Sci-Tech Library Newsletter
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- NEW DATABASES ON THE WWW: Chemistry, mathematics, and computer sciences.
- ECONOMICS SOURCES: By Paul Pedley, reprinted from Free Pint.
- NEW ELECTRONIC JOURNALS: Mostly physical sciences this month.
- INTERESTING WEBSITES AND NEWS FROM THE INTERNET: Thinkquest Winners, medieval scientific instruments, writing for the WWW, motion photography, news, the Galapagos, the Amazon; Biological Sciences: Animal Olympics, ichthyology, insect photography, coffee & biodiversity, fungi, pandas; Computer and Information Science: Marvin Minsky, ethics, computer vision, ai; Engineering: Nanotechnology Database, Virtual Wind Tunnel, Tesla, roller coaster technology; Geosciences: global warming warning, volcanoes; Polar Programs: Surviving in Antarctica, Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, mobile faculty, polar images; Mathematical and Physical Sciences: Einstein, PhysLink, MIR, Perfect, Amicable and Sociable Numbers, calculus, molecule names; Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences: Peopling North America, Women’s Labor History, Moundville, Virtual Developing Country, world social security … and more … also: computer science and internet news from Edupage.
- INTER ALIA: The Aberdeen Bestiary, Chesapeake narratives, Asteroid Science According to NBC.
NEW DATABASES ON THE WWW
NEW CHEMISTRY DATABASES — FREE TRIAL PERIOD
ChemWeb.com Databases A–Z
FREE access to the newly launched Reaction Citation Index from ISI — Free Chemweb registration required.
ISI’s Reaction Citation Index (RCI) has launched on ChemWeb.com. It combines searchable structures and reaction data from Current Chemical Reactions with bibliographic data and author abstracts from the Science Citation Index. It covers newly registered world patents and leading international organic chemistry journals from 1980 to the present, providing access to more than 500,000 reactions since 1985 and over two million references to date.
RCI contains single- and multi-step new synthetic methods taken from leading journals and international patents. The overall reaction flow is provided for each method, along with a detailed and accurate graphical representation of each reaction step.
ChemWeb.com members can access RCI database FREE of charge until the 4th of May 2001.
6 new FREE databases from Advanced Chemistry Development (ACD) — Free Registration to Chemweb required.
Six NMR spectral and physical property databases from Advanced Chemistry Development (ACD) are now live on ChemWeb.com.
- pKa — over 8,900 structures with over 23,000 experimental values under different temperatures and ionic strengths in purely aqueous solutions
- LogP — 11,886 compounds with experimental LogP values collected from different sources
- CNMR — 100,000 compounds
- FNMR — 11,500 compounds
- HNMR — 100,000 structures
- PNMR — 18,500 compounds
ChemWeb.com member can access any of the above ACD databases FREE of charge until the 4th of May 2001.
HISTORICAL MATH DATABASE
Electronic Research Archive for Mathematics
Intention of the JFM Project is to create a digital library for classical mathematics in the World Wide Web. It consists of a complete electronic catalogue of the mathematical publications in the time period between 1868 – 1942 (JFM database) and a digital archive storing the most relevant publications from that period. The two components are linked very closely.
The JFM Project is sponsored by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG). Therefore the JFM Project will be a free service for the mathematical community world-wide.
COMPUTER SCIENCE DATABASE
The Collection of Computer Science Bibliographies
This is a collection of bibliographies of scientific literature in computer science from various sources, covering most aspects of computer science. The about 1400 bibliographies are updated monthly from their original locations such that you’ll always find the most recent versions here.
The collection currently contains more than 1.1 million references (mostly to journal articles, conference papers and technical reports) and consists of 660 MBytes of BibTeX entries. More than 16000 references contain crossreferences to citing or cited publications. More than 100,000 references contain URLs to an online version of the paper. There are more than 2000 links to other sites carrying bibliographic information.
The following article is reprinted with permission from Free Pint (ISSN 1460-7239) 15th February 2001 No.81
By Paul Pedley
It is essential in business today to have a thorough understanding of economic information; and, thankfully, there is now a wealth of economic information on the Internet. Indeed, over the past five years or so I have seen a major transformation of the Internet. Five years ago it was largely a resource for academics where the vast majority of material was of north American origin. Now, by contrast, there are a vast number of business and economy Internet resources, and the coverage is truly global.
A useful starting point is to identify a good portal of economics data. There is a WWW virtual library covering economics http://www.hkkk.fi/EconVLib.html. In fact, this URL actually leads to two portals — the Resources for Economists on the Internet http://rfe.org/ site which is maintained by Bill Goffe and contains hyperlinks to around 1200 sites. Then there is WWW resources in economics http://www.helsinki.fi/WebEc which is maintained by Lauri Saarinen.
Inomics: the Internet site for economists http://www.inomics.com/ includes a search engine for economic information (EconSearch) as well as a directory (EconDir) of economics resources. Inomics also includes job openings for economists and conference announcements. Economicsearch.com http://www.economicsearch.com/ contains links to research, jobs information, courses in economics as well as study guides and practice questions, and a bulletin board to enable economists to network with one another.
International organisations publish various national and international data. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) http://www.imf.org/ site is quite extensive, and includes the IMF staff country reports. There is also an email notification service to keep up to date with new developments. One of the most useful IMF publications — the International Financial Statistics (IFS) is currently available on the web to hard-copy subscribers of the publication, although at the moment it seems unclear as to how this service will develop in future, or on what basis the charging will work. The World Bank http://www.worldbank.org/ also has an extensive site. Information from a number of key publications is available on the site — for example World Development Indicators. However, when you explore this, you then find that only part of the data which appears in the hard copy publication is actually available on the website. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) http://www.oecd.org/ website which underwent a makeover in 2000 organises its content into over 30 themes such as Economics, Emerging and transition economies, or Finance and Investment. “Source OECD” was launched in Autumn 2000. This service makes available on subscription the full text of OECD publications. Another international organisation whose website is worth looking at is that of the Bank for International Settlements http://www.bis.org/. In addition to providing links to the central banks of member countries, the full text of a range of publications is available from the site. In the past I have found the reports on payment systems particularly useful. These cover the number of credit and debit cards in circulation, the number of ATMs, etc.
In addition to the international organisations, it is also worth taking a look at the websites of the various regional organisations. The African Development Bank http://www.afdb.org/ promotes economic and social development through loans, equity investments and technical assistance; Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation http://www.apecsec.org.sg/ is a vehicle for promoting open trade and practical economic co-operation; the Asian Development Bank http://www.adb.org/ is a multilateral development finance institution; the mission of the Economic Community of West African States http://www.cedeao.org/ is to promote economic integration; the South Asian Association for Regional Co-operation’s http://www.saarc-sec.org/ primary objective is the acceleration of the process of economic and social development amongst the member states; the Southern African Development Community has a website at http://www.sadc-online.com/sadc/index2.htm; and the European Investment Bank http://www.eib.org/ exists to finance capital investment furthering European integration by promoting EU economic policies.
