Sci-Tech Library Newsletter


Newsletter archive > 2001 January 31 Issue

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  1. A NEW META SEARCH ENGINE: Search Turtle gives you some interesting choices.
  2. NEW ELECTRONIC JOURNALS: Mostly physical sciences this week, some life sciences.
  3. TIP OF THE WEEK: Finding that elusive article you know you read once, long ago, in the dim past …
  4. INTERESTING WEBSITES AND NEWS FROM THE INTERNET: Science rock, evolution resources, dubious data, Fast Facts, Romantic Natural History; Biological Sciences: California Deserts, Triumph of Life, genomics, sharks, conservation database, urban biodiversity; Engineering: hydrogen and fuel cells, historic buildings, aerodynamics; Geosciences: seismology, paleontology, the San Francisco earthquake, waterfalls, climate change; Mathematical and Physical Sciences: nebulae, moon atlas, Multimedia Physics Studio, liquid crystals, Catalan’s Conjecture, prime numbers, nanogears; Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences: the Archeology Channel, indigenous peoples, dreams, World Bank live on the web, semiotics, hands, violence against women, City Sites … also: computer science and internet news from Edupage.
  5. INTER ALIA: Chemistry valentines, education as a subject for art, physicist quotes.
  1. Search Turtle — New Meta Search Engine

    Search Turtle
    Search Turtle is a new meta-search engine that divides its search into several different categories (MP3, News, Images, etc.) You don’t have to search by category, but if you want to choose a category do that first, because the page will reload and give you more detailed search options. Once you’ve chosen those and clicked Search, you’ll get a results page with a nav frame across the top of the page. The nav frame has two sets of left and right buttons and a home button. One set of buttons moves left and right through the pages of search results. The other set of buttons moves left and right through the results themselves. This is way confusing, as all the buttons are the same color and size. I kept trying to use the browser’s back buttons and confusing myself utterly. This is a good idea but I may be too stupid for it. (From ResearchBuzz)


    The Polymer Forum is offering FREE access to the following journals until 1 June 2001 at Free registration to Chemweb required.

    • Polymer
    • Progress in Polymer Science
    • Computational and Theoretical Polymer Science
    • European Polymer Journal
    • Polymer Degradation and Stability
    • Polymer Testing
    • Reactive and Functional Polymers
    • Carbohydrate Polymers
    • International Journal of Biological Macromolecules

    Protein Science
    Protein Science serves as an international forum for publishing original reports on proteins in the broadest sense. The Journal aims to unify this field by cutting across established disciplinary lines and focusing on “protein-centered” science. Journal content encompasses the structure, function, and biochemical significance of proteins; their role in molecular and cell biology, genetics, and evolution; and their regulation and mechanisms of action. In addition, the Journal will publish results of protein-centered work involving sequencing, modification, and mass spectrometry; cDNA, mutagenesis, and cloning; computational analysis; isolation and characterization; thermodynamics and hydro-dynamics; kinetics; and equilibrium phenomena.

    There is currently a free trial period for full content access to the journal which will be available until May 1, 2001. Subsequent to the free trial period, access to the full text of articles will be limited to individual and institutional subscribers to the journal in print only.

    Journal of Phycology
    Founded in 1965, the Journal publishes international research to provide a common medium for the ecologist, physiologist, cell biologist, molecular biologist, morphologist, oceanographer, taxonomist, geneticist, and biochemist. All aspects of basic and applied research on algae are included. There is currently a free trial period for full content access to the Journal which will be available until March 1, 2001. Subsequent to the free trial period, access to the full text of articles will be limited to individual and institutional subscribers only.


    One of our patrons came to us this week with a challenging request (the librarians in the audience will recognize this request format):

    “I read an article some years ago and I need a copy of it. I think it was in Science, and I think maybe it was some time in the 1970’s. I don’t remember the title, the author may have been something like ‘Imperato’ — but it may have been a hyphenated name. Or it might have been some other author. The subject was a group of people on a Caribbean island that have a chromosomal aberration which makes some of the babies that are apparently born as girls change into boys when they enter puberty, so the people have had to make social adjustments to accomodate this phenomenon. Can you locate this article for me?”

    There is a lot of information given in this request, but not many solid facts — the kind you need to do a really efficient search. For instance, you know the population is on a Caribbean Island, but most probably the article won’t mention the Caribbean, it will name the particular island. Therefore it won’t be useful to search for the term “Caribbean”, for instance, although once a few articles are found you can easily eliminate from consideration any that are not concerning an island in the Caribbean. You can recognize what you want once found, but how can you find it?

    As an added challenge, most of the databases the NSF library has at its disposal do not go back to the 1970s. So how do you go about chasing down this elusive item? This could take days …

    This is one of the times when it is very helpful to really be aware of the range of information tools available and the way they can interact and complement each other.

