Sci-Tech Library Newsletter


Newsletter archive > 2001 June 29 Issue

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  1. THE TOP RESEARCH INSTITUTIONS?: Bibliometric study pinpointing the top research institutions by impact of papers published.
  2. “SITE FOR SCIENCE” AT CORNELL: A new digital library funded by the NSF.
  3. VIVISIMO: An interesting new search engine.
  5. New E-Journals
  6. INTERESTING WEBSITES AND NEWS FROM THE INTERNET “Climate Change Science: An Analysis of Some Key Questions”, Integrity in Science Project, Scout Report for Science & Engineering, Challenger Accident; Biological Sciences: Conservation and Environmental Maps, European Initiative for Biotechnology Education, Forest Conservation Portal, Genomics Glossary, Genomic Revolution, Sea Turtles All The Way Down; Computer and Information Science: Top 500 Supercomputers; Engineering: Superconductivity for Electric Systems, Solar Buzz, CADDET Energy Efficiency [.pdf]; Geosciences: EarthWaves, Freshwater and Marine Image Bank, The Science of Volcanic Lakes; Mathematical and Physical Sciences: Heisenberg/Uncertainty Principle, Martian Meteorite Discovered in Oman Desert, 2001: destination space, Mars Explorer for the Armchair Astronaut and PDS Map-a-Planet, Molecular Universe, Amazing Space Web-Based Activities; Polar Programs: The Calving of Icebergs A-43 and A-44, Ronne Ice Shelf, Antarctica; Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences: Labor Art, Consumer Financial Literacy, Born in Slavery Slave Narratives from the Federal Writers’ Project, 1936–1938 … and more … plus news items from Edupage
  7. INTER ALIA: Botanical x-ray art, kids surviving in the wilderness.

    Education Guardian: Research
    The Guardian brings you the results of their bibliometric impact study, pinpointing top research institutions. Tables and related articles are presented for:

    • Medical Sciences
    • Biological Sciences
    • Physical Sciences
    • Environmental Sciences
    • Mathematics
    • Engineering
    • Social Sciences

    ‘Bibliometrics is an area of analysis concerned with journal articles and calculates performance measures based on the number of publications and the amount of times they are then cited by later publications. Citations are a good measure of esteem and value, but are only a guide and a partial measure of research performance. However, they have the key advantage of being a global currency and providing comparable information across a long time period. Data on the funding of research and on research activity usually cannot do this.

    This analysis covers four key research nations: Canada, Germany, the UK and United States. In the ISI databases these four countries are the top producers by volume of output. Japan, France, Australia and Spain have also demonstrated major research activity.’

    ‘Each table identifies the institutions with the greatest research impact over the period 1994–1998 (five years). This is not the most up-to-date information, but citations take time to accumulate and this more distant look allows some perspective. These tables will be updated…’


    National Science Digital Library
    “The National Science Foundation is funding the construction of a National Science Digital Library, where users will be able to browse quality resources from libraries around the country.”

    “The Site for Science is one of the models for the library, an example of what the final product may look like. Possible features of the NSDL include library tours, collection tours, and tools for teachers and students to personalize their own library portals.”

    The library will launch in the fall of 2002. (From Wired News) (Thanks to G Price)


    Vivisimo is an interesting new entry to the meta search engine world. What is new about Vivisimo is the way it displays the search results.

    To begin with, in order to do a search you must choose the type of “collection” you want to search from a drop down menu. You can search web search engines, news features, tech features, etc. Structure your search using “standard” search syntax. Unlike some meta engines, Vivisimo will choose to run your searches only on the search engines that support the syntax you have chosen. For instance, if you use the boolean “near” your search will be run on Alta Vista, but not Google.

    Once you have your search results, you will notice that Vivisimo automatically sorts them into categories. The developers claim that what separates Vivisimo from other document clustering search engines is their “new approach [that] emphasized the knowledge that human users hope to find” rather than concentrating on the document clustering algorithm. Well, sometimes it works very well, sometimes not quite so well.

    There are some additional interesting features, although I found their use of FAQs instead of an organized help screen to be a rather roundabout way of learning about Vivisimo.

    Development of Vivisimo was partially financed by the National Science Foundation.


    If you use a general search engine, you can waste a lot of time looking for images on the WWW. As you know, search engines can’t read graphics. Fortunately, there are a host of specialized search engines that just look for graphics — and these make this task a breeze.

    Like most general search engines, each of these specialized search engines has different features, works differently, and potentially looks at a different part of the WWW, so be sure that if you don’t find what you are looking at right away, switch to a different engine and see if you have better luck.

