Sci-Tech Library Newsletter


Newsletter archive > 2002 April 25 Issue

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  1. PHIBOT: A search engine for physics and general science websites and news stories.
  4. INTERESTING WEBSITES AND NEWS FROM THE INTERNET: Web Exhibits, Strange Science: The Rocky Road to Modern Paleontology and Biology; Biological Sciences: Visible Human Server, Skulls, The Shape of Life, North American Bear Center; Computer and Information Science: National Compound Semiconductor Roadmap, The Globus Project; Engineering: The Principles of Flight, Wind Energy and Wind Turbines: Danish Wind Industry Association, Build Your Own Satellite, Edison’s Miracle of Light, The Crystal Palace, Inventing Modern America, Glass Steel and Stone, Why the Towers Fell, Bomb Squad, Structurae: International Database and Gallery of Structures, Geosciences: Canada Centre for Remote Sensing: Education page, Office of Naval Research (ONR) Science and Technology Focus: Oceanography, Reading Weather Maps, One World Journeys: Mercury Rising; Mathematical and Physical Sciences: Teach Space, Life, the Universe, and the Electron: An Exhibition to Celebrate the Centenary of Its Discovery, An Atlas of the Universe, Infrared Astronomy; Polar Programs: Shackleton’s Voyage of Endurance, Antarctic Ice Shelf Collapses; Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences: Commanding Heights: The Battle For The World Economy, Mountain Voices, Editorial Cartoon Database Available at GALILEO, Mummy Bundles of Puruchucu … and more … plus news items from Edupage
  5. INTER ALIA: Some science and library humor, and ephemeral moving pictures.

    “Phibot is an intelligent internet information retrieval tool for scientists. As part of the Adaptive Read Project, phibot is a web-based experiment for collaborative information retrieval. We try to carry out an approach for query reformulation on a large scale internet search engine. In this experiment we want to investigate, if query reformulation improves the results of the search engine. We gather the users relevance feedback as well as the queries and the search results and constantly feed our search engine with this data. The whole process is fully automatic.

    What you see in the middle column the first time entering Phibot are the latest physics news on the Internet from different news sources. Phibot differentiates between a Newssearch and a Websearch. Both results will be displayed in the middle column in two different boxes.”

    This tool is a bit terse on the background info and help screens, but they are there if you look for them, and the search results are quite nice. It is primarily designed to search physics websites and news, but you may also choose general science websites and news, and get very nice search results. It is well worth a look!


    DOE National Science Bowl, May 3–6, 2002
    The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) National Science Bowl is a math and science competition among teams of high school students throughout the country. Current public, private or home school students are encouraged each year to form a team and participate in one of the 61 regional competitions held from January to March. DOE laboratories, in conjunction with state and local school districts, state and community colleges, and local and national companies, co-sponsor and provide sites for the competition and prizes to high schools participating at the regional level. Additionally, more than 5,000 volunteers from the DOE, the private sector, colleges and universities, and non-profit organizations contribute their time and energy to help make these regional competitions succeed. The regional champions will compete May 3-6 in Washington, DC for the national title. The DOE is committed to math and science education to help provide a technically trained and diverse workforce for the Nation.


    The Origins and Evolution of Family Planning Programs in Developing Countries, Judith R. Seltzer, MR-1276-WFHF/DLPF/RF. Rand, 2002.

    Marine Biotechnology in the Twenty-First Century: Problems, Promise, and Products. NAP, 2002.

    The Future Of The Information Revolution In Europe: Proceedings Of An International Conference. Rand, 2001.

    Digest of Education Statistics, 2001. US Dept. Education, 2002.

    Space-Based Broadcasting: The Future of Worldwide Audio Broadcasting. NAP, 2002.

    Getting Serious Online. PEW Internet Project, 2002.

    Electronic Proceedings for the 1st International Workshop on Peer-to-Peer Systems. MIT, 2002.

    Electronic Government: Challenges to Effective Adoption of the Extensible Markup Language. GAO-02-327, 2002.

    National Coastal Condition Report. EPA, 2000.

