Sci-Tech Library Newsletter
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- CHEMISTRY PREPRINTS DATABASE: This service from ChemWeb, announced recently, is up and running.
- DOE PRESENTS TWO NEW DATABASES: R&D project summaries and science gray literature. Mentioned in the previous issue, but worth repeating.
- UK CURRENT RESEARCH DATABASE: Now you can check for ongoing research projects in the UK.
- DATABASE OF ACADEMIC JOURNALS ON THE WWW: Quality journals free on the WWW.
- NEW ELECTRONIC JOURNALS:
- INTERESTING WEBSITES, ETC.: Education statistics, science projects, digital libaries, the invisible web; Biological Sciences: groundwater biology, transgenic crops, pluripotent stem cells, palynology, sea lions, RNA; Computer Sciences: artificial life, internet use; Engineering: electronic circuits, RoboCup, flight; Geosciences: kids measuring temperature, New Zealand origins and evolution, visible earth; Polar Programs: global warming and ice caps; Mathematical and Physical Sciences: Marie Curie, superstrings, mathletics, sun spots, space day, lots of sports science; Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences: global macroeconomics, What in the World nostalgia, Teotihuacan, PsychWeb, Aboriginal languages, … and more …
- INTER ALIA: Computer humor and an archive of physics jokes.
CHEMISTRY PREPRINT SERVER UP AND RUNNING
This exciting new database from ChemWeb is now available, free. It contains abstracts and full text, and also has author contact information! It is easily searchable, offering both a basic search and advanced search screen.
“CPS is a major new initiative for the chemistry community, powered by ChemWeb.com. It is a freely available and permanent web archive and distribution medium for research articles in the field of chemistry.
Submission to the CPS is open to all and can include fully prepared articles or works in progress. Even if you don’t have a paper to submit, you can use the CPS to gain access to some of the latest chemistry research.
If your submission is one of the first 1000, you will become a ‘Preprint Pioneer’ and be awarded a commemorative certificate in recognition of your contribution in making the Chemistry Preprint Server a success and revolutionising chemistry communication.”
FEDERAL R&D PROJECT SUMMARIES
Federal R&D Project Summaries
This database is a cooperative effort between the National Science Foundation, the Department of Energy, and the National Institutes of Health. NOTE: This database contains excellent contact information for the principal investigators.
Federal R&D Project Summaries provides a portal to information about Federal research projects, complete with full-text single-query searching across databases residing at different agencies. The public may use this tool to stay better informed as to how its investment in research and development is being utilized. It also provides a unique window to the Federal research community, allowing agencies to better understand the research and development efforts of their counterparts in government.
Using research summary and awards data (over 240,000 records) from the Department of Energy, the National Institutes of Health, and the National Science Foundation, OSTI has applied a unique cross-searching capability developed by Abe Lederman, Innovative Web Applications, Inc., called Distributed Explorer. This tool allows users to select any or all of the databases containing research information and input key terms for the search query. It will then search complete, full-text records for matches from all databases selected and provide results almost instantaneously. Results can then be culled, compiled, and assimilated into useful sets of information.
Also visit GrayLIT Network [.pdf]
“the world’s most comprehensive portal to Federal gray literature,” with information on over 100,000 full-text technical reports located at the Department of Energy, Department of Defense, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).
UK CURRENT RESEARCH DATABASE
The National Research Register
The National Research Register (Great Britain) : Current Health Research Projects
“The National Research Register (NRR) is a register of ongoing and recently completed research projects funded by, or of interest to, the United Kingdom’s National Health Service. Information is held on over 50,000 research projects and is expected to grow further, as well as entries from the Medical Research Council’s Clinical Trials Register, and details on reviews in progress collected by the NHS Centre for Reviews and Dissemination.
As the most comprehensive register of current research in the NHS, it has enormous potential to:
- identify unpublished research — particularly important to systematic reviewers of research;
- provide early warning on research which may lead to important research findings;
- improve the uptake and participation in clinical trails;
- identify and bring together researchers between and across related areas of research;
- help avoid unnecessary duplication in research — a waste of resources as well as potentially unethical.
Records held on the NRR can include details on the research title, research question, methodology, sample group, outcome measures and research project contacts. Projects are indexed on an ongoing basis, using the Medical Subject Headings (MeSH) thesaurus of the National Library of Medicine.”
Records include contact information for the PI.
THE SOCIOSITE/ICAAP JOURNALS DATABASE AND DISTRIBUTION CENTRE
International Consortium for the Advancement of Academic Publication Journal List
In association with Sociosite, the International Consortium for the Advancement of Academic Publication (ICAAP) offers a database of “full text, freely available, peer reviewed (and clearly identified) scholarly journals.” In sum, the site features over 70 periodicals — many of them in the fields of the social sciences and humanities. Relevant subject headings include environmental studies, history, humanities, philosophy, political science, religious studies, and sociology. Each listing features a basic and expanded entry that includes information such as the type of periodical (journal, newsletter, magazine, etc.), the type of review process, the publisher, a link to the publication, and in the expanded version, the periodical’s start date, country of origin, and a brief description. In point of fact, many of the titles listed are not refereed journals, but magazines on scholarly topics with editorial, rather than peer, review. And, as is so often the case with Internet publications, some are updated more frequently than others. Nonetheless, there is much here to take advantage of, and perhaps as the field of electronic scholarly publishing evolves, this ambitious Website will evolve along with it. ICAAP “is a research and development laboratory and standards organization devoted to the advancement of electronic scholarly communication.” [DC] (From the Scout Report)
NEW ELECTRONIC JOURNALS
IEEE Intelligent Systems
IEEE Intelligent Systems, a bimonthly publication of the IEEE Computer Society, covers new tools, techniques, concepts, and current research and development activities in intelligent systems. The magazine serves software engineers, systems designers, information managers, knowledge engineers, and professionals in finance, manufacturing, medicine, law, and geophysical sciences.
Featured full-text articles are available in PDF format without a subscription. Complete access to full-text is available to members of the Computer Society who have an online subscription and an E-account.
Electronic Engineering Times
EE Times is the industry newspaper for the men and women who create the future of the business by developing a steady flow of new products. The print and online charter is to provide this audience with a trusted source of timely information to help them create competitive products and speed the development process. EETimes’ editors deliver a combination of business and technology news and provide analysis of the most important trends, events and market forces-factors impacting the product development process, as well as the careers of the engineers and managers involved.
channel-e presents news and know-how articles which consults electronics engineers, system integrators and the technical management in the area hard and software development. channel-e is an original internet supply which isn’t tied to a Print magazine.
channel-e has a mirror in russian and will reach developers and management target groups not only in the GUS but also in the “Russian enclaves” in Israel and the USA.
channel-e provide an daily newsletter in German and Russian.
American Journal of Neuroradiology
American Journal of Neuroradiology (AJNR) publishes more than 200 fully reviewed scientific papers, case reports, and technical notes in a typical year. Subject matter covers the spectrum of diagnostic imaging of the brain, head, neck, spine and organs of special sense, including aging and degenerative diseases; anatomy; the cervicothoracic junction; contrast media; experimental studies; functional imaging; iatrogenic disorders; imaging techniques and technology; inflammatory diseases; interventional techniques and technology; the larynx and lymphatics; the nasopharynx and skull base; neoplastic diseases; the nose and paranasal sinuses; oral and dental imaging; ophthalmologic and otorhinolaryngologic imaging; pediatric ENT radiology; pediatric neuroradiology and congenital malformations; the phakomatoses; radionuclide imaging; the salivary glands; seizure disorders; stroke and cerebrovascular diseases; the temporalbone; tissue characterization and trauma.
There is currently a free trial period for access to AJNR, which will be available until March 2001.
Seed Science Research
An official journal of the International Society for Seed Science (ISSS).
This print and Internet journal from CABI Publishing has established itself as the major source of original papers and review articles on fundamental aspects of seed research.