    First of all, although you have a lot of information which will easily help you recognize the article once it is found, but you don’t have a lot of exact key words to help you do an efficient search. Additionally, the article’s subject could fit into very different broad subject areas. There is certainly a biological/medical aspect to it, but there is also a sociological/anthropological aspect to it. Which kind of information source would be more relevant? And what keywords best fit into which possible subject area? Without more specifics, I probably don’t want to approach this search initially by choosing a bibliographic database.

    The first thing needed is to limit the possibilities. I want to go to my most diverse source of information and do some exploring to see if I can find some suitable keywords which will narrow down my range of choices.

    The most diverse source of information I have handy is the WWW. To search the web for this kind of question I want to use a search engine — because I am looking for a very specific item. I don’t want to use a directory for this particular search. But I want the right search engine. I want one that does well on science and technology websites. I also want one that will allow me to string a lot of keywords and concepts together in a complex Boolean query if I need to do so. I want AltaVista Advanced.

    The terms I expect might be reliable for this search are “genitalia” and “puberty” and (chromosom* or genetic) — well, you can imagine the results I would get with such a search. It just covers too much territory — and a lot of territory I don’t want to visit. Also the journal name “Science” is in itself such an unspecific term as to be useless. Imperato might be correct, but I don’t know if it is a complete name. Just for the heck of it, I will throw it into a broad search statement in case it is correct, but I will truncate it, since it might be hyphenated. If I get no hits, I will try a the search statement without Imperato, but with as many relevant terms as possible connected with “and”, “or” and nesting parentheses. What I am looking for here is not the article itself, but rather some clues to help me search more efficiently for the article. I try this search statement:

    (chromosom* or genetic) and puberty and (genitalia or gender) and Imperato*

    As it turns out, this is an excellent search, but probably only because Imperato turns out to be correct. The author’s name is, in fact, Imperato-McGinley, and she has written extensively on this genetically interesting population. From looking at a few of the web documents found by AltaVista, I learn the author’s name, I learn that the population is Dominican, I learn that the specific disorder is 5-alpha reductase deficiency, and I learn that the author has been heavily cited. In a few moments of effort, I have gotten a large number of solid, searchable facts to help me locate the actual article. I can now go to a database and do a really efficient search to locate the exact article.

    Since not many of the databases available to me go this far back in time, I have to be a bit cagey. I decide to do a citation search on the Science Citation Index. I only have the database from 1985 forward, but I know that this article, although written in the 1970s, may have been cited since 1985, and might well have been heavily cited, since I find many “hits” doing a web search. I do a search on author Imperato-McGinley * and only find a couple of hits. This doesn’t look right to me at all. To double check, I do a subject search on “Dominican and 5-alpha reductase”, and find several articles. Looking at the records for these articles, I find that the Science Citation Index is listing the author’s name not as “Imperato-McGinley”, but as “Imperatomcginley”. Who would have thought it? Redoing the citation search, I find the author “Imperatomcginley” is indeed heavily cited, including an article in Science from 1974 that has been cited no less than 185 times since 1985. Chances are very good that this is the article for which I am searching. I now have enough information to find the actual article and present it to my patron.

    Locating this article took me 20 minutes, total.

    What skills did I use?

    1. I knew when to do a web search (when I wanted to do “quick and dirty“ searching on a wide base of operations) and when to do a database search (when I had some specific and limited information for which to search).
    2. I knew which search engine to use for the web search.
    3. I knew which database would give me a shot at the time period I wanted to search.
    4. I knew how to use the database to locate a heavily cited article — the article most likely to be the one I wanted.
    5. I knew how to double check myself on the way to do a name search when I wasn’t getting the results I thought I should be getting.

    None of these skills is very fancy, but combining your skills, and combining the tools you use, can be critical.

    Most of all remember that if something is taking a lot longer than it should … you may be using either the wrong tool or the wrong technique.


    Science Rock
    Part of the award-winning School House Rock series which makes learning more memorable on the premise that it is easier to memorise lyrics to popular songs than to recall facts from a text book. The creators feel the image files used are necessary to help motivation and memory but for computers with a slow connection there is a lo-graphics version. The songs are fun and informative and if sung enough they will probably never be forgotten. So if you’re having difficulty with the CNS, understanding gravity or where electricity comes from you might just have to find your singing voice and get rocking. JSG (From New Scientist Planet Science)

    NSTA Evolution Resources
    This metasite, provided by the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA), offers links to official statements, court cases, press releases, and teacher resources dealing with evolution in the science classroom. It is intended primarily for K–12 teachers but is a great resource for professors of science education or college-level introductory biology/geology. The NSTA holds the position that evolution is a major unifying concept of science and believes that it should be included as part of K–12 and college science curricula. Their official position page, succinct and fully referenced, would be worthwhile for science teachers to review. Interesting links include the text of the 1999 Oklahoma Biology Textbook Disclaimer and a statement from the Kansas Association of Teachers of Science (KATS). Teacher resources available from the Website are a link to the NSTA’s (in conjunction with the Smithsonian) Galapagos Website and descriptions of recommended evolution textbooks. Although the controversy that rocked Kansas in 1999 is no longer front page news, the NSTA site is still a valuable resource for science educators facing challenges in dealing with evolution, particularly in the public school classroom. [HCS] (From the Scout Report)

    Dubious Data 2000 Awards
    This site, brought to you by the Statistical Assessment Service, presents the ten silliest or most inaccurate (statistically) news reports from 2000, with an explanation of what is wrong with the data in each story.

