Sci-Tech Library Newsletter


Newsletter archive > 2001 June 7 Issue

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  1. SCI/TECH WEB AWARDS 2001: The folks at Scientific American bring you their choices for the top websites …
  2. THE END OF SUBJECT SPECIFIC SCOUT REPORTS: Goodbye to a great resource.
  5. INTERESTING WEBSITES AND NEWS FROM THE INTERNET: Palmyra Atoll — Rainforest at Sea, Jesuits and the Sciences: 1540&ndsh;1995; Biological Sciences: Tiny Fossil Sheds Light on Mammalian Evolution, NMNH Entomology Database Library, The Marshall Nirenberg Papers, Pictorial Human Embyology - Stephen Gilbert, Guide to Internet Resources for Biological Taxonomy & Classification, Bio Links (Biozone); Education and Human Resources: Nature Transformed: The Environment in American History — TeacherServe; Engineering: Renewable Resource Data Center, Greatest Inventions The Evolution of Man through History, Marconi Calling, In Time for Technology; Polar Programs: A South Pole Odyssey; Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences: Psychological Research on the Net — American Psychological Society, The Science of Emotions: Research at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Money: What it is and how it works, Interactive Index of Economic Freedom, Mayan Epigraphic Database Project, Pre-Columbian Culture … and more … plus news items from Edupage

    “The Internet is rich with science and technology-related sites, and over the past five years, we at Scientific have looked at an awful lot of them — whether in search of a site to review or one to simply help us understand a subject we’re covering. Universities, individual educators, companies and nonprofit organizations alike provide a remarkable range of knowledge online, from basic tutorials to highly specialized papers. And in fact, there is so much information available that it’s sometimes hard to zero in on what you need or to find buried gems without hours of distraction.

    That said, we’ve decided to acknowledge our very favorite Web sites — five each in 10 subject areas — with the Scientific Sci/Tech Web Award. It is an eclectic mix — from the practical to the academic to the downright silly. Among this year’s winners are sites that decode computer acronyms, explain group theory, unravel the genome, track chemistry in cartoons, and feature Britney Spears and superconductors in the same breath. Some are all-time classics, others not. But to our minds, they are among the Web’s greatest hits. We hope you enjoy them as much as we do. If you’d like to nominate one of your favorites that isn’t on the list for a future award, send us the URL.” — The Editors of Scientific American.

    Biological Sciences


    • Kimball’s Biology Pages
    • Cells Alive
    • MIT’s Biology Hypertextbook
    • Primer on Molecular Genetics
    • The Animal Diversity Web


    • Gray’s Anatomy
    • Visible Human Project
    • The Big Picture Book of Viruses
    • HIV Insight
    • Virtual Hospital

    Computer and Information Science

    Computer Science

    • An Introduction to the Theory of Computation
    • The Computer Museum History Center
    • Computer Fundamentals
    • The Knowledge Base


    Engineering and Technology

    • Cool Robot of the Week
    • Invention Dimension
    • Invention Master Resource List
    • Bad Human Factors Design
    • Brad Hein’s Nanotechnology Site


    Earth and Environment

    • Visible Earth
    • Environmental News Network
    • Dive and Discover
    • Windows to the Universe
    • Planet Diary

    Mathematical and Physical Sciences

    Astronomy and Astrophysics

    • Astronomy Picture of the Day
    • Astronomy Hypertextbook
    • Bad Astronomy
    • Nine Planets
    • SETI Home


    • Periodic Chart
    • The Comic Book Periodic Table of the Elements
    • Molecule of the Month
    • Common Molecules
    • The Macrogalleria: A Mall of Polymer Science


    • David Joyce’s Homepage
    • MacTutor History of Mathematics
    • The Glossary of Mathematical Mistakes
    • Mathmania Tour
    • Knot a Braid of Links


    • The Particle Adventure
    • Snow Crystals
    • Superstrings
    • Antimatter: Mirror of the Universe
    • Britney Spears’ Guide to Semiconductor Physics

    Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences

    Archaeology & Paleontology

    • UC Museum of Paleontology
    • Becoming Human
    • Trilobites
    • Paleomap Project

    The Internet Scout Project is sad to announce that we will be discontinuing publication of our subject-specific reports as we have been unable to secure funding for them. The last issue of the Scout Report for Social Sciences & Humanities will be May 29, the last Scout Report for Business & Economics will be May 31, and the last issue of the Scout Report for Science & Engineering will be June 20. We have, however, no immediate plans to cease publishing our flagship report, the Scout Report. Many thanks to our loyal readers. [The Scout Report subject reports have been one of the very best ways to keep informed of new and high quality websites. I, for one, am devastated at their demise.]


