Sci-Tech Library Newsletter
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NOTE: Due to planned staff shortages, the next edition of the newsletter will not be published until the end of May.
- IG-NOBEL’s AT NSF?: “How Curious & Creative Humor Can Improve Science & Engineering Literacy”
- NAEP DOCUMENTS ON THE WEB: State reports on science educational progress and more!
- NATURE ONLINE DEBATE: Future e-access to the primary literature.
- INTERESTING WEBSITES AND NEWS FROM THE INTERNET: Medieval Technology Pages, Two on the Chemical Indutry, Innovative Lives, Romantic Natural History, Brain Connection, the Mystery Spot, the Short Run, teaching with technology, Biological Sciences: Population Ecology, Bacteriophage Ecology, Becoming Human, Engineering: flight, wave power, transportation technology, Geosciences: Natural Hazard Statistics, Alaska Volcanoes, EarthRef, Mathematical and Physical Sciences: Mandelbrot Monk, Solar Max, heat transfer, Polar Programs: North Pole 2001, Polar Meteorology, Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences: Aboriginal Canada, On the Case, Moving Images, Maya ceramics, George Ortiz, women’s wages, Aid & Reform in Africa, Current Value of Old Money, Timeline of Sociology … and more … plus news items from Educom.
IG-NOBEL’s AT NSF?
We recently had the rare pleasure of hearing the creator of the IG-Nobel Prizes and the Annals of Improbable Research (AIR), MARC ABRAHAMS, delivering “How Curious & Creative Humor Can Improve Science & Engineering Literacy”. Mr. Abrahams is an unforgettable speaker.
But don’t despair! You can visit the Ig-Nobel site to view a video of highlights of past years’ presentation events. Point your browser at: http://www.improbable.com/ig/ig-top.html
Nominate your friends and colleagues for an Ig-Nobel prize! Nominate yourself!
AIR is always looking for more material. If you find examples of:
- Research that can not or should not be duplicated
- Published research paper titles that make you split your sides
- Improbable scientific photographs
- Any other indication that science is indeed just another field rife with laughter
Pass them on for the next edition of AIR.
And be sure to sign up for Mini-AIR: Mini-AIR is a (free!) tiny monthly *supplement* to the bi-monthly print magazine. To subscribe, send a brief E-mail message to:
The body of your message should contain ONLY the words:
SUBSCRIBE MINI-AIR MARIE CURIE
(You may substitute your own name for that of Madame Curie.)
To stop subscribing, send the following message: SIGNOFF MINI-AIR
NATURE ONLINE DEBATE
“The communication of research results impacts on everyone involved in science. Today, Nature launches an online debate on the most crucial and talked-about aspect of scientific publishing — the impact of the Web on the publishing of the results of original research. This has, since the emergence of the Internet, filled volumes in the reports of conference proceedings and reams of individual articles. Many of the often arcane and complex socio-economic and technical issues involved are well-trodden paths for a narrow circle of specialists, and excellent in-depth coverage of the issue is regularly provided by specialists outlets such as the D-Lib Forum and the Journal of Electronic Publishing. The main aim of this forum is to bring some of the substance of this Brownian motion of Internet issues to a broader grassroots audience and debate the implications for the future dissemination of scientific information.” Philip Campbell, Editor-in-Chief, Nature.
At this site you will find articles representing a variety of points of view, and a chance to join the debate with your own feedback.
NAEP DOCUMENTS ON THE WEB
You can order free print copies of many of the major reports from the National Assessment of Educational Progress, carried out in 1996, from the US Dept. of Education. Other reports, including has the individual state science reports for all participating states, are available as printable documents on the WWW.