The websites of central banks around the world are an excellent source of macroeconomic data. There are a number of listings of central banks. One of the best known is Mark Bernkopf’s central banking resource centre http://patriot.net/~bernkopf/; the Bank for International Settlements also has a listing at http://www.bis.org/cbanks.htm; and on my site I have listed other sets of hyperlinks to the websites of central banks at http://website.lineone.net/~p.d.p/banking_and_finance_links.htm. The European Central Bank http://www.ecb.int/ has a number of publications available in pdf format, both regular titles and ad-hoc publications on topics such as inflation, the euro, or payment systems; and the Bank of England website is at http://www.bankofengland.co.uk/.
Ministries of Finance
The websites of ministries of finance are a good source of economic data. A couple of websites that are good for locating the sites of ministries of finance are Worldwide Governments on the WWW http://www.gksoft.com/govt/en/world.html where you can look up a specific country, and then the links to the websites of government departments for that country; and Mark Bernkopf’s Central Banking Resource Centre http://patriot.net/~bernkopf/ which has a page of links to Ministries of Finance and Economy.
There are lots of sources for economics news. But I have tried to select just a handful of sites which give a good overview. Moreover.com is a news aggregator drawing on news from around 1800 sources. There is a heading for economics news http://www.moreover.com/economics and it is possible to get the headlines sent to your email box on a daily or weekly basis; there is an excellent section of economic news on the BBC’s website http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/business/economy/default.stm which covers the world economy; The Economist http://www.economist.com/ is a leading source of analysis on international business and world affairs. The website recently introduced a Global Agenda service with concise analysis of the most important international issues; while FT.com http://www.ft.com/ is another good source of economics news. The site has a section on the global economy http://news.ft.com/news/worldnews/globaleconomy plus an area covering economic indicators for the world’s most important economies.
- The Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System http://www.federalreserve.gov/ is the website of the central Bank of the United States
- The Department of Commerce Bureau of Economic Analysis http://www.bea.doc.gov/ website includes GDP data, balance of payments data, and the national income and product account tables
- The US Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics http://stats.bls.gov/ website has data on the US economy, particularly about employment, including international comparisons
- The Economics Policy Institute http://www.epinet.org/ is an independent think tank whose mission is to provide high-quality research and education to promote a prosperous, fair and sustainable economy
- The International Finance Corporation http://www.ifc.org/ is part of the World Bank Group and promotes private sector investment in developing countries
- ebusinessforum.com http://www.ebusinessforum.com/ from the EIU provides insight and analysis to help senior executives build successful strategies for doing e-business in the global digital economy
- About.com’s economics home page http://economics.about.com/money/economics/cs/economics.home/index.htm is a guide to economic resources on the web, including articles on economics, and an economics glossary
- Biz/ed http://www.bized.ac.uk/listserv/listhome.htm is a catalogue of resources for students, researchers and practitioners in the areas of business, management and economics
- The Federal Reserve Bank of New York has a number of publications available in full, including “Current issues in economics and finance” http://www.ny.frb.org/rmaghome/curr_iss/1999.html
- The Economic & Financial Affairs directorate general of the European Commission has a website at http://europa.eu.int/comm/dgs/economy_finance
- Both Middle East Economic Digest http://www.meed.com/ and Middle East Economic Survey http://www.mees.com/ have some free information on their websites, although it is necessary to take out a subscription to their sites in order to get full access to the resources available
- ECLAC — the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean http://www.eclac.cl/ has detailed statistics on the region available from the site under the “statistics” heading
- The Economist Intelligence Unit http://www.eiu.com/ continuously assesses and forecasts political, economic and business conditions in 195 countries. It prides itself on a wholly international and impartial view
- Finally, there is The World in 2001 http://www.theworldin.com/ from the Economist Group and EIU Viewswire http://www.viewswire.com/ which is a daily intelligence service on 195 countries.
Paul Pedley firstname.lastname@example.org is Head of Research at the Economist Intelligence Unit. Paul is a Fellow of the Library Association and current Chairperson of the Industrial and Commercial Libraries Group http://www.iclg.org.uk/ of the Library Association. He is also a special libraries representative on the Library Association Copyright Alliance http://www.la-hq.org.uk/groups/laca/laca.html. Paul is the author of two Aslib Know How Guides — “Copyright for library and information service professionals” and “Intranets and push technology — creating an information sharing environment”; and the recently published “Free business and industry information on the web”. Paul is currently working on a new book on “The invisible web”. He also edits a large list of resources online at http://www.paulpedley.com/.
NEW ELECTRONIC JOURNALS
The Switzerland-based society, Molecular Diversity Preservation International (MDPI) provides this free, online journal, Molecules. This journal of synthetic and natural product chemistry encourages chemists to publish their experimental detail, particularly synthetic procedures and characterization information. “Any scattered unassembled experimental data for individual compounds which is conventionally not publishable is particularly welcomed,” says the site. The idea is to get information out as quickly as possible to the scientific community. To access Molecules, follow the instructions on how to request a username and password. [HCS] (From the Scout Report)
JOMA — Journal of Online Mathematics and its Applications
Published by the Mathematical Association of America, this new online journal aims to advance the mathematical sciences, especially at the college level, by promoting effective teaching, fostering scholarship, and “making modern tools, curricula, and active learning environments more accessible to students and teachers everywhere.” Offerings in the inaugural issue include the first in a regular series of reviews of small Java applets for math (Mathlets), reviews of other online math projects, and an exploration of exponential functions and their derivatives. Beginning with the next issue, JOMA will also feature a regular section on reviewed, class-tested, modular, online learning materials. [MD] (From the Scout Report)
Physica Status Solidi, A & B
The aim of physica status solidi is the rapid publication of important and new results in the field of solid state physics, both in fundamental and applied research. The journal publishes Review Articles, Original Papers and Rapid Research Notes, each volume contains an author index. Each issue of the two series provides 8 thematic categories: structure and lattice properties; surfaces, interfaces, thin films; nonelectronic transport; electronic states, low-dimensional systems; electronic transport, superconductivity; magnetic properties, magnetic resonances; dielectric and optical properties; device-related phenomena.
Access is temporarily free.
National Library of Australia Launches Australian Journals
“AJOL is the National Library of Australia’s database of Australian electronic journals, magazines, webzines, newsletters and e-mail fanzines. The database provides full details and access to over 1700 titles that include local and overseas works with Australian content, authorship and/or emphasis as well as entries for sites which advertise or promote Australian journals.” (From The Virtual Acquisition Shelf & News Desk)
6 New Elsevier Science Journals
6 new journals have been added to the ChemWeb library. They are all free for a limited period. Free Chemweb registration required.