    HerpDigest is “the first free, electronic newsletter dedicated only to reptile and amphibian science and conservation.” Delivered by email each Monday, HerpDigest offers the latest news from both the scientific and general media, information on new legislation, job notices and professional information, and related resources. Users may view tables of contents and subscribe at the site. The full text of archived issues is available for registered users only. [MD] (From the Scout Report)

    Science in Africa
    Published since January 2001, this free online monthly magazine covers a wide range of scientific issues concerning Africa. Each issue features a number of short pieces written by scientists with a general audience in mind. For instance, the current issue includes articles on a micronutrient fortified biscuit developed to address nutritional deficiencies, soybean production in Nigeria, and South African fish fossils. Science in Africa additionally includes information on upcoming science events, jobs, funding opportunities, and science education activities and opportunities. A free email newsletter is also available. [MD] (From the Scout Report)

    Molecular Interventions
    Launched in April 2001 by the American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics, Molecular Interventions provides scientifically rigorous, cutting-edge reviews written for nonspecialists but sufficiently precise and detailed to command the attention and respect of experts in the field. In addition to review articles, MI features articles on the interplay between science and society, interviews with leaders in pharmacology, information about relevant web sites, reviews of pharmacology and science in the media, and a comprehensive meetings calendar. All articles include creative and compelling graphics.

    There is currently a trial period for free access to Molecular Interventions, until January 2002.


    Encyclopedia of applied physics. VCH Publishers, 1991. (Gift of Robert Borchers.)

    Meares, Carol A.
    The Digital work force: building infotech skills at the spped of innovation. U.S. Dept. of Commerce, 1999.

    Land of plenty: diversity as America’s competitive edge in science, engineering and technology. Report of the Congressional Commission on the Advancement of Women and Minorities in Science, Engineering and Technology Development. 2000.

    Dalton, Donald H.
    Globalizing industrial research and development. U.S. Dept. of Commerce, 1995.

    Technology in the national interest. U.S. Dept. of Commerce, 1996.

    Foreign science & technology information sources in the federal government and select private sector organizations. U.S. Dept. of Commerce, 1996.

    Myths and tradeoffs: the role of tests in undergraduate admissions. National Academy Press, 1999.

    Recommendations for improving the scientific basis for environmental decisionmaking: a report from the first National Conference on Science, Policy, and the Environment, Dec. 7–8, 2000, National Academy of Sciences, Washington, DC. National Council for Science and the Environment, 2001.

    Goldman, Charles A.
    Paying for university research facilities and administration. RAND, 2000.

    Nettles, Michael T.
    Salary, promotion, and tenure status of minority and women faculty in U.S. colleges and universities. US Dept of Education, 2000.

    Hoffer, Thomas B.
    High school seniors’ instructional experiences in science and mathematics. US Dept. of Education, 1996.

    Madigan, Timothy.
    Science proficiency and course taking in high school: the relationship of science course-taking patterns to increases in science proficiency between 8th and 12th grades. US Dept. of Education, 1997.

    Carey, Nancy.
    State survey on racial and ethnic classifications. US Dept. of Education, 1998.

    Pavel, D. Michael.
    American Indians and Alaska Natives in postsecondary education. US Dept. of Education, 1998.

    Owings, Jeffrey.
    High school curriculum structure: effects on coursetaking and achievement in mathematics for high school graduates: an examination of data from the National Education Longitudinal Study of 1988. US Dept. of Education, 1998.


    Palmyra Atoll — Rainforest at Sea
    “ is a nature and wilderness expeditions web site featuring in-depth, online expeditions to explore unique or threatened ecosystems. Each journey is a photojournalistc exploration of a wilderness area as viewed through the eyes of master nature photographers and leading nature writers and authors.

    ‘Palmyra Atoll: Rainforest of the Sea’ was a seven-day exploration of one of the last undeveloped ‘wet’ atolls in the Pacific. Located 1000 miles south of Hawaii, Palmyra Atoll was recently acquired by The Nature Conservancy and the waters around Palmyra declared a National Wildlife Refuge.