These reports are available at:
INTERESTING WEBSITES AND NEWS FROM THE INTERNET
Medieval Technology Pages
The Medieval Technology Pages, created and maintained by New York University chemistry professor Paul M Gans, “attempt[s] to provide accurate, referenced information on technological innovation and related subjects in western Europe during the Middle Ages.” This fascinating Website offers insight into the history of technology with short lessons about inventions from stirrups to arabic numbers. Each brief entry includes basic information about the invention as well as links to reference sources. The site also contains a timeline of technological innovations from 500 to 1600 AD. An interesting and well produced Website, the Medieval Technology Pages is a truly engaging stop on the Information Superhighway. [EM]
Two on the Chemical Industry
Chemical Industry Archives — EWG [.pdf]
Trade Secrets [.pdf, RealPlayer]
This week, PBS aired a disturbing two-hour special hosted by Bill Moyers that explores the history of the chemical revolution of the past 50 years and how companies have long sought to withhold information from the public and their employees about the safety of many substances. The program draws on a large collection of previously secret industry documents unearthed during a ten-year lawsuit by the family of a man who died from a rare brain cancer after working at a vinyl-chloride plant. The family’s lawyer eventually charged all vinyl-chloride-producing companies with conspiracy, and the discovery process brought to light hundreds of thousands of pages of documents which reveal a closely planned and well-executed campaign to limit regulation of toxic chemicals and the liability of manufacturers and to withhold important health information from all parties. A large selection of these internal documents, over 37,000 pages, is now available for the first time at the Chemical Industry Archives, created by the Environmental Working Group. The site offers several essays on the archive and the industry, including a selection of some egregious examples of companies hiding or denying known health risks of their products. The archive itself may be searched by keyword with several modifiers. The documents are presented in .pdf format. This site is sure to become an extremely important resource for health activists, journalists, and the concerned public. The companion site to the PBS program offers an overview of the film, interview transcripts, selected documents in HTML and .pdf formats, chemical worker profiles and videos, and a section on the 84 chemicals detected in Bill Moyers’s blood and urine. Visitors will also find features on industry secrecy, regulation, money, and politics, as well as right-to-know efforts and what people can do to help protect themselves. These are enhanced by interactive features, documents, and links to related resources. If you only have time to visit two sites this week, they must be the Chemical Industry Archives and Trade Secrets. [MD]
The Lemelson Center’s Innovative Lives series inspires young people to explore the interdisciplinary world of invention. By interacting with American inventors and entrepreneurs, middle-school students learn firsthand about history, technology, and science. They develop an appreciation for problem-solving skills — including their own — and can see themselves as future inventors.
Innovative Lives counters commonly held stereotypes about inventors by featuring speakers with diverse backgrounds. All presenters have made major contributions to society and are positive role models. Programs include hands-on activities that encourage students to see, hear, and touch, and enhance their understanding of the processes of invention.
A Romantic Natural History
Created by Ashton Nichols, Professor of English at Dickinson College, this interesting site should appeal to users in both the history of science and literature. Basically, the site explores connections between literary works and natural history in the century before Darwin’s _Origin of the Species_. At the site, visitors will first find several essays by Ashton, some short case studies, and a timeline. The site also hosts two collections of short biographies of prominent natural historians, literary figures, and illustrators from the period. A bibliography is also provided. All of the site’s content is thoroughly hyperlinked and generously illustrated, and links to related sites are provided throughout. [MD]
Using accessible language, this site provides information about current research into the brain and how it learns and develops. While aimed at the educational community, anyone interested in the brain will find the columns, interviews, and news items informative. Also included are image galleries, optical illusions, brain teasers, and Web broadcasts of a weekly public radio program, “The Infinite Mind.” — sbb (From Librarian’s Index to the Internet)
Access Excellence: The Mystery Spot
Great online and offline activities that allow you and your students to solve mysteries using science. Find out what happened to the local frog population, explore Arctica, or use a microscope to solve a mystery. These fourteen activities are designed to show science in a whole new light. (From Blue Web’n)
The Short Run
The Short Run, an economics news and information site, was named for the economic principle that the economy operates in logical time, which means that time can run both forward and backward. The site features news, reviews, and articles on current economic issues including Bush’s tax plan and the minimum wage. The site also offers the latest economic indicators and stock information. Be sure to check out the Studies section, which includes a collection of economic studies from the research economists at the Richmond Federal Reserve Bank. The Short Run is an information-rich site that breathes new life into the study of economics; it will be a welcome bookmark for all Web-savvy economists. [EM](From the Scout Report)
UMUC-Bell Atlantic Virtual Resource Site for Teaching with Technology