The journal also publishes short communications, book reviews, letters, editorials and research viewpoints dealing with recent and exciting developments in the field. Emphasis is on the physiology, biochemistry, molecular biology and ecology of seeds, covering the following key topics:
* Seed and embryo development * Seed biotechnology * Maturation * Dormancy * Germination * Viability * Longevity * Vigour * Chemical and structural defences * Reserve mobilization * Establishment * Ecophysiology * Seed-soil and seed-animal interactions * Computer modelling.
Free back issues This title is available to organizations with a print or Internet only subscription. Sample the 1998 issues for free on the Internet at http://hort.cabweb.org/. Subscribe today for access to issues from 1999 onwards http://hort.cabweb.org/.
American Journal of Sociology
The American Journal of Sociology is an electronic version of the print journal of the same title published by the University of Chicago Press.
Established in 1895 as the first U.S. scholarly journal in its field, the American Journal of Sociology remains a leading voice for analysis and research in the social sciences, presenting work on the theory, methods, practice, and history of sociology. The journal also seeks the application of perspectives from other social sciences and publishes papers by psychologists, anthropologists, statisticians, economists, educators, historians, and political scientists.
Intended audience: psychologists, anthropologists, statisticians, economists, educators, historians, and political scientists.
As of January 2001 only subscribers will be granted access to the journal’s electronic version. The current issue is available to browse until then.
Current Issues in Economics and Finance
Current Issues in Economics and Finance a newsletter focusing on specific public policy issues.
Recent Articles Include:
- Rapidly Rising Corporate Debt: Are Firms Now Vulnerable to an Economic Slowdown
- Explaining the Gap between New Home Sales and Inventories.
- New York-New Jersey Job Expansion to Continue in 2000.
- The Unreliability of Inflation Indicators.
- The Emerging Role of Banks in E-Commerce.
Abstracts can be viewed in HTML format. Full-text articles can be viewed in PDF format.
“We wish to plead our own cause. Too long have others spoken for us.”
Thus declare Samuel Cornish and John B. Russwurm on the front page of Freedom’s Journal, the first African-American owned and operated newspaper published in the United States. The Journal was published weekly in New York City from 1827 to 1829. John B. Russworm edited the journal alone between March 16, 1827 and March 28, 1829. Later, Samuel Cornish served as co-editor (March 16, 1827 to September 14, 1827). Freedom’s Journal was superseded by The Rights of All, published between 1829 and 1830 by S. E. Cornish.
Freedom’s Journal provided international, national, and regional information on current events and contained editorials declaiming slavery, lynching, and other injustices. The Journal also published biographies of prominent African-Americans and listings of births, deaths, and marriages in the African-American New York community. Freedom’s Journal circulated in 11 states, the District of Columbia, Haiti, Europe, and Canada.
The newspaper employed subscription agents. One of these, David Walker, in 1829 published the first of four articles that called for rebellion. Walker’s Appeal stated that “ … it is no more harm for you to kill the man who is trying to kill you than it is for you to take a drink of water,” this bold attack was widely read. Walker distributed copies of his pamphlet into the South, where it was widely banned.
All 103 issues of the Freedom’s Journal have been digitized and placed into Adobe Acrobat format. We have placed the first 20 issues on the website and will add the rest over the next few months.
INTERESTING WEBSITES AND OTHER NEWS FROM THE INTERNET
Two from NCES
“NAEP 1999 Trends in Academic Progress: Three Decades of Student Performance”
“Projections of Education Statistics to 2010”
The National Center for Educational Statistics (NCES) released two new reports this week. The first, a 138-page report from NCES’s National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), presents long-term trends in the performance of nine-, thirteen-, and seventeen-year-olds in reading, mathematics, and science. The NAEP has administered assessments in these three areas since the early seventies (1969 for seventeen-year-olds in science), and this report summarizes the findings, including overall national trends, trends analyzed by student subgroup (e.g., ethnicity, gender, parents’s level of education), and data on experiences at school and home that may have an impact on achievement (e.g., classroom equipment, television watching). Generally speaking, the NAEP reports that math and science performance declined in the 1970s but increased during the 1980s and early 1990s, remaining mostly stable since then. Students made modest gains in reading, and improved most clearly across the assessment years in mathematics. The second report listed is part of an ongoing series begun in 1964. The 179-page report revises projections made in last year’s “Projections of Education Statistics to 2009” (see the August 20, 1999 Scout Report), and includes national data covering the last fourteen years and projections to the year 2010 for enrollments, teachers, graduates, and expenditures; and state-level projections for enrollment graduates to the year 2010. [TK] (From the Scout Report)
Experimental Science Projects: An Introductory Level Guide
David Morano, Associate Professor at Mankato State University, has put together this introductory resource on experimental science projects. Organized into fourteen sections, this guide walks the user through the basics of hypothesis testing, from the inception of an idea through its experimental test. For each section, a brief summary is provided: Observations, Information Gathering, Title, Purpose, Hypothesis, Procedure, Materials, Data, Recording Observations, Results, Calculations, Questions, and Conclusions. To illustrate the process outlined in the guide, the site includes an example of a science project (The Effect of Salt on the Boiling Temperature of Water), with explanations of how thinking is formulated (or tested) at each stage. This resource is simple in format and will be a useful learning tool for honing critical thinking in beginning scientists. [LXP] (From the Scout Report)
Managing the Digital Future of Libraries: Proceedings [PowerPoint]
The Moscow Manifesto
Russian State Library Information Project
English and Russian translations of the proceedings from last spring’s Managing the Digital Futures of Libraries conference held in Moscow are available from the Russian State Library Information Project Website. The proceedings contain over 50 papers representing speakers from more than 20 countries addressing trends and issues related to digital libraries, as well as reports on specific projects. Among other topics, papers cover electronic serials services, electronic document delivery, digital audio collections, and digitization efforts. In addition to HTML documents, several of the papers link to PowerPoint presentations. The conference represented the final phase of a joint European Union - Russian State Library project through Tacis, an EU initiative designed to foster development in the New Independent States and Mongolia by cultivating links with organizations in the European Union. The Moscow Manifesto presents the recommendations that resulted from the conference. Users can access the Russian-language version of the site (click on Russian Federation flag) from the Russian State Library Information Project Homepage. [AG] (From the Scout Report)
CompletePlanet [.pdf, .zip]
CompletePlanet concerns itself with the “deep” Web, “content that resides in searchable databases, the results from which can only be discovered by a direct query,” and thus cannot be indexed or queried by traditional search engines. The site offers a number of resources related to the “deep” Web, including a listing of approximately 13,000 “deep” Websites (out of an estimated 100,000 total) organized in 20 subject categories. Each category breaks down into numerous topical headings, and listings for the individual sites include a description and rankings for relevance, popularity, and links. CompletePlanet’s database is also keyword searchable. The site notes both new additions and the most popular sites and offers a detailed search tutorial. Users who would like to learn more about the “deep” Web are invited to read CompletePlanet’s 41-page white paper, “The Deep Web: Surfacing Hidden Value,” offered in HTML, .pdf, and .zip formats. Users can also download a free 30-day trial version of a new utility (Lexibot) that can search the “deep” Web. The registered version costs $89.95. [MD] (From the Scout Report)
- National Estuary Program: A Collaborative Approach to Protecting Coastal Water Quality (6/15/00 ~ 14 p.in 2 sections)
- Current Economic Conditions and Selected Forecasts 6/12/00 ~ 25 p.)
- The Male-Female Wage Gap: A Fact Sheet (6/12/00 ~ 1 p.)
- U.S. National Science Foundation: An Overview (6/9/00 ~ 6 p.)
- Environmental Protection Issues in the 106th Congress (6/7/00 ~ 13 p.)
- Internet: An Overview of Key Technology Policy Issues Affecting Its Use and Growth (6/6/00 ~ 33 p.)
- The Budget for Fiscal Year 2001 (6/5/00 ~ 11 p.)
- The National Information Infrastructure: The Federal Role (6/1/00 ~ 11 p.)
- Energy Efficiency: Budget, Climate Change, and Electricity Restructuring Issues (6/1/00 ~ 15 p. in 3 sections)
- Nuclear Energy Policy (5/24/00 ~ 13 p. ~ 2 sec.)