    Lessons For The Global Spatial Data Infrastructure: International Case Study Analysis. Rand, 2002.

    Satellite Imagery Control: an American Dilemma. Inst. francais des relations internationales, 2002. has FREE access to the following Elsevier Science Journals until 15th May, so why not take a look. (Free registration to ChemWeb required.)

    • Additives for Polymers
    • International Communications in Heat and Mass Transfer
    • International Journal of Heat and Mass Transfer

    Web Exhibits
    “WebExhibits produces novel exhibits, to help improve cultural literacy, by promoting online exhibits and interesting the public in links between art with science. We also locate other high quality exhibits on the internet, including many subjects, from the general interest to the highly academic. If you would like to help expand our collection, please suggest an exhibit or review an exhibit.” Current exhibits include:

    • Bellini’s Feasts of the Gods
    • Causes of color
    • Pigments through the ages
    • Calendars through the ages
    • Daylight savings time

    Truly a lovely and interesting website!

    Strange Science: The Rocky Road to Modern Paleontology and Biology
    Explores the “weird ideas” of paleontologists and biologists during the evolution of “the knowledge we take for granted today.” Contains a gallery of information and images of mistaken dinosaurs, dragons, mammals, sea monsters, hominids, fossils, and monsters; frauds; a timeline of events; and profiles of related scientists, artists, and collectors (including women in paleontology — see the biographies section). (From Librarian’s Index to the Internet)

    Biological Sciences

    Visible Human Server
    “This Web site from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology allows users to view three dimensional models of human anatomy. A free registration allows users to log on and fully access the site, but there are some sample demonstrations available without registration. When visiting the site, you can view, rotate, and extract cross sections from the anatomical models, or build your own anatomic model by choosing the structures of interest. The site works best with Internet Explorer 5 and the latest version of Microsoft Java VM. The site provides how-to files that are extremely helpful for new users. This is certainly a site for those studying human anatomy, but it is a cool site that may also appeal to others. This site is also reviewed in the April 5, 2002 _NSDL Life Sciences Report_.” [AL] (From the Scout Report)

    The Shape of Life
    A companion website to the PBS television series on the origins of life on earth, this site is visually gripping. It has very short explorations into the topic, accompanied by brief scientist biographies and interviews.

    North American Bear Center
    “Take a virtual tour of a bear’s den, sample the actual sounds of a bear and learn all about black, grizzly, brown and polar bears at this site. Slide shows, original bear stories and a bibliography of the bear books are also included.” (From Librarian’s Index to the Internet)

    “A site devoted to skulls may sound rather morbid. Surprisingly, this fascinating site is anything but. The California Academy of Sciences invites you to ‘Come in, explore, and get inside our heads.’ We did just that, starting with the ‘What is a Skull?’ section, where we met the folks associated with the exhibit and read their varied and insightful introductions to the subect. The Diversity and Living Tissues sections taught us what a skull says about its owner. And in Skulls in Culture, we examined how artists such as Georgia O’Keeffe and the Grateful Dead have used the object symbolically in their art. We promise you’ll never look at a skull the same way.” (From Yahoo’s Picks of the Week)

    Computer and Information Science

    The Globus Project
    “The development of the World Wide Web has revolutionized the way we think about information. We take for granted our ability to access information from all over the world via the Web. The goal of the Globus project is to bring about a similar revolution with respect to computation. We can hardly imagine the types of applications we might construct if access to supercomputers, live satellite imagery, and mass storage were as straightforward as access to the Web. The Globus Project is developing the technology that can make this vision a reality.”

    National Compound Semiconductor Roadmap
    This site from the Office of Naval Research is billed as “an interactive tool to aid in the advancement of compound semiconductor research and technology implementation” with the following goals:

    • Create a reference on compound semiconductors for the research and educational communities.
    • Create a collaborative environment where individuals may share ideas and problems to help further research.
    • A roadmap of where Compound Semiconductor Technology will be in five to ten years and the perceived challenges to getting there.

    Listed are materials, properties, devices and challenges, with an invitation to discuss each.