A collaborative project of the Center for the Virtual University and the Center for Teaching and Learning at the University of Maryland University College, this site aims to help teachers develop good practice in adopting technology in their courses. The site consists of two modules. The first focuses on using Web-based technologies to design online courses and links to over 40 examples of Web-enabled assignments from a variety of disciplines. Each is briefly described, with notes on the Web-based technologies employed. The second module concerns delivery in online courses, offering six interviews (video, audio, and transcript) “on significant dimensions of online teaching, with particular emphasis on managing interaction.” Each interview includes a collection of related (annotated) links. This site should be useful to those studying teaching and technology as well as those who would like to make better use of the Internet and related technologies in their classroom. [MD] (From the Scout Report)
Population Ecology Sites offering content on or interaction with university research can be hit and miss. This site on population ecology is a hit, mainly because it offers a fine example of a content driven science site. The design of the site is quite dated and you might even describe it as distinctly 1980’s, however, what it offers the enthusiast or student more than makes up for this. With so many science sites offering style over content, Virginia Tech’s department of entomology provide good old-fashioned comprehensive resources. With links to Ecology models and modelling software, online course information and good connections with other universities, it represents a fairly good portal site. One downside of the dated design is that it is perhaps too simple, consisting of two main pages of listed links. The site would benefit from fragmentation and perhaps a higher graphic content. DM (From New Scientist Planet Science)
The Bacteriophage Ecology Group: Home of Phage Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
“The Bacteriophage Ecology Group exists as a means of organizing the bacteriophage ecology community, fostering communication, identifying others with complementary interests, and, in general, empowering the science of bacteriophage ecology. The Bacteriophage Ecology Group performs a number of services to the bacteriophage ecology community including:
Defining the field of bacteriophage ecology as well as maintaining a:
- list of contacts within the bacteriophage ecology community (our members)
- list of links to members’ home pages
- description of our members’ research interests and bacteriophage ecology publications
- bibliography of bacteriophage ecology (and related) references
- list of meetings of interest to bacteriophage ecologists
- list of links of interest to bacteriophage ecologists
- list server list of all members and interested individuals”
This site from the Institute for Human Origins is “an interactive documentary experience that tells the story of our origins. Journey through four million years of human evolution with your guide, Donald Johanson.”
This attractive website includes news stories, a “Resources” section with glossary, weblinks, and media references, as well as the documentary, which is informative and visually splendid. A Learning Center is promised for this summer, as well. Highly recommended!
Federation of American Scientists Military Analysis Network
“A privately-funded, non-profit organization ‘engaged in analysis and advocacy on science, technology, and public policy for global security’. The federation provides extensive information on US military operations, aircraft, Navy ships, land warfare systems, missiles, smart weapons, dumb bombs, aircraft and naval equipment, and a directory of defense contractors. In addition, it provides analysis of significant issues, such as NATO expansion, and an extensive collection of Congressional material, such as budgets and GAO and CRS reports. The site also provides extensive information on military aircraft, ships, land warfare, and missile technologies in the ‘Rest of the World (ROW)’.” (From the University of Colorado Library What’s New webpage)
Celebrating the Evolution of Flight
In celebration of the approaching (December 17, 2003) 100th anniversary of flight, this site presents an easy-to-navigate but detailed timeline of the history of flight from pre-1700s to the 2000s. A photo gallery commemorates the momentous events and notable people in the history of flight. One section is devoted to helicopter history, and there are great links to other aviation and space sites. Created by the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA). — beb (From Librarian’s Index to the Internet)
Wave Power, Wave Energy
The waves pounding on the shores of the small Scottish island of Islay provide the power to supply electricity to 400 households. If only 0.01% of the power of the sea was harnessed to produce energy, it could supply five times the energy needs of all mankind. Wavegen, a Scottish company, is attempting to harness that power and has has installed the world’s first power station that generates electricity from wave power on a commercial basis. The Wavegen site makes fascinating reading with complete explanations about Wavegen’s system to harness the force of waves to produce electricity, many different and complimentary uses of the technology and discussions about future projects and projected generating facilities. No one with even the slightest interest in alternative energy will want to pass this site by. WTS (From New Scientist Planet Science)
Office of Transportation Technologies
Are you looking for a new car that will not pollute? The OTT will help you find one which matches all your needs. Their search engine will locate models from many brands, based on criteria like vehicle and fuel type (Electric? Methanol? Gas? They got it). The OTT has more pressing issues, though. As part of the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) (www.doe.gov) Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, the agency’s primary task is to help reduce pollution from fossil fuel by aiding the transportation industry with research and inventive technology. Their web site is a treasure trove for alternative fuel enthusiasts, and is loaded with papers, information, statistics and technology presentations. TG (From New Scientist Planet Science)
Natural Hazard Statistics
“The U.S. Natural Hazard Statistics provide statistical information on fatalities, injuries and damages caused by weather related hazards. These statistics are compiled by the Office of Meteorology and the National Climatic Data Center from information contained in Storm Data, a report comprising data from NWS forecast offices in the 50 states, Puerto Rico, Guam and the Virgin Islands.” Reports on lightning, tornado, hurricane, heat, flood, cold, winter storm, and wind.
