Sci-Tech Library Newsletter


Newsletter archive > 2002 June 21 Issue

NOTE: If you are not already receiving the Newsletter by e-mail, and would like to, contact PLEASE STATE WHETHER YOU PREFER THE FULL NEWSLETTER OR JUST THE TABLE OF CONTENTS.

This newsletter is available to the public at the following locations:

(Light newsletter this time, folks!)

  2. INTERESTING WEBSITES AND NEWS FROM THE INTERNET: Movie Science, Technology Review’s list of 100 innovators under 35 whose work and ideas will change the world, Alsos, The STIX Project, Astro-Venture, Nanotechnology Now; Biological Sciences: Pennsylvania Aquatic Insects, Two on New Conifer Species, California Condors: A Bird’s Eye View, Cloud Forest Alive; Computer and Information Science: The DARPA Agent Markup Language (DAML); Education and Human Resources: PBS Kids: Cyberchase; Engineering: Wind power, Internet Engineer, Microturbine buses; Geosciences: Women Exploring the Oceans, Hurricane Awareness, Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory Gallery; Mathematical and Physical Sciences: Game Theory, Symmetry and Tessellations, The Millennium Prize Problems, Perspectives on Plasmas, Polar Programs: Classroom Antarctica, The Polar Bear Tracker; Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences: Test the Nation: The National IQ Test (Britain), Into Archaeology: Resources for Archaeological Professionals and Enthusiasts, Pharaoh’s Obelisk, Measuring America: the Decennial Censuses from 1790 to 2000 … and more … plus news items from Edupage

    World Trade Center Building Performance Study. FEMA, 2002.

    Climate Action Report 2002. US EPA, 2002.

    Small Wonders, Endless Frontiers: A Review of the National Nanotechnology Initiative. NAP, 2002.

    Weather Radar Technology Beyond NEXRAD. NAP, 2002.

    Joint Economic Committee, U.S. Congress. Security in the Information Age: New Challenges, New Strategies.


    Australian Antarctic Magazine
    Australian Antarctic Magazine is published by the Australian Antarctic Division (AAD), an agency of Environment Australia. It seeks to inform the Australian and international Antarctic community about the activities of the Australian Antarctic program. It is produced twice-yearly, with contributions from AAD officers and from external organisations and individuals. Opinions expressed in Australian Antarctic Magazine do not necessarily represent the position of the Australian Government.


    Technology Review’s list of 100 innovators under 35 whose work and ideas will change the world
    Brief bios of innovators in the fields of arts/entertainment, biotechnology, medicine, nanotechnology, materials, energy, hardware, software, telecommunications, internet and transportation.

    Hosted by Washington and Lee University and funded by the National Science Foundation, the Alsos Digital Library for Nuclear Issues Web site has as a goal to provide a wide range of annotated references for the study of nuclear issues. The site contains annotated references to resources that offer a “broad, balanced perspective on current and historical topics relating to nuclear issues.” Alsos can be browsed by people, places, disciplines, warfare issues, and science subjects, or can be searched by keyword. [JAB] (From the Scout Report)

    The STIX Project
    “Six Science Publishers Create New Web Font Set: The STIX Project” From the announcement, “After years of planning, a group of scientific publishers today formally announced the Scientific and Technical Information Exchange (STIX) font creation project and the launch of the STIX web site at The STIX publishers aim to develop a comprehensive set of fonts for mathematics and other special characters used in Scientific, Technical, and Medical publishing. The web site provides information for potential users within the scientific and publishing communities, and a special area for software developers who may want to incorporate support for the STIX Fonts into their products. The six publishers: the American Chemical Society (ACS), the American Institute of Physics (AIP), the American Mathematical Society (AMS), the American Physical Society (APS), Elsevier Science, and the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE)” (Discovered on NFAIS’s Noteworthy) via The Virtual Acquisition Shelf & News Desk.

    Movie Science

    Insultingly Stupid Movie Physics
    Bad Astronomy
    Math in the Movies
    Movie Physics Reviews by Kentridge HS AP Physics Class
    Science Web Goes to the Movies
    Tech TV — Bad Movie Science
    Unfortunately, a lot of folks learn the majority of their science from the entertainment industry … The National Science Foundation, with all its science education grants, cannot begin to match the Hollywood sci-fi budget. Debunking this bad science can be a fun and instructive way for science teachers to teach good science. And, of course, some times there is equally entertaining good science in the movies!

    These sites provide a lot of science entertainment critiques.

