Sci-Tech Library Newsletter
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- NOBEL PRIZES FOR 2002: Many have received funding from NSF.
- NEW RESOURCE — NEWS SEER: A new web source for news information.
- AROUND TOWN & ON THE NET: Science events and lectures in the metro DC area or in webcast.
- NEW E-BOOKS & REPORTS
- INTERESTING WEBSITES AND NEWS FROM THE INTERNET: Disposable Planet, State Profiles of the Effect of Federal R&D Funding, Wonder Bound, Science and the Artist’s Book, Current Status of FY03 R&D Appropriations Bills, The Cave of Chauvet Pont d’Arc, The Chance Project, Stephen Jay Gould Archive; Biological Sciences: Worm Atlas, Sprawl City, Habitats, Kinoko-ya, Monterey Bay Aquarium; Computer and Information Science: CALResCo Complexity Writings; Education and Human Resources: FOSSWEB, Fun food Stuff, Exploravision; Engineering: National Biodiesel Board, Modular Robotics, Certified Products, Recording Technology History, Biometrics; Geosciences: Global Climate Change, Basics of Magnetics, Natural Hazards, CoRIS — NOAA’s Coral Reef Information System; Mathematical and Physical Sciences: Solar System Scale Model Metapage, The Parallax Project, Selected Papers of Great American Physicists, NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Neutrino History, Edgar Fahs Smith Collection of Chemistry Portraits, Insultingly Stupid Movie Physics, Multiwavelength Astronomy; Polar Programs: GloBio Mapping Human Impacts on the Arctic; Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences: Collapse — Why Do Civilizations Fall?, Sigmund Freud: Conflict and Culture, Women and Social Movements in the United States, 1775-2000, History of the Workhouse … and more … plus news items from Edupage
- INTER ALIA: Are you worried about identity theft? You should be.
NOBEL PRIZES FOR 2002
NSF-Funded U.S. Based Nobel Prize Winners
NSF Grantees Awarded 2002 Nobel Prizes for Economics, Chemistry, and Physics
Nobel Prize in Economics
The Nobel site gives all the information you want to know on the current and past winners. Somehow, however, it doesn’t include a list of those who have also received funding from the Foundation, but we are proud to say that a great many of them have done so, and we are keeping track. Check the NSF sites above for more info on the no fewer than 123 of the U.S. based Nobelists who have received funding at some point in their career from NSF.
And don’t forget the Ig-Nobel Prizes, which are also awarded in October. “Every Ig Nobel Prize winner has done something that first makes people LAUGH, then makes them THINK. Technically speaking, the Igs honor people whose achievements ‘cannot or should not be reproduced.’ ”
NEW RESOURCE — NEWS SEER
The following article is reprinted with permission from The Virtual Acquisition Shelf & News Desk which is authored by Gary Price, a librarian and freelance research consultant, (email email@example.com). This excellent publication is updated daily with database and research news, web search tips, and many new resources.
Web Resource of the Week
Personalized Search and Recommendation Tools
In Development and Ready to Explore: NewsSeer
NewsSeer, is both a straightforward news search engine and an adaptive tool that’s constantly learning your interests so it can provide you with more relevant material. About a week ago, I had the chance to chat with Dr. Steve Lawrence, NewsSeer’s creator. Lawrence works at NEC Research and is highly regarded (with very good reason), in information retrieval circles for his research, writing, and the creation of some very useful and important tools like Inquirus and CiteSeer. Very little documentation is currently available for NewsSeer. Here’s a brief overview to get you started.
- NewsSeer has been around for several months. Recently, Lawrence made some major cosmetic changes to the page layout including adding logos to help identify sources.
- Currently crawling about 30 well-known news sources. You can expect this number to increase in the near future.
- Sources are recrawled for new content every 5 minutes. New material is added to the database immediately.
- The crawl is not deep. This means that if an article is not linked directly from one of the pages NewsSeer is crawling, it will not be discovered and added to the database.
- According to Lawrence, urls are archived for about 30 days. However, I did find some older material.
- Every entry includes a time stamp as to when the story was first discovered and placed in the database. Examples: 15M is 15 minutes, 3h is 3 hours, 5d means the article was crawled for the first time 5 days ago.
- Searching the database is very straightforward. The interface is located at the top of the page and will automatically return results organized by relevance and date.