- Global Climate Change (5/18/00 ~ 13 p. in 3 sections)
- Restructuring DOE and It’s Laboratories: Issues in the 106th Congress (5/17/00 ~ 23 p.)
- The Role of Risk Analysis and Risk Management in Environmental Protection (5/12/00 ~ 13 p.)
- Wetlands Issues (5/1/00 ~ 10 p.)
- Global Climate Change: Market Based Strategies to Reduce Greenhouse Gases (4/28/00 ~ 15 p.in 2 sec.)
- Stratospheric Ozone Depletion: Implementation Issues (4/28/00 ~ 10 p.)
- Research and Development: Priority Setting and Consolidation in Science Budgeting (4/28/00 ~ 7 p. ~ 2 sec.)
- Technology Transfer: Use of Federally Funded Research and Development (4/27/00 ~ 10 p.)
- Cooperative R&D: Federal Efforts to Promote Industrial Competitiveness (4/27/00 ~ 10 p. ~ 2 sec.)
- Industrial Competitiveness and Technological Advancement: Debate Over Governmental Policy (4/27/00 ~ 25 p. ~ 3 sec.)
- The Natural Resources and Environment Function in the FY2001 Federal Budget: An Overview of Programs and Funding (4/17/00 ~ 3 p.)
- Encryption Technology: Congressional Issues (4/7/00 ~ 7 p.)
Extremely comprehensive and of potential interest to both scientific researchers and recreational cavers. A number of sections on cave biology and geology (biospeleology), a selection of speleological abstracts and links to relevant organisations such as the National Ground Water Association and Ground Water Protection Council. (From New Scientist Planet Science)
Odyssey of Life
The Odyssey of Life comes from the US science program Nova, which provides invaluable teaching material. The site shows various species’ embryos ‘morphing’, and has an interview with pictures from a leading endoscopic photographer. Great photographs combined with eye-catching links to performing your own virtual heart transplant, or discovering that 1,000,000,000,000 bacteria live inside your body make this an entertaining site for anyone interested in life. (From New Scientist Planet Science)
Transgenic Crops: An Introduction and Resource Guide [Flash]
Developed by four professors in the Soil and Crops Sciences and Life Sciences Departments at Colorado State University, this site aims to “provide balanced information and links to other resources on the technology and issues surrounding transgenic crops (also known as genetically modified or GM crops).” None of the authors is affiliated with companies involved in transgenic crop development or with groups campaigning against such crops. The site covers topics such as plant breeding, how transgenic crops are made — including a Flash demo (not working at time of review), regulation of transgenic crops, current and future transgenic products, risks and concerns, and news updates. The authors deliberately steer clear of the moral or ethical implications of transgenic technology, staying focused on the scientific issues. Throughout the site, links are provided to related sites and other resources. Other sections include a bibliography, quiz, and FAQ. [MD] (From the Scout Report)
Wellcome Trust Picture of the Week
The mission of the Wellcome Trust is “to foster and promote research with the aim of improving human and animal health”. Each week their website has a new picture of the week, emphasizing the research and interests of the trust. There is also a picture archive. These images are startling, beautiful and high quality. Images include everything from the central nervous system of Drosophila, to robotic artworks. Definitely worth a look! (Thanks to New Scientist Planet Science)
National Institutes of Health Guidelines for Research Using Human Pluripotent Stem Cells
“The Guidelines establish procedures to help ensure that NIH-funded research in this area is conducted in an ethical and legal manner. These Guidelines are effective on August 25, 2000. The moratorium on research using human pluripotent stem cells derived from human embryos and fetal tissue put in place by the Director, NIH, in January 1999, will be lifted on August 25, 2000.”
This excellent Website from the University of Arizona focuses on the branch of science known as palynology, in which researchers study the microscopic remains of plants and organisms to reconstruct ecological conditions of the past. The site features a wealth of information, including research projects (and publications) from the University of Arizona; background information (and illustrations) describing palynomorphs and archaeological, Quaternary, and stratigraphic palynology; links to scientific and general palynology Websites; a subject-organized list of select palynology references; links to international palynology organizations; and much more. [LXP] (From the Scout Report)
Botany for Kids
This nice site from the Canadian Botanical Conservation Network presents brief explanations, with suggested simple experiments, from various aspects of botany, from invasive exotics to plants without flowers.
Steller Sea Lions
A live-cam and more site from National Geographic. If there is nothing visible at the site when you check out the live cam, do not despair, there is plenty more to see, including a collection of interesting video clips, postcards you can e-mail, and a resources and links page.
Algorithms, Thermodynamics and Databases for RNA Secondary Structure: Zuker Lab
This virtual and digital library contains the following sections:
- RNA related publications
- Lectures on RNA Secondary Structure Prediction
- Thermodynamic considerations & rules for RNA folding
- RNA folding and search software
- Three dimensional RNA modeling
- RNA secondary structure display software
- RNA Databases
- The RNA World at IMB Jena
- Structural Biology at the NIH
- Books, Journals, Societies & Meetings
(From InfoMine What’s New)
Ken’s Bio-Web Resources
A huge collection of hyperlinks to biology sites aimed at students and teachers indexed under such sections as microbiology, Mendelian genetics, evolution, human physiology, general biology references, cell chemistry, molecular genetics, ecology, and animal anatomy and physiology. Take for instance “Plant physiology”, which is broken down into a further selection of headings, such as basics, carnivorous plants, classification, hormones, tropisms, among others. Under each heading some of the best sites on the subject are filed, some themselves libraries of hyperlinks to further websites on that subject. Whether you’re looking for jellyfish sites or rigor mortis sites, there are some absolute gems here, of far higher quality than a search engine might throw up. Ken’s site is easy to explore via a handy navigation bar at the bottom of each page. (From New Scientist Planet Science)
The Golem Project
Tired of using the idle CPU cycles on your networked computer to search for intelligent life in a cold, unfriendly universe? Maybe you’d prefer cultivating a little artificial intelligence closer to home. The Golem@Home Project is a distributed computing experiment that uses the Internet environment to automatically design, evolve, and manufacture prototype robotic lifeforms. You participate by downloading a screensaver designed by scientists at Brandeis University, then, whenever your machine is idle, you sit back and watch the colorful tubular entities evolve all by themselves. Golem (Genetically Organized Lifelike Electro Mechanics) is actually named for a legendary giant clay man. (From Yahoo’s Picks of the Week)
Two Surveys on Internet Use and Effects
Preliminary Release from “Surveying the Digital Future” — UCLA Center for Communications Policy
“Trust and Privacy Online: Why Americans Want to Rewrite the Rules” — PEW Research Center [.pdf, 29 pages]
UCLA’s Center for Communications Policy released last week a brief excerpt of their report forthcoming in October. “Surveying the Digital Future,” funded by “an unprecedented alliance of corporations and foundations,” is part of the World Internet Project, a series of international studies, which aims to give a vision of the Internet’s worldwide impact. This initial release, which shows the responses of users and non-users side-by-side, focuses on four main areas: political participation and the Internet, the relative importance of different mass media sources, the credibility of information on the Internet, and online privacy. Among the findings, 63.6 percent of users and 76.1 percent of non-users agree that “people who go online put their privacy at risk.” The second report listed above, the PEW Research Center’s “Trust and Privacy Online,” details Americans’s feelings about this latter concern in a 30-question survey conducted in May and June of more than 2,000 people (over 1,000 of which are Internet users). The survey covers the gamut of privacy issues, and PEW reports that two-thirds of respondents don’t think that Internet companies should be allowed to track users’s activities. When online respondents were asked who would do the best job setting rules governing user tracking, half said users themselves would be best; 24 percent said the federal government; and only 18 percent said Internet companies would be best. The director of the Pew Internet & American Life Project Lee Rainie explains that, overall, the survey shows that “Internet users want … a presumption of privacy when they are online.” [TK] (From the Scout Report)
A database for electrical engineering students and professionals, the Circuits Archive provides diagrams of radio, computer, and other miscellaneous circuits (ASCII, .gif, and HTML formats). The archive is just one part of this metasite housed at the University of Washington’s Electrical Engineering site. In addition to the circuit diagrams, a searchable database of transistor cross-references, a component reference page (both in the Data Sheets section), and links to models and microprocessors are featured. Other useful tools included are the Reading Capacitors page and links to software sites. Diagrams and links are voluntarily contributed and seem to be updated regularly. Note: the site includes a page on software in the Circuits Archive. [HCS] (From the Scout Report)
RoboCup Official Site
… and now for something completely different. Never mind the World Cup, it’s the RoboCup — that’s the Robot (Soccer) World Cup. RoboCup is an international joint project to promote AI & robotics, using the game of soccer as its central topic of research. The project hopes to, by 2050, develop a team of fully autonomous humaoid robot that can win against the human world champion team in soccer. A realistic ambition? Perhaps not, but the technology involved is certainly of fascinating. (From New Scientist Planet Science)
Evolution of Flight — commemorating 100 years in the air
“In commemoration of the approaching 100th anniversary of flight, AIAA launched the Evolution of Flight, a campaign to recognize the achievements of the men and women who challenged history and invented the future-while changing life on Earth. Through the campaign, AIAA and its partners, will celebrate the legacy of flight, encourage new talent, and define and promote the next 100 years of aerospace innovation. We hope you will use this site to celebrate the centennial of flight as well as learn about the men and women who made it possible.” This attractive site presents an aeronautical timeline, easy experiments, and animations to demonstrate various concepts in flight engineering.