    Also remember that since the search engines don’t read graphics, they have to depend on graphic file names and accompanying text to make a guess at the content of an image. Searching for “Baltimore Oriole” may bring up an image of a lovely orange and black bird, it may also bring up a baseball player, or it may bring up a graphic file that has “Baltimore Oriole“ written as attractive text, rather than what you might think of as being a standard image. You can tell the difference, but the search engine may not be able to do so. For this same reason, be sure to carefully check the webpage source of the image. The image may not be at all what it appears to be. For instance, a search for “Brace Beemer” brought up a picture of the Lone Ranger, Tonto, and another character. None of the actors in the imate was, in fact, Brace Beemer, but accompaning text mentioned Brace Beemer as being one of the radio actors who played the Lone Ranger.

    Also be aware that just because an image is on the WWW, doesn’t mean you are free to use it for any purpose. Images may be (and probably are) copyrighted, and therefore subject to the same restrictions as any other copyrighted document.

    Also be aware that image searching can bring up “adult only” images even if the filter is turned on. (Many engines will have a filter switch you can turn on or off. Many will automatically default to “on”). These filters can’t see the images any more than the search engine itself can, they are hardly fool proof.

    The newest entry into the specialized image search engines is, you guessed it, Google. Like Google’s general search engine, it is huge compared to most of the other image search engines. Also, like Google’s general search engine, it is not as full featured as some of the competition, but its sheer size and ease of use make it a winner none the less. You can use any of the syntax features on the image search engine that you use on the regular search engine. For instance, you can use the “site:” command to search for specific images on a specific website, or search for a particular file type of image (filetype:jpg ). A bit clumsy, but you can do it. Additionally, Google tries to elimimate duplicates, uses its sophisticated algorithm to float the “best” images to the top of your results list, and filters out icons, buttons, and banner ads.

    Another great image search engine is Alta Vista. The terrific strength of Alta Vista is its flexibility in allowing you to use complicated search syntax (click on the “Advanced Image Search” button for full usability of advanced search features). Alta Vista also makes it easy to search for those buttons and banners if that is what you are after, and to make other common choices such as color or black and white. Additionally, Alta Vista offers a separate video search engine.

    Other major players include:

    • FAST multimedia search (Note: there is also an advanced search screen). Fast, like Alta Vista, makes a lot of choices easily available to you for the type of image or multimedia file you seek, but it has limited search syntax options.
    • Webseek which allows you to search for images in particular categories if you so desire — only sports “Baltimore Orioles”, for instance.
    • Diggit which offers additional search options and a nice tutorial, but has a relatively small collection of images from which to draw.

    Don’t scorn a search engine just because it is small. It may still be the best engine for your particular search!

    Remember, too, that there are also “specialized specialized” search engines! If you are only interested in art images, there are image search engines made just for this purpose. If you are looking for webcams in Antarctica, yes, indeed, there is a search engine that only looks for webcams. There is even a search engine that only looks for images taken through microscopes. For lists of these engines, go to Kevin Elliott’s great webpage at

    But if all of these specialized search engines fail, you can always revert to a general search engine. You will have to slog through a lot of webpages unless your search is very specific, but sometimes it is the only choice you have.

  5. New E-Journals

    Journal of Cell Science
    Journal of Experimental Biology
    The Company of Biologists, Ltd. is pleased to announce that the full text of:

    • Development
    • Journal of Cell Science, and
    • Journal of Experimental Biology

    are now available online.

    Development is a primary research journal that provides an insight into mechanisms of plant and animal development, covering all aspects from molecular and cellular to tissue levels. It aims to act as a forum for all research that offers a genuine insight into developmental mechanisms. Development is published twice monthly (24 issues/year). The online edition contains the full content of each issue beginning with June 2001 (Volume 128, Issues 11 and 12). PDF files are available beginning with May 1992 (Volume 115, Issue 1). Abstracts are available beginning with January 1987 (Volume 99, Issue 1). ISSN 0950-1991.

    Journal of Cell Science covers the complete range of topics in cell biology and is also of key interest to developmental biologists, molecular biologists and geneticists. Each issue includes research articles, as well as review articles commissioned from experts in particular fields, brief syntheses of important areas and topical comment. Journal of Cell Science is published twice monthly (24 issues/year). The online edition contains the full content of each issue beginning with June 2001 (Volume 114, Issue 11). PDF files are available beginning with October 1992 (Volume 103, Issue 2). Abstracts are available beginning with January 1975 (Volume 17, Issue 1), and Tables of Contents are online beginning with March 1966 (Volume 1, Issue 1). ISSN 0021-9533.

