Sci-Tech Library Newsletter


Newsletter archive > 2003 January 8 Issue

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  1. AT LAST! SCIENCE.GOV DEBUTS!: A new portal to government science websites and information.
  4. INTERESTING WEBSITES AND NEWS FROM THE INTERNET: “HotBot” Morphs into a Meta Search Engine, EEVL Internet Resource Booklets, SearchEnginez; Biological Sciences: Becoming Human, Florida’s Springs: Protecting Nature’s Gems, Plants in Motion, The Antlion Pit: A Doodlebug Anthology, Infection Detection Protection; Computer and Information Science: Compendium of Best Papers, Quantum Computing, Light Field Mapping; Engineering: Battelle: Technology Forecasts, NOVA: Sinking City of Venice, Ready! Set! Takeoff for Engineering; Geosciences: Weathering the Weather: The Origins of Atmospheric Science, Earth Like a Puzzle, Earth Science World, All About Snow; Mathematical and Physical Sciences: Mathematician Trading Cards, Geometry From the Land of the Incas; Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences: NOVA: Mystery of the First Americans, Realms of the Sacred in Daily Life: Early Written Records of Mesoamerica, The Mississippian Moundbuilders and Their Artifacts, The Human Nature Review … and more … plus news items from Edupage
  1. AT LAST! SCIENCE.GOV DEBUTS! has been launched as a gateway to information about science and technology from federal government organizations.

    The site is set up like a searchable subject index. From the front page you can browse categories including Agriculture & Food, Math, Physics, & Chemistry, and Science Education. Choose a category and you’ll be taken to a list of subcategories (only they’re called “Narrower Topics” and an alphabetical list of sites. Annotation is good and includes the department where the site comes from (so that the description looks like this: “Database of USGS Biological Resources’ research projects [Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)]”) Please, Science.Gov, space out the listings a little bit more so they’re easier to read.

    Searching is interesting. Use the keyword search at the top of the page and you’ll get a list of over two dozen sites you can search for your keyword. You can search up to ten of the sites at a time. Searching all available Science.Gov documents is selected as default.

    I don’t know if they’re using some other search tech, or if it’s the smaller data set, but I like the search results I'm getting for this one much better than I liked the FirstGov results. The search engine took everything I threw at it and came up with consistently relevant results. Most documents are HTML; PDF documents are marked with a PDF icon.

    You can view the results in one of two ways. You can click on the title of the page and get taken directly to it, or you can click several checkboxes, choose “List Marks” from the top of the page, and then choose “Display.” All the pages you chose will be listed at the same time in one long page. (From Research Buzz)


    Could current publication practices in the life sciences inadvertently lead to disclosure of sensitive information, threatening national security? On Thursday, Jan. 9, the National Academies and the Center for Strategic and International Studies will host a public discussion between scientists and policy-makers on ways to strike a balance between scientific openness and national security needs. The discussion will include an overview of methods for controlling scientific information in the United States and current bioterrorist threats to the nation. Advance registration is required.


    Reinventing Undergraduate Education: Three Years After the Boyer Report. Reinvention Center at the State University of New York at Stony Brook, 2002.

    Responsible Research: A Systems Approach to Protecting Research Participants. NAP, 2002.

    Implications of Emerging Micro and Nanotechnology. NAP, 2002.

    Government Industry Partnerships for Development of New Technologies. NAP, 2002.

    Frontiers in Agricultural Research: Food, Health, Environment, and Communities. NAP, 2002.

    Raising Public Awareness of Engineering. NAP, 2002.

    Countering Bioterrorism: The Role of Science and Technology. NAP, 2002.

    Strategic Assessment and Development of Interorganizational Influence in the Absence of Hierarchical Authority. Catherine H. Augustine, Dina G. Levy, Roger W. Benjamin, Tora K. Bikson, Glenn A. Daley, Susan M. Gates, Tessa Kaganoff, Joy S. Moini, RAND, 2003 (PDF).
    Presents, for organizations that seek to influence others without the benefit of hierarchical authority, a three-stage framework that will help them capitalize on the power-and-influence options available to them.