    Edison’s Miracle of Light
    “Explores the ‘web of personal, patent, and corporate battles’ Thomas Edison encountered in forming a ‘new industry to provide electric power.’ Contains a historical essay, a complete list of Edison’s patents, information on the AC and DC currents, recordings produced by the Edison company, a gallery of advertisements for Edison inventions, sources for further reading, and a timeline of the inventor’s life. From the PBS American Experience series; features program transcript and teacher’s guide.” (From Librarian’s Index to the Internet)

    The Principles of Flight
    “An excellent introduction to the science of flight. Formulas, laws, and the principles governing the physics of flight are explained using descriptions, equations, and simple diagrams. Categories include Newton’s laws, Bernoulli’s Principle of Pressure, airfoils, lift and drag, load factors, and more.” (From the Librarian’s Index to the Internet)

    Wind Energy and Wind Turbines: Danish Wind Industry Association
    “This searchable site presents information ‘on wind energy resources and wind turbine technology, meteorology, economics, research and development, and environmental aspects of renewable energy.’ History includes profiles of wind technology pioneers, notes on The Great California Wind Rush (early 1980s), and other developments. Reference includes tables, a discussion of Betz’ Law, a bibliography, and a glossary. From the Danish Wind Industry Association. View in English, Danish, German, Spanish, and French.” (From Librarian’s Index to the Internet)

    Build Your Own Satellite

    Galileo 1/45 Scale Model Assembly Instructions
    Cassini instructions
    The first site has detailed, clear instructions and printable files to allow you to put together a model of this very complex satellite. The second site has both a simpler and a more challenging model of the Cassini satellite. From NASA.

    The Crystal Palace
    “Built of prefabricated metal and glass, the Crystal Palace was a high-tech wonder of the Victorian era, much like the technical and scientific innovations it housed during the Great Exhibition of 1851. Sitting in London’s Hyde Park, this elegant, minimally ornamented structure foreshadowed the metal and glass buildings of the 20th century. While the Crystal Palace no longer exists, this site carefully recreates the building with Quicktime animation and VRML. You can even learn how old books and plans helped create the 3D models. Take a walk back through time in this surprisingly modern building.” (From Yahoo’s Picks of the Week)

    Structurae: International Database and Gallery of Structures
    “This searchable site is designed to ‘provide information on structures of interest to the civil engineer.’ There are over 3,000 structures including buildings, bridges, dams, towers, and domes. The database is browsable alphabetically, by structure type, function, construction method, geography, large-scale projects, persons, or firm. Information includes materials, dimensions, starting and completion dates, and some photographs. Additionally, there is a 2,500 year timeline and related resources. Available in English, French, and German.” (From Librarian’s Index to the Internet)

    Glass Steel and Stone
    “From one of the tallest buildings in the world to quirky structures made of vegetables and ice, this architecture photography site exhaustively catalogs buildings of all shapes and sizes. The ancient Temple of Luxor by the Nile River in Egypt and the Atomium in Brussels demonstrate architectural ingenuity through the centuries. You’ll find the stories behind the buildings too, such as the turmoil between politicians and the architect of the Sydney Opera House. There’s even a page devoted to haunted architecture, so you can’t say we didn’t warn you if you find a ghost in your hotel room.” (From Yahoo’s Picks of the Week) This site is searchable in several ways and has images and fascinating information on structures from bridges to sandcastles …

    Why the Towers Fell
    “A companion web site to a PBS NOVA program that ‘follows a team of forensic engineers during their in-depth investigation of the precise causes of the Twin Towers’ collapse.’ An engineer discusses the 2001 World Trade Center collapse and methods of improving building safety. Includes articles about a survivor from a floor above the impact, firefighter equipment, and the The Structure of Metal. There is a list of related books and online resources.” (From Librarian’s Index to the Internet)

    Bomb Squad
    “Explores how robots are used to perform dangerous activities, such as defusing explosives. Contains a video, an interview with scientist Hans Moravec, and information on the hazardous duty robots Mini-Andros, Robug III, and the Spiral Track Autonomous Robot (STAR). From the PBS program NOVA. Includes a transcript of the show.” (From Librarian’s Index to the Internet)