- NewsSeer employs automatic phrase detection so using quotation marks is not required.
- Boolean searching is not available at this time.
NewsSeer: Learning From You, Recommending to You
In addition to it’s search capabilities, NewsSeer, will attempt to learn your interests by using several criteria from the material you select to view. These criteria include article selection, the text of the article, how long you looked at a story, the source of the material, the age of the story, etc. This can be accomplished without any user intervention. HOWEVER, you can also choose to assist NewSeer by rating your interest in the story.
NewSeer.Com: The Home Page
Let’s look at the layout of the NewsSeer home page.
- The left side of the page is where you’ll find current news organized by relevancy and by time. You’ll also find options to rank news sources (you can always change them), change the font and point size of the page, view stories in a separate browser window, change your source rankings. To eliminate a story from the list, simply select the x to the left of the story title. After viewing a story (you may need to reload the NewsSeer page), you’ll see four boxes to rate your interest in the story you just read from no interest to high interest. After making your selection, your preferences are sent to the NewsSeer computer. The only personal information stored on your local computer is a cookie enabling your personal page to automatically load. All material appearing in the left column is generated from your NewsSeer profile.
- The right side of the page organizes content via many different criteria. You’ll see recent stories from sources that you’ve given a high interest rating, the most popular stories on NewsSeer, stories related the most recently viewed article, and direct links to the four most recent stories that the crawler has added to the database.
- Headlines that are higlighted in “light blue” are new since your last NewsSeer session ended. “Dark Blue” highlights alert you to articles that are new since your last access.
Final Comments and Coming Soon
- A box at the bottom of the left column will allow you to have “relevant” news stories emailed directly to you. Like most of NewsSeer’s, this additional service is completely optional and available free.
- If you use several computers and want to use the your profile on different, simply go to the bottom of the left column and select, “Access profile on another computer or browser” link. You’ll be provided with a specific url to access your page on other computers. You can also send this link to yourself or others via e-mail.
- Give NewsSeer time to learn and develop a profile.
- Along with more content further enhancements including the ability to view keyword search terms in context are coming soon.
- Because of the Steve Lawrence/NEC Research reputation for turning out interesting and useful tools, this is a project worth keeping an eye on even if you don’t use it on a daily basis.
- Finally, be prepared for changes. I’ll do my best to report them on the ResourceShelf.
AROUND TOWN & ON THE NET
Capital Science Lecture - Persisting Problems inTuberculosis
John McKinney, Laboratory of Infection Technology, The Rockefeller University. “Once believed to be conquered, tuberculosis kills more people today than ever before in human history. Recent scientific advances are unveiling the secrets of TB’s tenacity and developing new weapons against this ancient enemy.”
Tuesday October 22,2002 6:30 pm Carnegie Institution, 1530 P Street NW, Washington, DC
John Sulston on the Race for the Human Genome
John Sulston, a 2002 Nobel laureate in medicine, is the author of “The Common Thread: A Story of Science, Politics, Ethics and the Human Genome,” a new book from the National Academies’ Joseph Henry Press. He will speak about the race to sequence the genome in a lecture at 7 p.m. EST Thursday, Nov. 14 at the National Academy of Sciences building, 2100 C St., N.W., Washington, D.C.
3rd National Conference on Science, Policy and the Environment
The National Council for Science and the Environment (NCSE) invites you to the 3rd National Conference on Science, Policy and the Environment, EDUCATION FOR A SUSTAINABLE AND SECURE FUTURE, January 30-31, 2003, Washington, DC Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center.
JOIN leading scientists, educators and policymakers from around the world to discuss how education can contribute to a sustainable and secure future for all.
PARTICIPATE in an unprecedented opportunity to develop a set of recommendations for the United States and for the upcoming UN Decade of Education for Sustainability (2005-2015) that will be transmitted in an action-oriented report produced by NCSE following the conference.
MEET educators and decisionmakers including the full range of the educational enterprise from kindergarten to adult, incorporating formal and informal approaches to science, environmental, sustainability, security, and community education.