    Research and Development, Richard Silberglitt, Lance Sherry, MR-1558-NREL, 2002 (PDF).
    Demonstrating a decisionmaking tool for computing the expected value of R&D programs when allocating resources among multiple programs.

    Mathematical Proficiency for All Students: Toward a Strategic Research and Development Program in Mathematics Education. RAND Mathematics Study Panel, Deborah Loewenberg Ball, Chair, MR-1643.0-OERI, 2002 (PDF).
    Proposes a long-term, strategic program of research and development in mathematics education.

    Valerie L. Williams. Merging University Students into K-12 Science Education Reform. RAND, 2003.

    Charles Wolf, Jr. Straddling Economics and Politics: Cross-Cutting Issues in Asia, the United States, and the Global Economy. RAND, 2003.

    Anne R. Pebley, Mary E. Vaiana. In Our Backyard: How 3 L.A. Neighborhoods Affect Kids’ Lives. RAND, 2003.

    Lloyd Dixon, Isaac Porche, Jonathan Kulick. Driving Emissions to Zero: Are the Benefits of California’s Zero Emission Vehicle Program Worth the Costs?. RAND, 2003.

    Mark A. Bernstein, Paul D. Holtberg, David Ortiz. Implications and Policy Options of California’s Reliance on Natural Gas.

    Paul K. Davis, Brian Michael Jenkins. Deterrence & Influence in Counterterrorism: A Component in the War on Al Qaeda. RAND, 2003.

    Visie Op De Toekomst Van Het Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek : Speerpunten Voor Beleid -- Hoofdrapport = Vision Of The Future Of Scientific Research: Focal Points For Policy. RAND, 2003. [NOTE: When I tried this link it was broken]

    Technology Assessment: Using Biometrics for Border Security. GAO-03-174 GAO, November 14, 2002.


    Get Search Engine forms With SearchEnginez

    A nice collection of search engines complete with forms integrated into the site is available at SearchEnginez. The front page provides a drop-down menu of several different search categories at the top of the page, including search engines, news, and reference.

    Choose a category and you’ll get taken to a page of search forms, annotation, and search hints. There’s also a “more resources” list at the bottom of the page in addition to the resources with annotation/forms.

    Further down on the page you’ll find links to pages of more specialty content forms, including currency converters, health, images, and, um, video game cheats. Along the left side of the page you’ll find listings of new and updated resources. Some of these were to be expected (Amazon) and some not (Walhello.) (From Research Buzz)

    “HotBot” Morphs into a Meta Search Engine
    Remember HotBot? What I liked about this old search engine was the nice advanced search screen, which made it easy to do some elegant searching of the web. Old HotBot has pretty much been supplanted by newer search engines lately, however. If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em. HotBot has morphed and now has become a meta search engine. At the HotBot advanced search screen, you can set up your search using the easy walk-through menu choices, and then run the search on Google, Fast (aka Alltheweb), Inktomi, or Teoma.

    Unlike some other meta search engines, Hotbot does not search these other search engines simultaneously, nor does it weed out the duplicates. You have to run the search on one search engine at a time. However, you do not have to retype your search, just hit a different button to run it on a different search engine. So what is the advantage to using HotBot instead of going to these other search engines directly? The advantage is the user-friendly interface, which I have always admired in HotBot.

    There are disadvantages as well, however. For example, the Google results brought back by HotBot do not have all the Google features (no “cached” button).

    But for those who do not want to have to learn the intricacies of phrasing a search statement for each search engine, HotBot provides an easy yet elegant interface that is worth a look.