The Sun Times Global Sun/Temperature Project
Sign up now to participate in a project where students collect local data on temperature and number of minutes of sunlight per day (the week is November 27 – December 1, 2000 for this round). After collecting the data, the classes then submit their data to an online database and compare and contrast their temperature and sunlight data with results from classes all over the globe. Register prior to October 30; the project runs until December 15, 2000. (From Blue WebN)
New Zealand Institute of Geological and Nuclear Sciences [.pdf, .mpeg]
New Zealand Origins and Evolution, Fossils, Dating Rocks, Ancient Environments, Minerals, Plate Motion, and Deformation are just a few of the pages featured at this geologic Website. In the How We Can Help section, under databases, users will find the New Zealand Fossil Record File, a registration scheme for recording fossil localities in NZ and nearby regions, including the SE Pacific Islands and seafloor, and the Ross Sea region of Antarctica; the Record File gives an index map of registered fossil localities and email addresses of regional geological surveys. The Earth History section features several useful resources: a series of eight schematic palinspastic reconstructions of New Zealand paleogeography from the Latest Cretaceous period to the present (from the New Zealand Origins and Evolution page), summaries of ongoing basin evolution research, and more. Other links include a What’s New section, a page on isotopes, and the New Zealand Hazard Watch site. [HCS] (From the Scout Report)
NASA’s Visible Earth — A searchable directory of images, visualizations and animations of the Earth
“The goal of Visible Earth is to provide a consistently updated central catalog/collection point to the superset of Earth science-related visualizations and images. These images will be useful to the interested public-at-large, as well as representatives of the media, scientists, and educators. Whether it be for personal use or for presentations, hopefully this collection and its organization will provide maximum benefit.”
These often stunning, always useful images are presented in subject categories, but are also searchable using Boolean logic. There are currently 860 images in the database. Each image is presented in thumbnail with a detailed and interesting description, the data source, and credits. There is also a feature for viewing images recently added to the database. A fantastic resource!
Issues in Global Warming: Polar Ice Cap Thins Dramatically
1. “Scientists Say Polar Ice Cap Melting” [RealMedia, Java]
2. “Arctic Warming Gathers Pace”
3. “Slowly But Surely, Iceland Is Losing Its Ice: Global warming is prime suspect in meltdown”
4. “Arctic Ice Revealed”
5. “Satellite Tracks Arctic Meltdown” [RealMedia]
6. “Climate Clues in the Ice”
7. “Climate Impact of Quadrupling Atmospheric CO2”
8. EPA’s Global Warming Website
9. Global warming in the twenty-first century: An alternative scenario
On a recent expedition from Norway to the North Pole, a group of scientists and tourists aboard a Russian icebreaker found about a mile of open water right at the North Pole. This caused great alarm for the passengers, including paleontologist Malcolm McKenna, because it indicated the harsh reality of global warming. McKenna took photographs and spoke to the media about the finding. Since that startling report, scientists at Lamont Doherty Observatory have suggested that the polar ice was broken apart by wind, and not melted by rising temperatures, but stressed that thinning of polar ice is real and should not be ignored. A number of research teams have been recording the changing sea surface temperatures and thickness of polar ice using satellite imaging and other technology. Findings show that average winter surface temperatures in the Arctic have increased by two degrees centigrade during the past century, melting ice caps, glaciers, sea ice, and permafrost. This week’s In the News observes the thinning polar ice, investigates the technology behind climate study, and visits clearinghouses for information on global warming. The first three sources are news articles. ABC News (1) provides a RealVideo report containing footage of polar ice and an interactive java applet on global warming along with the story of the melting ice. A good general overview of the incident at the North Pole comes from the BBC News site (2). Startling facts can be learned from the San Francisco Chronicle’s story, (3). For instance, the article tells us that Arctic sea ice shrank by 14,400 square miles per year from 1978 to 1998, a six percent reduction overall, and the average rate of sea ice thinning is four inches per year! The technological aspect of research on ice cover can be found at the next three sites. Site (4) is a press release from NASA about the RADARSAT satellite. Says NASA, “NASA researchers have new insights into the mysteries of Arctic sea ice, thanks to the unique abilities of Canada’s RADARSAT satellite. The Arctic is the smallest of the world’s four oceans, but it may play a large role in helping scientists monitor Earth’s climate shifts.” Also focused on the satellite, site (5), from Space.com, features a RealPlayer movie about NASA’s Terra spacecraft mission and .gif images displaying computer models of ice thickness predictions. A summary of research institutions studying sea ice thinning trends and a brief look at satellite technology are posted at site (6), from the NASA Distributed Data Archive center. This resource also has figures and graphs displaying various ice data. A series of experiments examining the possible climatic impact of a quadrupling of atmospheric CO2, a “greenhouse gas” commonly formed by automobile emissions, were undertaken at Princeton’s Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory (GFDL). The results of the GFDL’s model, including a figure of predicted sea ice thicknesses, are displayed at site (7). The Environmental Protection Agency’s Global Warming Website (8) is an excellent place to learn about the causes and controversy of global warming; news, events, information on education, along with greenhouse gas and emission data are available at this site, which was featured in the February 21, 1997 _ Scout Report_. Readers with access to the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science’s preprint server (many colleges and universities have institutional subscriptions) can peruse the final resource (9), a research article arguing that rapid global warming in recent decades is caused mainly by non-CO2 greenhouse gases, such as CH4 and N2O. This news has implications for future legislation on fuel burning. [HCS]
Mathematical and Physical Sciences
Marie Curie and the Science of Radioactivity
The daughter of Polish schoolteachers, Marie Curie struggled to gain an advanced scientific education, then went on to pioneer the study of radioactivity, discover the elements polonium and radium, earn two Nobel prizes, and survive tragic personal loss and professional rivalries. She successfully combined love, marriage, motherhood, and a demanding career in the public eye. The American Institute of Physics presents a picture-book biography of thoroughly-modern Marie Curie (1867-1934), whose heroic, oft-romanticized life set the stage for our own atomic age and continues to serve as a model for women of science. (From Yahoo’s Picks of the Week)
The Second Superstring Revolution
“Once upon a time string theory was regarded as a passing phase in physics. Now the field is booming more than ever before, as deep mathematics wielded by string theorists have given us insights into black hole thermodynamics while telling us that strings themselves may not be the whole story!” says this site’s author, Professor John H. Schwartz of California Institute of Technology. Ideal for undergraduate physics students, the text defines and presents string theory and the arguments supporting supersymmetry, and explores contradictions between the physical theories of quantum mechanics and relativity. A brief history of string theory and the second string revolution is also presented, in which Schwartz discusses his role in the theory’s development. Also available is a reference list with links to the text. Note: the equations are presented in Java webEG format. [HCS] (From the Scout Report)
Mathematics + Athletics = Mathletics … a natural combination. One math application is given for baseball, basketball, bowling and football. Part of the previously reviewed Blue Web’n site “What Good is Math?” (From Blue Web’n)
Sun Spots Max in 2000
This fun site from NASA is the place to go for brief current information on sunspots. It will tell you the number of sunspots for today, and provides images and animations, a discussion of sunspots in history, how sunspots affect the earth, and more, and have links to information on other aspects of solar research.