LISTEN to speakers such as Dr. Rita Colwell, Director of the National Science Foundation, who will present the 3rd Annual John H. Chafee Memorial Lecture on Science and the Environment; former Senator Gaylord Nelson, founder of Earth Day and a global leader in environmental and sustainability education who will receive the NCSE Lifetime Achievement Award; and Congressman Vernon Ehlers, Chair of the Environment Subcommittee of the House of Representatives Science Committee who will receive the NCSE Congressional Leadership Award.
DISCUSS Sustainability, Environmental and Security Education for the community, K–12 students, undergraduates, graduates, business and the public during more than 20 breakout sessions.
VIEW the Exhibition “Education: Programs and Products” with displays featuring innovative programs and resources from publishers, government agencies, nongovernmental organizations, and a variety of academic and other educational institutions.
NETWORK with scientists, engineers, teachers, administrators, legislators, resource managers, international, federal, state, tribal and local government officials, environmental and community representatives, business people, journalists from the U.S. and other nations.
ENJOY a reception in the exhibit hall following the Chafee Memorial Lecture, which will be attended by leading members of the education, scientific and policy communities.
VISIT the Conference website at http://www.NCSEonline.org now to register online, read pre-conference background papers, get the latest program updates, participate in on-line discussions, and find useful links to education resources.
SAVE 35% When You Register by November 1st. A limited number of complimentary registrations are available to members of the NCSE University Affiliate Program. See http://www.NCSEonline.org/Affiliates for details. For additional information and to REGISTER ONLINE, please go to: National Council for Science and the Environment (NCSE)
WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE
Join us in the rainforest! The first in a new series of live Exploratorium Webcasts takes you to the remote Las Cuevas Research Station in Belize, where botanists, entomologists, zoologists, and ecologists gather to study the amazing variety of life on earth. Log on to http://www.exploratorium.edu/origins/belize-london/index.html at 1 p.m. PST on Saturday, October 26, for this Origins Special Event
NEW E-BOOKS & REPORTS
Geophysical Data in Archaeology: A Guide to Good Practice. Archaeology Data Service, 2002.
The Political Trail: Journalism on the Internet. Institute for Policy, Democracy & the Internet, 2002.
Harrison Eiteljorg II, Kate Fernie, Jeremy Huggett and Damian Robinson. CAD: A Guide to Good Practice. Archaeology Data Service, 2002.
Mark Bernstein, et al. The Public Benefit of Energy Efficiency to the State of Massachusetts. Rand, 2002.
The World Factbook 2002. CIA, 2002.
Christopher G. Pernin, et al. Generating Electric Power in the Pacific Northwest: Implications of Alternative Technologies. Rand, 2002.
The Polygraph and Lie Detection. NAP, 2002.
INTERESTING WEBSITES AND NEWS FROM THE INTERNET
The Chance Project
This “quantitative literacy course” seeks to educate readers about the uses of probability and statistics in current news reporting. The site offers lectures, videos, teaching aids, online texts, and interesting articles demonstrating concepts. (From Librarian’s Index to the Internet)
BBC Online presents this six-part special on sustainable development. Created in anticipation of the now concluded Johannesburg Summit, this Web site provides a valuable resource for viewers wishing to learn more about sustainable development and related issues. The Web site consists of an overview and six sections: Population, Food, Cities, Waste, Tourism, and Energy. The sections offer an in-depth look at each topic and include audio clips of related interviews and news stories. The discussion forums are now closed, but visitors may read the occasionally insightful and often times heated comments that have already been posted. View the slide show to get a quick, visceral sense of human impact on the planet — past, present, and future. Visitors may also take a quiz to calculate their ecological footprint, or how much of the earth’s resources they individually consume each year. [RS](From the Scout Report)
Science and the Artist’s Book
Science and the Artist’s Book is an exhibition which explores links between scientific and artistic creativity through the book format. In 1993, the Smithsonian Institution Libraries and the Washington Project for the Arts (WPA) invited a group of nationally recognized book artists to create new works of art based on classic volumes from the Heralds of Science collection of the Dibner Library of the History of Science and Technology, a part of the Smithsonian Institution Libraries’ Special Collections. The resulting artist’s books, each inspired by the subject, theories or illustrations of the landmark works of science with which they are paired, offer a number of witty, imaginative, and even poignant insights into the creative side of scientific research.