    EEVL Internet Resource Booklets
    EEVL has just published three new Internet resource guide booklets. The booklets cover Internet resources for Engineering, Internet resources for Mathematics, and Internet resources for Computing. The colourful A5 size sixteen-page booklets give details of some (between 60 and 70) of the most useful Internet resources in their respective subject areas, under topics such as Learning and Teaching, Reference Material, Journals, Research, Societies and Institutions, Subject Gateways and Guides, etc. All the sites included in the booklets have been selected by subject experts. The booklets are excellent introductions to key resources in their subject areas, and should be useful for students, staff and researchers at universities and colleges. The booklets are available free to those at universities and colleges in the UK (up to 25 copies at no cost, and thereafter 50p per copy), and to others at 50p per copy, from the address below. Printable pdf copies of the booklets can be downloaded from

    EEVL is a UK-based not-for-profit free guide. It was created and is run by a team of information specialists from Heriot Watt University, with input from a number of other universities in the UK, including the University of Ulster, the University of Birmingham, and Cranfield University. EEVL is funded by the Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC) through the Resource Discovery Network (RDN).

    For further information please contact:
    Roddy MacLeod
    EEVL Manager
    Heriot-Watt University Library
    0131 451 3576

    Biological Sciences

    Infection Detection Protection
    A cute online magazine from the American Musum of Natural History. Divided into sections: Meet the Microbes, a colorful definition of viruses, bacteria, and protozoa; Bacteria in the Cafeteria, a simple game to help children become aware of potential dangers; Infection, a board game that lets you break thru the human defense system; How Lou Got the Flu, explains how infectious diseases spread; Amazing Microbe Hunters, another game that teaches about early innovators, and the Mixed Up Microbe Mystery, which puts players into the position of Epidemiologists — disease detectives. They track down the causes behind diseases and find ways to control them. Requires Macromedia Shockwave. (From Blue Web’n)

    Becoming Human
    Becoming human is the prize winning website of the Institute of Human Origins, associated to the Arizona State University, USA. Written by a prestigious ensemble of experts from the different fields of palaeontology, it accompanies us from the first hominids discovered in Ethiopia, through four millions years of human evolution, to our to our own species, explaining links, anatomy and culture along the way. Before embarking on the site, you will need a macromedia flash layer 5, high speed connection, loudspeakers and plenty of time. ‘Becominghuman’ is divided into three main sections: the documentaries, learning centre and news and views, the last section is constantly and continually being updated. The documentaries are commentated films. These are packed full of all sorts of related information so, to get the most out of them, I suggest clicking on the “help” button which will explain how the system works. This is because the films are ‘interrupted’ every now and then by ‘learn more’ signals, which access to even more mini-films/commentaries/summaries - for example, the ‘interpreting evidence’ inset goes deeper into geological phenomena and how fossils were cemented, fossil pollens, measuring foot step strides etc., etc. If ‘becominghuman’ is to be used as a work tool, then open up “related resources” too, as this section offers an excellent glossary, bibliography and web-index on line. The tool bar at the bottom of the documentaries also includes a highly useful ‘hominid profile’ that summarises details of the age, diet, habitat etc. of the twelve hominids we meet, with the possibility of examining the most recent skulls in detail by rotation. The learning centre offers down-loadable lessons and printable handouts on a variety of subjects. For those with a passion for palaeoanthropology, this site is a must, to be book-marked and revisited again and again. Apart from the outstanding content and excellent presentation, the text of ‘becominghuman’ is beautifully written, giving us a fine example of scientific writing in itself, and is clearly and pleasantly spoken. Rating: 10+ out of 10 CCL (From New Scientist Current Picks)

    The Antlion Pit: A Doodlebug Anthology
    A wide range of information about this insect including habitat, distribution, classification, behavior, metamorphosis, reproduction, capturing them, and zoological history. The site also discusses antlions in visual art, folklore, literature, mythology, popular culture, and academia. The Doodlebug Oracle answers randomly generated questions about the insect. There are also suggestions for additional resources, including Web links. (From Librarian’s Index to the Internet) [Growing up in Arizona I was fascinated by these little critters and their craters)]

    Plants in Motion
    “With few exceptions, plants grow and change on a time scale that is too slow for us to observe in real time. Time-lapse photography is a simple technique that allows us to see the movements of plants and clearly demonstrates that plants are living and capable of some extraordinary things.” This fun site has Quicktime videos and clear, short explanations of the various ways that plants move. Its fascinating!