- 4 FUEL Journals FREE until 1st of September 2001
- Combustion and Flame
- Fuel Processing Technology
- Progress in Energy and Combustion Science
- Chemical Engineering Journal FREE until 1st August 2001
- Calphad Journal FREE until 1st June 2001
Chicago Journal of Theoretical Computer Science [.dvi, .ps, .pdf, .gzip]
Published by the University of Chicago Press, the Chicago Journal of Theoretical Computer Science is a peer-reviewed, scholarly journal that explores and discusses, you guessed it, theoretical computer science. The journal is very much aimed at scholars and students in the field, and these readers can access the full text of the articles from 1996 to present at the site (there is a voluntary subscription policy). The articles are listed in reverse chronological order, preceded by an abstract, and available for download in several formats. Also included at the site are a bibliography of over 360 books, articles, conference proceedings, and technical reports about self-stabilization or applications that employ stabilizing techniques. [MD] (From the Scout Report)
- 4 FUEL Journals FREE until 1st of September 2001
INTERESTING WEBSITES AND OTHER NEWS FROM THE INTERNET
ThinkQuest 2000 Winners
Advanced Network & Services Inc. recently announced the winners of their fifth annual ThinkQuest Internet Challenge, in which twelve- to eighteen-year-old students and their coaches create educational Websites. The 23 winning entries were submitted in the categories of arts & literature, science & math, social sciences, sports & health, and interdisciplinary. Best of the contest was an entry titled Sighting the First Sense — Seeing is Believing. Interested users can view the winning sites and finalists, and browse or search a library of entries since 1996 at the ThinkQuest site. More information on the competition and the Internet Challenge 2001 can be found on the Homepage. [MD] (From the Scout Report)
Epact: Scientific Instruments of Medieval and Renaissance Europe
Epact is an online database of medieval and Renaissance scientific instruments made before 1600 A.D. There are over 500 entries which include astrolabes, armillary spheres, sundials, quadrants, nocturnals, compendia, and surveying instruments. Digital pictures of each instrument accompany descriptive text. The actual collection is housed in four museums: the Museum of the History of Science, Oxford; the Istituto e Museo di Storia della Scienza, Florence; the British Museum, London; and the Museum Boerhaave, Leiden. There is also biographical information on the 128 instrument makers. “Epact” was the age of the moon on the first day of the medieval year, which began on March 21st. — lpb (From Librarian’s Index to the Internet)
Writing for the Web
New from Eldis and the Global Development Network, Writing for the Web is an easy-to-use tutorial examining the differences between communicating on paper and communicating online. The site is designed to help users present their research and writing effectively on the Web. It considers basic issues of usability, including how people read on the Web, problems with academic writing online, and how to rewrite research for Web presentation. The site also teaches the basics in good Web design and provides reviews of helpful Web tools. Each short lesson is concluded with related Websites for further information. [EM] (From the Scout Report)
Freeze Frame: Eadweard Muybridge’s Photography of Motion — National Museum of American History
This site from the National Museum of American History examines the famous sequences of photographs taken by the photographer Eadweard Muybridge to explore the dynamics of human and animal locomotion. (It was Muybridge’s photographs, spaced only split seconds apart, that first proved that at one point in a horse’s gallop all four legs are off the ground at once.) The site features a number of Muybridge’s sequences of men and women as well as animals engaged in physical activity, often scantily clad or in the nude to capture the physical dynamics of the movements. (In the case of men, this activity is often athletics; in the case of women, the photographed motions are often more socially circumscribed — the moving of a fan, for instance.) The site allows viewers to examine these sequences in miniature and full-screen sizes as well as to watch continuous animations made from the series of still frames, thus realizing Muybridge’s anticipation of motion pictures. Accompanying commentary explores the technique of Muybridge’s work as well as its scientific and social implications. For another recent site on Muybridge, see the December 12, 2000 _Scout Report_. [DC] (From the Scout Report)
Congressional Pictorial Directory [.pdf]
This week the Government Printing Office (GPO) placed online the Congressional Pictorial Directory for the 107th Congress. The online photobook may be browsed by state or alphabetically. Images of congressional leaders and officials are also included. [MD] (From the Scout Report)
College Times from the New York Times
The New York Times has started this new service which makes it easy to search for Times news stories by subject, and to receive e-mail alerts when a new story appears in your chosen academic interest area. The stories are provided in full text, and are drawn only from the New York Times. When I looked at the category of genetics, I felt that some of the stories were a bit of a stretch. They did have a tie in to genetics, but sometimes it was only a tangential tie in. Some of the broader subject categories may be more on target. Still, it is a useful service, and there are other features offered by this site as well.
Two sites on the Galapagos Islands: Darwin’s Laboratory of Evolution
Galapagos @ RIT
Expedition to Galapagos
Included is the first site is the Natural History of the Galapagos which includes their formation, wildlife, discovery, exploration, and colonization. Additionally, A Galapagos Slide Show contains a large collection of photos of the wildlife found on the islands along with descriptions. There is also a Reading List and related links. — dl (From Librarian’s Index to the Internet)
The second site, from the Smithsonian, focuses on the making of the 3-D IMAX film Galapagos, produced by the Smithsonian Institution and IMAX, Ltd., and follows scientists on a research expedition to the remote Galápagos Islands. The film features Smithsonian marine biologist, Dr. Carole Baldwin, who first visits the famous terrestrial world of the islands and then explores the little known underwater realm, at one point plunging to a depth of 3000 ft. in a modern research submersible! The team spent fourteen weeks in the Galápagos Archipelago making the film: eight weeks in June and July of 1998, and six weeks in February and March of 1999. Galapagos represents the first IMAX 3-D natural history film shot in such a remote location, and the technological challenges that faced the crew were daunting.
The Amazon 2001 Expedition runs from March 27 to April 11 with three teachers joining an expedition along this incredible river. Teachers and students can follow the progress of the expedition while pondering the big questions in this inquiry based project. (From Blue Web’n)
A wonderfully conceived and executed site that imagines what an animal olympics might be like, and invites you to be the judge of the winner in each category — Night Warriors, Competitive Instincts, Field and Stream, Pick Your Poison, Winged Victory, and Sea-cathlon. The event and venue are announced (‘most effective venom’ and ‘rainforest’ in Pick Your Poison) and the three contenders introduced, with a photograph and information on them. After reading about their respective talents in the event (or maybe just on the basis of which one you most like the look of), you choose the winner and proceed to the judge’s stand to cast your vote (and see how it matches up with the voting so far). The writing is humorous and colloquial — ‘As the ants can testify, the forest floor is no picnic either: One minute you’re working, the next you’re plastered to the long, sticky tongue of the pesky anteater’ — and the creatures have streetwise nicknames like ‘The Disembowler’, ‘Baby Face Killah’ and ‘Greased Lightning’ — clearly aiming for yoof-appeal, but the site is guaranteed to be fun and informative for anyone with an interest in animals (especially the weird and wonderful varieties). DD (From New Scientist Planet Science)
Ichthyology Web Resources
“IWR is a web site dedicated to providing a comprehensive directory of online ichthyology resources organised for scientists, higher education students, and other professional level users … Online content has links to diverse pages covering topics relevant to ichthyology. Its “Taxon pages” directory is especially extensive, containing links to pages on many groups of fish. Ichthyology community has links to ichthyology societies, conferences, a directory of ichthyologists, etc. Places has links to academic institutions, government branches, museums, etc.” (From InfoMine)
Roger Eritja: Fotographia de Natura
Roger Eritja, an affable entomologist from Barcelona, takes macro portraits of insects in their natural habitat. The results make “Jurassic Park” look like Barney. Witness the shot of a Coccinella septempunctata, or ladybug, flaring her wings before take-off; the Anopheles atroparvus, or female mosquito, engorging herself with blood; or the praying mantis looking like a malevolent alien space ship. (From Yahoo’s Picks of the Week)
Coffee and Biodiversity Conservation in El Salvador
The Natural History Museum (London) provides this Webpage, highlighting a three-year project funded by the UK Government’s Darwin Initiative. The aim of this particular project is “to promote the conservation of biodiversity by providing the tools, training and information necessary to empower local people to monitor and assess the biodiversity of the forests associated with Shade Coffee farms in El Salvador.” The site’s main sections describe the Coffee and Biodiversity Conservation in El Salvador project, including economics of the project and a training course that offers basic biodiversity assessment skills to Salvadorans. Of interest to ecologists, the site also provides species lists for the trees and Pimplinae wasps of the Shade Forest (giving Family, scientific name, and local name). A selection of interesting links (featuring Central American sites) fills out this concise and well-illustrated site. [LXP] (From the Scout Report)
Systematic Botany and Mycology Fungal Databases
These “Databases developed at the U.S. National Fungus Collections provide access to information about fungi, primarily those associated with plants or otherwise of agricultural importance.” Databases that can be searched from this site include:
Specimens in the U.S. National Fungus Collections. The U.S. National Fungus Collections are the repository for over one million fungal specimens worldwide and are the largest such collections in the world. Information associated with these specimens constitute an enormous data resource, especially about plant-associated fungi. Data from the labels of about 600,000 (60 percent) of the specimens have been entered into a database. These labels have information on the host on which the fungus was found and the locality in which the specimen was collected. Sixty percent of these specimens are from the United States and thus represent a large body of information about the fungi in this country. Data entry has been completed for the Uredinales (rusts), the Ustilaginales (smuts), the Polyporales (polypores), the Deuteromycetes (imperfect fungi), the Ascomycetes, and the C.G. Lloyd collections.
