Sci-Tech Library Newsletter


Newsletter archive > 2001 January 11 Issue

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  1. INFOTRIEVE: A new bibliographic database.
  3. INTERESTING WEBSITES AND NEWS FROM THE INTERNET: Quirks and Quarks, workstation ergonomics, TIMSS, science stamps, Science Lab, Know Your Environment; Biological Sciences: Ecological Indicators, unfinished genomes, microbes, plankton; Engineering: bridges, thermodynamic cycles; Geosciences: geomorphology, marine research institutions, tornadoes, volcanoes; Mathematical and Physical Sciences: Jupiter, radio signals, asteroids; Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences: Economic Sociology, advertising, Polynesians, nonverbal language, pre-Hispanic literature; Computer and Information Science: computer sciences and internet news from Edupage.
  4. INTER ALIA: Librarian Avengers, giant pandas, technosphere.

    If you find the UnCover database useful, you will also like the services offered by Infotrieve. Like Uncover, Infotrieve is basically a document delivery service, and like Uncover, it also has a large database of journal article bibliographic information which is searchable for free. The database is called “Article Finder”, and it is currently in beta testing and not fully functional. However, it looks as though it will be a more user-friendly interface than that provided by Uncover. I didn’t find detailed information about the various services on the Infotrieve website, but it appears as though Article Finder will focus more on scholarly and academic journals (particularly in the sciences), rather than the broad base of journals in the UnCover database. When given a keyword search, it provides standard bibliographic information about the article, including an abstract about half of the time. It appears as though it will have the added feature of allowing you to link to other articles by the same authors, although this does not appear to be working at this time. It also looks as though advanced search features are planned for the future.

    Also like UnCover’s REVEAL service, Infotrieve offers a table of contents e-mail alerting service. It is not clear whether or not there will be a fee for this service.

    Additionally, Infotrieve offers a connection to the Medline family of databases. It also offers a link to bibliographic information about and webpages of over 150,000 magazines, journals, newsletters, & other periodicals through the Publist website.

    Still in beta, but it looks as though this has the possibility of developing into a very useful website.


    Economic and Political Weekly
    Published by the Sameeksha Trust since 1966, Economic and Political Weekly is a social science journal that features research articles in economics, sociology, political science, and other disciplines; book reviews; commentary; columns by social scientists; statistical updates; and other content. The full text of the journal is available online dating back to January 1999, and article summaries are available for 1998. Issues appear to be placed online one month after print publication, as the November 11–17 issue was featured at the time of review. [MD] (From the Scout Report)

    Journal of Molecular Diagnostics
    The Journal of Molecular Diagnostics, the official publication of the Association for Molecular Pathology, co-sponsored by The American Society for Investigative Pathology, seeks to publish high-quality original papers on scientific advances in the translation and validation of molecular discoveries in medicine into the clinical diagnostic setting, and the description and application of technological advances in the field of molecular diagnostic medicine. The editors welcome for review articles which contain: novel discoveries with direct application to clinical diagnostics or clinicopathologic correlations including studies in oncology, infectious diseases, inherited diseases, predisposition to disease, or the description of polymorphisms linked to disease states or normal variations; the application of diagnostic methodologies in clinical trials; or the development of new or improved molecular methods for diagnosis or monitoring of disease or disease predisposition.

    The Journal of Molecular Diagnostics online contains the full content of each issue of the journal, including all figures and tables, beginning with the November 1, 1999 issue (Volume 1, Issue 1). 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. The ISSN for the print journal is 1525-1578.

    The Journal of Molecular Diagnostics is currently available on a free trial basis until March, 2001.

    Environment & Energy Daily and Greenwire
    Take this FREE, UNCONDITIONAL opportunity to check out these publications now while the website is (temporarily) open to the public!

    For over 10 years, GREENWIRE has been the insider’s daily source for what’s happening on today’s top environmental issues, and now GREENWIRE brings readers coverage of energy issues plus the inside scoop on what’s happening at the White House, DOE, EPA, Interior, the states and more! Check it out and see how easy it can be to track the issues you need to follow! The Environment & Energy Daily continues to track congressional action.