    Astro-Venture, by NASA’s educational Web site NASA Quest, is a wonderfully done interactive multimedia activity for students in grades 5–8. Consisting of nine modules, the activity takes participants through the process of training for and building a planet with the necessary characteristics for human habitation. They learn the astronomy, geology, atmospheric science, and biology needed to complete individual missions and ultimately build a planet. Students will enjoy spending the time needed to complete the sensory rich activities and learn a tremendous amount along the way. This site is also reviewed in the June 14, 2002 _NSDL Physical Science Report_. [JAB] (From the Scout Report)

    Nanotechnology Now
    The front page has four columns. The first column leads to the meat of the site; I’ll get back to that one later. The second column has news from all over the ’Net about nanotechnology, the third leads to upcoming conferences and meetings about nanotechnology (and who knew there were so many?) while the fourth provides quick information about nanotechnology, including a factoid and a link to the site of the week.

    Back to the first column. If you want to learn about nanotechnology, start here. The “Navigation” section includes a nanotechnology glossary, interviews with people involved in nanotechnology and future sciences, basics about nanotechnology, and predictions about the future of nanotechnology.

    The link list (at the bottom of the first column) contains several categories that you probably won’t see outside of nanotechnology, including SmartDust and Utility Fog. In addition to links, sections include a short overview, quotes, and sometimes pictures and diagrams. Lots and LOTS of information in this site. If you have the faintest interest in nanotechnology check it out. (From Research Buzz)

    Biological Sciences

    Two on New Conifer Species

    Botanists Discover New Conifer Species in Vietnam
    New Conifer Discovered
    An extraordinary discovery of a previously unknown conifer genus and species has recently been made in northern Vietnam by an international team of botanists. This is the first new conifer genus discovered since 1994. The first is a press release from the National Science Foundation that describes the research and the importance of the discovery. The second site from the Royal Horticultural Society focuses more specifically on the plant. [AL] (From the Scout Report)

    Pennsylvania Aquatic Insects
    This Web site from Penn State University is a vast resource of information on aquatic insects. Users can search or browse the database for an insect species and view maps of the selected species distribution within Pennsylvania, or all of North America. The site has recently added some radar images of a Mayfly emergence, complete with a detailed description to help interpret the images. Those visitors interested in trout fishing may appreciate the two pages on tying flies that can be found by navigating through the section entitled How to Use Site. [AL] (From the Scout Report)

    Cloud Forest Alive
    The Cloud Forest Alive Web site, associated with the Tropical Science Center and Forum One Communication, provides a host of information on the biologically diverse cloud forests of Central America. The site contains a large amount of information on several aspects of the forest, including many attractive photographs. A recent highlight is one of the sites online cameras, the Quetzal Cam. Highlights from this year’s Quetzal Cam show the activities within the nest, including incubation, the hatchling birds, and an intruding weasel that brought an end to the chicks’ short lives. The Web cam photos are a little difficult to see, but they can be enlarged by clicking on each photo individually. The site seems to continually update its content, making it a site that users can visit often to develop a broader understanding of these unique forests. [AL] (From the Scout Report)

    California Condors: A Bird’s Eye View
    Information about this endangered bird of prey. Includes an account of “a daring condor egg swap in a remote area of the Los Padres National Forest,” a condor quiz, and a few links to other resources, including some additional ones from the Los Angeles Zoo, which sponsors this site. (From Librarian’s Index to the Internet)

    Computer and Information Science

    The DARPA Agent Markup Language (DAML)
    “The World Wide Web (WWW) contains a large amount information which is expanding at a rapid rate. Most of that information is currently being represented using the Hypertext Markup Language (HTML), which is designed to allow web developers to display information in a way that is accessible to humans for viewing via web browsers. While HTML allows us to visualize the information on the web, it doesn’t provide much capability to describe the information in ways that facilitate the use of software programs to find or interpret it. The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) has developed the Extensible Markup Language (XML) which allows information to be more accurately described using tags. … However, XML has a limited capability to describe the relationships (schemas or ontologies) with respect to objects. The use of ontologies provides a very powerful way to describe objects and their relationships to other objects. The DAML language is being developed as an extension to XML and the Resource Description Framework (RDF). The latest release of the language (DAML+OIL) provides a rich set of constructs with which to create ontologies and to markup information so that it is machine readable and understandable.”