Fungi on Plants and Plant Products in the United States. The relational databases used to produce the book Fungi on Plants and Plant Products in the United States are available. These databases include the reports of fungi on vascular plants and plant products according to their distribution by state. The reports are taken from over 4,000 literature sources, primarily published between 1950 and 1987, and include 13,000 fungal species on 9,000 vascular plant hosts representing 78,000 unique host-fungus combinations.
References on the systematics of plant pathogenic fungi. An outstanding database of current references on the systematics of plant pathogenic fungi … At present more than 16,000 references have been entered, and additional references are added periodically. In addition data are maintained that were published in the book Literature Guide for the Identification of Plant Pathogenic Fungi. The database includes comments about each genus and a listing of important fungal diseases caused by species in that genus. A database of the over 4,000 books in the John A. Stevenson Mycology Library is also available.
Index to Saccardo’s Syl1oge Fungorum. A database was developed for all the fungal names included in Saccardo’s 26-volume work, Index to Saccardo’s Sylloge Fungorum, published from 1881 to 193l and in 1972. About 117,000 fungal names are indexed, often with more than one citation. This database was published as a book entitled Index to Saccardo’s Sylloge Fungorum.
International Mycological Institute’s Index of Fungi, 1940–1980. A database on the International Mycological Institute’s Index of Fungi, volumes 011-4 covering 1940–1980, is available. It can be searched by genus or species of fungus and gives the reference (volume and page) to the Index of Fungi. (From InfoMine)
The San Diego Zoo presents the home page of giant panda pair Shi Shi (male) and Bai Yun (female), both on a 12-year research loan from the People’s Republic of China, and their cub, Hua Mei (female and currently the only surviving cub born in the U.S.). Observe Hua Mei’s birth and development on video, read about the delicate weaning process at 18 months from her mother, or enjoy her daily video cam. Additionally, information is available on the collaboration of the Zoo’s Center for Reproduction of Endangered Species (CRES) with Chinese scientists on the welfare of these endangered bears. — jh (From Librarian’s Index to the Internet)
Computer and Information Science
Minsky, Marvin — 1927
“Marvin Minsky has made many contributions to AI, cognitive psychology, mathematics, computational linguistics, robotics, and optics. In recent years he has worked chiefly on imparting to machines the human capacity for commonsense reasoning.” This sites most valuable features are article texts, interviews, excerpts, and a bibliography going back to his Bachelors thesis in mathematics at Harvard. An FTP site gives access to 13 articles and interviews. Several dead links to family pages and research groups do not diminish the stimulating and often startling ideas contained in the books, articles, and interviews. — rv (From Librarian’s Index to the Internet)
Ethics In Computing
Created and maintained by Professor Edward F. Gehringer of North Carolina State University, this site offers a good selection of thoughtful articles and essays on a series of topics related to ethics in computing. The writings are organized in eight categories accessed via an interactive map. These include privacy, intellectual property, speech issues, and social justice issues, among others. Selecting a category takes users to a list of topics, each of which links to papers and articles located off-site. Each topic page also contains a study guide and discussion questions or lecture notes. A nice, straightforward resource on an important topic. [MD] (From the Scout Report)
CV Online Compendium of Computer Vision
Although this site has not been updated recently, it does contain a wealth of computer vision (CV) resources. The site is maintained by Bob Fisher, Lecturer in the Division of Informatics at the University of Edinburgh. CV Online, intended for academic staff in the field of computer vision, provides a wealth of links to papers, bibliographies, research pages, databases, and commercial sites dealing with various topics in CV. The site consists of an expandable list of subjects and a simple search engine. Subjects include databases and indexing, geometry and mathematics, motion tracking and time series analysis, and visual learning, among others. Entries include links to research pages, topical summaries, or tutorials submitted to CV Online by experts; links to electronic mailing list archives; and various other online resources. Submissions are welcomed — instructions provided. [HCS] (From the Scout Report).
MIT Artificial Intelligence Laboratory
The laboratory’s “intellectual goal is to understand how the human mind works. We believe that vision, robotics, and language are the keys to understanding intelligence.” Research includes abstracts, projects, publications, and a list of spin-off companies. Other sections are Our New Home (the building); Academics (admissions, student life, faculty interests, courses); Visiting the Lab (tours, educational outreach, directions); Joining the Lab (as a student, staff, faculty, or undergraduate researcher); and Events (talks, seminars, conferences). Links introduce Web pages for ten MIT Libraries, archives, and associated services. More Magic provides humor and technical details from the lab’s support team. — rv (From Librarian’s Index to the Internet)
Sponsored by the National Science Foundation and housed at Loyola College of Baltimore, Maryland, the Nanotechnology Database is a source of online information on major research centers, funding agencies, major reports, and books dealing with nanotechnology. The resources listed here are carefully selected and reviewed. The site is expected to grow with the continued support and updates from organizations and individuals in the field of nanotechnology. The list of resources is divided into the following categories: Academic, Industry, Government Laboratories, Government Agencies, Professional Societies, Non-Profit Organizations, Books, Periodicals, Reports, and Conferences. Each listing provides a brief summary (taken from that Website) and hyperlink to the resource (note: the book list links mostly take users to online booksellers). A submission form allows users to add a relevant organization or publication. [HCS] (From the Scout Report)
The Java Virtual Wind Tunnel
“To understand why airplanes fly, you have to understand fluid mechanics.