    Quirks & Quarks [RealPlayer, .mp3]
    Aired every Saturday on Canadian Broadcasting Corporation Radio and on short-wave via Radio Canada International, Quirks & Quarks is an award-winning one-hour program that explores the latest news in science, technology, medicine, and the environment. Visitors can listen to programs in streaming RealAudio or download files in RealPlayer and .mp3 formats. Brief descriptions and related links are provided for each of the week’s stories. Audio archives are available back to February 1996 and program logs to 1989. [MD] (From the Scout Report)

    Healthy Computing
    This site from IBM has information on ergonomic and other safety considerations for your PC workstation gathered in one place.

    NCES Releases TIMSS-R Result

    Pursuing Excellence: Comparisons of International Eighth-Grade Mathematics and Science Achievement from a U.S. Perspective, 1995 and 1999
    Highlights from TIMSS-R
    National Center for Education Statistics released TIMSS-R, the repeat of the Third International mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) first conducted in 1995.

    As you will recall, in the 1995 TIMSS study, U.S. students ranked above the international average in the 4th grade and dropped to the middle in 8th grade. The performance of 12 grade U.S. students ranked among the lowest scoring nations.

    The 1999 TIMSS-R study provides the opportunity to compare the performance of fourth graders in 1995 with the performance of eighth graders in 1999 in 17 countries. **Overall these results show that the relative performance for eight grade students was lower in TIMSS-R than it was for fourth grade students four years earlier in the 1995 TIMSS

    Other findings of interest to science teachers show:

    In science, U.S. 8th grade students outperformed their peers in 18 nations (Italy, Malaysia, Lithuania, Thailand, Romania, Israel, Cyprus, Moldova, Republic of Macedonia, Jordan, Iran, Indonesia, Turkey, Tunisia, Chile, Philippines, Morocco, and South Africa), performed similarly to peers in 5 nations (Hong Kong, Russian Federation, Bulgaria, New Zealand, and Latvia), and performed lower than peers in 14 nations (Chinese Taipei, Singapore, Hungary, Japan, Korea, Netherlands, Australia, Czech Republic, England, Finland, Slovak Republic, Belgium, Slovenia, and Canada) in 1999.

    In 1999, the U.S. was one of 16 TIMSS-R nations in which 8th grade boys outperformed 8th grade girls in science. In 22 nations, no difference between the achievement of 8th grade boys and girls was found.

    Although 8th grade black students showed an increase in mathematics achievement over 4 years, they showed no change in achievement in science over the same period. U.S. 8th grade Hispanic students also showed no change in math or science achievement between 1995 and 1999.

    “Science-loving philatelists rejoice! At long last your passion for the investigation of natural phenomena shakes hands with devotion to stamp collecting. Yes, it’s a big ol’ annotated index of science stamps. The word philately comes from a Greek phrase that roughly translates as ‘exemption from payment.’ Stamps are a way of prepaying for postage. Get it? Now get with Einstein, Newton, Curie, Planck, and Bohr. But, as your host Maike Naylor observes, ‘Some of the most satisfying stamps are not the ones displaying portraits, but those presenting ideas and experiments, such as the photoelectric effect, cloud chamber photographs, or the solar absorption spectrum.’ You got that right.” (From Yahoo’s Picks of the Week)

    Science Lab
    “This is an excellent site for science teachers, being geared towards practical experiments and projects that can be done in the classroom. And the projects are more unusual than one usually sees. You can build a Buckyball, the C60 molecule, essentially a truncated icosahedron. For this project the teacher can download a PDF file to print off and distribute to students. There is a fascinating experiment to explain why, if you have a jar of mixed nuts, the big Brazil nuts are always on top. And how to demonstrate why the Hubble Constant makes sense, with a rubber band. This site is sure to inspire enthusiasm for science in young minds. SM” (From New Scientist Planet Science)

    Know Your Environment
    The Academy of Natural Sciences (at Philadelphia) and Environmental Associates (a group of leading industries) have combined forces to provide this informative Website, offering excellent articles that describe the science behind some of today’s leading environmental issues. The articles provide in-depth, scientific explanations of many issues that appear in the popular media. The Academy’s commitment to improving public understanding of important issues has led them to encourage “reproduction and redistribution of any text within a Know Your Environment article.” For educators, researchers, and students, this site hopes to fill in some important knowledge gaps. [LXP] (From the Scout Report)

    Biological Sciences

    Ecological Indicators for the Nation
    “Environmental indicators, such as global temperatures and pollutant concentrations, attract scientists’ attention and often make the headlines. Equally important to policymaking are indicators of the ecological processes and conditions that yield food, fiber, building materials and ecological ‘services’ such as water purification and recreation.