Alaska Volcano Observatory
For scientist and enthusiasts alike, this site provides mountains of information on volcanism in Alaska. An excellent volcano atlas returns information, photos and bibliographic references on a simple click and a key word search enables you to delve deeper into the numerous hazards, bi-monthly and open file reports. Detailed stratigraphic sections and chemical data can be accessed through AVO’s volcanic seismology and geology databases. A clear site map coupled with some stunning photos make this site a must for volcano hounds. NJF (From New Scientist Planet Science)
The enormous Earthref.org is an umbrella site for sources of reference data and models for a range of earth science subdisciplines. With funding from various public foundations and institutions, this project supports the development and publication of physical and chemical reference models known as REM, GERM, and PACER; provides Web space for databases and modeling tools; and organizes workshops and special sessions at national and international meetings. Geochemical Earth Reference Model, or GERM, contains summary data on the geochemistry of petroleum reservoirs. Soon a feature by which users can contribute data to GERM will be available. PACER, sponsored by the Quest for Truth Foundation, the NSF, and the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, supports software and modeling projects such as ArArCalc (an interactive interface to data reduction in 40Ar/39Ar geochronology) and TnT2000 (geochemical evolution models for the Earth using the Terra Nova Toolbox). A bathymetric seamount catalog based on the SeaBeam2000 cruises in the West and Equatorial Pacific Ocean is also available through PACER. Finally, Reference Earth Model (REM), still under construction, will bring together the work of many people and disciplines to “provide the geophysical community with a model (or a set of models — various versions in one and three dimensions) that fits a great variety of geophysical constraints. The spherical average of the model should eventually replace the current PREM (Preliminary Reference Earth Model) that was created in 1981.” The REM Webpage serves as the headquarters for the collection and distribution of data, models, and computer codes. A wealth of information exists at Earthref.org, so navigation can be tricky, but overall, the site will be a boon to geophysicists and others involved in earth system modeling. [HCS] (From the Scout Report)
Mathematical and Physical Sciences
The Mandelbrot Monk
Do you know Udo of Aachen? Not exactly a household name, this Benedictine monk toiled as a copyist and theological essayist between 1200–1270 AD, and wrote a poem called Fortuna Imperatrix Mundi, which evolved into the famous O Fortuna of the choral work, Carmina Burana. But this would only have made him the O Fortuna Monk. A modern day mathematician noted the unusual depiction of the Bethlehem star in a nativity scene illuminated by Udo. It looked amazingly like the Mandelbrot set. How a thirteenth century monk came to arrive at this feat, previously thought to be possible only through repeated calculations on modern day computers, is the story at this site, and a riveting one it is. Further, Udo embedded his probability theory research and value of pi exercises into works thought previously to be mere theological writings. Threatened with excommunication for his heretical views, Udo reluctantly put away his numbers. But not before leaving these marvels of his genius for us to find, seven centuries later. AD (From New Scientist Planet Science)
AMS Featured Reviews