    The online expedition features a detailed look at this near-pristine coral atoll ecosystem. The team of digital photographers, writers and biologists report on the health of Palmyra’s coral reefs, Palmyra’s population of rare sea-birds including red-footed boobies and the rarely seen bristle-thighed curlew, and one of the largest populations of giant coconut crabs in the Pacific.

    ‘Palmyra Atoll: Rainforest of the Sea’ was presented in collaboration with The Nature Conservancy and is co-sponsored by the Epson Corporation, producers of inkjet printers, projectors, scanners and digital cameras.

    One World Journeys next expedition, ‘Salmon: Spirit of the Land and Sea’ is scheduled for September 5 and will focus on the culture of salmon and the ‘Spirit Bear’ on the coast of British Columbia in the Great Bear Rainforest. During the summer, the One World Journeys team will be expanding their offerings for educators to enable more interactivity between students and the field teams.” (From Kevin Sparkman)

    Jesuits and the Sciences: 1540–1995
    From its beginnings, the Jesuit Order focused on scientific studies as a spiritually rewarding pursuit. The early Jesuits were engaged in a battle against believers in alchemy, magic, demons, and astrology; soon they found themselves pulled toward an admiration for Galileo and his science, yet rejecting Copernican theories based on Jesuit doctrines. This site chronicles the evolution of Jesuit thinking from their earliest writings, which influenced no less than Descartes, to modern day contributions. There are reproductions of the documents throughout the site, including a page from Pestis, in which Athanasius Kircher (1602–1680), after viewing blood and urine from a victim under a primitive microscope, guesses that a living organism might be the cause of the plague. A most excellent site, although it loads at a stately pace, even on a fast connection. AD (From New Scientist Planet Science)

    Biological Sciences

    NMNH Entomology Database Library
    A collection of over twenty databases, checklists, and bibliographies related to insects and entomology. Descriptions are available for most of these databases from the National Museum of Natural History at the Smithsonian Institution. — dl (From Librarian’s Index to the Internet)

    Bio Links (Biozone)
    This site contains over five hundred links covering such topics as biology, biotechnology, diseases, evolution, and microbiology. Links are organized into sixteen main topics and sixty-five subtopics that support health and science education. There are monthly updates listed on the main page. — sf (From Librarian’s Index to the Internet)

    The Marshall Nirenberg Papers
    The latest addition to National Library of Medicine (NLM) Profiles in Science series (first reviewed in the September 25, 1998 _Scout Report_) is the papers of Marshall Nirenberg. In 1968, Nirenberg and two others shared the Nobel Prize for cracking the secrets of the genetic code. This online collection is only a sample of the full Marshall Nirenberg Papers, but it does offer a fair amount of material, including correspondence, manuscripts, laboratory notes, and photos. These may be browsed alphabetically or chronologically by document type. Also included at the site is a biographical exhibit which links to numerous documents and photos, and an internal search engine with multiple options. [MD] (From the Scout Report)

    Tiny Fossil Sheds Light on Mammalian Evolution

    Digging Up Fresh Clues About the Origin of Mammals
    Fossil hints at mammal evolution
    Tiny Fossil From Early Jurassic Fills New Niche in Mammal Evolution
    Tiny Mammal: Paper Clip-Sized Creature May Be an Ancestor
    Tiny creature may be ancestor of all mammals
    In the most recent issue of _Science_, a team of American and Chinese scientists announced the discovery of the fossil of a tiny shrew-like creature that lived 195 million years ago, 45 million years before previously discovered mammals. Found in 1985 in Yunnan province, China, the fossil was originally believed to be merely a bone fragment because of its small size. It has now been named Hadrocodium wui, (“Fullhead”), and could possibly be the direct ancestor of all living mammals. Hadrocodium was an insectivore, eating worms and small insects. Though it weighed only two grams (the weight of a paper clip), Hadrocodium had a considerably larger brain than most known mammals from the early Jurassic period. The tiny skull also possesses three other key traits that are characteristic of the transition from mammal-like animals to true mammals: a three-bone middle ear separated from the jaw, matching upper and lower teeth, and a powerful jaw hinge. Readers can begin learning more about this discovery with the _Science_ article. Additional coverage is provided by Discovery news, the BBC, National Geographic, ABC News, and CNN. [MD] (From the Scout Report)

    Pictorial Human Embyology — Stephen Gilbert
    Exquisite illustrations downloadable as pdf files. Unfortunately no accompanying text, but the pictures themselves are worth the trip. (Thanks to Netsurfer Science)

    Guide to Internet Resources for Biological Taxonomy & Classification
    Put together by librarian Sue Raymond of Montgomery College, this is an excellent resource for this field. Besides annotated links to a variety of useful web resources on this topic, Sue also walks you through an exercise of classifying a catfish. Extremely well done! (Thanks to Netsurfer Science).