    Journal of Experimental Biology is the leading journal in comparative animal physiology. It publishes papers on the form and function of living organisms at all levels of biological organisation, from the molecular and subcellular to the integrated whole animal. Authors and readers reflect a broad interdisciplinary group of scientists who study molecular, cellular and organismal physiology in an evolutionarily and environmentally based context. Journal of Experimental Biology is published twice monthly (24 issues/year). The online edition contains the full content of each issue beginning with June 2001 (Volume 204, Issue 11). PDF files are available beginning with November 1992 (Volume 172, Issue 1). Abstracts are available beginning with February 1975 (Volume 62, Issue 1), and Tables of Contents are online beginning with June 1965 (Volume 42, Issue 3). ISSN 0022-0949.

    Access to the full text of articles for the current year is available by institutional license or by individual subscription. Online-only or online plus print subscriptions are available. Issues prior to the current year are freely available, as is access to non-article contents.


    “Climate Change Science: An Analysis of Some Key Questions”
    This new report from the National Academies’ National Research Council was produced in response to a request from the Bush administration. Written by a distinguished committee, the report attempts to summarize our current understanding of global climate change and examine what the future may hold for the 21st century and the extent to which warming may be attributable to human activity. Among other things, the report argues for a great deal more systematic research to address current uncertainties in climate-change science. Users may read the full text of the report in Open Book format at the National Academy Press site. [MD] (From the Scout Report)

    “Climate Change Science: An Analysis of Some Key Questions”
    This new report from the National Academies’ National Research Council was produced in response to a request from the Bush administration. Written by a distinguished committee, the report attempts to summarize our current understanding of global climate change and examine what the future may hold for the 21st century and the extent to which warming may be attributable to human activity. Among other things, the report argues for a great deal more systematic research to address current uncertainties in climate-change science. Users may read the full text of the report in Open Book format at the National Academy Press site. [MD] (From the Scout Report)

    Challenger Accident
    On January 28, 1986 the space shuttle Challenger exploded on takeoff, causing the death of its seven crew members, including schoolteacher Christa McAuliffe. This site from the Federation of American Scientists discusses the causes and consequences of this tragedy watched by millions. — cl (From Librarian’s Index to the Internet)

    Scout Report for Science & Engineering
    A biweekly publication that “offers a selective collection of Internet resources covering topics in the sciences, and related fields such as math and engineering, that have been chosen by librarians and content specialists in the given field of study.” (From the Scout Report)

    Integrity in Science Project
    The Integrity in Science project of the Center for Science in the Public Interest “seeks to safeguard science and the public welfare from the corruptive effects of industrys influence.” Featured is the database Scientists’ and Non-Profits’ Ties to Industry. It documents links between scientists, non-profits, academic institutions, health and professional organizations — and corporate support. Also provides information on organizations, legislation, and other resources addressing possible conflict of interest issues between science and industry. — br (From Librarian’s Index to the Internet)

    Biological Sciences

    European Initiative for Biotechnology Education
    Home to 20 unique and comprehensive lesson units, this site is an excellent resource for students, teachers or the curious. Developed by more than 40 experts from 17 European countries, the lessons were generated to promote understanding and facilitate discussion about biotechnology for secondary school students. The lessons cover just about every imaginable topic pertaining to biotechnology including human genetics, transgenic plants and animals, and fermentation. The format of each varies and can include role-playing games, forensic puzzles, reading, and practical activities. The practical activities range from making paper models of DNA helixes to actually working with DNA in the laboratory. Concepts and suggested activities are often accompanied by helpful illustrations. Realistic, practical ethical questions are posed. Available in PDF format, each lesson is easily downloadable and available in as many as eight languages. For those in or out of the classroom, this site is well worth the visit. HME (From New Scientist Planet Science)

    Forest Conservation Portal
    Subtitled Vast Rainforest, Forest and Biodiversity Conservation News & Information, this searchable site is dedicated to “ending deforestation, preserving old-growth forests, conserving all forests, maintaining climatic systems and commencing the age of ecological restoration.” Archives contains “over 12,000 forest conservation news articles from last six years” for various parts of the world archived to 1996 or earlier, depending on the location. There are related links arranged by topic and “interactive maps of the world’s forests, eco-regions & protected areas.” Forest Conservation News may be e-mailed for free. The 2000 Annual Report is available (PDF) and more. — dl (From Librarian’s Index to the Internet)