The American Mathematical Society’s MathSciNet now presents Featured Reviews from _Mathematical Reviews_ online. “Since its founding in 1940, _Mathematical Reviews_ (_MR_) has aimed to serve researchers and scholars in the mathematical sciences by providing timely information on articles and books that contain new contributions to mathematical research,” state the editors. The purpose of the Featured Reviews page is to assist researchers in accessing the most outstanding reviews without having to wade through the thousands of reviews that are posted to _MR_ online each month. The editors state that the Featured Reviews “… will cover some of the very best papers published in mathematics, identified by the _MR_ editors with the advice of distinguished outside mathematicians as being especially important in one or more of the areas covered by _MR_. The reviewers for these papers are asked to set the paper in context, perhaps with some historical background, state the main results of the paper, outline (in not too technical a fashion) the main new ideas in the paper and include their evaluation of the paper.” Each four- to six-paragraph-long review, available in HTML, .dvi, .ps, or .pdf format, gives the reviewer’s name and the full article citation, hyperlinked when possible. This should prove to be a valuable Web resource for academic mathematicians. [HCS](From the Scout Report)
Not for Martians — Mars Academy is strictly for humankind. This excellent educational resource is packed full of essential information on the red planet and how we might go about getting there. Many of the pages are clearly aimed at teachers rather than their charges, giving the first small step for classroom discussions or priming the fuel tanks of experiment and research. The site is detailed enough to use graphs and formula to describe how centrifugal force might be used to create artificial gallery — but nonetheless well directed towards the general reader. Other pages, like “Astronaut Quiz” or “Interactive Mission Design Page” will present genuine challenges for pupils aged twelve to sixteen. Will they conquer the final frontier with an minimum score of 80%? What is the payload of an Ion drive mars trip? Mars academy helps you work, rest and play. ARB (From New Scientist Planet Science)
Information about the solar maximum of 2000, the latest one in the Sun’s regular eleven-year cycles of activity. There are explanations and pictures of the cycle generally and of particular phenomena. There is also information about Missions that are examining solar activity. The Classroom contains lessons plans and activities for educators. There are many related links throughout the site. — dl (From Librarian’s Index to the Internet)
Heat Transfer Textbook
Recently mounted on an MIT server and made available to all, free of any charge, on the Internet: A Heat Transfer Textbook, 3rd ed., by John Lienhard IV and John Lienhard V. (The first two paper editions were widely used and went into multiple printings.)
Other books have been mounted on the web, but this one is unique in several features. It is a completely typeset and illustrated book (set in Lucida type), almost 700 pages in length. It is in pdf format and may be downloaded and used on anyone’s machine. In this format, it occupies only 6.6 MB.
This effort, underwritten by the Dell STAR Program, the Keck Foundation at MIT, and the M.D. Anderson Chair at the University of Houston, is experimental and has thus far received an overwhelming response, worldwide. Since such books cost students well over $100, the response from poorer countries has been extremely gratifying to us.
We feel that this completely noncommercial venture represents a sufficiently radical departure from traditional publishing as to be of interest to this list.
John Lienhard IV, Prof. University of Houston
John Lienhard V, Prof. MIT
North Pole 2001
“Mike and Fiona Thornewill are currently walking to the North Pole — and a world record by becoming the first husband and wife to successfully reach both North and South Poles. The expedition began in March and is raising money for two charities, Macmillan Cancer Care and the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children. Multiyork is one of three main corporate sponsors, click here for more information. Follow the progress of the courageous Nottingham policeman and his wife here!” The site contains pictures, descriptions of training, voice clips, daily updates, and more! (Thanks to Ben Hervey-Murray)
Would you like to
- Run a global climate model over the the web?
- Learn why the South Pole is so much colder than the North Pole
- See pictures of ships that almost sank from sea-spray icing?
- Find web resources on Polar Meteorology?