    Education and Human Resources

    Nature Transformed: The Environment in American History — TeacherServe
    The National Humanities Center has recently added a second guide to its TeacherServe site (originally reviewed in the November 7, 1997 _Scout Report_). Nature Transformed: The Environment in American History contains a number of essays specifically tailored to classroom use. These are organized in three thematic sections: Native Americans and the Land, Wilderness and American Identity, and The Use of the Land. Each essay also features a section on guiding student discussion, a brief overview of the relevant historiographical debates, and links to related online resources. [MD] (From the Scout Report)


    Greatest Inventions: The Evolution of Man through History
    This site covers a number of popular inventions through history from the 15th to the 20th century. Inventions include items from aspirin, blue jeans, and the electric battery to Legos, the refrigerator, and the zipper. Users can search by timeline, inventor, or invention. Although the home page is confusing, the site map is very useful. Topics are cross-linked and linked to related sites and recommended books. There is also an interactive section that allows browsers to further search the site and learn through games, puzzles, facts, and trivia. A ThinkQuest site. — skw (From Librarian’s Index to the Internet)

    In Time for Technology
    Selected events and discoveries in technology can be viewed chronologically in a timeline (1,000,000 B.C. to 2000 A.D.) or information can be gathered by reading brief articles that are grouped by categories: agriculture, communication, daily life, industry, medicine, transportation, and war. Animations and photos enhance technical explanations. While not a comprehensive history of technology, this site is easy to understand, informative, and useful for school assignments. — beb (From Librarian’s Index to the Internet)

    Marconi Calling
    Brought to you by the Marconi Corporation, a global provider of communications and information technology solutions, this site examines the life, science, and achievements of Guglielmo Marconi, often referred to as the pioneer of wireless communication. Use the timeline to learn more about the man — it covers 67 of the most important events in Marconi’s life. Equally interesting are the self-contained exhibitions that cover the significant milestones of the development of wireless. The Communications section features layers and layers of fascinating information on the advent of wireless technology. We couldn’t stop clicking! (From Yahoo’s Picks of the Week)

    Renewable Resource Data Center
    This U.S. Dept. of Energy-sponsored resource contains data relating to natural energy sources such as solar radiation, biomass, geothermal, and wind power. There’s an illustrated glossary of alternative energy-related terms, and links to projects and information for students and teachers. Consumers preparing to install solar panels can estimate their savings by using the “PVWatts” link, which calculates the electricity produced by any photovoltaic solar system. — dfs (From Librarian’s Index to the Internet)

    Polar Programs

    A South Pole Odyssey
    A site put together by a meteorologist currently at the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station in Antarctica until November. Nathan Tift keeps a detailed journal. Also included are pictures, a FAQ, weather and climate information, and a link for you to ask questions. I keep trying to convince the folks at NSF that they need a librarian to do a tour in Antarctica … but in the mean time I, and you, can have the experience vicariously!

    Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences

    Pre-Columbian Culture
    This site explores the Aztec, Mayan, and Olmec cultures. The section on the Aztecs (Mexicas) discusses social organization, art, Nahuatal poetry, Nahua music (with sound files), and the Aztec calendar. There are separate sections covering the god Quetzalcoatl and the archeological sites of Templo Mayor and Teotihuacan. Information about the Mayas includes their culture, social organization, architecture, and other arts. The section on the Olmecs emphasizes art, particularly sculpture. From the University of Guadalajara. Also available in Spanish. — dl (From Librarian’s Index to the Internet)

    Mayan Epigraphic Database Project
    Information about Mayan hieroglyphics is presented in a “relational database of glyphs (‘gnumbers’), images, phonetic values (‘pvalues’), and semantic values (‘svalues’) according to the consensus among various American Mayanists. …” There are glyphs for Affixes, Main Signs, and Portraits (Heads); Dtexts — “hieroglyphic text that has been transcribed according to a set of rules that substitute alphanumeric values for glyphs and their spatial ‘syntax;’ ” related Internet Resources; and a bibliography. From the University of Virginia. — dl (From Librarian’s Index to the Internet)