    This book identifies ecological indicators that can support U.S. policymaking and also be adapted to decisions at the regional and local levels. The committee describes indicators of land cover and productivity, species diversity, and other key ecological processes — explaining why each indicator is useful, what models support the indicator, what the measured values will mean, how the relevant data are gathered, how data collection might be improved, and what effects emerging technologies are likely to have on the measurements.” This work, published in 2,000, can be read online for free or printed offline for a fee. (From InfoMine What’s New)

    TIGR BLAST Search Engine for Unfinished Microbial Genomes
    The Institute for Genomics Research (TIGR) has launched this searchable Website providing unfinished genome data sets for Pseudomonas syringae and Entamoeba histolytica. The site includes a table listing of the status of unfinished microbial genome data, as well as a BLAST search interface for locating protein and DNA sequences. Note that the sequences of these unpublished genomes are unfinished and contain errors. [LXP] (From the Scout Report)

    Microbes — Invisible Invaders, Amazing Allies
    This kids site from Pfizer is quick to go through and fun. It has a microbe dictionary, a microbe quiz, FAQs, a virtual tour through “thirteen interactive displays [which] offer the opportunity for hands-on discovery of scientific concepts and will explain the critical role medical technology plays in keeping pace with the complex and constantly changing world of microbes.” And my personal favorite, the microbe of the month!

    Plankton Net
    Plankton Net has fun links to all kinds of educational sites like Microbe Zoo where germs are explained for all ages to understand or Harmful Algae page where you can learn about different algae or a virtual microscope at Rutgers University that specializes in microbes. Or delve into Warrens’ Research page where you can learn about different research techniques and inquiries that have been undertaken at the University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada. Much of the research focuses on ongoing studies associated with the Great Lakes. Enough technical meat to satisfy the scientist and yet enough explanation to encourage the amateur. LC (From New Scientist Planet Science)


    Bridge Construction and Engineering (BridgePros)
    Excellent site on the construction and history of bridges. Bridge Projects covers past (cable-stayed, cantilever truss, concrete arch, movable span, segmental, steel arch, and suspension), current, and planned bridge projects worldwide; Learning Center discusses types of bridges, has bridge models, and links to lesson plans; Links has categories that include bridge failures, covered bridges, bridge sites of state departments of transportation, bridge inspection, magazines, and associations. Also job listings, news, world records, book and video reviews, and a discussion forum. — cl (From Librarian’s Index to the Internet)

    Thermodynamic Cycles Animations
    Neatly done animations by Rick Teuscher illustrating ideal Otto cycle, 6 cylinder auto engine, ideal diesel cycle, ideal Brayton cycle, ideal Rankine cycle, ideal vapor compression refrigeration cycle, and ideal jet propulsion cycle.


    Virtual Geomorphology
    The Virtual Geomorphology web site is slightly unusual. Designed to evolve as new theories and information comes along, it begins with a table of contents to a non-existent ‘ideal’ geomorphology text book. Each of the chapters are written and reviewed by the readership with other information coming from already existing sites. The idea is a fantastic one as, if maintained, the site will constantly evolve as ideas come in and out of favour. The information content is outstanding and is easily navigable. The only drawback is that the site is not fully searchable with keyword or boolean search engines. That said, this is a small quibble as the site is definitely worth a bookmark for any self respecting geomorphologist. LGC (From New Scientist Planet Science)