You can do this and more in the Polar Meteorology Web Module. This module is designed for anyone interested in the subject of polar meteorology. Some of the study questions within the module are geared toward upper-level undergraduate or graduate students majoring in meteorology, atmospheric science or related fields. However, anyone of high school age or older with some science background should find most of the module understandable. (Thanks to Peter Guest)
Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences
Aboriginal Canada Portal
A partnership effort between the Canadian government departments and the Aboriginal community, this site is designed to serve as a portal to Canadian Aboriginal Internet resources, contacts, information, and government programs and services. From the site, visitors may access homepages for national Aboriginal associations, governmental, and other sites. The latter are organized by resource type (business, learning, employment, health and social services, etc.) and further divided between government sites and other sources of information. An internal search engine and French and no-frames versions are also provided. [MD](From the Scout Report)
On the Case
New from BizEd, On the Case helps students develop their business and economics skills by applying theory to case studies pulled from the _Financial Times_ Website. In the Website tour, Biz Ed suggests that users pick a case study that interests them and work through the variety of accompanying resources and worksheets. Economics case studies look at international, markets, firms, and unemployment and inflation, while business case studies include accounting and finance, external influences, and business activities. [EM]
Internet Moving Images Archive
Approximately 750 short films (about 15–20 minutes) documenting American culture, mostly from the 1940s and 1950s. Includes World War I and atomic fallout films. Download in .mpg format (200–400 MB per film) and use with Windows Media Player. (From University of Michigan Library What’s New)
Worldviews: Maya Ceramics from the Palmer Collection
Virtual exhibit of the Palmer Collection from the Hudson Museum at the University of Maine. Includes a clickable display of over forty pre-Columbian objects collected by William P. Palmer III during the 1960s and early 1970s. It also has a map of where the items were found and discussions related to Maya civilization, writing and symbolism, and iconographer and epigrapher observations regarding the Maya beliefs about the underworld, the cosmos, the natural world, and palace life. — nbh (From Librarian’s Index to the Internet)
The George Ortiz Collection
This elegant image catalog documents the extraordinary treasures of George Ortiz, a passionate connoisseur and collector of art from ancient Greece, Mesopotamia, Egypt, and neighboring civilizations, as well as sculpture from Africa, Pre-Columbian America, and the Pacific. You’ll need the Quicktime plug-in to zoom in and out or rotate 3D images of selected works, such as an Egyptian ceramic hippopotamus or dancing satyr, but most of the artifacts are viewable with informative text in standard photo format — whether winsome Estrucan woman or eerily modern Micronesian deity. (From Yahoo’s Picks of the Week)
Survey Says American Women Still Make Less than Men
- “Equal Pay Day” — ABCNews.com
- “Women Still Earn Less Than Men” — Chicago Sun Times
- “Women Still Make Less, Survey Says” — New York Times (free registration)
- “Harkin Calls for an End of Wage Discrimination Against Women”
- “Equal Pay Law Is 38 Years Old, But Women Lagging Far Behind” — Salt Lake
- Working Women Working Together — AFL-CIO
“Pay inequity still exists, largely for those older than 35” — Atlanta Business Chronicle
On Tuesday, Equal Pay Day, the US Department of Labor released a draft of a report finding women earn $0.76 for every $1 men make. The report includes population data from 1979, 1989, and 1999; Equal Opportunity reports analysis from 1975 to 1998; and a survey of nearly 5,000 federal contractors about new employment opportunities. After controlling for such elements as occupation, experience, region, industry, and race, the study still found an overall wage gap between men and women. Even when males and females work at the same job, have the same race and experience, and work in the same industry and region at firms of equal size, women still make, on average, $0.89 for every dollar earned by men. However, a January 16, 2001 memo from the Office of Management and Budget reports that the data in the report are flawed and “do little to improve our understanding of the gender wage page. They have serious errors that could lead to false conclusion.” The draft report was released by Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) as evidence of the need for a bill he introduced which would amend the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 to require employers to provide equal pay in all jobs that are equal in terms of skill, effort, responsibility, and working conditions.
ABCNews.com (1), the _Chicago Sun Times_ (2), and the _New York Times_ (3) all offer basic news and information about the results of the study, as well as some of the controversies over the data. This press release from Sen. Tom Harkin (4) touts his new legislation that would close the pay gap. This article from the _Salt Lake Tribune_ (5) provides some historical perspectives and trends about the lack of equal pay for women. Working Women Working Together (6) is a program from the AFL-CIO which offers information, news, and a forum for working women on issues of equality. Finally, the _Atlanta Business Chronicle_ (7) examines the career choices women make and how those choices affect their earning capabilities. [EM] (From the Scout Report)
Aid and Reform in Africa: Lessons from Ten Case Studies