But it turns out that fluid mechanics is a tough class to teach. Part of it involves teaching people to solve large and complex systems of equations. That’s hard enough in itself. The other part involves teaching them what the answers mean. After all, it’s one thing to produce numbers, another thing entirely to visualize the flow of air over a wing and really understand what it’s doing.
Unfortunately, teaching students to understand fluid mechanics is very difficult. There’s only so much one can draw on a chalkboard (it’s very difficult to overlay plots, let alone “animate” a flow). What teachers need is a “wind tunnel” for every student; one they can play around with and do their own experiments.
Well, real wind tunnels are too expensive to give out, but a computer is the next best thing. The Java Virtual Wind Tunnel is an applet which uses computational fluid dynamics (CFD) methods to simulate the flow of air over a two dimensional object. The applet is not just a movie projector; it actually solves the equations of motion (the Euler equations) in real time. So the results on the screen are the real thing, not an animation. And in a virtual wind tunnel, adding instruments costs nothing. In fact, the simulation provides more information about the flow than you could easily access in any real wind tunnel.”
Tesla, Nikola — 1856–1943
In its in-depth TV documentary, Tesla — Master of Lightning, PBS presents the life, times, and legacy of Nikola Tesla, scientist, inventor, and visionary. Attributed to his genius were the inventions of radio, alternating current (AC), electricity, neon, remote control, hydroelectric power, wireless electricity, death ray, particle beam weapons, and the Tesla coils (high frequency electricity). The program recounts Tesla’s intense rivalries with contemporaries Thomas Edison and Guglielmo Marconi, “who are frequently credited for Tesla’s invention of AC power transmission and radio.” Related links to patents, autobiographical and scientific writings, rare photographs, and scientific re-creations are accessible. - jh (From Librarian’s Index to the Internet)
The Effects of New Technology on Roller Coaster Thrills, Safetyand Economics
Linear induction motors, laser sensors, and hydraulic restraint are just a few of the terms tossed around here in the context of roller coaster technology. This informative Website was put together by two mechanical engineering students at the University of Texas. The history of roller coasters, new technologies in coaster design, evaluation criteria, and case studies are all presented. Some of the new technologies deal with elimination of the lift hill at the ride’s beginning, collision prevention, and reaching extremely high speeds. The case studies include coaster specifications, how new technologies were applied to design, and a note on economic considerations. The site’s layout is easily navigable, with “next” and “back” buttons and a sidebar with highlighted quotes and images. A nice glossary and references (both have some hyperlinks) are included. [HCS] (From the Scout Report)
Global Warming: Early Warning Signs
Created by a host of organizations (Environmental Defense Fund, Natural Resources Defense Council, Sierra Club, Union of Concerned Scientists, US Public Interest Research Group, World Resources Institute, and World Wildlife Fund), this site seeks to provide evidence of the “fingerprints” and “harbingers” of global warming. A clickable map of the world enables users to take a closer look at geographic regions, at specific examples of “fingerprints” (e.g., heat waves, sea level rise, melting glaciers, and Arctic and Antarctic warming) and “harbingers” (spreading disease, earlier arrival of spring, range shifts and population declines in plants and animals, bleaching of coral reefs, extreme weather events, and fires). While it is unclear that any specific event may be explained by global warming, the combination of events highlighted at this page provides powerful fodder for further thought. [LXP] (From the Scout Report)
How Volcanoes Work
The San Diego State University Geology Department has created an online resource that combines print information, movies, and interactive quizzes. Quicktime is required for viewing movies/animations. (From Blue Web’n)
Surviving In Antarctica
Did you miss the recent series on Morning Edition? Don’t despair, you can still hear Richard Harris’s stories at the Morning Edition website! Included are:
- Exploring Antarctica
- Sharing Antarctica
- Mt. Erebus
- The Spies Who Stayed Out In the Cold
- The Bottom of the World
- McMurdo Station
Two on the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge
Arctic National Wildlife Refuge: Series
Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) — USFWS
In addition to its tremendous value as a spectacular haven for wildlife, the 1.5 million-acre coastal plain known as the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is now the focus of major debate about oil and gas exploration and development. These resources provide some information on the refuge (not the debate). The first site, from The Mining Co., offers news and photos in a multi-part series that describes this majestic slice of Arctic wilderness. The US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) maintains the second site, the official homepage of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR). The ANWR homepage supplies background information on the refuge (description, location, maps), wildlife (birds, mammals, fish), habitats, and people. For a brief introduction to the development issue, see descriptions under “Oil and Gas Development” (in the Refuge section). [LXP] (From the Scout Report)
Mobile Faculty Roster
Are you a northern scholar interested in teaching a course at another circumpolar institution? Or, does your institution need additional faculty to teach northern courses? The University of the Arctic (UArctic) is currently inviting northern scholars to register in the UArctic Mobile Faculty Roster — a catalogue of scholars who would like to be considered for short or long-term teaching residencies on UArctic campuses throughout the circumpolar world. The Mobile Faculty Roster will be used by UArctic Member institutions to implement faculty mobility under the Circumpolar Mobility Program (CMP).
The Polar Circle
“Some of the best polar picture sources in the world have come together with a joint presence on the web. BAS, SPRI, B & C Alexander, Hedgehog House NZ and a number of independant photographers from Alaska, Canada and Scandinavia.” (From Bryan & Cherry Alexander Photography)
Mathematical and Physical Sciences
TIME Person of the Century — Albert Einstein
A lovely website, with loads of information about Einstein and his influence on the world, including sound clips “In His Own Words”, a quiz to see how much you know about Einstein, a photo essay, and links to other sites.