    Education and Human Resources

    PBS Kids: Cyberchase
    A daily fun math related game and other activities are available at Cyberchase, the companion Web site for the television program. There are tips for teachers (and parents) on how to use the show and Web site to reinforce concepts taught in class. (From Librarian’s Index to the Internet)


    Microturbine buses

    AVS (Advanced Vehicle Systems)
    Fuel cells are widely touted as the power sources of the future for cars and buses. However, they may have a hard fight against a technology that already exists, and is already powering buses in dozens of cities in the USA and world wide. Turbines, as well as being used in locomotives and tanks are now widely coming into use to power hybrid buses. These buses, which are part electric battery and part microturbine powered not only have extremely low pollution (below even California restrictions) but also few moving parts, thus low maintenance. Best of all, they can burn anything from gasoline through biofuel and even hydrogen. The city of Tempe, Arizona, already has 31 microturbine buses running the streets and another 200 on order. AVS (Advanced Vehicle Systems) in the USA is one maker ( and Designline in New Zealand, which has produced a particularly elegant design for their microturbine buses is another ( One specialized manufacturer of microturbines whose power units are now used on many buses is Capstone ( a pioneer in the field. Microturbine manufacturers are also casting their eyes towards the auto too. Capstone has signed a deal with Korea’s Hyundai to help it develop a microturbine auto. However, during the 1950s and 1960s, American makers already developed and manufactured on a experimental basis some turbine autos.During the 1950s General Motors made the “Firebird” ( and later in the 1960s, Chrysler manufactured about 50 turbine cars ( but two dollar a barrel oil doomed them both. (From New Scientist Web Links)

    Wind power
    Long before the first Otto cycle reaction ever moved the pistons of an internal combustion engine, the world drew countless thousands of horse power from the wind, water and animal power. In some developing countries — and even a few developed ones — old style windmills with sails, as well as watermills still perform important tasks. Animal powered mills, be they noria which raise water in the Sudan or oxen mills grinding wheat in India remain a part of economic life even today. Throughout the world there is tremendous interest in restoring and preserving historical mills and developing more efficient modern ones. The International Molinological Society ( is devoted to collecting and disseminating information on wind, water and animal power mills and machines world wide. Meeting every four years, in various countries, the Molinological Society studies historical and contemporary mills, engages in preservation as well as publishing studies of mills. In addition, their web page offers an excellent selection of links. For a approach more in tune with Industrial archaeology and preservation, Windmill World ( concentrates mainly on the windmills and water mills of England, though foreign mills are by no means ignored. Both sites offer very good resources for anyone either getting interested in mills, or interested in preserving them. And both are well worth looking at not just to see the past of energy generation, but also its future. (From New Scientist Web Links)

    Internet Engineer
    A neatly done series of tutorials, product of EEVL, which walk you through finding resources on the WWW. Each tutorial is customized for a different engineering discipline. Very clear and thorough!


    Hurricane Awareness
    This NOAA site has a wealth of information on hurricanes and related phenomena in an attractive format. You can view the brief history of some of the more famous storms, learn about forecasting, develop a family disaster plan, and more.

    Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory Gallery
    Offered by the Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory (GFDL), the GFDL Gallery is a collection of visualizations which have been prepared in the course of GFDL’s research, and subsequently presented at meetings and in the media. For example, the gallery contains an animated movie of Hurricane Emily from 1993 and a 3D animation of Hurricane Floyd. Other topics include global warming, stratospheric processes, El Nino, and more. [JAB] (From the Scout Report)

    Women Exploring the Oceans “features the careers of remarkable women in oceanography. Each woman has followed a different path to her career and has gathered unique insights about her profession. Learn how these women are contributing to our understanding and appreciation of the ocean and how they go about their daily work.” The site currently contains biographies, interviews, and photographs of eleven women such as technical illustrator Jo Griffith. [JAB] (From the Scout Report)

    Mathematical and Physical Sciences

    Symmetry and Tessellations
    For those who are intrigued by patterns, beware — you just might disappear into this site, and not be heard from for much longer than you intended. Youngsters will also be fascinated, but perhaps for a shorter period of time. The author, Jill Britton, teaches mathematics at a British Columbia college, and offers an exhaustive number of links to sites that feature hex signs, quilt designs, logos, hubcaps, Japanese family crests, Easter eggs, (including a step-by-step guide to Ukrainian ones), polyhedra, origami, traffic signs, snowflakes, totem poles, Sydney lace, Escher, tessellations, and flags. The South Korean flag holds particular interest, showing both antisymmetry and symbols for binary numbers. Ms. Britton also points to appropriate videos, software, applets to create your own tilings, and ambigram (inversion) generators. AD (From New Scientist Web Links)

    Perspectives on Plasmas
    “Plasmas are conductive assemblies of charged particles, neutrals and fields that exhibit collective effects. Further, plasmas carry electrical currents and generate magnetic fields. Plasmas are the most common form of matter, comprising more than 99% of the visible universe.” This site is very attractive, with stunning photographs and an enormous amount of information. The navigation of the site is not straightforward, however.