    Genomics Glossary
    Because genomics is an interdisciplinary science that unites biology, chemistry, physics, and mathematics, its language is diverse and includes terms not always found in dictionaries. This site from Cambridge Healthtech Institute of Massachusetts was designed to help scientists keep on top of this complex language. Loads of terms in categories such as basic genetics, functional and structural genomics, informatics, and genomic-related technology are defined here. Users can access the glossary terms either through a short index of major subject headings or by a longer alphabetically-arranged subject list. The Genomics Glossary deserves bonus points for including links to related resources in the text of its definitions. For example, within the definition of “polymerase chain reaction” are links to sites at Yale Medical School and the National Library of Medicine. In addition, links to pages on nomenclature, a bibliography of Web and print resources, and a FAQ page are available at this fantastic Website. [HCS] (From the Scout Report)

    Conservation and Environmental Maps
    American Memory, the Library of Congress’ “gateway to rich primary source materials relating to the history and culture of the United States,” offers this gem of a site on exploration and land use in the US. These historic and recent maps will be of great interest to ecologists, as they show “changes in the landscape, including natural and man-made features, recreational and wilderness areas, geology, topography, wetland area, vegetation, and wildlife.” The site may be searched by keyword or browsed by Subject Index, Creator Index, Geographic Location Index, or Title Index. [LXP] (From the Scout Report)

    Genomic Revolution
    In June of last year, scientists announced they had mapped the human genome, the blueprint for human life, a discovery that offers limitless potential for scientists. In the Our Genetic Identity section of the site, we learned that we share 99.9% of our genes with each other, 98% of our genes with chimpanzees, and 90% with mice. This genomic revolution raises many questions about how to use this new-found knowledge, and this site provides an insightful look at the billions of pairs of A’s and T’s, and G’s and C’s that are the fundamentals of life. (From Yahoo’s Picks of the Week)

    Sea Turtles All The Way Down
    Behold the humble sea turtle. Well, not that humble; he’s got his own domain name and link list. You GO, sea turtle! Anyway, contains almost 600 links related to the sea turtle, with categories including action items, cartoons, farming, jobs (for humans, not turtles), and tags and tagging. Annotation is rather slight, but the links gathered have a definite conservation slant … there’s a lot of material here. If you’re very interested in turtles, go to the top of the domain and check out news, books, an upcoming symposium, and the turtle cam. (From Research Buzz)

    Computer and Information Science

    Top 500 Supercomputers
    This site, brought to you by the University of Mannheim and the University of Kentucky, is updated every six months. The best Linpack benchmark performance achieved is used as a performance measure in ranking the computers. (Thanks to G Price.)


    Solar Buzz
    “The mission of Solarbuzz Inc. is to be a premier source of Solar Energy information on the Internet … We strive to be a positive force for those working in the solar industry today, to broaden the profile of the Solar Energy Industry to outside interests and to help display the commercial potential the Industry has over the next few years.” A nice portal site.

    CADDET Energy Efficiency [.pdf]
    The Centre for the Analysis and Dissemination of Demonstrated Energy Technologies (CADDET) is a cooperative, international project that aims to “enhance the exchange of information on new, cost-effective, energy-saving technologies that have been demonstrated in applications in industry, buildings, transport, utilities, and agriculture.” the CADDET Website features a newsletter highlighting specific projects and information on general energy matters and legislation, .pdf versions of technical reports, links to software and online tools (for agriculture, building, energy distribution, heat storage, and more), along with an easily searchable database of CADDET publications. The publications in particular make this site useful for researchers in energy technology: a vast array of project descriptions and data, workshop reports, in-depth listings of organizations, and contacts are among the many resources provided. [HCS] (From the Scout Report)

    Superconductivity for Electric Systems
    This website from the US Dept. of Energy includes brief explanations and history of superconductivity, a number of publications and educational materials (in pdf format), a superconductivity database of technical literature, and curriculum guides complete with superconductivity quizzes.


    Freshwater and Marine Image Bank
    “The Freshwater and Marine Image Bank is an ongoing digital collection of images related to freshwater and marine topics, in all their diversity. It includes images of fish, shellfish, and marine mammals, pictures of fish hatcheries and dams and vessels, materials related to polar exploration, regional and traditional fisheries, and limnological (freshwater) subjects. Its scope is global … The more than 1600 images were taken from a variety of publications issued between 1735 and 1924.” The photographs fall into the following categories: Commercial Fisheries; Expositions; Dams; Marine Mammals; Vessels; Traditional Fisheries; Fish Species. (From Infomine)

    The Science of Volcanic Lakes
    A page “devoted to disseminating information on the science of volcanic lakes. It contains information on how volcanic lakes work and details about many specific lakes. The newest addition to the site is a large bibliographic database of published materials on volcanic lakes.”