    Florida’s Springs: Protecting Nature’s Gems
    This colorful site explores the various facets of Florida’s springs and the problems and challenges involved in trying to protect the springs from pollution and degradation. It includes information on life in the springs and spring formation, slide shows on an expedition documenting how water travels through the aquifer, springs and downriver to the Gulf of Mexico, questions and answers to the expedition team, and more.

    Computer and Information Science

    Light Field Mapping
    Light Field Mapping: Efficient Representation and Hardware Rendering of Surface Light Fields [.pdf]

    The Office of the Future (OOTF) is a project of the University of North Carolina Computer Science Department. It utilizes advanced tele-immersion and graphical displays to make long distance collaboration seem natural and comfortable. This publication, which appeared at a major conference in mid- 2002, is authored by researchers from Intel and the OOTF group. Focusing on computer graphics applications, the paper proposes a method of rendering complex light field data and reflectance properties of a three dimensional scene with combinations of image compression techniques and approximations. By dividing the large amount of data into small portions and processing them individually, the authors have devised an algorithm suitable for hardware accelerated graphics applications. This site is also reviewed in the December 20, 2002 _NSDL MET Report_. [CL] (From the Scout Report)

    Compendium of Best Papers
    USENIX, also known as the Advanced Computing Systems Association, has compiled a list of the best papers presented over the last twelve years at its conferences and events. Anyone can download these outstanding technical papers, which won an award for “Best Paper, Best Student Paper,” or Best Presentation. The documents come from both industry and academia, and they discuss theoretical topics and applied research. Over 60 conferences are featured, and each has a specific focus, such as security, Java, and storage technologies. It is especially interesting to note how the papers show the evolution in computers over the last decade. [CL] (From the Scout Report)

    Quantum Computing
    A nicely designed website from Oxford with a brief FAQ, links to organizations around the world, a calendar of QC events, tutorials and more. (Also don’t miss Dabacon’s site of QP humor.)


    Ready! Set! Takeoff for Engineering
    Provided by the Society for Women Engineers (SWE), this site is a good resource for high school students who want to learn about engineering as a possible career choice. One of the most unique features on the site is the collection of video interviews. Four professional engineers, including a former NASA astronaut, respond to questions that are often asked by curious students. The Career Corner section offers brief descriptions of eight of the most common disciplines, providing glimpses into the everyday lives and responsibilities of engineers. Several links to other information sources are also given. [CL] (From the Scout Report)

    NOVA: Sinking City of Venice
    “Today’s tourists often need wading boots to explore the architectural wonders of Venice. Will they one day need scuba gear? NOVA covers the battle to keep the world’s most unusual city from drowning beneath the rising tides of the Adriatic Sea. The lessons we learn about how to stop rising sea levels will prove essential for other coastal cities around the world, from New York to Shanghai.” This companion to the Nov. 19, 2002 TV program looks at various solutions to fighting the invasion of water to the city and includes videos, images and animations.

    Battelle: Technology Forecasts
    Battelle Memorial Institute works with the government and industry to develop new technologies and products. In the course of this work, Battelle has compiled several technology forecasts that speculate about what will be common in the years and decades to come. These predictions range from 2005 to 2020, and many of them are quite interesting. Concepts such as nanomachines, “personalized public transportation,” and genetaceuticals are defined, and their use in society is explained. Only time will tell if these predictions are accurate, but they certainly drive the imagination. This site is also reviewed in the December 6, 2002 _NSDL MET Report_. [CL] (From the Scout Report)


    Weathering the Weather: The Origins of Atmospheric Science
    Annotated images of covers and selected pages from over fifty “early and important works on meteorology,” dating from the 1500s through the 1800s. Browsable by author. From the Mandeville Special Collections Library, University of California, San Diego. (From Librarian’s Index to the Internet)

    Earth Like a Puzzle
    Explores plate tectonics. Contains information on spreading centers, what happens when plates collide, and the layers of the earth. Includes maps. From the Scripps Institution of Oceanography (SIO), University of California, San Diego. (From Librarian’s Index to the Internet)