PhysLink: Physics & Astronomy
This searchable source for information on physics and astronomy includes material created especially for this site and many links to other online resources. There are sections on reference, ask the experts, software, astronomy, history, new theories, graduate school information, images, YS (young scientists) awards, editorials, and essays. Also included are fun physics; a virtual scientific calculator; a bookstore; links to newsletters, scientific societies, employment resources; and more. — msc (From Librarian’s Index to the Internet)
Mir Falls To Earth
This special presentation from CNN covers the fiery demise of the Russian space station Mir (peace), scheduled to happen March 21, 2001 according to the Mir Reentry Observation Expedition site which has a countdown clock running. Mir’s record-holding legacy and its powerful symbol of Russian space exploration is recounted in video flashbacks of the first aunched module; its several mishaps; and the final de-orbiting procedures into the Pacific Ocean (RealAudio Player required). There are links to a re-entry map; an animation of the burn-up scenario; a discussion of debris fallout worries; and related Web sites. — jh (From Librarians Index to the Internet) [The site is still up and has images, timelines, and more of MIR facts and history]
Perfect, Amicable and Sociable Numbers
These friendly sounding numbers are defined by their divisibility and sums. A perfect number is a number whose positive divisors (except for itself) sum to itself; an amicable number is a pair of numbers each of which equals the sum of the other’s aliquot parts; and the members of aliquot cycles of length greater than two are often called sociable numbers. This page, housed at (but not officially affiliated with) the Institute for Materials Science at the University of Connecticut, defines and describes perfect, amicable, and sociable numbers and introduces aliquot sequences. The text has links to a bibliography and to numeric tables. This site might be interesting to college-level mathematics students or anyone into mathematical puzzles. [HCS] (From the Scout Report)
Calculus Animations with Mathcad
A small collection of graphical animations designed to assist with mathematical concepts utilized in the study of calculus. — dl (From Librarian’s Index to the Internet)
Molecules with Silly or Unusual Names
A collection of molecules with “unusual, ridiculous or downright silly names.” The molecules are accompanied with diagrams of their structure, illustrations, and explanations about how they got their names. From The School of Chemistry at the University of Bristol, England. — dl (From Librarian’s Index to the Internet)
Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences
Peopling North America: Population Movements & Migration
This tutorial presents an historical overview of migration to and within Canada, the United States, Mexico and the Caribbean from Europe, Asia and Africa. The “demographic, economic, cultural, and political nature of major movements” are examined. Sections include: Early Migrations to the Americas; European Migrations to North America; European Migrations to Mexico and the Caribbean; African Migration to the New World: the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade; Asian and African Labour; The Changing Nature of Migration; and Migrations After World War II. The glossary (under Sources) has very detailed definitions. Produced by the Applied History Research Group at the University of Calgary. — beb (From Librarian’s Index to the Internet)
U.S. population issues, trends, and statistics, in graphics and text, are presented in an easy-to-use format. Selected topics include Marriage and Family, Population Estimates and Projections, Education, Race and Ethnicity, Income and Poverty, Migration, Foreign-Born Population, Children, Older Population, Political Arithmetic, Fertility, Labor Force and Employment, and Mortality. Sources are cited and links to other Web sites provided. Produced by the Population Reference Bureau in collaboration with demographer William Frey and his colleagues at the University of Michigan. — beb (From Librarian’s Index to the Internet)
Women’s Labor History — AFSME
In honor of Women’s history month, the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSME) has posted on their Website an annotated directory of Websites devoted to women’s labor history. This includes a number of sites on famous women agitators and labor advocates including Mary Kenney O’Sullivan (co-founder of the Women’s Trade Union League), Florence Kelley (who agitated for reform of the women’s sweatshops of Chicago), Jane Addams, Mother Jones, and others. Historical sites dedicated to key periods in women’s labor history are also listed as well as a section of general women’s labor history links. [DC] (From the Scout Report)
Moundville Archeological Park
Eight hundred years ago, Moundville was the largest city in North America. The Moundville archeological site, occupied from around A.D. 1000 until A.D. 1450, is a large settlement of Mississippian culture on the Black Warrior River in central Alabama. At the time of Moundville’s heaviest residential population, the community took the form of a three hundred-acre village built on a bluff overlooking the river.
Two from Biz/Ed
Virtual Developing Country — Biz/ed [.xls, .csv]
Biz/ed recently unveiled two new resources. The first, Virtual Developing Country, introduces users to “many of the issues and ideas that are of interest in the field of development economics” by offering a virtual tour of the African country Zambia. On the field trip, users make stops to visit places and meet people that help illustrate economic and development theory. Five field trips are offered: The Rural Life and Agriculture Tour, The Copper Tour, The Trade Tour, The Aid Tour, and The Wildlife Tour. Throughout the tours, users are introduced to the people, places, and sites of Zambia, along with the economic issues related to each tour. Each stop is accompanied by key data and economic theory, photographs, worksheets, and a glossary. The teacher’s guide gives a detailed description of the program and offers advice on how to effectively use it in the classroom. This interactive site is an outstanding example of the innovative ways the Web can be used as a teaching tool. The second new site is a directory of over 2,200 (unannotated) sites of interest to “students, researchers and practitioners in the areas of business, management and economics.” Users may browse the directory by category and topic and list the sites alphabetically or by resource type. A keyword search engine and a list of the latest additions are also provided. [EM] [MD] (From the Scout Report)
Social Security Programs Throughout the World
“Provides, in summary form, the basic provisions of social security legislation and administration in 172 countries, updated through January 1, 1999. The report contains information on old-age, survivors, and disability insurance, sickness and maternity coverage, work injury provisions, unemployment compensation, and family allowances. Each section is further subdivided into: dates of basic laws, coverage, source of funds, contribution rates and ceilings, qualifying conditions, benefit amounts, and administrative organizations. A detailed introduction discussing concepts, practices, and terminology can be found in the pdf file Guide to Social Security Programs Throughout the World. Each country summary is a separate file.” In Portable Document Format (PDF). — cl (From Librarian’s Index to the Internet)
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“SCALABLE” BALLOT FRAUD: WHY ONE TECH MAVEN FEARS COMPUTER VOTING
Although many politicians are looking to electronic voting systems as a solution to the problems that plagued last year’s presidential election, computer scientist Rebecca Mercuri argues that putting elections online could be the worst possible answer. Mercuri, a computer-science instructor at Bryn Mawr College, says electronic ballot systems are not foolproof. She argues that electronic systems can provide security or privacy but not both. Technology to ensure that a fair, accurate count occurred would threaten voters’ anonymity, while technology to protect that anonymity would make it difficult to make a fair audit of election results. She says the potential for flaws in the system is great, as they could strike not only the software that records and counts votes but also the operating system that runs that software or the chips that run both the software and the hardware. Although traditional methods of election fraud — ballot-box stuffing, for example — are difficult to implement on a wide scale, an electronic voting system would allow for the possibility that fraud or a software bug or other problems could cause havoc nationwide. Mercuri suggests that electronic voting systems be implemented only if they include a paper ballot as well. (Wall Street Journal, 19 March 2001 via Edupage)
Recent studies of America’s Internet population are changing presumptions that the Web is dominated by young and technologically savvy white men. In fact, the numbers in a Pew Internet & American Life Project study show that the online population increasingly represents the offline one. For example, a Harris Interactive study showed that the number of women logging on exceeded the number of men for the first time last May. Although these numbers suggest a diversification in the demographics of the online population, the studies also show that people of different groups perceive and use the Internet in different ways. More affluent homes see the Internet as a tool of convenience, whereas working-class families use the Internet for entertainment. Another early perception of the Internet was that it would isolate users socially, but a joint AOL/American Demographics study shows that relationships are actually healthier due to Internet use. (American Demographics, March 2001 via Edupage)