    “EarthWaves is a web site dedicated to the subject of our planet, and the many changes encompassing it. You’ll find topics here ranging from earthquakes to the ozone layer.” An on-line forum for discussing and prediction earth movement and many links to eartquake related sites.

    Mathematical and Physical Sciences

    Heisenberg/Uncertainty Principle
    The founder of quantum mechanics, Werner Heisenberg is perhaps most famous to the general audience for his Uncertainty Principle. It basically states that it is not possible to simultaneously measure a particle’s speed and location. This simple observation has had a profound impact on the way scientists look at the world, especially in regard to particle physics and cosmology. This web site, hosted by American Institue of Physics (AIP), is built up as a clickable biography of Heisenberg, walking you through his life step by step. Throughout this biography is scattered a number of quotes, which add spice to the presentation, and which give you insight into how Heisenberg thought about things, as well as showing what his contemporaries said and wrote. Give this web site some time, and you will get a good grip on the historical setting which fostered this revolutionary mind. TG (From New Scientist Planet Science)

    Amazing Space Web-Based Activities
    Set up by the Space Telescope Science Institute (STSI) in Baltimore, U.S.A. — which is responsible for the operation of the remarkable Hubble Space Telescope — this stimulating website is bursting with information and images of everything cosmological and astronomical. The site is aimed squarely at the elementary level and is structured around a number of fully interactive on-line lessons covering topics such as Galaxies, Solar Systems, Comets, Black Holes and much more. Each lesson combines spectacular photographs taken by the Hubble Space Telescope with many high-quality graphics, videos and animations, designed to enhance student understanding and interest. Teachers can customize their own lessons using the astonishing quantity of information on offer, including topic overviews, scientific explanations and even lesson plans. All of this is supported with an exceptional number of images and icons that can be used in lessons and for overhead transparencies. Creative activities are provided as for example in the Astronaut Challenge where you can plan a mission to service the orbiting Hubble Space Telescope. All of the activities are backed up by video clip, games and yet more images from space. Using pictures taken by the Hubble Space Telescope, pupils are encouraged to learn about ‘representative sampling’ by estimation the number of similar objects in the universe (Astronomers estimate that 50-100 billion objects exist in the entire universe). This ambitious site is certainly worth investigating, especially if you are a teacher. However, because of its graphic-heavy nature, those with poor internet access should be prepared for long download waiting times. TA (From New Scientist Planet Science)

    Martian Meteorite Discovered in Oman Desert

    1. “Newly Discovered Mars Meteorite”
    2. Mars Media Release from Natural History Museum, Bern [.pdf]
    3. “Martian Meteorite May Contain Water”
    4. Mars Meteorites
    5. “Search for Past Life on Mars: Possible Relic Biogenic Activity in Martian Meteorite ALH84001”
    6. Mars Express
    7. Planetary Exploration by the Russian Space Research Institute
    8. The Planet Mars
    9. Meteorite Central
    A fist-sized meteorite with a mineralogy and isotopic signature suggesting Martian origin has been discovered by Swiss researchers in the Sayh al Uhaymir region of desert in Oman. On June 15, scientists at the University of Bern announced their finding of the Martian meteorite, named Sayh al Uhaymir 094 and one of only eighteen known on Earth. Only recently have scientists been combing the deserts for Martian meteorites; previously they were collected mainly from the Antarctic. Finding these rare rocks from Mars is an exciting and inexpensive way to collect data, including information on possible water or life, from the Red Planet. This week’s In the News takes a look at the Oman discovery and Martian meteorites in general.

    The first site (1) is a news article from CNN Online’s Space section with a color photo of the meteorite and a link to a feature section about exploring Mars. The second (2) is a page from the Natural History Museum of Bern, Switzerland that is chock full of color images of Sayh al Uhaymir 094 and gives a link to an informative, thirteen-page press dossier in English (.pdf). Another recent Martian meteorite news item is the announcement by French scientists that a meteorite found in the Sahara Desert last December may contain groundwater from Mars. The BBC News online has a nice article about this Mars rock, known as a nakhlite because of its distinct hydrogen isotope composition (3). Those who wish to read more technical reports on Martian meteorite mineralogy and scientific applications should consult the next two sites. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab has a special page devoted to meteorites from Mars (4) with regular updates on discoveries including listings that give the date and geographic location of discovery, rock classification and mineralogy, finder’s name, and where the specimen is kept. Color photos accompany the text. Space scientists at Johnson Research Center, Houston, have posted a research page (5) about Martian Meteorite ALH84001, which was collected in Antarctica and contains carbonates possibly derived from living organisms. Details on the physical and chemical composition of ALH84001 along with graphs of mass spectrometry results, thin sections, microprobe maps, and electron microscope (TEM and SEM) images are available here.