    The Statistical Assessment Service examines the way that scientific, quantitative, and social research are presented by the media, and works with journalists to help them convey this material more accurately and effectively.

    Fast Facts: Almanacs/ Factbooks/ Statistical Reports & Related Reference Tools
    The inestimable Gary D. Price, librarian at George Washington University, has put together yet another excellent reference resource. This one is essentially an electronic almanac or collection of links to sites with “fast facts” for a large collection of topics. These are listed alphabetically by subject, from agriculture to zoology. The entry under aviation, for example, includes links to the Airline Handbook, Business Aviation Factbook, General Aviation Statistical Databook, General Aviation Statistical Databook, and several others. Entries for US cities or states generally include the official data or fact book. There are too many other resources to list, so users should take a look for themselves and then give the site pride of place in their reference bookmarks. [MD] (From the Scout Report)

    A Romantic Natural History
    Before the twentieth century, there was less distinction between ‘science’ and ‘art’, and scientists composed poems while poets, painters and writers dealt with scientific matters as they saw fit. This site will take you from Aristotle to Darwin, starting with a mix of mythology and Pliny’s Naturalis Historia, to the Middle Ages, when science was viewed as a poor relative to witchcraft. By the 1700s, Shelley was performing electrical experiments in his Oxford rooms, and Priestley wrote poems and theological essays when he wasn’t discovering oxygen. Coleridge’s Kubla Khan was written as he consulted with scientists, and it is thought that the ‘pleasure dome’ was all about geology. Lots of topics up, and more to come. AD (From New Scientist Planet Science)

    Biological Sciences

    California Deserts
    Nine diverse state and federal agencies — from Caltrans to the National Park Service — have collaborated on this guide to the desert wilderness of California and southern Nevada. Modern visitors need not face the hazards and hardships that confronted early travelers in a ruggedly beautiful, landscape, but they should come prepared for a hostile environment. Just in time for the winter wildflower season, the site describes three distinct desert ecosystems: the Mojave (hottest and driest), the Colorado (lowest), and the Great Basin Desert (higher and colder). Much like the region it describes, this is a trip planner that’s easy to get lost in. (From Yahoo’s Picks of the Week)

    Triumph of Life
    Despite overwhelming obstacles, life on Earth has evolved from the most humble of beginnings to a level of diversity that challenges human comprehension. The fittest have indeed survived — even in places where no living creatures could be thought to exist. NATURE’s six-part series TRIUMPH OF LIFE presents the remarkable story of evolution and its survivors. This Web companion to the series features essays, video clips, and special interactive features that explore the amazing story of life on Earth. For the interactive presentations, you will need version 5 or higher of the free Flash plug-in. To view the video clips, you need the free RealPlayer.

    Featured are:

    The Four Billion Year War
    The Mating Game
    The Eternal Arms Race
    Evolutionary Timeline
    Filmmaker’s Diary

    And more …

    Functional Genomics
    This new site from Science magazine is designed as an entry point for scientists, researchers, and general users interested in genomics. Features include links to recent news, new and classic scholarly papers organized by topic, annotated links, biotech business resources, and _Science’s_ genome special issues. This well-designed and easy-to-use resource has potential for a wide range of users interested in genomics and biotechnology. [MD] (From the Scout Report)

    ReefQuest Expeditions: Shark Research Program
    This searchable site presents information, with many drawings and photographs, about sharks and rays. Topics in Shark Biology contains: behavior, conservation, diversity, life history, name games, physiology, record-breakers, taxonomy, classification, and sensory biology. Life History and Behavior of Lamnoid Sharks contains the biology of many species. Additionally there are reviews of print sources, an annotated list of related Web sites, and a place to ask questions about sharks. — dl From Librarian’s Index to the Internet)

    A search engine cataloging conservation information on over 50,000 plants, animals, and “ecological communities” in North America. You can search for either plants and animals or ecological communities. The plant and animal search allows you to search by name (common or scientific), group (i.e. birds) or species group (plants, fungi, or animals in various states of spine.) There are also options to search by location (US State or Canadian Province) or status (from “Presumed Extinct” through “Not Yet Ranked.”) (Click Search Now. Get time out notice. Know darn well I haven’t timed out. Try twice more. Get irritated. Realize finally that since I’m blocking cookies the site is stupidly assuming I’m timing out. Sigh noisily. Enable cookies.) After an intermediate screen (which describes the search options you chose) the search results appear. Search results consist of the name of the animal/plant (scientific and common), distribution, and Worth a look. (From Research Buzz)