“Artist’s books” don’t look like most volumes found in a library. They are art objects in the form of books. As with painting or sculpture, much of the “story” in these books is visual. An idea may be illustrated in the book’s shape or binding, in the materials used, or in the artist’s choice of images. Words may be used to reinforce a message, but they are not always essential to the book’s meaning.
Current Status of FY03 R&D Appropriations Bills
AAAS brings you this frequently updated chart with links to keep track of the status of the federal R&D budget for FY03. Analysis is also provided.
State Profiles of the Effect of Federal R&D Funding
The AAAS R&D Budget and Policy Program has launched a series of state profiles on the impact of federal R&D on states. Below are summary tables and charts showing the latest National Science Foundation (NSF) data on federal R&D by state for fiscal year (FY) 1999, followed by 51 state profiles. Data on the geographical distribution of R&D by state or region are collected by the National Science Foundation’s Division of Science Resources Statistics; we are indebted to NSF SRS for collecting and publishing state-level R&D data. This is a very nice presentation of the NSF data.
The Cave of Chauvet Pont d'Arc
On Sunday, December 18, 1994, Jean-Marie Chauvet led his two friends, Éliette Brunel and Christian Hillaire, on the Cirque d'Estre toward the cliffs. A faint air current emanating from a small opening at the end of a small cave had attracted his attention and he now wanted to satisfy his curiosity once and for all. All three had a passion for speleology and had long stopped counting their discoveries… Take a virtual visit to the cave they discovered and view its geological and anthropological wonders.
Stephen Jay Gould Archive
There’s no argument that late paleontologist Stephen Jay Gould was a beautiful mind in the field of evolutionary theory. His legacy is more impressive when you consider he hooked millions of people on the wonders of science, with his more than 20 books. Like astronomer Carl Sagan, Gould made science popular and understandable, challenging us in a common-sense fashion to consider why we look and feel the way we do. For Gould neophytes, this is an excellent introduction to his prolific career. For fans and peers, it’s a record of how he coupled rigorous scholarship with accessibility. Thanks to Gould, future generations of evolutionary researchers have a deep well of data from which to draw their own theories and musings. (From Yahoo’s Picks of the Week)
In centuries past, before the dawn of giant museums and research institutes, individuals studied and wrote about the natural world around them. Wealthy Europeans collected objects and specimens as they traveled the world, and they cataloged their findings in books. Today, the Smithsonian Institution studies these natural history books to compare historical descriptions with modern specimens. This site features images from the historic books and explains why they’re still important. You can compare the Smithsonian to museums from the 1700s or view a naturalist’s handbook from 1818. Some entrepeneurs even considered collecting specimens as a means to make money. Unfortunately, bug infestations destroyed many early collections, so books and sites such as this are all we have left of the pioneering days of natural history. (From Yahoo’s Picks of the Week)
As U.S. cities spread out, their sprawl gobbles up rural lands and natural habitats at an alarming rate. The authors of this site use U.S. Census data on urbanized areas to explain what sprawl is, where it is, and the damage it’s causing. Just how bad is sprawl? Is it a sign of economic vitality or ecological threat? Which is worse for sprawl: poor land use or population growth? These issues and the concerns of environmental and urban planners are addressed with analysis, charts, and graphs. The site also looks at the specific situations of three different U.S. cities — Detroit and its shrinking but sprawled population; dense yet sprawling Los Angeles; and Portland’s experiments with smart growth that began in 1973. To round out the info, reports address the expanding urban landscapes of California, Florida, Massachusetts, and other areas, while the news area features up-to-date information about cities and their ’burbs. (From Yahoo’s Picks of the Week)
Monterey Bay Aquarium
A visually exciting website with information about the life that makes up the Monterey Bay area, the kelp forests, the sea otters, the jellies … Replete with live webcams, video and audio clips, activities for kis, information about rescue efforts and more.
This project is funded by a grant from the US National Institutes of Health Division of Research Resources for the Center for Anatomical Studies of the worm C. elegans. Considering C. elegans is one of the most well-studied worms from many different biological perspectives Worm Atlas provides as good a place as any to start finding out why. The most intriguing feature is an applet called the “Sliding Worm”. If you fancy looking at the innards of C. elegans in glorious cross section this is the place to be. Unfortunately, the designers are still putting the applet together so there was only one cross section image available when I visited. Nevertheless there is lots of background information and links to external resources to keep you busy while they finish it off. The email address for comments is a Yeshiva University listing so that provides a clue as to the credentials of the site if you need them, but the content and breadth speak for themselves. Rating: 6 out of 10 DB (From New Scientist Weblinks Current Pics)
“Deep in the Monongahela National Forest of West Virginia, an experiment unfolds. The United States Forest Service has set aside four plots in the woods for study. Each shows a forest at a different stage of growth: 2 years, 12 years, 41 years, and about 86 years. Together the plots demonstrate natural succession — the process by which a forest evolves.”