    Earth’s Climate History
    “This is one of the subpages of Chris Scotese’s Paleomap Project. This marvelously interactive page allows you to select a period in geologic history and see what the Earth’s climate was like millions of years ago. You can view an animation that shows how the Earth’s climatic belts have changed through time. You can learn how to determine the past climate of the Earth by mapping the distribution of ancient coals, desert deposits, tropical soils, salt deposits, glacial material, as well as the distribution of plants and animals that are sensitive to climate, such as alligators, palm trees & mangrove swamps. There is also a subpage that explains how scientists determine the nature of the ancient climate.” (From Websurfers Biweekly Earth Science Review)

    MareNet : Marine Research Institutions and Documents Worldwide
    “MareNet, the worldwide Network of Marine Research Institutions and Documents, provides a set of information services for marine scientists”. This is an important and far-reaching virtual library of links as well as a limited area search engine. Its many services include: “MareInst offers a HARVEST-based search engine to search across Marine Research Institutions Worldwide. Currently you can search for general information on WWW-Servers of more than 300 listed institutions related to Marine and Earth Science ordered by continent, country and town. The core of MareDoc is a link list of document sources of the worldwide distributed Marine Research Institutions. Such document sources are for example preprints, research reports, annual reports, teaching material such as lecture notes, and list of publications of local research groups and individual scientists. The service is also completed with a HARVEST-based search engine. The Marine and Earth Science Journals site lists different online available Oceanographic and Earth Science Journals classified with regard to their conditions. Marine and Earth Science Dataservices gives access to worldwide distributed oceanographic data collections by listing links to Databases, Centres, Programs and Initiatives. Utilities for calculating, graphing and mapping oceanographic data are given as well. Jobs and Events offers a list of links to various related job sites on the web and a list of servers which provides lists of conferences, workshops and summerschools related to Marine and Earth Science. Other Sources of Oceanographic and Earth Science Information on the Web and futher information services of other fields and disciplines are found on the Links site. The Tools site provides various related services like web-forms to enrich and improve homepages and document sources by adding correct MetaData according the international Dublin-Core standard.” (From InfoMine What’s New)

    Tornado FAQ
    NOAA brings you this handy answer sheet on tornadoes, including the categories of Tornado Forecasting, Tornado Damange, Tornado Safety, Historical Tornadoes, Tornado Climatology, Spotting and Chasing, Tornado Research and Scientific References. Not only are your questions answered, but plenty of weblinks are provided for further information, including everything from maps to statistics to “doppler on wheels”.

    Michigan Technological University Volcanoes Page
    “Michigan Tech’s Volcanoes Page aims to provide information about volcanoes to the public. Amongst these pages you will find information about current global volcanic activity, research in remote sensing of volcanoes and their eruptive products, hazard mitigation, ‘Decade Volcanoes’, links to government agencies and research institutions, and even some volcano humor.” — mg (From Librarians Index to the Internet)

    Mathematical and Physical Sciences

    Jupiter Millennium Flyby
    The Cassini spacecraft, on its journey to Saturn, is making a flyby of the giant planet Jupiter. The Galileo spacecraft has been exploring Jupiter since 1995. It is unusual in the history of space exploration to have two robotic spacecraft on separate missions, actively observing a planet — other than Earth — at the same time from such close range. Also exciting is that elementary, middle and high school students have the opportunity to participate in this distinctive event by observing Jupiter between November 2000 and February 2001, using ground-based radio antennas through the Goldstone Apple Valley Radio Telescope (GAVRT) Project.

    The INSPIRE Project
    This is an excellent source site for schools embarking on the investigation of very low frequency radio signals. There is an easy to understand explanation of what natural radio is, accompanied by some good illustrations. A starter kit is available but no indication as to whether it is available outside the US/Canada (there is however a description of the kit’s components). If you do decide to have a go yourself the FAQ section gives you an idea of the best observing conditions and a point of contact that you can e-mail questions to. There is a list of 15 links to broaden your knowledge but bear in mind that this is an American site and all of the links appear to be in the US. So, if you want to explore Sferics, Tweeks and Whistlers as well as man-made emissions this is the right place to start. ST (From New Scientist Planet Science)

    The NEAR Project Winds Down
    Near Earth Asteroid Rendezvous Project sent a spacecraft, NEAR Shoemaker, to conduct the “first long-term, close-up study of an asteroid. Using innovative sensors and detection equipment, NEAR Shoemaker is collecting information on Eros’ mass, structure, geology, composition, gravity and magnetic field. The NEAR mission aims to answer fundamental questions about the nature and origin of the many asteroids and comets close to Earth’s orbit. These ‘near Earth’ objects may contain clues about the formation of Earth, other planets, even the whole universe. Eros’ pristine surface offers a look at conditions in space when Earth formed more than 4.5 billion years ago.” This site has the image of the day, FAQ, discussion of the science and engineering, movies — you can even sign up for a newsletter.

    Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences

    Economic Sociology Editorial Series
    This collection of editorials was first published on the economic-sociology electronic mailing list. Written by academics from such institutions as Northwestern University, the University of Pennsylvania, Stockholm University, and Princeton University, these editorials cover a range of ideas in the field of economic sociology including globalization, immigration, and the future of economic sociology. Generally informational in tone and easy to read, these short pieces offer excellent snapshots into some of the most pressing issues in economic sociology. [EM] (From the Scout Report)

    “Emergence of Advertising in America: 1850 &ndas;h 1920” (EAA) — Duke University’s Rare Book, Manuscript, and Special Collections Library
    EAA is an online image database of over 9,000 advertising items and publications dating from 1850 to 1920 … The purpose of the project is to illustrate the rise of consumer culture, especially after the American Civil War, and the birth of a professionalized advertising industry in the United States. The images are drawn from over a dozen separate collections in the Hartman Center and Duke’s Rare Book, Manuscript, and Special Collections Library.

    Polynesian Voyaging Society
    An exploration of “how Polynesian seafarers discovered and settled nearly every inhabitable island in the Pacific Ocean before European explorers arrived in the 16th century.&rdquot; Included are backgrounds of early migrations, list of plants brought, bibliography, and map. Also available are the replicated voyages held by the society in the same type of canoes used by the early voyagers. There are also articles about canoe-building skills, navigational arts, proverbs and stories, life on a canoe, information for teachers, and more. — dl (From Librarian’s Index to the Internet)

    The Nonverbal Dictionary of Gestures, Signs & Body Language Cues
    Developed from the research of “anthropologists, archaeologists, biologists, linguists, psychiatrists, psychologists, semioticians, and others who have studied human communication from a scientific point of view.” Some definitions include an image. — dl (From Librarians Index to the Internet)

    Prehispanic Literature of Mexico
    A brief introduction to literature in Mexico before the Spanish conquest, including the Náhuatl literature of the Aztecs. There are also brief biographies of known authors of songs and poems and a background of the literature and authors of Tenochtitlan (the location of current-day Mexico City). Also available in Spanish. — dl (From Librarians Index to the Internet)


    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:

    Computer networks such as the Internet may follow the same patterns that scientists have found in molecules and ecosystems. Several recent studies have shown that networks are not necessarily random, as many scientists had long believed. The networks seem to follow a pattern identified by scientists as the power law. According to the power law, in any network made up of nodes linked to other nodes, the number of nodes having a certain number of links is inversely proportional to the number of links. In other words, in any system, there are far more nodes with only one or two links than nodes with 10 or 100 or 1,000 links. Scientists say this pattern has an effective purpose: because of the number of links, problems with one node will likely not cause any problems to the millions of other nodes. However, if someone designs a program to knock out one of the few nodes with many links, it could cause the network to crash. Proponents of this network model say they may have discovered something like a universal law. However, critics of these studies say computer networks show several deviations from the power law. They argue that although a network may show some signs of an order, it likely will demonstrate just as many signs of randomness. (New York Times, 26 December 2000 via Edupage)

    Researchers at the University of California at Santa Barbara have created a photon “turnstile” that releases one light particle at a time, marking a major advance in the field of quantum cryptography. Until now, lasers, which emit tens of thousands of photons at once, provided the most control over photons. The turnstile, described in today’s issue of “Science,” could lead to the development of a quantum encryption system by allowing physicists to transmit a stream of single photons that holds the key to an encrypted message. If an outsider tried to intercept the stream, the key would become scrambled because a single photon cannot be examined without changing its properties, according to the principles of quantum mechanics. The sender would be alerted to the interception and could stop the transmission. The UC-Santa Barbara team built the turnstile by placing “quantum dots,” or crystals with groups of positive and negative atoms, on a semiconductor. The researchers pulsed the entire structure with a laser, causing the turnstile to emit a single photon. (USA Today, 22 December 2000 via Edupage)