    Earth Science World
    Earthscience world is a gateway to the earth sciences produced by the American Geological Institute. The site gives updated news on various geological related topics, accessible from the home page and under Earth Data in the left hand box. This also provides statistical information on natural resources and details of all recent seismological phenomena. The site also provides an on-line satellite weather check and warning system, but only for the U.S.A. Much of the site is dedicated to the imminent Earth Science Week which will run from October 13-19, 2002 with an invitation to educational institution to participate in the event. “Activities” suggests a series of lessons with full instructions for kids of junior school age, complete with computer interactions and recipes for cakes celebrating geological specials (no, not rock ones). For higher grades, “What on Earth” gives the sort of questions and answers for older students covering topics such as the differences between seismic waves and between cement and concrete. There is also a careers section, where the FAQs give a comprehensive view of the current situation regarding training and job prospects, at least for the U.S.A. Although the site is undoubtedly useful especially for up to date information on seismological activity and the weather, it is addressed mostly to U.S.A. residents. User friendliness could be improved for easier navigation from one section to another. (From New Scientist Current Picks)

    All About Snow
    A fun and interesting site about all aspects of snow, divided into sections: Snow Q&A (Does snow change how sound waves travel?), Facts (Ten inches of fresh snow with a density of 0.07 inches, seven percent water, is approximately equal to a six-inch-layer of fiberglass insulation with an insulation R-value of R-18), Glossary (firn: rounded, well-bonded snow that is older than one year), Gallery (some fascinating historical images of legendary snow storms), and Links.

    Mathematical and Physical Sciences

    Geometry From the Land of the Incas
    This noisy, colorful, and completely unusual site is an eclectic mix of sound, science, and Incan history intended to interest students in Euclidean geometry. Includes geometry problems, quizzes, quotations, scientific speculation, and more. (From Librarian’s Index to the Internet)

    Mathematician Trading Cards
    Why should baseball players get all the glory? At this website you can click on the name of your favorite mathematician and view a “trading card” with portrait and stats. Cool!

    Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences

    The Mississippian Moundbuilders and Their Artifacts
    This virtual museum was created by an enthusiast as “a celebration of Mississippian art and culture” and displays a variety of artifacts created by the agricultural society which prospered in what is now the Southeastern U.S. from 900 to 1600 A.D. Researchers can read about and view dozens of relics such as pottery, pipes, flint tools, beads, and ornaments, all chosen for their “exceptional quality, representative style and remarkable workmanship.” (From Librarian’s Index to the Internet)

    Realms of the Sacred in Daily Life: Early Written Records of Mesoamerica
    Annotated images of codices of the Mesoamerican region, created “prior to the arrival of European explorers in the Western Hemisphere in the late 15th century.” Includes examples of Pre-Columbian Aztec, Mayan, and Mixtec codices, the Borgia Group, and Colonial codices. Also explores shared aspects of Mesoamerican culture, including daily life, the role of sacrifice, and the ritual ball game. From the University of California, Irvine. (From Librarian’s Index to the Internet)

    The Human Nature Review
    While attempting to cover one area of scholarly discipline in a Web site may be a formidable task, the editors of the Human Nature Review are concerned with any substantive scholarship or research dealing with human nature in its entirety. As the Web site notes: “Our goal is to bring into communication the variety of approaches to the understanding of human nature which have a regrettable tendency to be less in touch with one another than they might.” The site is edited by Dr. Ian Pitchford of the Creighton University School of Medicine and Professor Robert M. Young. Prominent features of the site include an online dictionary of mental health, a daily review (sent as an email, if users so desire) of updates on ongoing scholarship in the fields of psychology and psychotherapy, and a number of complete online texts. Finally, the site also houses hundreds of book reviews, contributed by scholars from a diverse set of fields, on works of topical importance. [KMG] (From the Scout Report)

    NOVA: Mystery of the First Americans
    The puzzling discovery of Kennewick Man, who looked surprisingly like actor Patrick Stewart, has created controversy not over the origins of the continents first inhabitants, but also over ownership of these important remains. This website explores these issues as well as discussing the basic concept of race and the methodology of carbon 14 dating. Companion to the TV program aired on December 10, 2002.