Released on March 28, this new World Bank report investigates the impact of development aid on economic policy in ten African countries. Among the findings is the discovery that in nations where political leaders are not committed to reform, aid can actually hinder development by insulating these countries from the need to adopt reforms. The report also concludes that using “conditionality” to force reforms has largely failed and that, by and large, successful economic policies and reforms have been developed domestically by committed political leaders rather than introduced from the outside. Users may download the full text of this 696-page report by chapter in .pdf format at the World Bank site. [MD] (From the Scout Report)
The Current Value of Old Money
The Current Value of Old Money, created by Roy Davies, a science librarian at the University of Exeter, provides annotated links to an array of Websites that help answer the question “How much would a specified amount of money at a certain period of time be worth today?” The annotated links contain more than just simple calculators, encompassing a rich variety of resources including data tables, research papers, and electronic mailing list archives on the question. The site also provides an informative bibliography of print resources on the topic of inflation. [EM](From the Scout Report)
Timeline of Sociology
Compiled by Ed Stephan, a professor emeritus in sociology at Western Washington University, this timeline features a listing of significant events in the discipline of sociology from 1600 to 1995. Many of the items link to pages devoted to the sociologists, texts, or movements identified in the timeline. The timeline provides hundreds of links, and new ones are continually added. A sociology calendar on-site also provides a listing exclusively of the births and deaths of the philosophers and sociologists featured in the timeline. [DC](From the Scout Report)
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NONPROFIT GROUPS AIM FOR TECH TRUST
Five large non-profit organizations recently released a study that details a plan for $18 billion to be set aside from proceeds brought in by government auctions of airwaves. Similar in function to the National Science Foundation, the fund would offer funds to universities, museums, and other public institutions so that they can make their services more accessible through technology. The report shows that the U.S. tech infrastructure is not being fully utilized to bring educational and civic information to society at large. One example of how the funds could be applied is a Library of Congress effort to convert the early presidents’ manuscripts into digital format and then train teachers how to apply this material to the classroom. The report was published by The Carnegie Corporation, The Knight Foundation, The MacArthur Foundation, The Century Foundation, and The Open Society Institute.
(Associated Press, 5 April 2001)
AUDITING CLASSES AT M.I.T., ON THE WEB AND FREE
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology has embarked on an ambitious plan to develop a Web site for each of its 2,000 courses. The sites will offer material from the courses, including syllabi, lecture notes, exams, and possibly videos of lectures, at no cost. The plan, called OpenCourseWare, will cost $100 million and take 10 years to complete. OpenCourseWare differs from other distance-learning programs in two significant respects: It is free, and it does not offer credits toward a degree. The plan has the support of most members of the university’s faculty, and officials say there have been surprisingly few concerns as to who owns intellectual property rights to the online material. Indeed, computer science and engineering professor Hal Abelson notes that the initiative has much in common with the open source software movement, as both are being driven by the desire to share information. MIT officials say they do not believe that the plan will in any way devalue the university experience for MIT students, as the classroom and lab experience, not the bare bones lecture notes and exams, are what make an MIT degree so valuable.
(New York Times, 4 April 2001)
INTERNET2 WILL CONNECT ALL SCHOOLS IN WASHINGTON
The University of Washington and the Washington State Department of Information Services have announced plans to bring Internet2, the high-speed, high-bandwidth network that currently links some 200 universities and research institutions, to all of the state’s community colleges and schools. “In the long run, what this means for kids and teachers is that they can get early access to new material and applications, and direct access to the next generation of learning tools and simulations,” said Ron Johnson, vice president for computing and communications at the University of Washington. Internet2, which operates about 1,000 times faster than a standard connection, will let users access documents, images, and data from institutions such as NASA and the Smithsonian Institution, among others.
(Seattle Times Online, 3 April 2001)
INCREASE IN CAMPUS SPENDING ON INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY
IT spending at U.S. colleges and universities rose 13 percent this academic year, according to a new report from Dun & Bradstreet. The report is based on data from 1,319 two- and four-year institutions. Dun & Bradstreet sent survey forms to over 4,700 institutions but reports that it had such a low rate of response from campuses with 25,000 or more students that it removed such institutions from its final report. The report found that college IT spending this year will total $3.3 billion, with academic expenditures totaling about $1.8 billion and administrative expenditures totaling $1.4 billion. The report notes that if data on “outside services” such as warranties and IT outsourcing are included, total IT spending this academic year could reach almost $4.4 billion. Among the report’s other findings, IT spending at public institutions still more than doubles that of private institutions. Also, 5 percent of U.S. institutions now require students to purchase computers, up from 4 percent last academic year. In addition, all institutions surveyed offer Internet access in their libraries, and 70 percent provide distance-learning programs.