    Visualization is a key component of several cutting-edge technologies that appeared at a recent Internet2 meeting. The Virtual Aneurysm, for example, is an application that simulates the blood flow in a patient’s vessels to help surgeons prevent potentially fatal aneurysms. The system, developed by UCLA researchers, uses data from X-rays of a patient’s blood vessels to create geometric and mathematical models of the vessels in a 3D virtual environment. Segmentation software helps differentiate vessels from surrounding tissues, and triangulation software builds a 3D model of the vessel. The 3D model is then used in a computational fluid dynamics program, producing a simulation of fluid movement through the vessel. The Virtual Aneurysm aims to advance the new field of endovascular therapy, a method of treating aneurysms by filling them with special coils that prevent rupture. This new application will run on the next-generation Internet2, which will provide the infrastructure needed to make remote visualization reliable and to guarantee display rates, says Daniel Valentino, a radiology and biomedical engineering professor who helped create the Virtual Aneurysm. The Internet2 will enable surgeons to consult with remote colleagues in real time and possibly to supervise actual surgeries remotely. (Computer Graphics World, December 2000 via Edupage)

    The federal government is accepting applications for a one-year pilot program that will provide low-interest loans to telecommunications carriers that want to deliver broadband access to communities of 20,000 people or fewer outside metropolitan areas. Broadband service is necessary for some Web applications, such as distance education, that are important for rural communities, explains Roberta Purcell, assistant administrator at the Department of Agriculture’s Rural Utilities Service. Building broadband infrastructure is expensive, and carriers use customer density to help offset costs, so carriers have avoided thinly populated areas. Purcell says the program will offer loans with an average interest rate that is about 2 percent lower than the best deal from a private-sector lender, and she adds that interest in the program has been high. If the program is successful, the agency may request more lending capital and try to make the program permanent. A Comptel spokeswoman points out that the program is similar to the role the government took to promote rural electrification development. (Interactive Week, 11 December 2000 via Edupage)

    Disabled individuals may find it easier to use federal government Web sites now that legislation mandating that those sites make themselves accessible to the blind, the mobility-impaired, and others is going into effect. The new rules say all but a few federal sites must provide features such as keyboard navigation for those who cannot use a mouse and software that reads text aloud for blind users. One agency already implementing the changes is the Health Care Financing Administration, which simplified the design of its Medicare portal for easier navigation and added multiple languages and screen-reading software. In the time since these changes occurred, the site has had twice as many hits. The federal legislation could be the first step toward requiring that private-sector Web sites be accessible to the disabled. The Justice Department has already said it believes that the Americans With Disabilities Act applies to Web sites, and a recent lawsuit by the National Federation of the Blind against America Online used that law as its basis. Although AOL settled that suit, many observers are unsure whether more sites will be compelled to improve their accessibility. (Wall Street Journal, 21 December 2000 via Edupage)

    Michael Fitzpatrick, former head of fiber-optic firm E-Tek Dynamics, will give $25 million to his alma mater Duke University and another $25 million to Stanford University to enhance research into photonics. Scientists believe that this emerging field, which uses the photons and electrons within light to send information, will be the key to communications in the future, allowing data to be transmitted in vastly greater amounts and at substantially greater speeds than today. One day, scientists claim, photonics may even allow people to send holographic representations of themselves. In more practical terms, photonics may lead to more accurate medical readings and the widespread availability of high-definition video. ElectroniCast says photonics spending will surpass $34 billion by 2006. Despite these potential benefits, the industry is suffering from a lack of resources. Fitzpatrick hopes to remedy this situation through his gifts, the largest individual donation in the field’s history. Both Duke and Stanford will use the money to complete research centers for photonics. Earlier this year Nanovation Technologies donated $90 million to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to support photonics research. (, 13 December 2000 via Edupage)