    Inventing Modern America
    “Based on the book by David E. Brown, this site features the resourcefulness of American inventors. Five individuals are highlighted, among them the minds behind the computer mouse, the balloon catheter, kevlar, human-powered flight, and an inexpensive means to provide drinking water for developing countries. The profiles are thorough, and include interviews, biographies, videos, and patents held. A source of inspiration for Doug Englebart (who envisioned the possibilities of a graphic computer in 1950) was an article written in 1945 by Vannevar Bush. There is a link to this article, which hints at both personal computers and a Web-like system. Two games are featured; one is based on your ability to trace the connection between inventions, and the other lets you guess which invention preceded another. So, which came first, radar or sonar? The site is sponsored by the Lemelson-MIT Program, which offers the world’s largest award for invention, a cool $500.000, given annually in April.” (From New Scientist Web Links)


    Office of Naval Research (ONR) Science and Technology Focus: Oceanography
    “This is an amazing site that leads the user to the ‘ocean in motion’; the seven major sea currents, the forces that drive them, and their perceptible effects; information on the composition of the sea, including an analysis of sea water, the topography and geology of the ocean floor, habitats, ocean life (focusing on marine mammals, the California sea lion, and the green sea turtle), and information on research vessels.” (From Librarian’s Index to the Internet)

    Canada Centre for Remote Sensing: Education page
    “This educational website goes quite a bit deeper into the subject of remote sensing than does the NASA site. In addition to a good survey of the scientific and technical basics, this website deals more with the specific data products and applications of remote sensing. For example, the ‘RADARSAT at Titanic’s Gravesite’ subpage includes a fine radar imige of the spot where the ocean liner Titanic sank after hitting an iceberg on April 14, 1912 at 2340h. Today, ship captains have information about such hazards provided by remote-sensing satellites like Canada’s RADARSAT. This website includes an excellent Remote Sensing Glossary.” (From Websurfer’s Biweekly Earth Science Review)

    One World Journeys: Mercury Rising
    “As the Flash intro to this compelling site from One World Journeys informs us, ‘Earth is heating up, and it’s time to pay attention.’ Join a team of scientists, reporters, and photographers as they file reports from the Monteverde Cloud Forest in Costa Rica where they are documenting how changes in the earth’s climate affect nature. They plan to file reports on a regular basis, and if the first one is any indication, this site’s worth a bookmark. Don’t miss the Eco-Gallery for photos of the changing Arctic regions of the world. This information-rich site also provides guides for educators and students, making it a journey that shouldn’t be missed.” (From Yahoo’s Picks of the Week)

    Reading Weather Maps
    Learn how to read weather maps with data collected on Earth’s surface and above; the differences between Kelvin, Celsius, and Fahrenheit temperatures; and how to convert local time to the standard time used by meteorologists. From the Department of Atmospheric Sciences, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. (From Librarian’s Index to the Internet)

    Mathematical and Physical Sciences

    Teach Space
    “From the multimedia company and Web site (last mentioned in the December 7, 2001 Scout Report) comes the Teach Space educational site dedicated to upper elementary and middle school teachers. Teach Space delivers ‘easy-to-teach’ space science lessons divided into monthly modules of a certain topic, stand alone lessons from varied subjects, and even a lesson library. Each lesson contains an overview, objective, materials needed (including any worksheets or data required procedures), links, and more. Even though the subject is fairly focused on the site, teachers will appreciate the quality material offered not to mention its excellent design. [JAB]” (From the Scout Report)