    The Science of Emotions: Research at the University of Wisconsin-Madison
    This new Website presents news and information about the research and activities of the HealthEmotions Research Institute at the UW-Madison School of Medicine. The Institute is nationally recognized for its cutting edge research into the connections between brain chemistry and human emotional experience. The Website offers a review of current research projects, professional biographies of the researchers, and an archive of news stories related to recent research. This last makes available stories about research suggesting child abuse alters brain development, the links between brain chemistry and impulsive violence, the measurable power of a positive outlook, and many others. There is also a recently-posted feature on the visit this month of the Dalai Lama to the center to participate in discussions about this subject from his perspective as a Buddhist spiritual leader and author of several books on the links between spirituality and the management of emotions. [DC](From the Scout Report)

    Psychological Research on the Net — American Psychological Society
    Posted by the American Psychological Society (see the May 6, 1994 _Scout Report_), this Website presents an extensive annotated list of psychological research currently being conducted on the Web. In addition to a new studies section, topics include health psychology, industrial and organizational psychology, personality studies, psychology and religion, sensation and perception, social psychology, neural psychology, clinical psychology, developmental psychology, cognition, emotions, and others. Links are provided to the listed Websites. [DC] (From the Scout Report)

    Interactive Index of Economic Freedom
    The Heritage Foundation, along with the _Wall Street Journal_, presents the Interactive Index of Economic Freedom, a tremendous database offering detailed reference information about economic policy for 161 countries. The search feature provides a variety of options for searching the database and organizing the results including sorting the results alphabetically or by rank. Along with a simple search, users can search by country or region and compare that with another region, or sort by policy factors including fiscal burden, banking, black market, and trade policy. Six years of past scores are also available here. The results are presented in an easy-to-read list with comparable features and scores, as well as a detailed snapshot overview of economic information for each of the countries. This useful database will be of great value to those interested in country-to-country comparisons of economic policy. [EM](From the Scout Report)

    Money: What it is and how it works
    Created by William F. Hummel, a retired jack-of-all-trades, Money: What is and how it works offers the author’s advice on a vast array of issues dealing with money and US monetary policy. Well-written and easy-to- understand, this collection provides information on the basics of understanding money, as well as some more advanced concepts, and monetary policy issues. Hummel has also included articles from famous economists on topics including creditary economics, inflation, and the money market. Be sure to investigate the Ode to Money section, which offers poems about money from Hummel and others. [EM] (From the Scout Report)


    The following items are from Edupage. To subscribe to Edupage: send mail to: with the message: subscribe edupage Anonymous (if your name is Anonymous; otherwise, substitute your own name). To unsubscribe send a message to: with the message: unsubscribe edupage. (If you have subscription problems, send mail to:

    The National Science Foundation (NSF) is counting on the lure of scholarship money to attract talented college students to computer security positions in the federal government. The Scholarship for Service program will provide a total of $8.6 million to college students in the form of two-year scholarships. Students who receive the scholarships must work for the federal government for the first two years after their graduation. Students will also take part in internships at federal agencies. The participating institutions are the Naval Postgraduate School, the University of Idaho, Iowa State, Purdue, the University of Tulsa, and Carnegie Mellon, each of which will receive at least $1.4 million toward the program. Officials in the federal government believe that the program will help reduce its shortage of computer-security professionals. “The technical growth has been so fast that security hasn’t really caught up with it,” said NSF’s Bill Noxon. However, director John Pike argues that the government’s computer-security problems cannot be solved only by bringing in more personnel. He says there need to be higher standards for security imposed on vendors. (Wired News, 23 May 2001 via Edupage)

    Efforts by Congress to reform voting technology in the United States may benefit research universities. Under a bill from Rep. James A. Barcia (D-Mich.), the National Institute of Standards and Technology would name a research institution or a consortium of such institutions to run a national laboratory on voting technology. Although Barcia did not mention academic institutions in his bill, officials say the academic community could be a key part of the effort to reform voting technology, as colleges and universities may be seen as less biased than government agencies. Efforts to analyze voting technology are already underway through a joint effort by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the California Institute of Technology. MIT political science professor Stephen Ansolabehere, one of the directors of the project, told Congress in prepared testimony that the United States should model its efforts after Brazil and have a group of engineering universities study and prepare new voting technology. (Chronicle of Higher Education Online, 23 May 2001 via Edupage)