Something wild and fungi is growing in the forests of Japan, and thanks to master forager Hiroshi Takakashi, we can take a first-hand look. We shouldn’t be surprised that Hiroshi, born of a culture of rabid gourmands that spawned the “Iron Chef”, sniffs out all manner of poisonous and edible shrooms simply because they’re beautiful. A toadstool that may look ghastly to most folks is a prized treat in Nagano. An oozy patch of oyster mushrooms uncovered in Urawa city apparently cleans up nicely for traditional egg-drop soup, while a sinuous spire from Fukushima is a rare culinary delight. Even gelatinous goo can be consumed. Walk around the wilds of Japan with Hiroshi and experience other edible mysteries. (From Yahoo’s Picks of the Week)
Computer and Information Science
CALResCo Complexity Writings
Anyone interested in learning about complex systems and artificial life should look no further than this site, created by a company dedicated to “free world-wide education about Complex Systems.” Newcomers to the subject can access the beginner’s introduction, which explains many of the general characteristics and programming applications. For more experienced people, there are discussions of specific concepts in complex systems. These include strange attractors, fractals, and genetic algorithms. Other essays look at complexity from a social or psychological standpoint, considering its representations and effects in the natural world. This extensive educational material is only a fraction of what is available on the site. [CL] (From the Scout Report)
Education and Human Resources
“ExploraVision is a competition for all students in grades K–12 in the U.S. and Canada. It is designed to encourage students to combine their imagination with their knowledge of science and technology to explore visions of the future. Teams of students select a technology, research how it works and why it was invented, and then project how that technology may change in the future. They must then identify what breakthroughs are required for their vision to become a reality and describe the positive and negative consequences of their technology on society. Winning ideas have focused on things as simple as ballpoint pens and as complex as satellite communications. The student teams write a paper and draw a series of web page graphics to describe their idea. Regional winners make a web site and a prototype of their future vision.” Sponsored by Toshiba and the National Science Teachers Assn.
FOSS is an elementary and middle school science program developed at the Lawrence Hall of Science with support from the National Science Foundation. Teachers could use the FOSS website as a way of integrating aspects of this program into their own curriculum. This site contains interactive modules on topics such as Food and Nutrition, Solar Energy and Landforms, to name a few. Each module contains activities and resources including pictures and movies. (From Blue Web’n)
Fun Food Stuff
This is a website from Tom Zinnen of the University of Wisconsin. It contains science projects teachers can do with their students, at minimal cost, to illustrate some of the principles of biotechnology and of science experimentation in general. It is not unique in the sense that there are many other sites offering science experiments but at least this one has been created by a University Professor. Some of the “experiments”, such as the DNA dance are certainly interactive and if not purely scientific at least provide a memorable metaphor of the area discussed. There are only half a dozen or so experiments at present but Zinnen says individual projects will be ready soon. For those who worry about such things, the design is simple and certainly more suited to a teacher after the basics of the demonstrations and experiments with some mildly amusing cartoons. It would be a very bored high-school science student who spent more than a few seconds viewing the material here though. Rating: 6 out of 10 DB (From New Scientist Weblinks Current Pics)
National Biodiesel Board
Everything you want to know about biodeisel, an alternative fuel. The site has a FAQ, news, and links to more information.
Recording Technology History
A timeline of the development of the technology behind the recording industry.
The Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) is a subsidiary of Xerox Corporation. One of its most intriguing areas of study is “modular reconfigurable robotics,” which is a technology that allows a robot to take itself apart and put itself back together again in a new form. This lets the robot customize its design for a given task. Several different models of robots have been constructed at the PARC, and this Web site describes how they were built and how they function. There is a large collection of video clips that show each of the robots in operation, including one of a robot riding a tricycle. Two Java simulation programs can be downloaded that demonstrate the control systems of two of the PARC models. A long list of publication titles with abstracts is given, and the full text is available for a few of them. [CL] (From the Scout Report)
Originally a way of recognizing the companies who developed technology for use in US space efforts, the Space Certification Program was eventually adopted in consumer products and other terrestrial applications. Examples of such technologies include heat shields, water filtration systems, and the famous zero-gravity space pen. This Web site highlights some of these certified products. Each description begins with the original purpose of the product and how it was used by NASA; then, the uses of the product on Earth are mentioned. The only drawback to this site is that not all of the products are accompanied by descriptions. [CL](From the Scout Report)
An Overview of Biometrics
Avanti Knowledge Base
University of Cambridge: Computer Laboratory [.pdf]
International Biometric Group: The Biometric Industry - One Year After 9/11
A Trusted Biometric System [.pdf]
Connecticut Department of Social Services: DSS’s Biometric ID Project
IEEE Spectrum Online: Who Goes There?
Scientific American.com: Who’s Who
Biometrics technology can take on many forms, but, in general, it is defined as the automated identification of a person based on physiological or behavioral characteristics. The topic has gained considerable attention lately, because it can be a tool for airport surveillance or national security. To learn the basics of biometrics, try the overview given on a Michigan State University Web site (1). Besides summarizing the characteristics of biometric systems, it explains four different identification methods and how they can be used together. A collection of fifteen papers is presented on this site (2). Each one looks at a particular issue in biometrics and describes it in detail. These papers can be especially useful for anyone designing or working with identity verification systems. The home page of a University of Cambridge professor (3) has many resources for iris recognition. There are many distinguishing characteristics of the iris, and the material ranges from a general introduction to advanced analysis techniques. An article published by the International Biometric Group (4) considers the effects of the September 11 terrorist attacks on the biometrics industry. The potential applications of biometrics technology and the obstacles to deploying these security measures (such as privacy) are discussed. Researchers at Hewlett-Packard published this technical report about user authentication on distributed computing platforms (5). It describes a trusted biometric system that incorporates smart cards and biometric readers to validate the user’s identity. A project in Connecticut uses biometric technology to prevent fraud (6). By scanning the fingers of welfare recipients, no one can attempt to collect multiple welfare checks using different names. An article in the September 2002 issue of IEEE Spectrum (7) discusses advancements in biometrics within the last year. It outlines the benefits of adding biometric information to state driver’s licenses, and considers what else needs to be done to increase the nation’s security. Lastly, a July 2002 article in Scientific American (8) explains how biometrics can be used to prevent identity theft. This is one of the top consumer complaints and has been increasing dramatically in recent years. An interesting development is a tamperproof ID, which can not be falsified. [CL] (From the Scout Report)
Basics of Magnetics
An exploration of “topics that are fundamental to geophysical magnetic surveying, including Earth’s magnetic field, susceptibility, survey profiles, survey maps, some example data sets, etc.” Take the term “basics” with a grain of salt; this site is written for college level students. From the University of British Colombia, Canada, Geophysical Inversion Facility (UCB-GIF). (From Librarian’s Index to the Internet)
Global Climate Change
“At this Web site, you can explore scientific data relating to the atmosphere, the oceans, the areas covered by ice and snow, and the living organisms in all these domains. You’ll also get a sense of how scientists study natural phenomena — how researchers gather evidence, test theories, and come to conclusions.” (From Librarian’s Index to the Internet)
Earth scientists around the world use NASA satellite imagery to better understand the causes and effects of natural hazards. The goal in sharing these images is to help people visualize where and when natural hazards occur, and to help mitigate their effects. This site brings you weekly images and discussion of recent natural events.
CoRIS — NOAA’s Coral Reef Information System
Attractive webpages how NOAA’s datasets, pages for professional exchanges on coral reef topics, information about reefs and about NOAA’s research projects, and a glossary.