    Life, the Universe, and the Electron: An Exhibition to Celebrate the Centenary of Its Discovery
    “Although earlier scientists argued these tiny subatomic particles (with a mass later discovered to be 9*10-31 kg or 1 two thousandth of the mass of a proton) must exist, no objective proof had been offered. While conducting experiments on cathode rays, J. J. Thomson ‘showed that cathode rays were particles with a negative electric charge and much smaller than an atom.’ These early experiments laid the foundation for our understanding of the atom and the birth of electronics. The exhibition follows this chronology of our evolving understanding of atomic structure and explains briefly each discovery along the way. This exhibition delivers each episode in the history of nuclear physics in a clear, straightforward manner and supplements essays with short animations and clips. Produced to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the discovery of the electron in 1997, this virtual exhibition from the Science Museum (London) and the Institute of Physics remains a useful and attractive learning tool for high school students and learners of all ages. [DJS]” (From the Scout Report)

    Infrared Astronomy
    Linda Hermans-Killam at Caltech authors this great site, and it could not be done better. The topic is covered thoroughly, concisely, and clearly, and is easy to navigate and well peppered with images and links. It includes everything from the history of infrafed spectroscopy to classroom activities. Don’t miss this one! (Thanks to Netsurfer Science.)

    An Atlas of the Universe
    “This site consists of nine main maps of the universe, ranging from the nearest stars to the sun, out to the limits of the visible universe. Each main map page contains a description of the map, as well as other, related maps. The main map images can be printed. There are extensive annotated links to related Web sites and a glossary. Available in English, French, Portuguese, and Serbian.” (From Librarian’s Index to the Internet)

    Polar Programs

    Antarctic Ice Shelf Collapses
    “The National Snow and Ice Data Center recently reported that a huge ice mass on the eastern side of the Antarctic Peninsula has shattered and separated from the continent. The Web site provides a description of the event — along with photographs, movies, and several informative links that include ones to additional articles written about the event. [JAB]” (From the Scout Report)

    Shackleton’s Voyage of Endurance
    “This site contains background material to accompany NOVA’s PBS television programs about Sir Ernest Shackleton and his Antarctic expedition. It includes an interview with Shackleton’s daughter Alexandra, several stories of polar survivors, teacher resources, and an annotated list of suggested books and online resources.” (From Librarian’s Index to the Internet)

    Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences

    Mountain Voices
    “How does development affect individuals in different countries? Oral testimonies have been gathered from communities in the Himalaya, the Andes, the Sierra Norte, Mount Elgon, the highlands of Ethiopia and Lesotho, China, the Sudety mountains and the Karakorum mountains. Students can learn of the past and present of many native peoples in the world, as well as the realities of the global economy in these regions.” (From Blue WebN)

    Commanding Heights: The Battle For The World Economy
    A three-part, six-hour documentary series and companion Web site, premieres simultaneously on PBS and As part of the series, Commanding Heights Online illuminates the history of the global economy and shows how key economic theories have evolved in the context of historical events. Providing a comprehensive history of the ideas, events, and values that have shaped the present global economy, the Commanding Heights Web site complements and enriches the resources of the PBS broadcast.

    Editorial Cartoon Database Available at GALILEO
    “Clifford Baldowski donated more than 7,000 cartoons to the Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies at the University of Georgia before his death. 2,500 of the cartoons are now available online. The cartoons cover 1946–1982 and cover state, national, and international politics and issues.

    The collection is searchable via many variables, including keywords, title, subject, and publication date. You may also specify whether or not the results should have images included. A search for ‘subsidies’ found five results. If you specify images results contain a title and an image thumbnail. Click on the title of the cartoon and you’ll get a full citation, including publication date and a full description. Click on the thumbnail and you’ll get a larger picture. The pictures are too small in my opinion and rather distractingly watermarked. Thank goodness for the thorough description.

    One nice feature of this collection is that you can save cartoons. Once you’ve saved a collection you can either e- mail it (looks like just the citation information is mailed) or view all the cartoons/citations on a single page for saving or printing.” (From Research Buzz)

    Mummy Bundles of Puruchucu
    This site from the National Geographic invites you to watch a short documentary about the excavations at Puruchucu, an Inca cemetary beneath the modern town of Tupac Amaru, Peru, and to look through the layers of the “Cotton King” mummy bundle and learn about the artifacts — and the two mummies — found inside. It also offers links to related sites and information about the Inca and about mummies.