    Ongoing projects at several major research universities provide a glimpse of such cutting-edge technology as the Automated Highway System, now under development at Carnegie Mellon University. This project would lead to computer-controlled driving, researchers anticipate. Also at Carnegie Mellon, in conjunction with the Johnson Space Center, work continues on the Distributed Robots Architecture Project, which is developing robots that complete tasks by working together. At Stanford University, the IBROW project is working to develop UPML, or the Unified Problem-Solving Method Description Language, which will provide problem-solving programs for Internet-based distribution and use. Another Stanford project, EON, is an attempt to create decision support software for medical situations. At the MIT Media Lab, researchers are working on BUZZwatch, a program in natural- language processing that will follow common themes throughout online forums of data such as the Web, newsgroups, or chat rooms; such a program could lead to advances in data-mining and search- engine technology. Other MIT projects include work on electronic smell recognition and a countertop that features a projection system. (PC AI, May 2001 via Edupage)

    The University of Houston’s Allen Teleport Version 2.0 is a working model of what a media room of the future may resemble. It serves as a laboratory and multimedia hub for architecture students and professors at the university. It is outfitted with up-to-the-minute multimedia computing features and Internet tools. Teleport is designed to let people at the university exchange class lectures and discuss concepts with academic partners around the globe. Originally developed in 1979 by architect Doug Michels for underwriter E. Rudge Allen, Teleport broke new ground in the area of telecommuting. The system may soon be used in interactive cars or serve as the center of a virtual city, Michels predicted. For now, the current system can act as “the perfect laboratory for experimentation, collaboration, and playful invention,” Michels said. (Futurist, June 2001 via Edupage)

    Researchers at the University of Rochester have developed a computer that creates interference patterns from light. The computer operates at speeds that allow tasks to be performed nearly instantaneously. The breakthrough could lead to computers that operate even more quickly than quantum computers, according to a bulletin from the American Institute of Physics. Quantum computers are operated by manipulating small physics particles, while conventional computers operate through electrons. (USA Today, 16 May 2001 via Edupage)

    University of California at San Diego art professor Harold Cohen has gained notoriety not for his own art but for that composed by “Aaron,” an art-producing computer program he first began working on in 1973. The program relies on its “imagination,” as programmed by Cohen, to create portraits and still-lifes. For Cohen and for many others who study artificial intelligence, Aaron’s “work” raises the issue of what art is and who can be rightly called an artist. “Aaron’s output has been hung in major museums all around the world,” Cohen noted. “Since most of that happened before anybody was aware how powerful the computer was, I have to assume that it was there because the museums thought it was art. People buy it as if it’s art.” However, Cohen does not go so far as to call Aaron’s output “creative.” Carnegie Learning’s Stephen Blessing, who once taught Aaron as part of a cognitive learning course at the University of Florida, says Aaron is more representative of Cohen’s own process of creating art. (Wired News, 12 May 2001 via Edupage)

    Two computer science doctoral students at Stanford University have devised a program to prevent cheating on SETI@home and other projects that use distributed computing. SETI@home draws on the unused processing power of users’ PCs to help process data related to the search for extraterrestrial life. The project has become enormously successful — last week its number of users passed 3 million. However, officials have noticed a rising incidence of cheating among SETI@home users, with users hacking into the data their computer is processing, sometimes altering the results. Stanford students Ilya Mironov and Philippe Golle have devised a system that inserts so-called “ringers,” which are data checkpoints, into the data file that each user processes. If the ringers are missing when the data file is returned to SETI, officials know that tampering of some kind has taken place. SETI officials say incidents of cheating have affected less than one percent of its results, but even that is enough to be significant. (New York Times, 24 May 2001)

    The University of Vermont may soon approve a policy on intellectual property rights pertaining to distance learning. Such a policy is necessary as e-learning programs intensify, said Ed Twarty, dean of the division of continuing education. The policy has been passed by the university’s faculty senate and awaits approval by acting president Rebecca Martin. The policy clearly delineates content from the instructional method of online courses, said faculty senate president Jean Richardson. Professors’ rights over the content would be determined by each particular course, she said, but they would have constant power over subject matter. As a result, even if the professor moved to another institution or if a course were marketed to another firm, he or she would still earn royalties and could opt to remove the content from the online course. University staff members who aid in creating the online course are likewise covered by the policy. The instructional technique of the course would be under the control of its creators. (Chronicle of Higher Education Online, 24 May 2001 via Edupage)