    Subtitled Urban Entomology of the San Francisco Bay, this site explores urban biodiversity. It contains a field guide with photos and descriptions and images of about fifty common insects of the San Francisco Bay Region. All About Bugs contains a glossary, how to identify and where to look for insects, their anatomy, and more. Included are lesson plans, curriculum guides, and activities. For students, games and puzzles are included. There are related resources and a chance to Ask the Experts science questions. From UC Berkeley’s College of Natural Resources and the Oakland Unified School District, California. — dl (From Librarian’s Index to the Internet)


    The Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Investor
    Although from the name of this site, you might get the idea that they would like nothing better than to stick their hand deep into your pocket, it is one of the best starting places on the web for anything to do with either hydrogen power or fuel cells. Covering the critical topics such as technologies, infrastructure, materials and companies, a serious and highly detailed presentation is given to all areas of fuel cells and hydrogen powered devices. This site literally bulges with information. Information on investment, a weekly e-mail newsletter and frequent news updates completes the technical and scientific aspects of this site to make it an major portal for all aspects of both hydrogen power and fuel cells. WTS (From New Scientist Planet Science)

    Built in America: Historic American Buildings Survey/Historic American Engineering Record, 1933-Present
    An online, searchable collection that “documents achievements in architecture, engineering, and design in the United States and its territories through a comprehensive range of building types and engineering technologies including examples as diverse as windmills, one-room schoolhouses, the Golden Gate Bridge, and buildings designed by Frank Lloyd Wright.” Also browsable by geographic location or subject. It contains thousands of photographs, written histories, field notes, and measured drawings for more than 35,000 recorded historic structures and sites. Part of the American Memory Project. — dl (From Librarian’s Index to the Internet)

    Beginner’s Guide to Aerodynamics
    Another one of the excellent science sites put up by America’s NASA, the Beginner’s Guide to Aerodynamics is a broad ranging and practical introduction to the actual mathematics and concepts needed to design working airplanes and airfoils. Although aimed at advanced high school level science students, anyone interested in airplane design will find this site both fascinating and useful. Concepts such as lift and air resistance are discussed in detail, and the centerpiece of this site is a downloadable module for calculating and designing an airfoil. You may not be able to go into competition with Boeing or Airbus after completing this site, but you can now certainly design the airfoil for that windmill in aunt Millie’s garden you promised her. WTS (From New Scientist Planet Science)


    Seismological Laboratory
    This is an outstanding teaching tool for a variety of ages, and so it is extremely surprisingly that has had only 8600 hits since March 1997. Younger users will enjoy the “sub explorer” (part of the Polar Continental Shelf Project or PCSP) in which you can explore the plants, wildlife and people of northern Canada, excellent quiz too. For older visitors to this part of the site there is a comprehensive list of science and technology facilities e.g. field stations. Graphics are excellent and there is an opportunity to learn every step of the way. Features such as where to find geological products round the home or where to site a mine are fully interactive and provide a useful link between theory and industry. The section on satellite imagery is a good introduction to the subject although there is no scale or compass on the images. I wandered through this site for ages, and am sure others will, too. ST (From New Scientist Planet Science)

    Kuban’s K-Paleo Place
    Glen Kuban presents a comprehensive listings site for the world’s online palaeontology resources, useful for enthusiasts, students and professionals alike. If you can’t find the fossil site of your dreams here, it’s surely only a couple of clicks away. Sites are grouped into sensible categories, ranging from the serious — like university departments and natural history museums, to the less serious — ‘Laffs and Gaffs’ is ideal for rockhounds seeking light relief. In fact the coverage is broad — with commercial and educational links, and to sites on gems, mining, genomics and creationism to name but a few. As far as the fossils go, ‘Dinosaur Den’ is particularly impressive — with over 200 listings — but trace fossils and invertebrates are also amply covered. K-Paleo is clearly set out and quick to navigate, but with more sites continually appearing (and some ‘gems’ stemming two categories but appearing just once) a keyword search would be an excellent addition. JS (From New Scientist Planet Science)

    The Museum of the City of San Francisco’s 1906 Earthquake and Fire
    This website is a photographic chronology and narrative account of one of the best-documented great (any quake whose magnitude is greater than M=7.5) earthquakes in history. For natives of California like myself, the pictures that accompany this website are very familiar and have a particular resonance for us because, to this day, one can still find evidence of the horrendous damage caused by the earthquake and the ensuing fire that, together, redrew the map of the City by the Bay forever. My grandfather was a survivor of the quake and liked to tell us about how he was awakened from sleep by the initial tremors; running to the window of his upper-story room in the Barbary Coast district, he narrowly missed being decapitated by a chimney sliding off the roof and crashing onto the street below! The Earthquake and Fire Newspaper Clippings and Eyewitnesses to the Earthquake and Fire subpages are particularly evocative of the fog and confusion of such a disaster. There have been many other more devastating earthquakes throughout the world, but the 1906 San Francisco earthquake has always held a particular morbid fascination for Californians and other Americans. (From Websurfer’s Biweekly Earth Science Review)