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

    A grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation will fund a new institute to study ways that technology can improve scholarly communication. The Scholarly Communication Institute, developed by the Council on Library and Information Resources and the Dartmouth College Library, will host a small group of experts in the field to discuss innovation and improvements that technology allows in the ways scholarly information is generated, distributed, and archived. The institute will hold at least three annual sessions, which will take place at the Dartmouth campus.
    CLIR, 11 April 2002 via Edupage

    The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) said it will remove language from its author agreement form assuring that the content is in compliance with the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). Bill Hagen of the IEEE said the DMCA has been extremely controversial, and the language in the author agreement drew many complaints from authors inside and outside the United States. American authors feel that the DMCA unconsitutionally stifles research and their rights to publish results, while authors from outside the Unites States do not think they should be subject to American laws.
    CNET, 16 April 2002 via Edupage

    After being in service for just over one year, the academic portal of the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor will shut down on June 30. Michigan’s portal,, was one of several high-profile experiments being closely watched by academic technologists and policy makers. Portals are still relatively new, and many institutions are waiting to see how the pioneers fare before deciding whether to pursue a portal. Officials from Michigan said they could not continue the project due to its complexity and expense, and they have no plans to replace it with a commercial product.
    Chronicle of Higher Education, 11 April 2002 via Edupage

    A group of 19 colleges in 15 countries has agreed to sponsor an “international cyberuniversity,” which could be up and running by next year. Initial plans for the new university were held at Ewha Womans University in Seoul, which will be responsible for the technical operations. The group faces the issue of what language to use for instruction, as well as many technical challenges, including compatibility of hardware and bandwidths. Degress from the university would be jointly awarded by all of the institutions, which include one U.S. school, Pomona College in Claremont, California.
    Chronicle of Higher Education, 23 April 2002 via Edupage

    University officials have expressed deep concern over the Bush Administration’s policies for foreign students. Access to student visas was recently tightened in an effort to combat terrorism, and a presidential directive issued in October suggested placing limits on the fields of study that international students are allowed to pursue. Representatives from colleges and universities argued that security screening should take place before students arrive in the United States. They said the basic character of higher education would be compromised if certain information were held off limits for some students. A spokesman for the Office of Homeland Security confirmed that the government would indeed monitor the courses of study of foreign students, looking for suspicious activity, and that the group overseeing the regulations was already reviewing draft recommendations.
    New York Times, 18 April 2002 via Edupage

    Despite easing of some regulations for sharing data about satellite projects, university researchers were largely disappointed with the continued restrictions in revised rules for satellite-based research. The new rules, issued by the State Department, still require researchers to obtain State Department approval before sharing certain data with academic and commercial organizations in many countries. U.S. researchers said the rules effectively exclude people in those countries from participating in satellite projects. The State Department defended the rules, saying they are a security precaution but do not impede legitimate research and sharing of data.
    Chronicle of Higher Education, 18 April 2002 (sub. req’d)


    Mathematical and Scientific Quotes from Cambridge
    Scientists make great comedians, especially when they don’t mean to be . . .

    Google Ranking Unmasked — Pigeon Rank!
    A wonderful April Fool’s joke from Google.

    Internet Moving Images Archive: Movie Collection
    This is a fascinating site. An archive of “movies” from a huge variety of sources, available both streaming and for download (caution: these are huge files. Don’t download without a fast connection). You will find a little of everything here: old newsreels (Lindbergh’s Flight & Return, 1927), amateur films of local events (lion dance from a 1925 Chinese New Year parade), educational or vocational films (What to Do on a Date, 1950), commercials (I am intrigued by the commercial from 1938 comparing canines and Chevrolets), animation (a bullfighting mud animation done by a Chinese-American, 1926), and a variety of films on scientific themes as well, both newsreel and educational. Folks, this kind of thing is one of the wonders of our age. This is one of the reasons I LOVE the Internet! Imagine having these films available at your fingertips!

    “Daily comic strip featuring libraries, librarians, and patrons (library users or clients). Archived, and available via a free e-mail subscription.” (From Librarian’s Index to the Internet.)