    Following the recent announcement that it would partner with Emory University and an Atlanta biotech firm to research the genetic origins of cancer, IBM last week announced that it is allying with MDS Proteomics, the Genetic Disease Network, the Bioinformatics Institute, and the National Institutes of Health to create Blueprint Worldwide, a nonprofit company that will collect and freely distribute genetic information to scientists. IBM’s decision to distribute research information free of charge is unique; Celera Genomics, for example, hopes to generate tens of millions of dollars in revenues by selling subscriptions to its research. “We’re really at the beginning of a lot of the discovery that’s going to happen in biology, and we believe very much that that’s going to require new computer tools,” said IBM’s Caroline Kovac. “We can’t do that by ourselves.” (, 11 June 2001 via Edupage)

    Universities and research organizations in Australia will be connected through a high-speed Internet backbone, the government announced last week. The backbone will include 80 universities and research organizations. Australia’s government has committed $19 million toward the backbone’s construction, with an additional $47 million expected to come from universities, private-sector firms, and government research organizations. The backbone will involve institutions from all across the country, said Australian Academic Research Network executive director George McLaughlin, adding that it could also link to institutions in the United States and Canada using undersea links. Australia’s Minister of Communications Richard Alston said the backbone will lead to increased research and industrial development in the country. “The successful project … will lay the physical foundations for a national innovation network,” he said. (Chronicle of Higher Education Online, 4 June 2001 via Edupage)

    Enrollment in higher-education distance-learning programs in the state of Illinois has risen 44 percent from spring 2000, reports the Illinois Virtual Campus (IVC), a joint project of the University of Illinois and the Illinois Board of Higher Education. Online courses led all distance-learning programs in terms of popularity, followed by “stored-media” programs that are available on DVD, CD-ROM, audio, or videotape. IVC reports that community colleges are the main source of distance-learning programs, offering 75 percent of all programs, followed by public universities at 20 percent, and private institutions at 5 percent. IVC now offers an online database of available distance-learning courses. “I think ultimately people need to go to classes when they can attend,” explained the project’s assistant director Vincent Donahue, Jr. (, 6 June 2001 via Edupage)

    Several major European engineering and business schools have founded the Entrepreneurship Education and Training International Association to assist students in turning their work into startup ventures. “The question is, will French engineers develop their own technology companies or go to Silicon Valley and let an American company profit from their research?” said Robert Papin of the HEC business school in Paris. Other participating institutions include the Polytechnic University of Catalonia, Cambridge University, the Ecole des Mines d'Ales in France, and Morocco’s Al Akhawayn University. Officials say these institutions have an entrepreneurial infrastructure in place, including courses, incubators, and organizations that help students form startup firms. Officials hope that, working together, the institutions will be able to support such initiatives as student exchanges, international networking events, and research and development programs. Officials intend to work with business, although the corporate community is traditionally wary of entering academic efforts such as this unless it gains a stake in the work under development. (, 25 May 2001 via Edupage)

    Temple University last week hosted “Presence 2001,” a cross-discipline, international conference focused on virtual reality and electronic media. The event drew some 70 educators, researchers, psychologists, and others to discuss how technology is changing what it means to “be” somewhere. Keynote speaker Carrie J. Heeter, a Michigan State University professor who teaches her classes “virtually” from the basement of her California home, described a recent pilot program that provided senior citizens who are largely restricted to their homes with large-screen video phones that gave participants a true sense of being in someone’s presence. Temple University itself is working on the study of presence through the development of a media interface and network design lab that will link up with universities around the world that are conducting similar research. (Philadelphia Inquirer, 31 May 2001 via Edupage)

    The Digital Opportunity Taskforce, a product of last year’s G8 nations meeting in Japan, has produced a lengthy study recommending ways to close the global digital divide. The G8 nations are currently reviewing the report in preparation for their meeting later this month in Genoa, Italy, where they will craft a blueprint for tackling the digital divide. The Internet can be used to boost the wars on global poverty and infant mortality, expedite the process to create gender equality, and improve education — all goals of the United Nations, the report says. The report also addresses means by which more non-English content can be placed on the Internet and ways schools can be wired for e-learning. The G8 countries will take the next two months to decide which of the report’s recommendations they will adopt, said Markle Foundation CCO Linda Ricci. (Newsbytes, 1 June 2001 via Edupage)