FOR MEDICAL JOURNALS, A NEW WORLD ONLINE
Online medical research is a boon to schools such as the University of Zimbabwe, where resources are drying up and the number of subscriptions has fallen from more than 600 journals to only 170. Where racks of publications once lined the walls, students and teachers now log on to computer terminals to conduct their research using the British Medical Journal, which displays its publication online — a major shift in policy in the multibillion-dollar medical-journal industry. Some medical journals have accepted the new online paradigm by placing their publications on the Web for the world to research, free of charge. However, there is a struggle among journal publishers about how to deal with the new medium, with several journals refusing to publish online for free, saying journal revenue is essential to their operations. Another source, PubMed Central, a project of the National Institutes of Health, solicits free articles from medical journals, offering the companies a secure place to put their articles on the Web. (New York Times, 20 March 2001 via Edupage)
INTERNET2 CROSSES THE BORDER
California Gov. Gray Davis and Mexican President Vicente Fox this week will officially inaugurate a new broadband network between research universities in the United States and Mexico. The new network will open Mexican universities to Internet2, the network of 180 U.S. universities that provides downloading and streaming at high speed and quality without any interference from the commercial Web. Officials on both sides of the border say the new network will allow for a wide range of collaborative research projects and information sharing among more than 200 universities, including the 30 institutions that are part of CUDI, Mexico’s research and education network. Several organizations are now asking for proposals for collaborative projects to be hosted on the combined networks. However, one critic of the program, Gary Chapman of the University of Texas, is worried that Mexican institutions may not be able to participate as fully as those in the United States. He points out that, whereas many U.S. institutions have very powerful computers at their disposal, many Mexican institutions have nothing more powerful than high-end PCs. (Wired News, 21 March 2001 via Edupage)
FASTER CONNECTIONS CAUSE NEW DIVIDE
Recent numbers from Nielsen//NetRatings reveal that more people are using the Internet than ever before. In January, 162.8 million U.S. citizens had home Internet access, up from 122.7 million in January 2000, a 33 percent rise. The falling cost of PCs and Internet access is the most likely cause of the increase. However, while the economics of Internet access are changing, a divide still exists. “Now, it’s not so much a digital divide as a connectivity divide,” explained T.S. Kelly of Nielsen//NetRatings. Only 13.1 percent of U.S. Internet users have high-speed connections, including DSL and cable modems, although that is an increase from last year’s 6.8 percent. The gap means that relatively few U.S. users can enjoy the latest Internet features such as streaming video and audio at peak quality. Nielsen//NetRatings has also found that the online activities of U.S. users are changing, especially now that almost as many women as men are users. Health sites, online greeting cards, and instant messaging are popular with female users, Nielsen//NetRatings reports, while news, stock reports, and sports information remain popular with men. (USA Today, 19 March 2001 via Edupage)
DISTANCE LEARNING NEEDS COPYRIGHT RELIEF
Sens. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) are sponsoring a bill that would ease copyright restrictions on content used as part of distance-education programs. The Technology Education and Copyright Harmonization Act (TEACH) would allow educators to include film, music, and other media clips in online courses without having to pay licensing fees, an expense that has caused some distance-education programs to restrict their Web-based offerings. At the University of Maryland University College, for example, which has 70,000 online students, educators had to pull a film course because acquiring the necessary licenses for film clips would have taken too long and cost too much. Gerard Heeger, president of the school, said the present copyright restrictions are “an increasingly untenable wedge between content in the classroom and at a remote location.” A lobbyist for the publishing industry warned that changes to the current law could lead to increased piracy of copyrighted materials. (Reuters, 13 March 2001 via Edupage)
SOMETHING OLD, SOMETHING NEW
Educators in the western part of Colorado will have a new distance-learning option this July when the Colorado Western Slopes Distance Education Project debuts. As John Sluder, chair of the communications technology department at Mesa State College/UTEC, explained, the project will bring “broadband, high speed, real-time interactive distance learning to outlying rural areas.” In many of the areas to be served by the project, the mountainous terrain makes landlines impossible or prohibitively expensive. The project will allow educators to receive training in technology topics, which they will then use to teach their students, again using the project’s technology. The project will also become part of the Western Slopes Consortium for Excellence in Learning (WestCEL), a group of Colorado school districts, community colleges, vocational schools, and four-year colleges that provide courses in topics from nursing and childhood development to advanced mathematics and foreign languages. (Presenting Communications, March 2001 via Edupage)
SENATE BILL WOULD EXTEND ‘FAIR USE’ CLAUSE TO ONLINE EDUCATION
A recently introduced Senate bill called the Technology Education and Copyright Harmonization Act (TEACH) would let educators using distance-learning materials in digital formats use various copyrighted material without getting permission from the content owner. The bill modernizes the Copyright Act of 1976 for the digital age, updating the fair-use distance-education provisions contained in the original legislation. TEACH would scrap the current requirement that learning must take place in a physical classroom and would ensure that the distance-learning exemption covers the temporary copies that must be created in networked file servers to transmit content over the Web. The bill would also change the current regulations to enable educators to display to students “limited” portions of “dramatic” literature, music, audiovisual, and sound recordings, as well as the total versions of non-dramatic literature and musical works. (eSchool News Online, 19 March 2001 via Edupage)
A CAMPUS CONNECTED
The University of Minnesota-Crookston (UMC), once a small two-year school with an uncertain future, has turned itself around. The university’s progress started in 1994 when a grant from IBM enabled the establishment of an instructional technology center where faculty members learn about software and computer-based instruction techniques. UMC introduced a program of comprehensive laptop computer and Internet use for all students and instructors, making technology omnipresent in the classroom. Students in the classroom can sit at their laptops and view slides and presentations or take quizzes electronically, and can stay in touch with their professors and each other through e-mail and chat rooms. UMC is now a four-year school with more students than it can house on campus, and professors say employers find the school’s graduates more attractive due to their experience in the pervasive computing environment. “On campuses where there is ubiquitous communication…education is much more continuous,” explained Wake Forest University vice president and former provost Donald Brown. (Wall Street Journal, 12 March 2001 via Edupage)
RESEARCHERS BUILD A FAST WIRELESS NETWORK FOR REMOTE INLAND AREA
Scientists from the University of California at San Diego and San Diego State University are working to link remote research sites and tribal reservations in the eastern part of the county to a wireless high-speed Internet connection. The $2.3 million project, funded by the National Science Foundation, runs over solar-powered wireless transmitters and is considered revolutionary in its application of technology to real-life situations, said Ramesh Rao, director of the Center for Wireless Communications at UC-San Diego. He said putting technology to work to solve problems such as this is indicative of a maturing sector. Although the solar-charged batteries are limited in snowstorms or at night, the wireless solution goes far beyond the single phone line that many remote research sites and communities have access to in this infrastructure-barren region. For example, the Pala Learning Center community library, serving the Pala Indian Reservation, will receive a link, replacing the one phone line that has frustrated many students wanting to use the Web. (Chronicle of Higher Education Online, 12 March 2001 via Edupage)
IN SEARCH OF THE MEANING OF (ONLINE) LIFE