Space Day 2000
This site is for children, who are granted access via a pretend thumbprint security scan from the screen. The homepage then opens impressively as you dock onto a space station and see various clickable objects — dog, compass, apple, and others — floating in the absence of gravity. The site is designed to inspire youngsters to get amazingly excited about space travel and astronomy. There are also downloadable classroom materials for teachers. The day in question, “Space Day”, has been happening once a year since 1997, this year the Fourth Annual Space Day was on May 4. A live webcast took place featuring interviews with John Glenn and other astronauts. From comet photos and astronaut wallpaper to the virtual Mars mission and childen’s space art, there’s plenty here for yet another cloudy night when enthusiasm is dwindling for the brand new telescope. Although a lower-tech version of the site is available, it looks best with the free Flash plug-in. (From New Scientist Planet Science)
The Solar and Heliospheric Observatory
Like so many NASA Websites, this is a huge sprawling site packed with all kinds of information about this project, including slides, images, movies, lesson plans, ask Dr. Soho, links to solar resources, databases, news stories and so much more!
Sport!Science at the Exploratorium
Although we reviewed this site some time ago, and have also dealt individually with some of its component parts, what better time to draw it to your attention again than at the start of the 2000 Sydney Summer Olympics. Among other features, it covers Hockey, Cycling & Baseball — there’s even a section on Skateboarding Science. As with all sites from the Exploratorium, it’s well put together, good looking, and great fun. (From New Scientist Planet Science)
Tennis Sport Science
In honour of the Olympic Games, another site related to the science of sport. This time, it’s tennis. In their own words, the Aerodynamics in Sports Technology is “an interactive study of sports designed to help students understand aerodynamics, physics, and mathematics, as part of NASA’s educational outreach mission via the World Wide Web. The project team is recording data from professional tennis and some of the top players in the world, focusing on how the tennis ball flies: its speed, how it spins, what happens when the ball hits the court, how it moves through the air, and the strokes of the players that generate this flight.” And so on. You can find out more about the project and follow its progress at this UC Davis site. (From New Scientist Planet Science)
Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences
PBS Kids Democracy Project — teaching the value of a free society
This excellent website from PBS introduces kids to government, how it works, how it interweaves with our daily lives. Sections include:
How does government affect me?
President for a Day
Inside the Voting Booth
Another quality site from PBS.
Global Macroeconomics and Financial Policy Site
Nouriel Roubini, associate professor of economics and international business at the Stern School of Business, New York University, has updated his award-winning Global Macroeconomics and Financial Policy Site (first reviewed in the November 6, 1997 Scout Report for Business and Economics). A necessity for any economist, the newly redesigned site is much easier to navigate. The information is divided into three main sections: Interesting Readings, Hot Topics, and Current News. The content of each section is listed chronologically and includes the title and date. The menu along the left side of the screen offers information-rich resources on a variety of topics including the Asian crisis, exchange rates, academic research on currency collapse models and the Asian crisis, and international financial system. Each subtopic links to a vast compilation of resources. Here users will unearth a gold mine of information on global macroeconomics. [EM] (From the Scout Report)
A Journalist’s Guide to Economic Terms
A four-year old project of FACSNET reporting tools, A Journalist’s Guide to Economic Terms was created to give reporters and journalists a headstart in understanding economic terms. All 213 current terms are concisely, but clearly, defined and are organized in alphabetical order. This glossary will give any economics novice the basic terms needed to begin to comprehend news briefs and articles about economics. [EM] (From the Scout Report)
On the Job — National Archives of Canada
This photographic exhibit from the National Archives of Canada documents the diverse places of work of Canadians in the 20th century. The images are organized into six categories: Natural Space, Work Camps, Man-Made Space, Industrial/Mechanical Space, Office/Technical Space, and Working in the Home. After selecting a category, several thumbnail shots will appear, along with a paragraph explaining the significance of the work space. Click on a thumbnail to look at larger image of the photograph, complete with bibliographic information including the subject of the photo, place, date, author, catalog number, and a short description of the work. The image can be enlarged again, for a closer, more detailed look at the photograph. [EM] (From the Scout Report)
What in the world
The precursor of BBCs ‘Animal, Vegetable or Mineral’, ‘What in the World’ was a popular 1950s programme televised from the University of Pennsylvania’s, Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology. Unidentified objects were presented to experts to identify. This site allows us to play ‘What in the World?’ online and also has ‘Celebrity in the storeroom’; an eclectic mixture of celebrities (Kevin Bacon, Archbishop of Canterbury, Big Bird!) choose their favourite object from the museum. (From New Scientist Planet Science)
Archeology of Teotihuacan, Mexico
An exploration of this historic site in Mexico. Included are a description, chronology, maps, and photographs. There is extensive information about the Feathered Serpent Pyramid (Templo de Quetzalcoatl). Additionally, there is information about the Templo Mayor. Some information from the Centro de Estudios Teotihuacanos is available only in Spanish. Brief films (require QuickTime) are also provided. From the University of Arizona. — dl (From Librarian’s Index to the Internet)
Created and maintained by Georgia Southern professor of psychology Russell Dewey, this Website offers a wealth of materials for students and researchers in the general field of psychology. Perhaps the site’s most impressive feature is a searchable journals database offering a directory of annotated links to hundreds of online journals in psychology and related fields — some of which offer free, full-text access. But there’s a great deal more on the site as well, including annotated links to metasites in the field and APA style guidelines and tutorials; links to departments of psychology around the world; and a directory of annotated resources on various subfields and related topics such as statistics, social psychology, abnormal psychology, language and speech, memory, testing and assessment, behavioral psychology, career issues, cognitive science, and hundreds of others. There are also instructional materials on specific topics posted here such as hypnosis and lucid dreaming, sports psychology, psychology of religion, and cognitive therapy. Definitely a site for any undergraduate or graduate student of psychology to visit and bookmark. [DC] (From the Scout Report)
Aboriginal Languages of Australia: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Languages — World Wide Web Virtual Library
This WWW Virtual Library site features annotated links to over 130 resources for nearly 40 of Australia’s indigenous languages. The resources are categorized by type of resource, language, and region (i.e., Australian state). Included here are links to dictionaries, word lists, complete texts — some with translations, bilingual education resources, language courses, academic papers, bibliographies, relevant libraries, indigenous songs and sounds, language rights and policy Websites, and more. The resources are succinctly and informatively annotated with graphic icons to represent sites with original text and bibliographies or catalogs as well as dates-of-posting to the directory. Updated in late July, Aboriginal Languages of Australia is created and maintained by David Nathan of the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies and sponsored by the Linguistics department of the University of Melbourne. [DC] (From the Scout Report)
Though still very much under development, the Geography Hub will likely become a major resource and online community for geography students and professionals. The core of the present offerings is the directory of geographers offered on Geographers.com. The directory is divided into three categories: Physical Geographers, Human Geographers, and Technical Geographers. Each is searchable by keyword or name, and full search results include name, school, Website (when applicable), field notes, and publications. A prototype search engine, scheduled for release in October, will allow searching by name, with modifiers for country, research field, region studied, and level of education. All geographers are welcome to add themselves to the directory. An additional feature at Geographers.com is Geography Times, designed to be an online professional news services for geographers. At present, the Times offers related headlines (last updated August 31) and conference announcements (last updated August 13). Future plans for the site include online forums. Content available at the other three sites in the Geography Hub is primarily limited to (fairly detailed) collections of organized links. Anyone interested in geography should bookmark one or more of these sites and trace their development. [MD] (From the Scout Report)
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CHOOSING A SALARY OR TUITION
The wealth of tech jobs and the attractive salary packages they offer is compelling some talented high school students to skip college and enter the job market. These young workers say a college education can actually hurt their long-term chances because the tech field changes so quickly. Many computer-oriented young people dislike high school, where they are perceived as uncool outsiders, and have no wish to continue into college. They see the computer industry, where producing results is more important than fitting in, as an ideal and profitable environment for their talents and interests. The median weekly salary for computer analysts and programmers is nearly twice the overall population’s median salary, according to the Census Department’s Current Population Survey. There is little evidence to show whether this direct movement of high school students into the tech field is a statistically significant trend or merely a collection of isolated incidents. Educators and parents worry, however, that short-term economic gain may create long-term disadvantages for these young tech experts. Not having a college degree may hurt them when they compete for promotions or try to land a better job.