    Readers interested in learning about non-US-sponsored research on Mars should check out sites 6 and 7. Mars Express (6), the Mars mapping and research division of the European Science Agency (ESA), is currently investigating Mars’ tiny moon, Phobos. The Russian Space Research Institute (7) is involved in using electromagnetism to search for water on Mars, and also collaborated with British and American scientists on the Mars Climate Orbiter Project. Finally, the last two sites are for those who wish to learn more about Mars and meteorites in general. For a refresher course on the Red Planet, visit The Planet Mars site (8) from The Planet Mars features an overview of Mars’ atmosphere, moons, and history of exploration, along with a sheet of quick facts and links to news stories and other Mars sites. To keep abreast of all meteorite discoveries, both Martian and non-Martian, bookmark Meteorite Central (9). This site presents breaking news, special research features, and a tutorial on how to tell if the strange rock you’ve found is actually a meteorite. [HCS] (From the Scout Report)

    Molecular Universe
    This fantastic resource for college-level students of chemistry provides abundant images and explanatory text on molecules and molecular systems. The site’s main provider is Richard Catlow, Director of the Davy Faraday Research Laboratory at the Royal Institution of Great Britain. Molecular Universe presents a collection of lessons, arranged into categories such as Building in Three Dimensions, Boundaries and Barriers, and The Molecules of Life. The sleek color illustrations demonstrate everything from diamond structure to a DNA molecule. Highlights of the site include a detailed look at protein folding, how molecules taste, and molecules and computers. Both students and professors should journey to the Molecular Universe. [HCS] (From the Scout Report)

    Mars Explorer for the Armchair Astronaut and PDS Map-a-Planet
    This new feature from NASA’s Planetary Data Archives allows users to create custom maps of Mars and other planets. Red Planet enthusiasts will enjoy using the clickable map of Mars, based on images collected by NASA’s Viking missions. Once a geographic feature (Terra Sirenum, Syrtis Major, Olympus Mons, etc.) is chosen from the map, the program takes the user to a custom view which can then be zoomed, panned, and displayed as either a sinusoidal, mercator, or simple cylindrical map. Users can also specify image size and color mode. Aside from this really neat Mars mapping tool, this Website has a link to “Map-a-Planet,” that features custom photo maps (also from the Viking spacecraft) of Venus, Mars, the moon, and Jupiter’s Callisto. For each of these, a custom map can be made in one of several modes: “easy” (a clickable map), “intermediate,” or “advanced” (user specifies gridline frequency, resolution, center longitude, stretch, projection type). All images are in .jpeg format. Who says you have to spend millions to visit space? [HCS] (From the Scout Report)

    2001: destination space
    The Tech, an innovative technology museum in San Jose, California, offers a double-edged tribute to Stanley Kubrick’s monolithic science-fiction film. Showcasing the intersection of science and art, the museum’s physical exhibit has been translated into four main parts: Fact and Fiction — showing the advances that “2001: A Space Odyssey” anticipated and which have come to pass; The Art of Robert McCall — paintings by and an interview with the renowned illustrator; Visionary Voices — Q & A with scholars whose work was affected by Kubrick’s film; and finally, Learning Resources — challenges for students and links to an astronomical amount of information on “2001” and our future in space. (From Yahoo’s Picks of the Week)

    Polar Programs

    The Calving of Icebergs A-43 and A-44, Ronne Ice Shelf, Antarctica
    The Canada Centre for Remote Sensing (CCRC) recently posted this page containing geocoded RADARSAT and ScanSAR images documenting the calving of icebergs A-43 and A-44 from the Ronne Ice Shelf in May 2000. A 425 KB QuickTime movie shows the calving event, although somewhat jerkily. Fracture lines and crevasses are indicated on still images (.jpeg) accompanied by descriptive text. [HCS] (From the Scout Report)

    Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences

    Labor Art
    Labor Arts claims to be a work in progress, which is appropriate considering the site’s focus — an examination of the “cultural and artistic history of working people.” Presenting images of demonstrations, strikes, and laborers at work, the site uses photography and drawings to dig into the lives of America’s union workers. Ordinary People, Extraordinary Lives looks at 100 years of labor in New York City, offering an amazing glimpse into the culture of solidarity. The site features permanent collections and also rotates exhibits, so check back and learn about our nation’s labor movement from a different perspective. (From Yahoo’s Picks of the Week)