The Philadelphia-based philanthropic organization Pew Charitable Trusts is financing a three-year, $5.9 million study to document the social implications of the Internet. The Pew Internet and American Life Project is less about why consumers are not using online “shopping carts” and more about who is online and why. So far, the year-old study has revealed that there are just as many women online as men, that women play more online games, that the Internet promotes social interaction and not isolation, and that much is made of privacy but Web surfers continue to give personal information away. The project uses old-fashioned telephone interviews from thousands of Americans to gather this information. The project has had to face some challenges, particularly when it reported that the Internet had little effect on the 2000 election. Online communities are presently the focus of the project’s call center. Over the next few months, the project plans to report on how families and the faith community use the Internet as well as on how the government uses Web sites. (Philadelphia Inquirer, 22 March 2001 via Edupage)
COLLEGES FACE A SHORTAGE OF FACULTY MEMBERS IN COMPUTER SCIENCE
The number of computer-science doctoral graduates continues to fall, according to a new report from the Computer Research Association. About 880 computer-science doctoral degrees were awarded last year, a decline from the previous year’s total of about 950. In 1992, over 1,100 computer-science doctoral degrees were given. The main reason for the decline, said Penn State University computer-science professor and report co-author Mary Jane Irwin, is the number of potential doctoral students who instead choose to enter industry because the salaries are so attractive. Irwin has noticed this trend is especially strong among foreign nationals coming to U.S. institutions. She said foreign students “apply to a Ph.D. program, come to the U.S., and find out that there are jobs for them even with just a master’s degree. So they change to a master’s, complete the program, and then go out and get a job.” The Computer Research Association report reveals that the popularity of computer science degrees below the doctoral level continues to rise. Last year saw a 20 percent rise in the number of computer-science bachelor and master’s degrees awarded. (Chronicle of Higher Education Online, 27 March 2001 via Edupage)
TECHNOLOGY FIRMS WORRIED AS MATH, SCIENCE SKILLS LAG
Low test scores in science and math by U.S. students have prompted high-tech companies to create programs that will help prepare students for the workforce of the future. According to the Third International Math and Science Study, students from 18 nations scored better than U.S. students in math in 1995, and students from 15 nations scored better in science. To help teach math and science, IBM offers customized lesson plans to educators through its Reinventing Education program. Microsoft has committed $300 million and Intel $100 million to Teach for the Future, a joint effort to train more than 100,000 K–12 teachers on how to use technology in schools. Educators have become the focus the efforts of high-tech companies because the companies feel that many teachers are not familiar enough with technical subjects to prepare students for the future. The federal government also may become actively involved. The National Science Education Incentive Act of 2001, sponsored by Rep. Vernon Ehlers (R-Mich.), would give tax breaks to companies that provide paid internships to train teachers. (Washington Business Journal, 23 March 2001 via Edupage)
SEARCH ENGINES FAIL TO KEEP UP WITH GROWING WEB
Experts say search engines are having a difficult time keeping up with the amount of content on the Internet as well as the rapidly changing technology used to make that content available. There may be as many as 550 billion Web pages, experts estimate, but the most comprehensive search engines can process only a fraction of them. While it is still relatively easy to find content on a popular subject, experts say the vast catalog of business, scientific, and legal content falls under the radar of search engines. Experts call this buried content the “deep” or “invisible” Web. The problem is not simply that search engines cannot keep up with the amount of content added to the Web each day. Many sites actively work to keep search-engine software from accessing some or all of their content in order to protect their proprietary interests. Experts add that the growing amount of multimedia content available online is also problematic for search engines, which are largely geared toward text. (Reuters, 26 March 2001 via Edupage)
MAKING THE GRADE
Home Depot CEO Ron Griffin complains that too many college graduates who enter the corporate IT field have a good grasp of programming skills but do not understand how IT should fit in with a sound business strategy. The graduates lack customer- relation skills and do not comprehend the importance of the bottom line. However, Griffin is pleased with his latest batch of IT recruits from the University of Alabama. During the course of their studies, these students had to work with actual businesses as part of the university’s new management information systems curriculum, which educators built with the advice of CEOs such as Griffin. Many other universities are also giving their IT programs a real-world flavor so that students learn not only how to make IT work, but also how it can improve business productivity and profit. Corporate donors gave $47 million to the University of Nebraska at Omaha for the founding of its Peter Kiewit Institute, an engineering and IT school. There, students work with corporations such as Boeing and IBM, while well-known CEOs visit and even teach courses. Pennsylvania State University launched a new program, the School of Information Sciences and Technology, in 1999. Students not only learn IT skills but also are exposed to important legal and social issues facing the IT sector today. (Computerworld, 19 March 2001 via Edupage)
The Aberdeen Bestiary
…And now for something completely different. This site is the result of an ambitious project to scan and digitally store an 800 year old book, a “bestiary”, which is basically a cross between a zoology textbook and The Bible, in this case considered to be one of the best examples in existence. As well as being able to find out about the history of the book and the fascinating details of its production over many many years, you can browse through the book itself, with its hugely ornate illustrations and “…short descriptions about all sorts of animals, real and imaginary, birds and even rocks, accompanied by a moralising explanation.” All in all it makes for incredibly interesting reading, but more in a historical religious than zoology textbook way. As the site explains “…although it deals with the natural world it was never meant to be a scientific text and should not be read as such… Some observations may be quite accurate but they are given the same weight as totally fabulous accounts.” RJN (From New Scientist Planet Science)
LOC Adds The Capital and the Bay: Narratives of Washington and the Chesapeake Bay Region, 1600-1900
This collection covers first-person narratives, early histories, and other information relating to the Chesapeake Bay Region (which encompasses parts of Maryland and Virginia and the whole of the District of Columbia.) [It] contains 139 books selected from the Library of Congress. The books are both browsable by title/subject (since there are only 139 books, this method doesn’t work as well as it does in larger American Memory collections) and searchable by keyword. (You can search both the books’ descriptive information and the full-text of the books themselves.) ASCII text of the books as well as images of the books’ pages are available. (From ResearchBuzz)
Asteroid Science According to NBC
Yes, folks, its a sad but true fact of life that many, many Americans get their science education by watching (and believing) what they see on the TV. The following “science lesson” appeared in The Physical Universe by David Harris
March 18, 2001 Vol. 2 No. 8
- Asteroids travel through space making a noise like a powerful but subdued engine.
- Asteroids are usually locked into orbits, but if a comet comes by, they can be bumped out of their rut and become dangerously unstable.
- It’s only the fact that everything is locked into an orbit which prevents collisions in our solar system. Any asteroid that gets loose is certain to crash into Earth within a matter of hours.
- It’s just barely possible to evacuate Kansas City to a distance of 100 miles in 48 hours. This requires lots of airplanes. It also requires martial law, so that ‘looters will be arrested on sight’. (Have they no mercy?) With 30+ hours to go, people will panic in the streets and run around at random.
- A mile-wide asteroid can mostly burn up in the atmosphere, causing it to do only a relatively small amount of damage (bursting a dam) when it strikes.
- A river from a burst dam can exactly keep pace with a pickup truck for several minutes. It will then obligingly pause as the pickup truck turns around and goes in another direction.
- A four-mile-wide nickel asteroid (which would mass about a *trillion* tons) can be destroyed — literally destroyed, so that nothing remains — by three airplane-mounted lasers.
- But with only two airplane-mounted lasers, it instead instantly explodes into thousands of pieces. Astronomers are very surprised that it wasn’t literally destroyed.
- Laser beams are easily visible in space.
- Incoming asteroids spend several minutes in Earth’s atmosphere.
- Asteroids made of softer or more volatile stuff than nickel will harmlessly burn up in the atmosphere regardless of size.
- Asteroids that land in the ocean will do no damage regardless of size.
- Asteroids are discovered by astronomers peering directly through their telescopes in brightly lit observatories. Whatever they see will appear on computer monitors, however.
- Asteroid positions are reported in plainly audible 75 BPS Baudot teletype signals.