    The Eastern States Waterfall Guide
    A listing of over 150 waterfalls in the eastern US. The listing is searchable. You can either use a simple search form (looks just like a keywords box) or a more advanced form that covers waterfall name, location, stream name, height (above or below x feet), and state. Further, you can limit your search to just recommended falls or just falls with photographs. You can use just parts of that form; it’s easy to, say, search for all the waterfalls in New York. Search results give you the name of the falls, location, ratings (on power, beauty, and ease of access), height, and river. Recommended waterfalls are denoted with a smiley face. Only the waterfalls which the maintainer has personally visited are listed on the results page; there is a separate page with other waterfalls that the maintainer has not visited. The maintainer does seem to get around, though — there are ten waterfalls listed on the North Carolina page and 43 on Pennsylvania’s. Clicking on the fall’s name gives you a page of information about the area, including links to photographs, safety considerations, rules and fees, descriptions, and driving directions. This site also includes hints and tips for visiting waterfalls, photographing waterfalls, classifications of waterfalls (do you know the difference between a talus and a scree? You DON’T?) a &qlduo;Falls of the Month” feature, and a link list (there’s a “Waterfalls of Southern Ontario” site! And “Waterfalls of Hong Kong!”) Beautiful photography here. Worth a look. (From Research Buzz)

    The Incorporated Research Institutions for Seismology (IRIS) SeismicMonitor
    One of the most useful and informative tools for viewing seismic-event records on the Internet! It is built around an interactive image-map display of global seismicity that allows you to monitor earthquakes in near real-time, view records of ground motion, and visit seismic stations around the world. The display is updated every 30 minutes using data from the National Earthquake Information Center (USA). Earthquakes that have occurred within the last 24 hours are shown with red circles. The circles fade through orange to yellow within 15 days. After 15 days, the circles are replaced by light purple dots that remain on the map for five years. The distribution of seismicity over the past five years demonstrates how earthquakes define the boundaries of tectonic plates, and the relationship between topography and seismicity. Mouse-click in the center of a circle and a list of all events will appear with the event you selected highlighted in yellow, and events whose epicenters are located within 10 degrees of that event highlighted in white. Events that are 6.0 and greater are linked to special information pages that try to explain the where, how and why that particular event occured. Click on an individual seismic observatory (shown by the purple colored triangles) to bring up a station information page. (From Websurfer’s Biweekly Earth Science Review)

    “Climate Change 2001: The Scientific Basis” — IPCC [.pdf]
    On January 22, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) issued perhaps the most comprehensive and dire report to date on global warming and climate change. Over three years in the making, the full report includes contributions from 123 lead authors and runs over 1,000 pages. The report finds that global temperatures could rise as much as 10.5 degrees over the next century and that this is primarily the result of pollution. These findings were unanimously approved by about 150 scientists and 80 members of environmental and industry groups present at the IPCC Working Group I meeting in Shanghai. The full report is not available online, but the IPCC has posted a detailed eighteen-page summary for policymakers at its Website. At the site, users will also find additional publications, press reports, background information, and other resources. [MD] (From the Scout Report)

    Mathematical and Physical Sciences

    The Web Nebulae
    The Web Nebulae by Bill Arnett is a site full of the most beautiful pictures of nebulae! When looking through sites on astronomy, you’ll frequently run across Bill Arnett’s name. Though he has additional pages on this site with more information and links to other photos of each nebula, his focus here is on the aesthetics of the images. The grandeur and immensity of these most lovely night sky collections are well worth a view. Caution, this website may tempt you into considering a telescope a necessary amenity! DSG (From New Scientist Planet Science)

    Digital Lunar Orbiter Photographic Atlas of the Moon
    The Lunar and Planetary Institute (LPI) has created a digital version of the _Lunar Orbiter Photographic Atlas of the Moon_, published in 1971 and considered “the definitive reference manual to the global photographic coverage of the Moon.” The site includes all 675 plates contained in the original work, digitally enhanced to increase photo quality. Visitors can view images by feature name, listed alphabetically or by descending latitude and longitude, or they can search by feature name, photo number, or coordinate range. Returns include a large thumbnail image, photo number, feature name, latitude and longitude, size, sun angle, spacecraft altitude, and medium photo center latitude and longitude. Students and general users may wish to consult the even easier to use Consolidated Lunar Atlas, which allows browsing by a long list of plates, thumbnails, or even better, an interactive image map. [MD] (From the Scout Report)

    Multimedia Physics Studio
    “A collection of GIF animations and accompanying explanations of major physics concepts … discussed in a first-year high school physics course.” Ideas covered include 1-dimensional kinematics; Newton’s Laws; vectors and projectiles; momentum and collisions; work and energy; circular, satellite, and rotational motion; special relativity; static electricity; waves, sound, and light; and ray optics. Related information can also be found at The Physics Classroom, an online tutorial for high school physics. Requires Shockwave and QuickTime. — dl (From Librarian’s Index to the Internet)