(Chronicle of Higher Education Online, 4 April 2001)
TAP THE POWER OF YOUR PC TO FIGHT CANCER
Intel’s new Philanthropic Peer-to-Peer Program aims to tackle the largest scientific quandaries hindering humankind. The first project, said Intel’s Pat Gelsinger, is to help the National Foundation for Cancer Research find drug compounds that can block cancer-causing proteins. United Devices of Austin, Texas, will organize the distributed-computing network, which will use the same technology used in designing the popular SETI@Home project to search for extraterrestrial life. Intel officials hope that 6 million users will install the cancer-research program on their computers, which would yield processing power equivalent to a 50-terraflop supercomputer running continually. The 1.8 MB client download from the Intel site fetches a set of computations to complete from the United Devices servers, runs them and then loads them back up to United Devices when the computer is next connected to the Internet.
(PC World.com, 3 April 2001)
VIRTUAL REALITY ON THE WEB
Using Virtual Reality Modeling Language (VRML), an open standard tool for authoring 3D environments, several Web sites now provide Web-based virtual-reality environments. One such site is the Crystal Explorer from the University of Michigan, where students built and can examine virtual crystals. Prospective neurosurgeons at the University of Manchester can access a VRML-based site where they can practice various procedures. VRML also offers a new way for scientists and others around the world to share their discoveries with others. Manchester Metropolitan University archaeologists have made a virtual representation of the Tomb of Menna, from the ancient city of Thebes, available online. In addition, the National History Museum has placed VRML-based models of trilobite fossils on the Internet.
(PC AI, April 2001 via Edupage)
INTERNET, ACT II
The 128-bit Internet Protocol version 6 (IPv6) is expected to replace the current 32-bit IPv4 and provide enough IP addresses for every conceivable IP application, once it passes testing by Internet2 users. Its widespread adoption will eventually pave the way for the Next Generation Internet (NGI), which is “the networks, hardware, software, and services that will make possible a new generation of applications over the Internet,” said IBM’s director of Internet technology and strategy, Mike Nelson. Reliability will be vital to the NGI, since technologies such as voice over IP are expected to be widely used. Chris Johnson of Cisco Systems’ federal organizations notes that numerous federal agencies are in the process of constructing voice over IP infrastructure. IBM expects the NGI to be faster, more intelligent and secure, simpler, and more natural than the current Internet, as well as ubiquitous and always on. Nelson predicts that the NGI will foster server replication and reduce the distance that data travels, while IBM Research’s Global Technology Outlook expects data volume to increase from a petabyte to a zettabyte by 2010.
(Federal Computer Week Online, 23 April 2001 via Edupage)
EUROPEAN COMMISSION ADOPTS $13.3 BILLION EDUCATION PLAN
The European Commission last month approved the “eLearning Action Plan,” a $13.3 billion project to assist IT-related education at universities across the continent. The plan will benefit universities in both economically advantaged and disadvantaged areas, with the former receiving funds for their computer-science departments and the latter receiving support in building their IT infrastructure. Project officials expect the plan to create an environment in which distance and time would no longer be obstacles to learning. Officials say the project has four parts: infrastructure and equipment upgrades, teacher training, content development, and network construction. Online content will focus on three areas: language, arts and culture, and science and technology. Officials hope the project will give European students a boost and allow the continent’s IT-related economy to be more competitive with that of the United States. The commission is considering a plan to provide standard IT diplomas, which would provide a “driver’s license” of sorts for the digital age.
(Chronicle of Higher Education Online, 16 April 2001 via Edupage)
BUSH BUDGET SEEKS MODEST GAINS IN TECHNOLOGY-RESEARCH SPENDING
President Bush’s budget for fiscal year 2002 represents a mixed bag for technology-research funds at colleges and universities. In general, federal tech-research funds come from NASA, the National Science Foundation, and the Department of Education. The tech-research budget at NSF would increase five percent under Bush’s proposal, as would that of NASA. However, Education will have to rearrange funding for the Learning Anytime Anywhere Partnerships, a distance-education program popular with many colleges and universities. The program, begun in 1999, by last year had grown into a $30 million fund for assisting colleges and universities with developing distance-education programs. The partnerships program will not receive new funding under Bush’s budget, and funding for current projects will be re-routed through the department’s Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education (FIPSE), for which the Bush proposal budgets $51.2 million. FIPSE director Kenneth Tolo said there will be money for current projects as well as new ones. “We anticipate making new awards,” he said. “The only question is, of course, what the appropriations will be.”
(Chronicle of Higher Education Online, 10 April 2001 via Edupage)