    Game Theory
    A nifty little site, labeled as “A resource for educators and students of game theory.” It contains a number of brief categories including game theory in the news, game theory in books and movies, quizzes about game theory, interactive materials, textbook reviews and — games.

    The Millennium Prize Problems
    “To appreciate the scope of mathematical truth challenges the capabilities of the human mind. In order to celebrate mathematics in the new millennium, The Clay Mathematics Institute of Cambridge, Massachusetts (CMI) has named seven ‘Millennium Prize Problems.’ The Scientific Advisory Board of CMI selected these problems, focusing on important classic questions that have resisted solution over the years. The Board of Directors of CMI designated a $7 million prize fund for the solution to these problems, with $1 million allocated to each. A leading specialist in the domain in question has formulated each problem.”

    • P versus NP
    • The Hodge Conjecture
    • The Poincaré Conjecture
    • The Riemann Hypothesis
    • Yang-Mills Existence and Mass Gap
    • Navier-Stokes Existence and Smoothness
    • The Birch and Swinnerton-Dyer Conjecture

    The website has information on the problems and the contest, and the video you can view is extremely entertaining even if, like me, you have severe math anxiety.

    Polar Programs

    Classroom Antarctica
    “We hope that you will enjoy using the ideas in Classroom Antarctica to stimulate your students’ interest in real world applications for Science, Mathematics and Studies of Society and Environment. These activities can be used to enhance writing, literature, art, team building and creative thinking skills in your students as well. The activities focus on the study of significant environmental and social issues from a global perspective and promote an appreciation of the important role of Australia’s activities in Antarctica. They will encourage students to think critically about the key issues currently facing Antarctica: tourism, whaling, fishing, mineral exploitation, resource management and the impact of humans on the environment.

    Classroom Antarctica is self-contained, but to make the most of it, teachers should explore some of the Classroom Resources. The activities have been designed to challenge students to tackle often complex topics, access a wide array of additional resources, and to work together to synthesise their learning into an informed perspective on the topic.

    Classroom Antarctica is aimed at Upper Primary and Lower Secondary levels (Years 5 to 8), but contains many topics and activities that are suitable for Years 9 to 12 as well.” This website is attractive, classy, and loads of fun!

    The Polar Bear Tracker
    This new Web site from the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) International explores how polar bears are affected by global warming. Data on the movements of two radio-collared bears can be viewed, along with the ice status, through a series of online maps. This is an interesting site with valuable information and a nice balance of maps, photos, and text. The animation of the polar bear tracking data is a really neat feature, but is best viewed by advancing through the stages manually because the rapid speed of the film makes it difficult to comprehend. [AL] (From the Scout Report)

    Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences

    Measuring America: the Decennial Censuses from 1790 to 2000 (pdf)
    Measuring America contains images and/or descriptions of the questionnaires used in each of the decennial censuses from 1790 to 2000, instructions given to the census-takers on how to fill out the forms, and brief histories of each of the decennial censuses. (From Infomine)

    Pharaoh’s Obelisk
    Another wonderful NOVA site, dealing with the question of how the Egyptians quarried, moved, and raised their obelisks. This site includes good information about levers, with an animated sketch of how one functioned in the raising of an obelisk. (From Librarian’s Index to the Internet)

    Into Archaeology: Resources for Archaeological Professionals and Enthusiasts
    Visitors may choose from a variety of resources, including relevant news, book reviews, electronic journal and newsletter subscriptions, software tools, expert contacts, and articles. Searchable. (From Librarian’s Index to the Internet)

    Test the Nation: The National IQ Test (Britain)
    Who is the weakest link? Or, rather, just how many are there? And where do they come from? Test the Nation, Britain’s largest mass IQ test set about to answer those questions and more on May 11th of this year. Administered online to some 90,000 residents of the UK (and still available for those who missed out), the test put visitors through the usual rigors of intelligence testing. The Test the Nation Web site discloses how the nation did as a whole, with further breakdowns by region, age, and other variables. Curious, the map of Britain’s intelligence, as determined by the test, clearly demonstrates that the South far outdid the North where brute IQ is concerned. Whether one accepts such results or not, the site provides much food for thought, discussion and, almost certainly, an argument or two. Presented by the BBC, the site doesn’t stop with simple presentations on the national IQ test, but also offers other interesting studies and reports, with subjects probing various areas of intelligence testing and all that has been made of it. A short list of some of the titles presented include: What sex is your brain?, Birth weight and intelligence, and The Language of the brain. To round off it offerings, the site also links to MENSA. [WH] (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:

    Researchers at five universities and research centers completed a successful test of a computing grid that is expected to support experiments at the Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland. Unlike distributed computing projects such as SETI@Home, all of the individual nodes in the grid are connected and can communicate as data moves among the nodes. The Globus Project and the Condor Project developed the software on which the new grid operates; both are open-source tools, available free online. Participants in the project include the Particle Physics Data Grid, the International Virtual Data Grid Laboratory, the U.S. Department of Energy, and the National Science Foundation.
    Wired News, 3 June 2002 via Edupage.

    The General Services Administration (GSA), the purchasing arm of the federal government, has commissioned a study of extensible markup language (XML) to try to avoid possible integration problems later. XML allows developers to identify pieces of data with consistent definitions and parameters so that multiple applications can access those data. For this to work, however, the initial definitions must be consistent, and federal officials worry that separate government agencies may create conflicting definitions, complicating integration. The GSA study will try to answer the question of whether a formal policy should be put in place to ensure that implementations of XML will be compatible across agencies. The study is seen as important because the federal government is the single largest consumer of computer technology, much larger than any single commercial organization.
    CNET, 12 June 2002 via Edupage

    The Advanced Networking With Minority-Serving Institutions (AN-MSI) project is working to create a shared online-learning program similar to one that was started at the University of Wisconsin in 1999. The Wisconsin program, called, was designed to avoid duplication of online-learning efforts and thereby save money. The program now hosts more than 10,000 courses for 83 different campuses, both in and outside of Wisconsin. According to AN-MSI Director David Staudt, AN-MSI hopes to create similar programs run by and focused on minority-serving institutions, including historically Black, Hispanic, and Native American schools. AN-MSI, a project of EDUCAUSE, is supported by a grant from the National Science Foundation.
    Chronicle of Higher Education, 12 June 2002 via Edupage

    The federal government has awarded IBM a $224 million contract to build a new supercomputer to improve forecasts of weather and ocean conditions. Just last month, the Earth Simulator, a new supercomputer in Japan that will be used to study the climate and weather, set a new record for performance. IBM’s new machine, designed as a massively parallel computer, will greatly increase the capacity of the National Weather Service and related offices to predict weather, and will be improved with the addition of newer and more processors through 2009.
    New York Times, 31 May 2002 (registration req’d)via Edupage.

    IBM announced that they have reached the storage threshold of one terabit per square inch, which is roughly equivalent to 25 million textbook pages on something the size of a postage stamp. The work, done in a six-year project called Millipede, uses a device with extremely small tips to make indentations in a plastic film. As on a punch card, the indentations represent data. With IBM’s technology, however, the plastic film can be put back into its original shape, erasing the data and making it ready to be written on again. An official from IBM said one terabit is not the limit of storage capacity. Other companies, including Hewelett-Packard and Seagate Technology, are also developing tools and procedures in the field of nanotechnology.
    Wall Street Journal, 11 June 2002 (sub. req’d) via Edupage

    Two software engineers in California are working on a simple, inexpensive way to address the “last mile” problem of getting broadband Internet access from to U.S. homes. Layne Holt and John Furrier have started a company in Holt’s garage, not far from where Apple Computer was started in another garage. Their solution uses a combination of standard and modified 802.11b wireless cards to create a system capable of high-speed data transmission up to 20 miles. If successful, the system could make DSL and cable-modem service obsolete. The developers admit that their idea is not elegant, but they said it offers broadband access to the home in an uncomplicated, cost-effective manner.
    New York Times, 10 June 2002 (sub. req’d)via Edupage

    Purdue University and Indiana University have combined their resources to create a supercomputing grid capable of more than a teraflop of processing. The system uses Purdue’s memory configuration and Indiana’s computational power, joined over 110 miles by I-Light, a high-performance fiber-optic network operated by the state of Indiana. The total capacity of the system, 1.75 teraflops, ranks the grid as one of the most powerful supercomputers in the world. The system will allow researchers to employ extensive computing power to fields including life sciences and DNA research. An official at Purdue said the computer systems as well as the I-Light network will be periodically upgraded.
    NewsFactor Network, 14 June 2002