(New York Times, September 7 2000 via Edupage)
SURFING FOR THE RIGHT SCHOOL
The Internet is fast becoming a helpful tool for college-bound high school students researching prospective institutions. More than 80 percent of seniors went online for their college search last year, according to marketing firm Stamats Communications, compared with 57 percent in 1996. Some guidance counselors are glad to see students become more proactive in their college search. Web sites such as CSUMentor and CollegeView.com often operate as search engines with rosters of colleges and universities, finding the schools that match the criteria of students who have answered a series of questions designed to determine what kind of school they would like to attend. Some colleges and universities observing the trend have turned their Web sites into stylish marketing tools, with live Webcams of labs and dining halls, professors’ curricula vitae and descriptions of research programs, and the latest edition of the campus newspaper. However, the slick Web sites also concern some educators who feel that students will receive the wrong impression of campus life.
(U.S. News & World Report, September 11 2000 via Edupage)
BIGGER, BETTER, FASTER: HERE COMES INTERNET2
The Internet2 consortium and the Next Generation Internet Initiative (NGI) are developing a new Internet that will eclipse the capabilities of today’s commercial network. Since 1998 the two groups, along with several private industry partners, have been working on the project. The government-led NGI created an ultra-fast network, vBNS (very high-performance backbone network service), which now links almost 200 campuses. The network handles powerful new applications, allowing astronomers, for example, to remotely manipulate telescopes at an observatory in Hawaii from anywhere in the world. Meanwhile, the University of Illinois at Chicago’s Electronic Visualization Laboratory is working on technology that allows users to walk around and inspect 3D images. The next Internet will link these virtual spaces, called “caves,” allowing designers in Germany to look at a car model located in Detroit, for example. Students are expected to benefit from Internet2 technology, as universities such as Northwestern allow them to send and receive video from their dorm rooms. Meanwhile, the universities leading the Internet2 consortium created the Abilene network, and are working to improve quality of service on the Internet so collaborative medical procedures, for example, will not be disrupted by email traffic.
(Interactive Week, August 28 2000 via Edupage)
VOTER PROFILES SELLING BRISKLY AS PRIVACY ISSUES ARE RAISED
Aristotle International, a political consulting company that maintains a database of publicly accessible personal data on 150 million registered U.S. voters, is drawing the attention of privacy advocates and others concerned about online privacy. Aristotle markets the data it collects to politicians who use the information to target highly specific segments of the voting population via pop-up ads on the Internet. Aristotle’s clients include 45 senators, more than 200 House representatives, 46 Republican and Democratic state parties, and top presidential candidates. William Dal Col, manager of Rick A. Lazio’s campaign to represent New York in the Senate, says Aristotle is one of the first firms to exploit technology for political purposes. Aristotle combines its data with other types of information that it finds on the Internet; privacy groups such as the Center for Democracy and Technology believe this tie-up of data could harm the election process. Both Microsoft and America Online have abandoned plans to partner with Aristotle during the past year due to privacy concerns.
(New York Times, September 9, 2000 via Edupage)
A NEW PROTOCOL HELPS RESEARCHERS SHARE LARGE DATA SETS
Scientists might soon be able to exchange large sets of data over high-speed research networks more easily with the help of an Internet protocol now being developed at the University of Illinois at Chicago. The data-space-transfer protocol moves large data sets over research networks quickly enough to sustain a computation running on Linux and Windows NT systems at the other end, says Robert Grossman, director of the university’s Laboratory for Advanced Computing. The protocol divides the data and transmits it over multiple open network connections at the same time. Using the protocol eliminates the need for scientists to develop complex relational databases and allows them to post data in a simple format called a flat file, says Ted Hanss of the Internet2 consortium. The new protocol could eventually become a standard for scientists publishing data on the Web, Grossman says.
(Chronicle of Higher Education Online, August 25 2000 via Edupage)
DICTIONARY PUBLISHERS GOING DIGITAL
Dictionaries are redefining themselves by going digital. Merriam-Webster and Microsoft’s year-old Encarta dictionary is now embedded in the software company’s new Reader application, and it is being touted as the digital age’s first lexicon. Online linguistics are expected to spread greatly. Houghton Mifflin expects to garner over $1 million in profit by licensing its digital dictionary for Web sites, software, and digital publications, while Merriam-Webster’s Web site may soon be displayed on Palm devices. Also online is a wealth of material for linguistic research, with scholars gaining the opportunity to track the creation of new words as they arise and spread through online discussion groups. Even the most traditional of dictionary publishers are adapting to the Internet Age. The 20-volume Oxford English Dictionary was revised for the first time since 1928, thanks to the Internet. Twenty more volumes are planned for the online edition, which will be updated completely by 2010. Yet the industry change has met some resistance from linguists.
(New York Times, 21 Aug 2000 via Edupage)
ALABAMA PILOTING VIRTUAL HIGH
Alabama recently launched the Alabama Online High School (AOHS), a $10.3 million project that is being tested in five counties and might soon be available to all high school students in the state. AOHS offers 29 required courses and several electives, with all courses approved by Alabama’s Department of Education and led by certified teachers. The project, originally intended to share teaching resources among rural schools, will allow students to take courses such as Spanish that would otherwise not be available to them. AOHS will also provide GED assistance and remediation. The project is a joint effort among the state’s Department of Education, the governor’s office, University of Alabama’s Program for Rural Services and Research, local school systems, and state education associations.
(Federal Computer Week Online, September 6 2000 via Edupage)
FIRMS TO CREATE LAB FOR LINUX TESTING
A group of industry giants, led by IBM, Intel, Hewlett-Packard, and NEC, has announced an initiative to create a laboratory in which programmers can test Linux applications on high-end computer systems. The lab is intended to help Linux gain a higher profile among large companies, as Linux software is most often tested on desktop computers rather than on the sophisticated systems common in the corporate world. Along with the four leading sponsors, Dell, Silicon Graphics, and Linux providers Red Hat, Turbolinux, Linuxcare, and VA Linux Systems have also pledged support for the lab, which will open by the end of the year. The founding companies said a nonprofit organization will choose which projects will be tested in the lab.
(Associated Press, August 29 2000 via Edupage)
FLORIDA’S LEAPS AND BOUNDS INTO ONLINE EDUCATION
Parents, teachers, and school administrators across the United States are watching Polk County, Fl.’s Daniel Jenkins Academy, the nation’s first school to offer a completely online curriculum in a classroom. There will be no classroom teachers at Daniel Jenkins Academy, although there will be counselors, school facilitators, and resource teachers on hand to guide students, and the online teachers will visit students periodically. “The whole idea is customizing education and services for students,” says Carolyn Baldwin, area superintendent. “No one wants a one-size-fits-all curriculum anymore. We need to be examining what a child’s needs are and designing education to meet those needs,” which can be accomplished much more easily with an online school. Daniel Jenkins Academy will admit 250 students in middle and high school levels. The learning environment will be paced flexibly, with students having a larger input into when and what they learn. High school seniors will gain the opportunity to obtain networking certification from the Cisco Academy. Provided that funding can be arranged, student enrollment will be raised to 500 to 600 students by 2004.