    Consumer Financial Literacy
    This website was developed by the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta’s community relations program in order to teach personal finance to middle-school students. However, the information and activities it provides (like practice budgets and retirement calculators) can be useful to people of all ages. [Thanks to Blue Web’n Update]

    Born in Slavery Slave Narratives from the Federal Writers’ Project, 1936–1938
    More than 2,300 first-hand accounts of lives in slavery were compiled by the Federal Writers’ Project and are now available on this website. Also included are 500 black and white photographs of the narrators and other former slaves. Sponsored in part by the Manuscript and Prints and Photographs Divisions of the Library of Congress. [Thanks to Blue Web’n Update]


    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:

    Researchers at Princeton University, led by assistant geosciences professor Peter Bunge, are using a huge parallel supercomputer to compute how the Earth’s internal mechanics work. Supplied with four gigaflops of processing power and special 3D software developed at Los Alamos National Laboratories, the team hopes to develop models that will one day predict earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. The convection simulation software will help the team to translate earlier 2D work into a more realistic 3D model. Previously, scientists did not have the computing power necessary to perform those computations. (Computerworld, 8 June 2001 via Edupage)

    The National Science Foundation, with help from computer scientists and librarians from Cornell University, Columbia University, and the University of Missouri, among other institutions, is working to develop an online library of science information. The National Science Digital Library will serve as a portal to various digital collections on engineering, technology, mathematics, and other branches of science. The library, which should debut next year, may feature tours of collections, tours of libraries, and applications that allow educators and students to design personal library portals. (Wired News, 18 June 2001 via Edupage)

    The Internet2 consortium is planning an online directory of faculty, staff, and students at higher education institutions. Consortium leaders said the project could be ready as soon as this summer and would be available to any user, not only those whose institutions offer high-speed networks. Such a directory would facilitate academic communication and collaboration through a host of technologies, including e-mail, instant messaging, teleconferencing, and the emerging technology known as tele-immersion. The project faces obstacles concerning privacy issues and standardization of data. Sun Microsystems has pledged to support the project with hardware and software, and member institutions will provide tech support. (Chronicle of Higher Education Online, 20 June 2001 via Edupage)

    Researchers at the National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center (NERSC) plan to use a new supercomputer in testing virtual combustion engines, looking for improvements in fuel economy. They also plan to use the computer to study the California power grid, looking for ways to alleviate some of the state’s energy woes. The computer, an IBM SP, is the most powerful unclassified machine of its kind in the world, capable of processing 3.8 trillion calculations each second. Over 2,000 scientists spread throughout the country will be able to participate in 150 different projects using the supercomputer, claimed Bill Kramer, the NERSC’s head of high performance computing. (NewsFactor Network, 21 June 2001 via Edupage)

    Today’s researchers are compiling and analyzing an ever-increasing amount of digitized scientific data. Central databases of scientific knowledge allow researchers to approach questions from a comprehensive viewpoint. This has led to the integration of computer science and other core science fields, such as biology, said Stephen D. Prince of the University of Maryland, College Park. Systems biology, for example, focuses on translating biological functions into mathematical equations so that scientists can gain perspective on how their specific focus relates to the whole system. Several universities, including the University of California at San Diego, are now offering degrees in the field of bioinformatics, which concentrates on the interrelation of scientific research and computer data systems. (Chronicle of Higher Education, 29 June 2001 via Edupage)

    Supercomputers no longer represent the leading edge of computing innovations. A recent study ranking the top 500 supercomputers in the world found that even the fastest supercomputer — ASCI White at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory — is composed of thousands of processors that individually are far less powerful than current PC chips. IBM, maker of the four ASCI computers designed to manage the nation’s nuclear arsenal, is working on a new chip design that it expects to pervade all aspects of computing, from mobile devices to servers. The Cell Project is focused on a biological design that would bring network processors together on a chip. Due out in the consumer market by 2004, IBM says speeds for the new design will begin at 4 GHz and lead to a simple PC offering a teraflop of processing power. (New York Times, 21 June 2001 via Edupage)