Mathematical and Physical Sciences
Solar System Scale Model Metapage
A very simple webpage providing links to sources of instructions for building various scale models of the solar system and related information. (Thanks to Ray Shiner)
The Parallax Project
“The Digital Research Library, a department of the University of Pittsburgh Library System, now provides online access to historic star data and calculations compiled and published by the Allegheny Observatory. The Parallax Project Website makes available over five decades of the Observatory’s valuable research, which represents one of the largest systematic, ground-based studies of star distances ever conducted. Prior to the Parallax Project Website, public access to this stellar data was available only through a limited number of deteriorating copies of the Publications of the Allegheny Observatory of the University of Pittsburgh. This ten-volume set, published between 1910 and 1969, primarily documented the observations of the Photographic Parallax Program. Frank Schlesinger, director of the Observatory from 1905–1920, established this program to measure a star’s distance from the Sun (i.e., a parallax) using the photographic record of blue and ultraviolet light emitted by the brightest stars visible from Pittsburgh. The Publications also contain reports on the methodologies of astronomical observation, articles about innovative models of calculating star positions, and descriptions of observational instrumentation.” (Thanks to Edward Galloway)
Gaps in your knowledge concerning neutrinos might be filled at this site authored by a member of a particle physics laboratory in France. The neutrino has been described as next to nothing. If you venture outside, you will be bombarded with billions of neutrinos from the sun, not counting the billions from the earth’s radioactivity, and you won’t feel a thing. Perhaps it is good that we cannot see them. Just sitting at your computer, you will emit roughly 340 million neutrinos each day from the potassium 40 in your body, and none of your coworkers will be aware of this, although if they were, at least one would complain. Those watching their weight might find comfort in knowing there are so many particles leaving their bodies at the speed of light. Discussions on a neutrino’s possible mass, the difficulties involved in capturing one, and particulars of its spin and chirality are offered. Plus a page devoted to the major players in neutrino history. Rating: 10 out of 10. AD (From New Scientist Current Picks)
Insultingly Stupid Movie Physics
Appalled by the fuzzy science rampant in today’s movies, the critical smartypants behind this site aren’t afraid to stand up and educate Hollywood moviemakers. Comprised of scientists and average Joe brainiacs, these critics have come up with a special rating system to catalog physics gaffes: GP=Good Physics, PGP=Pretty good physics, RP=Retch, and XP=Physics from an unknown universe. Their reviews carefully explain why a movie sucked or didn’t suck, scientifically speaking, of course. They praise “Road to Perdition” and “Titantic”, while panning the likes of “Armageddon”, “A.I.”, and “Star Wars: The Phantom Menace”. Learn why they find flashing bullets, audible space explosions, and visible laser beams intellectually offensive. Die-hard Keanu fans determined to suspend disbelief are advised to forgo this “Matrix” nitpick. (From Yahoo’s Picks of the Week)
Expand your view of the universe with “Multiwavelength Astronomy”. When you think of astronomy, you may be imagining optical telescopes which work with visible light. Look again; this site will show you how visible light is just one small part of the entire “electromagnetic spectrum” which stretches from radio waves at one end to X-rays and gamma rays at the other. The pages form a tour which shows you what astronomical objects would look like if your eyes could see beyond the narrow visible wavelength range. There is a stunning picture of the Sun in ultraviolet light and an infrared view of star formation in the constellation Orion. The supernova remnant Cassiopeia A shines with radio waves, produced by speeding electrons whirling in magnetic fields. We even get unusual views of our familiar neighbour, the Moon. There is a good explanation of the science behind these images, and the astrophysical phenomena represented by the different wavelengths. The site itself is very simple, with plain text and graphics, and a few links to other resources. There are no animations, and you won’t need any plug-ins. The real stars of the show are the breathtaking images of the cosmos, which make “Multiwavelength Astronomy” well worth a visit. Rating: 8 out of 10 DP-P (From New Scientist Weblinks Current Pics)
NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory
The leading centre in the US for the robotic exploration of the solar system also manages the Deep Space Network, studies the Earths biosphere, and takes a lead in the development of space technologies. This site acts as archive and showcase for current and past projects. There is a great deal of material available so it was good to see that the search function worked so well and that the navigation was intuitive and well organised. If you don’t already have a copy it may be an idea to get hold of the latest version of Real Player as there are quite a few videos to see in addition to the spectacular still photographs. Real Player will also come in handy for the once or twice monthly webcasts. These are also archived so attendance on the night is not compulsory. For teachers and students, up to and including graduate level, there is a large education section with lesson plans, projects and a host of useful links and resources. Worth half a day of anybody’s time, this is content-rich, easy to use and best of all fascinating without being bewildering. Rating: 10 out of 10 ALD (From New Scientist Weblinks Current Picks)
Edgar Fahs Smith Collection of Chemistry Portraits
Edgar Fahs Smith (1854–1928) was a professor of chemistry and a provost at the University of Pennsylvania. His collection is devoted to the history of chemistry, emphasizing periods prior to 1850. The collection includes over 3000 prints of eminent scientists, their laboratories, and the apparatus they used.