    The Liquid Crystal Institute
    The homepage of the Liquid Crystal Institute (LCI) presents gorgeous color images produced from liquid crystal, research overviews, technology invention abstracts, news and conference links, and more. LCI is part of a consortium, selected by the National Science Foundation, based at the Center for Advanced Liquid Crystalline Optical Materials (ALCOM) at Kent State University. The consortium includes Kent State University, Case Western Reserve University, and the University of Akron. ALCOM focuses on interdisciplinary research and development of liquid crystal optoelectronic materials, technology, and consumer products. A few of the liquid crystal studies featured here are fine structure and oily streak defects, magneto-optic response, text display applications, and organic synthesis. One of LCI’s projects, the Polymers and Liquid Crystals Textbook, was featured in the December 13, 1996 _Scout Report for Science & Engineering_ The LCI Website is not especially well-organized, but it contains lots of information about liquid crystal technology. [HCS] (From the Scout Report)

    Catalan’s Conjecture Research
    Ensor Computing hosts this site dealing with the Catalan Conjecture, a problem that has intrigued mathematicians. Recent perspectives on the problem involve finding Double Wieferich prime numbers. Ensor has created a “distributed computing project,” using the site to enlist the computing power of others to find Double Wieferich prime numbers more quickly than a single computer can. The page gives background on the Catalan Conjecture, lists the Double Wieferich primes discovered to date, gives current status of the solution, and lobbies visitors to the site for help in solving the problem. Those who wish to help can download the Unix Tarball DoubleWieferich-0.2.0.tar.gz application (with instructions) from the site. Ensor Computing is offering a monetary prize for the discovery of a new pair of Double Wieferich prime numbers. A neat idea. [HCS] (From the Scout Report)

    The Prime Pages
    This site contains almost everything you wanted to know about prime numbers. It gives a short explanation and history of prime numbers, how to prove primality, and the nature of prime number infinity. It has charts of the ten largest known prime numbers and the ten largest known twin primes as well as lists of the first 3,000 primes, primes over 20,000 digits, and palindromic prime U.S. zip codes. You also get Euclid’s Proof of the Infinitude of Primes, links, a FAQ, and a glossary. And it’s searchable! — ec (From Librarian’s Index to the Internet)

    The Nano Gallery
    Fabulous graphics showing nanotechnology “machines” and “gears” from different laboratories, accompanied by brief descriptions and explanations. There are links to the original sources, which may contain animations, more graphics, scientist CVs, etc., but many of the links are not active. Nevertheless, the page is worth viewing!

    Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences

    The Archeology Channel
    This site has high-quality videos about various archeological sites, presented in both Real Media and Windows Media formats (videotapes can also be purchased). Sites are mostly from North America, but there is also a site from Thailand. Current programs include:

    ECHO OF WATER AGAINST ROCKS: Remembering Celilo
    MESA VERDE: Legacy of Stone and Spirit
    OCMULGEE: Mysteries of the Mounds

    Web Directory for Indigenous Peoples Aboriginal Connections
    A Yahooesque searchable subject index devoted to Aboriginal peoples around the world (though from the links I saw, the focus seems to be on the United States and Canada.) Categories include arts, law, people, and youth. The directory is searchable by keyword or browsable by category. Entries include name, URL, description (some of them pretty short, but mostly well-annotated), date the entry was last modified, and number of hits (which I assume is the number of times this entry has been clicked on.) Additional icons denote whether the entry is a new one and whether it’s part of the top 5% of the directory. (From Research Buzz)

    The Quantitative Study of Dreams
    Designed to help “conduct scientific studies of dream meaning using a system of content analysis.” Resources for Scientists contains information for those doing quantitative studies. Interesting Findings has examples of research results. DreamSAT is an Excel spread sheet for Dream data. DreamBank.Net contains a searchable collection of over 6600 dream reports of children, teenagers, college students, blind individuals, and older adults. There are related links and a FAQ. — dl (From Librarian’s Index to the Internet)

    B-SPAN [RealPlayer]
    This new “Webcasting station” from the World Bank lets users anywhere tune in to the numerous seminars, workshops, and conferences the Bank holds in its Washington headquarters. At present, there are only a few archived interviews and presentations, but in the future, the site will feature numerous live broadcasts as well as a virtual library of video segments on development and poverty issues. [MD] (From the Scout Report)

    Semiotics for Beginners
    An introduction to the study and theories of signs (words, pictures, sounds, gestures, etc.) and sign-using behavior. Included is information about the development of semiology and its scholars. There are also a glossary, references, suggested readings, and related links. From the University of Wales. Also available in Greek. — dl (From Librarian’s Index to the Internet)