(Government Technology, Aug 2000 via Edupage)
IN U.S., DIGITAL HAVES OUTNUMBER HAVE-NOTS
The Internet continues to integrate itself into the day-to-day routines of Americans, according to the results of a random telephone survey of 65,000 Internet users by Nielsen NetRatings. U.S. home Internet penetration reached 52 percent in July-the first time more than half of all Americans had home Web access. Home access rates jumped 35 percent from July 1999 to July of this year, from 106.3 million home users to 144 million users. Likewise, the time Internet users spend online is going up. The average Internet user spent 9 hours 41 minutes online this July compared with 7 hours and 39 minutes last July, an increase of 26 percent. Internet users are also looking at fewer Web sites, meaning that larger sites are successfully leveraging their brand to hold users’ attention. Cheaper Web access is enabling Americans to go online in ever-increasing numbers, says NetRatings’ Sean Kaldor.
(Washington Post, August 24 2000 via Edupage)
HIGH-SPEED NET LINKS BENEFIT URBAN RICH
Broadband Internet links are reaching affluent, urban areas more quickly than poor and rural regions, according to a Federal Communications Commission study released this week. The report indicates that 90 percent of the wealthiest zip codes have high-speed links, compared with 42 percent of poor neighborhoods and 19 percent of rural areas. The findings fuel the ongoing controversy over the digital divide and deregulation of the telecom industry. Over the last year, legislators have been debating whether to change the 1996 Telecommunications Act, which prevents Baby Bells from entering the long-distance market before they open up local markets. Advocates argue deregulation would allow these companies to bring high-speed DSL access to rural areas sooner. However, opponents contend deregulation would allow Baby Bells to move into the long-distance market without opening local networks to competitors. In addition to revealing the inequities in high-speed access, the report shows a 375 percent increase in the number of households with broadband service, bringing the number to 1.8 million households.
(Financial Times, August 25, 2000 via Edupage)
GIVING THE DISABLED INCREASED E-ACCESS
The federal government has ordered its member agencies to improve their Web sites’ accessibility for people with disabilities. Among the innovations being advocated are alt text, which allows a blind computer user’s screen-reading device to interpret graphics and read them, and close-captioning to accompany streaming video and voice-operated commands. The scope of the project is enormous, with the Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance board estimating costs between $85 million and $691 million. That represents a significant new market for Internet solutions providers such as Optavia, which says it will concentrate nearly one-quarter of its efforts this year on disability-related business. Although the government has not extended this new policy to commercial Web sites, court precedent suggests the Americans with Disabilities Act does apply to the Internet.
(Washington Post, August 24 2000 via Edupage)
NEW STANDARDS GET US CLOSER TO DATA MINING ON THE WEB
A coalition of universities and businesses, including IBM, Oracle, and NCR, are working to develop open standards that will allow users to access and manipulate data stored on disparate database servers. “I think it’s what people for a long time have been looking for,” says IBM’s Claudia Gardner. First, data must be presented in predicted model markup language (PMML), enabling it to be manipulated by the dataspace transfer protocol (DSTP), which was just released last week by the Laboratory for Advanced Computing at the University of Illinois in Chicago. “We want to make it simple to publish data so other people can do meaningful things with it,” says Robert Grossman, the Laboratory of Advanced Computing’s director. The relationship between PMML and DSTP is similar to that of HTML and hypertext transfer protocol (HTTP). Using PMML and DSTP, an Internet user could access data on sunspots, for example, from one database, and compare it to data on global warming from another database.
(New Scientist Online, September 1 via Edupage)
U.S. NET DEMOGRAPHICS SET TO SHIFT
The demographics of the U.S. online population will change over the next several years, becoming more representative of the population as a whole, according to a recent study from International Data. About 103 million users from all age groups and economic levels will go online for the first time by 2004. These new users will bring the total U.S. Internet population to about 210 million users in 2004. Older Americans are now the fastest-growing community of users, and the number of online adults 55 and above is expected to more than triple from 1999 to 2004, reaching 34.1 million users. As a result, observers say online marketers should begin to target older adults. The changes in the online population will force marketers that have not yet gone online to do so, and will also offer opportunities for new online firms to win the loyalty of novice users, says International Data’s Barry Parr.
(E-Commerce Times, August 30 via Edupage)
GET SERIOUS ABOUT EDUCATION TECHNOLOGY
States wanting to speed the use of information technology to improve education, should work to share the most qualified teachers and the best resources by developing a collaborative environment that supports e-mail, videoconferencing, and Web hosting. Otto Doll, chief information officer of South Dakota, says the collaborative environment should also support portable group computing platforms, which combine Internet, TV, and personal computing. Each school needs a server and ample local storage and processor cycles. States should form an intranet that links K–12 schools with colleges as well as state and local governments, providing access to the Internet and to legacy systems. To connect the whole infrastructure, states should use high-speed, scalable communication lines. Another important consideration in using IT to improve education is teacher training. Each teacher and administrator should have at least 200 hours of network and computing training. In addition, public teaching universities should train all future educators to use technology, Doll says.
(Government Computer News, August via Edupage)
TECHNOLOGY SAVVY SCHOOLS
Digital educational tools in public schools across the country may prove to be a disappointment if educators are unable to incorporate the technology into their curriculum. Getting the most out of computers and Internet access in schools is a major challenge for teachers because many do not have the skills to use the technology effectively. The first step in making the technology effective in schools is for teachers to master the digital tools. Teachers could then focus their attention on preparing digital content and coursework for their students. However, teachers will need to determine how appropriate digital content would be for particular subject areas, grade levels, and developmental stages of students. Teachers and school boards may find it difficult to gauge the usability, appropriateness, and educational impact of digital content. Finally, school systems that place a greater emphasis on making use of technology could play a major role in closing the digital divide.
(Business 2.0, September via Edupage)
NASA SCHOOL COULD PUT GEOSPATIAL TECHNOLOGY ON THE MAP
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has teamed up with the Southwest Georgia Chamber of Commerce, a group of educators, and several agencies to establish a school focusing on geospatial and satellite technology that will serve four of Georgia’s poorest counties. The school would train students in Clay, Randolph, Quitman, and Stewart counties to work for NASA and other high-tech enterprises. The students would receive a high school diploma and certificates in geospatial technology. The four counties are impoverished both financially and educationally. Almost 25 percent of all adults over 25 years old received less than a ninth-grade education in 1990, compared with 12 percent for the state. Local organizers are trying to raise $3.6 million to build the school, which may open in two or three years. The facility would initially serve students from sixth to eighth grades, but would later be expanded to grade 12.
(eSchool News, August via Edupage)
ONLINE LEARNING: THE COMPETITIVE EDGE
Companies across all industries have come to view e-learning initiatives as essential to continued success. IBM’s James Sharpe says the e-learning market has matured. He says, “E-learning is one way to be smarter than the competition.” Communications and marketing firm Burson-Marsteller agrees. The company employs a five-person training department to develop skills development curricula for whatever business disciplines the company deems important, including media relations, writing, strategy, and presentation. The training department delivers the educational content to Burson-Marsteller’s 75 global locations via on-site seminars and online programs. “Our product is our ideas,” says the company’s chief learning officer, Barbara Smith. “E-learning is an option that provides us with a real competitive edge-it helps us maximize our intellectual capital.” IBM’s Sharpe says the best e-learning initiatives are those that are integrated with ongoing training processes. Companies are projected to spend $11.5 billion annually on e-learning initiatives by 2003, according to International Data, up from the $3 billion spent on e-learning last year.
(InformationWeek Online, August 28 via Edupage)
COLLEGES FORM PARTNERSHIP TO MEET DEMAND FOR TECH WORKERS
Three California schools formed a partnership on Tuesday to provide the high-tech labor force with more skilled workers and teachers. Officials from the University of California-Santa Cruz, Foothill and DeAnza Colleges, and San Jose State University say the partnership will help to solve the shortage of trained workers in the tech industry. Besides training students in engineering and other fields, the program will provide real-world work experience for teachers. The participating schools will now develop a program infrastructure with the help of a $100,000 grant from the Packard Foundation. Each school will commit $50,000, faculty, and staff to the early stages of the project The agreement may also allow students to train with NASA as part of its proposed NASA Research Park in Mountain View, CA, involving non-profit groups and private-industry firms in the study of numerous science and technology issues.