    The Boston-based TV and radio group WGBH, with the support of the National Science Foundation, has released a new report, “Making Educational Software Accessible,” that calls upon software developers to create learning programs that students with impaired hearing, sight, or manual dexterity can use. The report is the result of a three-year study of educational software intended for math and science students, and the report’s authors hope their findings will allow disabled students to increase their participation in these fields. The report suggests several steps to improve educational software for science and math, including closed-captioning, screen-reading software, text-descriptions to match images, keyboard navigation, and screen-reading software. The report’s authors say it should be neither difficult nor costly for software developers to implement such changes. Several software developers responded that while they are unaware of the guidelines, they saw no reason not to make their products more accessible. There is no federal legislation mandating that software be accessible to the disabled. (Wired News, 14 December 2000 via Edupage)

    The American Academy of Pediatrics and a nonprofit group, Learning in the Real World, will collaborate to study the effects of computers on children. The research will focus on how the use of computers impacts motor development in children from birth to age 11. The American Academy of Pediatrics has conducted similar research into how music video, advertisements, and other cultural factors affect children; Learning in the Real World has long questioned whether computers should be used in the classroom. The two groups believe they will be able to provide the first concrete research into this issue. A study earlier this year from the Alliance for Childhood said computer use in classrooms should be banned until there is clear evidence the technology does not cause harm to young students’ development. The Software Information Industry Association disagrees, saying it approves of further research but thinks the key is making educational software more interactive. Officials at the National Association for the Education of Young Children say no one should jump to the conclusion that technology is bad. Instead, more and better training for both students and teachers is required. (New York Times Online, 13 December 2000 via Edupage)

    Officials from several U.S. cities say the digital divide does exist, particularly for African-Americans. This digital divide will only increase the economic and education gap, and that, in turn, could exacerbate the racial divide. Oak Ridge, Tenn., council member Wilbert Minter spoke at the recent annual meeting of the National League of Cities, saying that 23 percent of African-Americans are online, which means they pay more taxes because they lack access to the Internet’s tax-free market. Tennessee Regulatory Authority director Melvin Moore said city officials need to do more than putting PCs in schools--try churches and community centers, he suggested. Moore also pointed out that students with computers at home submit better homework than those without computers, which creates an education gap as well. James Moore, America Online director of new markets, says mailing CD-ROM disks that offer free Internet access does not work with African-Americans — in part because many lack the credit card required to sign up with providers. PCs are frequently too expensive for low-income African-Americans. (Government Technology Online, 11 December 2000 via Edupage)

    As the United States races to bring Internet technology to its classrooms, it has left students and teachers without the technical support structure needed to take full advantage of the technology, according to Barbara Means, co-director of the Center for Technology in Learning in Menlo Park, Calif. Still, there are some indications that educators are making strides in developing technology-enhanced learning activities. For example, Hands-On Universe, a program of the University of California at Berkeley’s Lawrence Hall of Science, has students using user-friendly tools to review images from space in order to search for supernovas and asteroids. Designed to help students learn astronomy concepts and research skills, the program produced the discovery of an unknown supernova by students. However, such programs are not yet mainstream. The problem of bulky equipment and multiple wires and cords in classrooms could be solved with the development of educational appliances and portable handhelds. With an eye toward the next two decades, the technology could stimulate educators to improve public schools. (Educational Leadership, January 2001 via Edupage)

    Internet filter programs are blocking access to many non-offensive Web sites because of the high incidence of words and phrases the filters search for, according to a study from For example, the Cybersitter program identifies an news article as sexually explicit for containing the phrase “at least 21.” The phrase, however, is used to describe the number of casualties in an international shooting incident. Politicians in the United States and elsewhere want filtering software to become a standard tool of libraries and schools, but numerous students are complaining that such software actually hampers their schoolwork. Such complaints prompted Peacefire to run several filtering programs through a list of Amnesty International-related sites. The results of the study show that the software blocks more news sites than sexually oriented sites, Peacefire claims. Ironically, the Realtime Blackhole List is blocking the Peacefire Web site because the program discovered an unrelated site on the same Web hosting service that could potentially send spam. (Cnet, 15 December 2000 via Edupage)