    Writing On Hands
    Companion to an exhibition from Dickinson College, this homage to the human hand explores the time period just before literacy and the printed word became widespread. Over 80 images from the 15th to the 17th century illustrate ways in which the hand was used as an icon to convey complex ideas and understandings about human intelligence, experience, and perception. A wondrous septet of interactive images animate the past. Don’t miss the musical hand, the calculating hand, or Descartes’ description of our sensation of heat. (From Yahoo’s Picks of the Week)

    Full Report of the Prevalence, Incidence, and Consequences of Violence Against Women — Findings from the National Violence Against Women Survey [.pdf]
    ASCII version
    Released in November in both .pdf and ASC II formats, this 61-page research report delivers some alarming statistics on the prevalence of violence against women in the US. The report details the National Violence Against Women Survey’s methods, then gives findings on the prevalence and incidents of rape, physical assault, and stalking; the risk of violence among racial minorities and Hispanics; women’s and men’s risks of intimate partner violence; violence experienced as a minor and as an adult; and physical injury and use of medical services. Key findings include the discovery that 17.6 percent of women reported they had been the victim of a rape or attempted rape at some time in their life and that 64 percent of the women who reported being raped, physically assaulted, and/or stalked since age 18 were victimized by a current or former husband, cohabiting partner, boyfriend, or date. [DC] (From the Scout Report)

    City Sites: An Electronic Book
    Recently published online by the 3Cities research project (see the December 8, 2000 _Scout Report_) hosted at the Universities of Birmingham and Nottingham in the UK, this electronic text offers excellent multimedia essays on American urbanism as represented by Chicago and New York from the 1870s to the 1930s. Music, photographs, illustrations, and text are used to explore the emergent urban life of these two great American hubs. Pop-up windows offer links to any section of the table of contents, allowing users to navigate both the overall “book” and the individual articles in a manner of their own choosing. A related section accessed via the site’s sidebar contains articles and information on issues of architecture (including zoning), leisure, race, and space. A bibliography with hundreds of entries concerning issues of urbanism is also posted. The texts are written in a scholarly, yet engaging manner and help affirm the value both of a well-constructed electronic text as well as cultural analysis undertaken from a geographic vantage point. Users are asked to register, without cost. [DC] (From the Scout Report)


    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:

    A recent article by two veteran mass-communication academics warns against faulty practices in studying the Internet. In “Journalism and Mass Communication Quarterly,” Guido H. Stempel III and Robert K. Stewart, who pioneered initial studies of TV audiences, advise Internet researchers against too liberally applying specific data to broad audiences. Instead, Web studies should use careful analysis of users’ online preferences and define standards for gathering Web site data. Currently, there are no standards for gauging the amount of traffic on any particular Web site. Steve Jones, head of the communications department at the University of Illinois, says the article’s authors are basically correct in studying the Internet when it behaves like newspaper and TV mediums, but he adds that the Internet brings interactive and interpersonal dimensions to the communication of news, an aspect that he says the article fails to address. (Chronicle of Higher Education Online, 19 January 2001 via Edupage)

    Web applications could experience an exponential surge in complexity through advances in bandwidth. In anticipation of this development, several universities and companies have embarked on projects to create distributed file systems. Microsoft Research is engaged in the Farsite project, an initiative to design a “serverless file system” that project leader Bill Bolosky describes as a hierarchy-free client network. Farsite would use a cooperative, peer-to-peer storage model as its template. The system would be deployed for a “large company or university, meaning an organization with around 100,000 machines, storing around 100 billion files, containing around 10,000 terabytes of data,” Bolosky says. Meanwhile, the University of California at Berkeley, is working on OceanStore, a network-free file system made up of 10 billion computers with 100 billion TB of data, Bolosky says. The Defense Research Projects Agency, IBM, and EMC are backing OceanStore. “Unlike other file systems, OceanStore provides truly nomadic data that is free to migrate and be replicated anywhere in the world,” states a related Web site. (Cnet, 9 January 2001 via Edupage)

    Female freshmen have less confidence in their computer skills than male freshmen, according to a new survey by UCLA’s Higher Education Research Institute. The survey questioned 404,667 students from 717 universities and colleges. Although the survey found that regular computer use among all college freshmen had increased 15 percent from last year to 78.5 percent, it revealed that only 23.2 percent of the female freshmen surveyed regarded their computer skills as either “above average” or within the best 10 percent. Among male freshmen, the proportion was 46.4 percent. UCLA professor of education Linda Sax says, “Women’s relative lack of computing confidence is likely to place them at a disadvantage when it comes to the jobs they are willing to seek out.” (USA Today, 22 January 2001 via Edupage)

    Industry analysts say President George W. Bush will likely have an open ear to tech executives’ concerns. The Internet’s key role in driving the recent economic boom has given the Internet significant clout with the federal government, analysts say, while the tech industry is now more aware of how the president can influence tech policy in myriad ways, such as his appointment of cabinet officials and regulators. Among tech executives, there appears to be a consensus that education is the single most important issue facing the new president. Dell Chairman Michael Dell contends that improved education will be the government’s “single most important impact … on business,” and Intel CEO Craig Barrett argues, “The government needs to provide leadership to help fix the K–12 education system, especially in the areas of math and science. Science and mathematics drive new technologies, and new technologies drive the standard of living and economic growth.” (New York Times, 22 January 2001 via Edupage)