Selected Papers of Great American Physicists
Presented full text with brief bios by the American Physical Society.
GloBio Mapping Human Impacts on the Arctic
“In the last part of the 20th century, the Arctic has been increasingly exposed to industrial exploration and exploitation as well as tourism. The growth in oil, gas, and mineral extraction, transportation networks and non-indigenous settlements are increasingly affecting wildlife and the welfare of indigenous people across the Arctic. A considerable number of species of birds, mammals, and plants have already undergone a reduction in their populations or breeding success, or have been subjected to other types of impact in 15–20% of the land area of the Arctic. A 2050 scenario was made using reduced, stable, or increased rates of infrastructure growth as compared to the growth between 1940–1990. The scenario revealed that at even stable growth rates of industrial development, 50–80% of the Arctic may reach critical levels of anthropogenic disturbance in 2050, rendering most of these areas incompatible with traditional lifestyles of many subsistence-based indigenous communities. As most of these impacts are related to the establishment of permanent infrastructure and the exploitation of non-renewable resources, the reversibility of the estimated changes in the near future is most unlikely.” At this site you will find the complete report along with a map poster and animations.
Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences
Collapse - Why Do Civilizations Fall?
“The history of humankind has been marked by patterns of growth and decline. Some declines have been gradual, occurring over centuries. Others have been rapid, occurring over the course of a few years. War, drought, natural disaster, disease, overpopulation, economic disruption: any of these can bring about the collapse of a civilization. Internal causes (such as political struggles or overfarming) can combine with external causes (such as war or natural disaster) to bring about a collapse. What does this mean for modern civilizations? What can we learn from the past?”
Sigmund Freud: Conflict and Culture
“Few figures have had so decisive and fundamental an influence on the course of modern cultural history as Sigmund Freud. Yet few figures also have inspired such sustained controversy and intense debate. Freud’s legacy continues to be hotly contested, as demonstrated by the controversy attracted by this exhibition even before its opening. Our notions of identity, memory, childhood, sexuality, and, most generally, of meaning have been shaped in relation to — and often in opposition to — Freud’s work. The exhibition examines Freud’s life and his key ideas and their effect upon the twentieth century.” Exhibition featuring vintage photographs, prints, manuscripts, first editions, home movies of Freud, and objects from his study and consulting room. Also includes digitised images of original material such as Freud’s birth certificate and family pictures.
Women and Social Movements in the United States, 1775-2000
Organized around a collection of almost 900 primary documents, the Women and Social Movements website offers new ways for students, teachers, and scholars to study American History. Collection of mini monographs, each of which presents an interpretive question concerning an aspect of women’s involvement in US social movements. A set of corresponding documents accompanies each monograph, encouraging the user to perform their own historical analyses of events.
History of the Workhouse
If you’re familiar with the term “workhouse,” you most likely read about it in a Dickens’ novel in which the workhouse was portrayed as a foul, squalid place run by cruel overseers. This site, however, looks at the workhouse as a fascinating mix of social history, politics, economics, and architecture. Learn how the 1601 act established parish-based relief for the poor, and then read about the “new” poor laws of 1834 that turned the workhouse from a simple place of employment into a serious determent for becoming destitute in the first place. Use the lists and maps of poor-law unions to view photos, floor plans, and links to detailed records of workhouses. Check out the Workhouse Life page for an insightful look into the rules and regulations, daily schedule, punishments, clothing, diet, and types of work found in the houses. The workhouse may have seemed a fate worse than death at the time, but this site brings these institutions and the people who lived in them to life. (From Yahoo’s Picks of the Week)
Information and Help at IdentityTheft.org
As many as 1/4 of all Americans may already be victims of some level of identity theft, and the problem is growing. Protect yourself, and get help if you become a victim. This site is easy to navigate and has excellent advice.