao until
    You bring fresh toner.

    Stay the patient course.
    Of little worth is your ire.
    The network is down.

    A crash reduces
    Your expensive computer
    To a simple stone.

    Three things are certain:
    Death, taxes, and lost data.
    Guess which has occurred.

    You step in the stream,
    But the water has moved on.
    This page is not here.

    Out of memory.
    We wish to hold the whole sky,
    But we never will.

    Having been erased,
    The document you’re seeking
    Must now be retyped.

    Serious error.
    All shortcuts have disappeared.
    Screen. Mind. Both are blank.

    (Thanks to Wendell Piez)