    Although many proponents of online education tout its efficiency and flexibility, many instructors say teaching an online course is much more time-consuming than teaching a traditional class. University of Tennessee assistant dean Robert H. Jackson reached this conclusion after conducting a study of the two methods of teaching. He says online education forces instructors to spend more time both preparing and teaching a course. The fact that many instructors must spend time learning how to use the tools needed for online education is another factor in their reluctance, says Universe Online director Cyndi Wilson Porter. She also contends that online education affords those students who would not interact with an instructor in a classroom setting an opportunity to interact at will. This results in a greater time burden for the instructor without increasing the student’s time burden, Porter claims. A possible solution, Jackson suggests, is to conduct some online education in a synchronous format, but Porter points out that the asynchronous format is what attracts most students to online education in the first place. Other proponents of online education say instructors are misstating the burden of preparing for an online course. (New York Times, 22 January 2001 via Edupage)

    *** CORRECTION ***
    In the Monday, January 22, edition of Edupage, the story titled “Ain’t Got Time to Teach” included an incorrect citation. The source for this story is Online Learning, January 2001.

    New specialized search engines are proving much more effective in culling the Web for information relevant to users’ queries., a searcher of search engine sites, claims that traditional searches only yield information from 1 percent of the Internet, hardly skimming the surface of more than 500 billion pieces of information. Sites such as MySimon and use software agents, or bots, to do some filtering for the user, often finding deeper and more accurate pieces of information. The search site Moreover, which focuses on news headlines, uses bots to search a designated region of the Web that is more likely to bear fruit. The bots concentrate on the HTML tags near the top of Web pages because these most often represent the titles of articles. MySimon uses bots in a different way — to find product information and price comparisons for consumers. Other boutique search engines specialize in finding information on local businesses, government, science, and finance, and one site even locates information contained in PDF format, which a traditional search engine almost always ignores. (New York Times, 25 January 2001 via Edupage)

    President George W. Bush’s education plan, “No Child Left Behind,” contains several technology-related initiatives. Bush advocates technology grant programs that would aid rural and low-income schools. Bush also supports grants for schools to implement Internet filters, and his plan calls for federal matching grants to create technology centers in low-income areas. Those who advocate the use of technology in education are split on Bush’s plan. David Byer, the executive director of the Web-based Education Commission, said, “It’s important that technology is a high priority in this legislation and the president recognizes this in his proposal.” However, Metiri Group CEO Cheryl Lemke questions Bush’s proposal to base technology grants on measures of student academic performance. “When you’re just using technology to improve academic achievement — meaning assessment test scores — that’s not the whole picture,” she argued. However, technology in education may not assume a very high profile in the debate over Bush’s plan. Political observers expect that debate will center on Bush’s call for school vouchers. (Wired Online, 24 January 2001 via Edupage)

    Educational software is both good and bad, according to a report on children and technology by research firm SRI International’s Center for Technology in Learning. Leading experts analyzed the use and effectiveness of software in the classroom and found that the most beneficial software was integrated with content and teaching method. Assumptions that technology in general enhances learning were dispelled by the report as some software programs actually foster negative learning habits among students while trying to entertain them. Children understood abstract concepts such as calculus, algebra, and physics better with the use of technology, and computer software was shown especially to help struggling students lagging behind their peers. ThinkerTools, a free software program teaching physics, is one example of technology as an effective learning tool. Barbara White, a University of California at Berkeley professor and the creator of ThinkerTools, continues to update the 20-year-old program and says it introduces students to the scientific method by generating curiosity, helping form questions and tests to prove their hypotheses. (USA Today, 22 January 2001 via Edupage)


    ChemWeb Valentines Day Cards
    For your true love … hey, maybe they aren’t the snazziest cards on the web, but where else can you get science valentines?

    The Virtual Museum of Education Iconics
    This new site from the University of Minnesota’s College of Education features images and interpretive texts concerning the iconic representations of instruction in the Western world down through the ages. The site offers galleries of representations of the “seven liberal arts,” the female figure of Grammar, St. Anne and the Education of the Virgin Mary, Jesus at School, Aristotle’s fall from grace, choir stall carvings and misericords, and more. Available in thumbnail and full-frame sizes, the images will also eventually be offered in a searchable database. In order to appreciate the full significance of these representations of classic “scenes of instruction,” users will want to read the excellent articles posted in the lecture hall that correspond to each gallery. Note: we did experience some odd routings in the site’s navigation. [DC] (From the Scout Report)

Quote of the Week

You do not really understand something unless you can explain it to your grandmother.
— Albert Einstein

Physics Quote of the Week

“An expert is a man who has made all the mistakes which can be made in a very narrow field.”
— Niels Bohr (1885–1962)