(http://www.mercurycenter.com/svtech/news/front/docs/nasa090600.htm, September 5 via Edupage)
INTERNET AT SCHOOL IS CHANGING WORK OF STUDENTS-AND TEACHERS
Nearly every school in the United States now has some form of Internet access, and education experts believe the Internet is changing the classroom dynamic. Educators claim students who once struggled in the traditional classroom — shy or learning-disabled students, students still learning to speak English, “visual learners” — feel more confident with and are learning more from Internet-based lessons. Students can use the Internet to communicate with students all over the world, to visit interactive museums and historical sites, and to investigate “real-world” topics such as cloning or forensic science. Educators believe Internet use encourages creativity while freeing teachers to spend more time coaching and less time lecturing students.Ninety-five percent of the nation’s schools now have Internet connections, thanks in large part to the federal government’s $6 billion e-rate program. But efforts to instruct teachers in the use of the Internet are lagging behind. According to a recent survey by the Department of Education, almost two-thirds of teachers do not feel confident using computers or the Internet.
(Washington Post, September 5 via Edupage)
OUT OF SIGHT NEED NOT MEAN OUT OF MIND
A longtime leader of distance-learning programs, the United Kingdom is now seeing the growth of Internet-based distance learning as several major universities and private firms attempt to capture a share of this booming market. Cambridge University, for example, will offer a Web-based MBA degree that will include online simulations, e-mail and chat-room discussions, and virtual seminars. FT Knowledge, Cambridge’s partner in the online venture, will host a 24-hour help desk for the MBA students. British online MBA programs, however, could face stiff competition from similar programs in the United States. Universities such as Babson College in Boston are now operating for-profit distance-learning programs, reaching a far wider audience of MBA students than traditional programs ever could. Babson’s CEO Tom Moore says making the venture profit-oriented was key to retaining faculty, many of whom have been receiving attractive offers from other online distance-learning ventures.
(Financial Times-IT Review, September 6 via Edupage)
LAPTOPS ARE NO LONGER A LUXURY FOR STUDENTS
A number of U.S. schools, mostly private but some public, are abandoning computer labs with desktops and requiring students to have laptops instead. The number of high schools that have switched from computer labs to laptops has jumped to over 500 across the country in less than four years, says Albert Throckmorton, director of technology curriculum at Episcopal High School in Alexandria, Va. Episcopal started requiring freshmen to have laptops four years ago and will become a laptop-only institution this school year. The laptops help Episcopal students continue their education outside of the classroom. For example, students use digital probes in science classes to gather data in real time, which is then loaded into a spreadsheet and analyzed at home, says Throckmorton. Although schools that have implemented laptop requirements declare the move an educational success, asking parents and students to purchase $1,500 laptops is controversial in many cases. Critics are concerned that the laptop push will leave students from poorer families at a disadvantage. Schools are trying to address the cost issue by offering buy/lease options, used laptops, and financial aid.
(USA Today, August 31 via Edupage)
INITIATIVES FOR DISABLED UNVEILED
President Clinton told an audience at Mott Community College in Flint, Mich., that providing access to the Internet and other new technologies for the disabled “is not just the morally right thing to do, it is the smart thing to do.” Clinton announced several new research and training initiatives aimed at assisting the disabled with technology, including $16 million in grants from the Department of Education and $9 million in grants from the Americorps volunteer program. Clinton also announced that officials from 25 major universities have promised to conduct research into improving access to technology for people with disabilities and that executives from 45 major high-tech firms have agreed to design their products with the needs of the disabled in mind. Clinton also toured the Assisted Technology Access Center, where he saw some of the devices that may soon assist the disabled. One of these devices is the Eyegaze system, which allows access to computer and Internet functions through the movement of a person’s eyes.
(Washington Post, September 22 via Edupage)
SATELLITE WEB LINKS LET INDIAN TRIBES TAKE TECHNOLOGICAL JUMP
Many American Indian reservations in the Southwest received satellite dishes and other equipment for high-speed Internet access earlier this month as part of a Starband Communications pilot program. Starband, which will officially launch its two-way satellite Internet service later this year, joined with Northern Arizona University and the Southwest Navajo Nation Virtual Alliance to bring Internet access to 120 locations on Havasupai, Hopi, and Navajo reservations. One Hopi reservation plans to use the Internet connection to provide its police department with access to the FBI’s National Crime Information Center, while the Havasupai plan to use the Web to promote tourism, the tribe’s main source of income. Moreover, the Havasupai hope the Internet will make college education more accessible to tribal members through distance learning. Sally Tisouli, director of the Havasupai’s Head Start School, says the Internet will prepare the tribe’s children for life outside of the reservation, and will allow those who leave to stay in touch with the tribe more easily.
(New York Times, September 21 via Edupage)
SURPRISING DATA ON DIGITAL DIVIDE
U.S. Internet users with an annual income of $21,000 to $33,000 spend up to three more hours online per month than the average Internet user, according to a Nielsen/NetRatings report. The report examined Internet statistics during June, finding that the group spent 11 to 12 hours on the Internet during the month, the most of any socioeconomic group, while Internet users whose annual salary falls between $53,000 and $136,000 spent the least amount of time online. Overall, Internet users averaged nine hours online during the month. NetRatings analyst Peggy O’Neill says that Internet users in the $21,000 to $33,000 income group often work blue-collar jobs and do not have Internet access at work, which would explain their higher Internet-use rates at home. O’Neill says the study concludes that a digital divide does exist, with minority groups lacking representation on the Web.
(New York Times Online, September 25 via Edupage)
FEW FUNDS FOR POOR SCHOOLS
A new study from the U.S. Department of Education concludes that small, poor, mostly rural schools cannot afford Internet access even with the 90 percent discount provided by the government’s e-rate program. The program has already helped wire 95 percent of the nation’s schools to the Internet, but the study suggests that it may have to be modified to reach the poorest areas. It suggested that the bureaucratic complexity of the e-rate application process and small schools’ meager staff make it harder to apply for the e-rate discount. Signaling changes, the Universal Service Administrative Corp., which oversees the program, has introduced a toll-free telephone information service, training programs, and an online application form, all designed to make applying for the e-rate easier. Poverty, however, remains the greatest obstacle that these schools must overcome, and few can afford to pay the 10 percent matching fee.
(New York Times Online, September 20 via Edupage)
A language instructor was explaining to her class that Spanish nouns, unlike their English counterparts, are grammatically designated as masculine and feminine. Things like “chalk” or “pencil,” she described, would have a gender association. For example, House is feminine — la casa. In English, of course, common nouns are generally of a neutral gender.
Puzzled, a student raised his hand and asked, “What gender is a computer?”
The teacher said that depending on which Spanish you used, that of pain or Latin American Spanish, it could be either one: el ordenador or la computadora. But she thought it would be good to decide on one of them to use in class, so she divided the class into two groups and asked them to decide if a computer should be masculine or feminine. One group was composed of women, the other of men. Both groups were asked to give four reasons for their recommendation.
The men decided that computers should be referred to in the feminine gender (la computadora) because:
- No one but their creator understands their internal logic.
- The native language they use to communicate with other computers is incomprehensible to everyone else.
- Even the smallest mistakes are stored in long-term memory for later retrieval.
- As soon as you make a commitment to one, you find yourself spending half of your paycheck on accessories for it.
The group of women, however, concluded that computers should be referred to in the masculine gender (el ordenador) because:
- In order to get their attention, you have to turn them on.
- They have a lot of data but are still clueless.
- They are supposed to help you solve your problems, but half the time they ARE the problem.
- As soon as you commit to one, you realize that, if you had waited a little longer, you could have had a better model.
(Thanks to Kurt Hoffman)
Physics Jokes Archive
Physicists perceive the world as a place of order. I know this, because even the joke archive is not random, as are other science joke archives, but presented in an elegant classification scheme …
Also, the About.com “Physical Universe” newsletter now includes a “joke of the week” feature:
“Starting this week, we will give you something that some people could conceivably call funny — especially after 36 hours of trying to align an optical cavity experiment with the results needed for a conference presentation … As such, the quality may vary — and if you don’t get the joke, you should probably be glad!
Copernicus’ parents: “Copernicus, young man, when are you going to come to terms with the fact that the world does not revolve around you?!”