    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:

    Elsevier Science, the largest publisher of scientific journals, has begun removing certain articles from its database. In place of the articles, an online search now offers a note that simply says the article has been removed “for legal reasons.” Other publishers have taken steps to expunge particular articles, for reasons ranging from an article’s having been published previously elsewhere to inclusion of political statements that the publishers deemed “inappropriate” for publication in a particular journal. Many researchers object to the practice, however, saying that altering the historical record of a journal distorts efforts at scholarship and, in certain cases, can lead to faulty research or even poor medical decisions. Mark S. Frankel of the American Association for the Advancement of Science said, “There should be a digital trail which allows these things to be seen, observed, and studied.”
    Chronicle of Higher Education, 10 January 2003 via Edupage

    Researchers at the University of Toronto have created what could be the smallest circuit ever built, capable, they say, of being closed by a single electron. Al-Amin Dhirani, lead researcher for the project, said, “Such a circuit could make possible a biosensor that is activated by the reaction of just one molecule.” The device works by sending electrons from a metal tip to an extremely small cantilever coated with gold. An electron on the lever then pulls the lever to the tip, closing the circuit. Some nanotechnology experts were skeptical of the new device, saying the methods used to observe the nanoparticle circuits are suspect. Others, however, defended the research as an important step in opening doors for new applications in a potentially wide range of fields of study.
    NewsFactor Network, 6 January 2003 via Edupage

    Many experts say that the next wave in computing, particularly for university and research purposes, will be grid computing. Grids are networks of computers, databases, and applications that combine to offer users huge gains in computational speed and the amount of resources available. Some experts suggest that grid computing will fundamentally alter the way we use computers. Rick Herrmann of Intel Corporation said that several countries, including China, are working to develop the best possible infrastructure to support grid computing. The best infrastructure, Herrmann said, will attract the brightest talent. Ian Foster of the University of Chicago, however, warns that it will take many years before the dream of grid computing is fully realized.
    Chronicle of Higher Education, 27 November 2002 via Edupage.

    Researchers in the United States, including some at the University of California, are developing a microchip that has the potential to restore sight to some who have lost it. The chip is implanted in the eye using a flexible silicon that stimulates undamaged retinal cells. Those cells transmit impulses to the brain, allowing the eye to “see.” Researchers have started work on what they call a second-generation implant, with many more electrodes than the prototypes. The prototypes have 16 electrodes, sufficient for patients to detect light. The next-generation implant will have 1,000 electrodes, enough to discern shapes. Successful tests have been conducted three times on dogs, and those involved in the research said a human implant could be ready within three years.
    BBC, 7 December 2002 via Edupage.

    Since the advent of the Internet, many academics have complained about the practice of charging for online access to scientific journals, as is done by many high-profile publications, including Science and Nature. Now, a $9 million grant from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation will support a new organization that will publish two new online journals, one on biology and the other on medicine, that will be entirely free. The Public Library of Science will be led by Dr. Harold E. Varmus, a Nobel laureate in medicine and president of the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. Varmus, one of the critics of charging for online access to scientific articles, said, “The written record is the lifeblood of science.” Dr. Donald Kennedy, the editor of Science, defended the subscriptions, however, noting that the publication’s standards and costs are high. He said that the number of downloads of articles relative to the subscription fee indicates that each article is being accessed for just a few cents each.
    New York Times, 17 December 2002 (registration req’d)via Edupage.

    A study by the Pew Internet and American Life Project indicates that most Americans who are not users of the Internet have very high expectations of the Internet. According to the study, 64 percent of nonusers expect that useful information is available online in the areas of health care, government, news, or shopping. For those who use the Internet, 97 percent expect to find information in one of those areas. Overall, many expectations are in fact met by experience when using the Internet. Seventy percent of those in the study said that, typically, they were able to find what they were looking for on the Internet. In the study, satisfaction with news and shopping online rated the highest, while finding information about government ranked the lowest.
    Associated Press, 30 December 2002 (registration req’d) via Edupage.