    The nation’s schools should continue to expand the use of the Internet in the classroom, a panel commissioned by Congress concluded in a report released yesterday. The Web-based Education Commission, which included educators and business officials as well as members of Congress, said the federal government should increase its involvement in the spread of technology into the classroom. The panel’s report counters the concerns of some educators, who say wiring the nation’s schools is not worth the cost and may not improve learning. The panel made several suggestions to federal and state governments to facilitate the use of the Internet in classrooms, including more funds for research into the issue and federal funds to upgrade schools’ Internet connections to allow high-speed access. Citing the number of college students now taking courses over the Web, the panel recommended changing a law that provides less federal financial aid for these students. The panel also found that although a large percentage of the nation’s schools are now online, many teachers lack the training to use the Internet, let alone teach its use to students. (Washington Post, 20 December 2000 via Edupage)

    The U.S. Department of Education budget for programs that support technology in education has grown to more than $2.8 billion for 2001, out of a record increase of $6.5 billion for the department. “We are very pleased with the budget we’ve gotten,” said Linda Roberts, White House advisor on educational technology. “This is going to really help us follow up on the recommendations of the Web-based Education Commission.” In December the commission issued a report, “The Power of the Internet for Learning: Moving from Promise to Practice,” on how the federal government should encourage online learning. Federal spending on educational technology is up more than 3,500 percent from 1993, when it was only $23 million. (eSchool News, 26 December 2000 via Edupage)

    Europe is building a high-speed research network called GEANT that will connect research institutions in 30 countries. GEANT, similar to Internet2 in the United States, will run on a 2.5 Gbps backbone and is expected to serve as a testing ground for new applications in fields such as medicine and telecommunications. For example, research on GEANT is expected to bring advances in quality of service and multicasting technology, which will eventually filter down to the commercial realm. The European Union has promised to provide 80 million euros to help build the research network, which is scheduled to go online in the middle of 2001. (Network Magazine, December 2000 via Edupage)

    Bonnie Neas, head of Internet research at North Dakota State University, is helping bring advanced networking technologies to her school and to the rest of the state as well. Neas led the projects for both the Great Plains Network and the Dakota Link, two broadband networks that provided North Dakota State with high-speed links to national research networks such as Internet2’s Abilene and the National Science Foundation’s very-high-performance Backbone Network Service. North Dakota State belongs to the Internet2 consortium and is one of the first universities to conduct research on access-grid technology, which could broadcast or multicast video streams to many users at the same time. Another Internet2 project at the school involves active networking, which cuts the time needed to process large amounts of data by locating and using idle processors in the network. Although North Dakota State is a small state school, it devotes almost $1.2 million annually to advanced network computing equipment. The school is moving toward an all-optical campus network by upgrading to single-mode fiber. Neas has also led an effort to get the university to provide Internet access, network, and e-mail services for all of the state’s elementary and secondary schools. (Chronicle of Higher Education, 5 January 2001 via Edupage)


    Librarian Avengers
    If you’re not careful, this bad-to-the-bone librarian site will kick your pasty, non-librarian tush all over the map. Librarian Avengers serves up a heady mix of librarian rants, comic book heroes, and myth-shattering testimonials from the library front. After viewing this site, you will cower and tremble in front of all librarians before you: “Librarians are all-knowing and all-seeing. They bring order to chaos. They bring wisdom and culture to the masses. They preserve every aspect of human knowledge. Librarians rule. And they will kick the crap out of anyone who says otherwise.” (From Yahoo’s Sites of the Week)

    Giant Pandas at the Smithsonian
    Pictures, webcams, frequently asked questions, fact sheets, research — even postcards!

    TechnoSphere is a 3D model world inhabited by artificial lifeforms created by WWW users. There are thousands of creatures in the world all competing to survive. They eat, fight, mate and create offspring which evolve and adapt to their environment. When you make a creature it will email you to let you know what it has been getting up to in its world. Using the creature tools you can find out how your creature is surviving, what it is doing at any time, and where it is in the terrain. (From InfoView What’s New)