    The University of Wisconsin at Madison garnered a record number of visitors to its Webcam site earlier this month, as plant enthusiasts worldwide tuned in to watch the rare flowering of an unusual plant. On June 8, the peak day of the flower’s blooming, the Webcam site’s server logged 30 million requests. Traffic was so heavy on the site that the university had to earmark one of its biggest servers to handle it. The Webcam site provided images of the blooming of the corpse flower, which has a height of eight feet and gives off an odor that botanists describe as resembling rotting flesh. In the past 60 years, only 15 such bloomings have been noted in the United States. (Chronicle of Higher Education Online, 14 June 2001 via Edupage)

    The falling costs of robotics research and teaching have allowed more colleges and universities to enter the study of artificial intelligence and robot design. In addition to improvements in computing power, schools can provide students with affordable kits from the toy company Lego for building rudimentary robots. As a result, schools such as George Mason University and the University of Maryland, College Park, are joining MIT and Carnegie Mellon University in robotics research and learning. The University of Maryland hosts the Space Systems Laboratory, which will take part in a Space Shuttle mission next year. At George Mason, researchers are involved in softbots and innovations that could have commercial use, such as providing refrigerators with the intelligence to know when a family is out of milk and giving it the ability to order another carton from the local supermarket. (Potomac Tech Journal, 11 June 2001 via Edupage)

    Discussions under way among representatives from 50 countries involve formal negotiations for the Hague Convention on Jurisdiction and Foreign Judgments. The treaty would legitimize rulings in cross-border disputes over patents, intellectual property, libel, and defamation. Delegates will determine whose laws apply when transactions take place over the Internet, as they seek to establish a system for enforcing a country’s legal judgments against private parties in other nations. If these negotiations are approved, it could mean that a U.S. citizen who posts something on the Internet could be sued in a country where free speech is not protected. The delegates could run into some difficulty, considering the wide range of views among countries and among interest groups within each country. The parties hope to hammer out their differences so that the treaty will be ready when they meet again in early 2002. (Economist, 9 June 2001 via Edupage)

    University of California at Berkeley researchers are developing a storage system, called OceanStore, that will store data on Internet servers around the world. The system, invented by John Kubiatowicz, works by taking documents or other data and breaking them into numerous parts, with each part then stored on a different Internet server. Each fragment of the same document contains a globally unique identification tag that will enable the system to retrieve the whole document. The retrieval system is designed to leave behind a data trail each time it retrieves a specific document so that successive searches for that document will take less time. Kubiatowicz says OceanStore will be especially useful in preventing a catastrophic loss of data because not every fragment of a document will be needed to retrieve the complete document. Several companies, including Nortel and IBM, have shown interest in OceanStore and have given $500,000 in initial funding. (Computerworld, 4 June 2001 via Edupage)

    MIT, the Indian government, and the private sector are cooperating to finance Media Lab Asia, where researchers will work on advanced technology with the aim of helping the rural poor. Media Lab Asia is an outgrowth of MIT’s own Media Lab, which has launched numerous technologies, such as wearable computers and digital video. As with the original Media Lab, Media Lab Asia will receive the bulk of its funding from private-sector firms; Microsoft and Hewlett-Packard are among the companies that have already said they might support the project, claim sources in India’s Ministry of Information Technology. India’s government recently announced it would provide $14 million for the lab. Project officials say the lab will work to bring Internet connectivity to poor rural areas, where the digital divide could even further cut off the population from those in power. The lab will also address the question of how technology can improve everyday work. (Chronicle of Higher Education Online, 7 June 2001 via Edupage)

    Tech industry officials told the House Science Committee’s Subcommittee on Research that government investment in tech research must grow. The government will invest $1.76 billion in tech research this year, and President Bush has recommended an increase of only one percent for 2002. This is not nearly enough to promote long-term tech research, argued 3Com Chair Eric Benhamou. Benhamou explained that drawing on their own resources, most companies can only afford to invest in short-term, product-development research, which does not lead to large-scale innovations such as the Internet. Nasdaq Stock Market vice chair Alfred Berkeley told the committee that companies will not invest in long-term research because it poses too great a risk to their bottom line. Anita Jones, a professor of engineering at the University of Virginia and vice chair of the National Science Board, said a lack of government investment will affect the quality of research done at the nation’s universities. (Computerworld Online, 27 June 2001 via Edupage)


    The Secret Garden — Albert Richards
    Inner Visions — Steven N. Meyers
    What can be said except that these are beautiful! (Thanks to Netsurfer Science).

    Kids Surviving in the Wilderness
    Summer is here, a time when kids are likely to go hiking and camping and possibly get lost. This excellent, simple primer lists a few basics about what to do if that happens, and a few easy things to carry to prepare for the eventuality. This is something every kid (and every parent) should read.