Sci-Tech Library Newsletter


Newsletter archive > 2003 March 18 Issue

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  1. ESTME Week March 16–22, 2003
  4. INTERESTING WEBSITES AND NEWS FROM THE INTERNET: Advanced Google News Search, InterViews; Biological Sciences: The Virtual Gallery: New Trilobites, Tour the Human Genome, The Biomolecular Interaction Network Database, Deep-Sea Invasion, Foodweb Kerplunk, Life of Mammals, Vancouver Island Marmot Recovery Program, Antimicrobial Resistance; Computer and Information Science: ROVer Ranch; Engineering: The Transistor Museum, Engines of our Ingenuity, The Solar Decathlon, Junkyard Wars in the Classroom, World Atom; Geosciences: Hurricane: Storm Science, Earth Science Australia; Mathematical and Physical Sciences: Celebrating Diversity: Women Energize an Atomic World, Fractals, Chaos, Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe, Two on Smart-1; Polar Programs: Antarctic Meteorology Online from the British Antarctic Survey, Spirit of Shackleton; Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences: Sultan’s Lost Treasure, EKU Department of Geography Web Links, Crisis at Fort Sumter, American Indians and the Natural World, after september 11 archive, Mysteries of Catalhoyuk … and more … plus news items from Edupage
  5. INTER ALIA: Build your own light saber, and “Revolting Librarians”, Operation RubyThroat.
  1. ESTME Week March 16–22, 2003

    Excellence in Science, Technology, and Mathematics Education
    The Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) of the Executive Office of the President is partnering with other U.S. Government agencies and scientific societies to develop activities for this year’s “Excellence in Science, Technology and Math Education (ESTME) Week,” March 16–22, 2003.

    The activities during ESTME Week reach beyond the “pencil and paper” aspects of education to bring students face to face with the opportunity to discover and explore their world through math and science learning. The exploration begins with activities for students, parents and teachers presented by participating organizations. Join the fun!


    Next Steps in Mathematics Teacher Development
    Watch an archived video webcast from the NAS workshop, “Next Steps in Mathematics Teacher Development, Grades 9–12” (requires free RealPlayer). The event was designed to help participants design programs to improve teachers’ knowledge and effectiveness. Participant workshop readings are also available online.

    Antibiotics in Agriculture
    “Antibiotics in Agriculture: Farmers’ Friend or Medical Malady?” is the subject of a seminar beginning at 12:30 p.m. Friday, March 21 in Room 201 of the National Academies building, 500 Fifth St. N.W., Washington, D.C. The 90-minute event is presented by the National Academies’ science and technology internship program. Attendance is free and open to the public.

    New Directions in Manufacturing
    “New Directions in Manufacturing” is the topic of the National Academies’ 2003 manufacturing forum. The two-day event, beginning at 8:30 a.m. Thursday, March 27, is designed to bring together policy makers, members of the manufacturing community, labor force representatives and investors to review the current state of manufacturing in the United States and future challenges. The forum takes place in the National Academy of Sciences building, 2100 C St. N.W. Washington, D.C. General registration is $150; federal government may attend at no charge.

    Who Goes There? Authentication Through the Lens of Privacy
    A new report on authentication technologies and their implications will be discussed at a public seminar beginning at 10 a.m. Friday, April 11. During the two-hour event, held by the National Academies’ Computer Science and Telecommunications Board, committee members will discuss “Who Goes There? Authentication Through the Lens of Privacy.” The seminar takes place in the Lecture Room of the National Academy of Sciences building, 2100 C St. N.W., Washington, D.C.

    Luminary Lectures @ Your Library present Laura E. Campbell
    Laura E. Campbell will be presenting her lecture entitled, “The National Digital Preservation Program: Challenges and Solutions” at the Library of Congress on Friday, March 21, from 1:00pm–2:30pm in the Mumford Room on the 6th floor of the Library of Congress’ James Madison Building, located at First Street and Independence Avenue S.E., Washington, D.C. No reservations are necessary. All Luminary Lectures are free and open to the public. This lecture will also be broadcast live via the Internet at on the morning of the lecture, EST.

    Laura E. Campbell is the Associate Librarian for Strategic Initiatives at the Library of Congress.

    About the lecture: As the volume of digital material escalates, the creative expression record of the Nation in science, technology, arts, and humanities and the future historical record are increasingly embodied in this fragile, ephemeral, and dynamic medium. As a result, the U.S. Congress has charged the Library of Congress to lead a national effort to forge an infrastructure to identify, acquire, manage, and preserve important works in digital form through the National Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program (NDIIPP), passed in December 2000 (PL-106-554). As the first step in the NDIIPP planning process, we consulted stakeholders in a broad array of industries, academic institutions, and non-profit organizations. On the basis of that process and together with a review of the state-of-the-art in preservation, we have developed a master plan that recognizes the challenges and sets forth next steps. This discussion describes the planning/consultation process, outlines the challenges, and sets forth solutions for a nation-wide infrastructure.

    Symposium on Electronic Scientific, Technical and Medical Journal Publishing & Its Implications
    19–20 May 2003, at the National Academy of Sciences Auditorium, located at 2100 C Street NW, in Washington, DC.

    The symposium will bring together experts in STM publishing, both producers and users of these publications, to: identify the recent technical changes in publishing, and other factors, that influence the decisions of journal publishers to produce journals electronically; identify the needs of the scientific, engineering, and medical community as users of journals, whether electronic or printed; discuss the responses of not-for-profit and commercial STM publishers and of other stakeholders in the STM community to the opportunities and challenges posed by the shift to electronic publishing; and examine the spectrum of proposals that has been put forth to respond to the needs of users as the publishing industry shifts to electronic information production and dissemination. The meeting will be free and open to the public, but advance registration is required.

    Discover the Moldy Side of Science
    Investigate the science behind one of the world’s most-loved foods-cheese! The Exploratorium’s popular Accidental Scientist series continues on Saturday, March 15, at 11 a.m., with a live Webcast devoted to the world of cheese. Take a virtual tour of the cheese-making process, talk to guest experts, sample a wide variety of cheeses, and receive a free gift pack from Join us in the Exploratorium’s Phyllis C. Wattis Webcast Studio to catch the action online!


    Envisioning A 21st Century Science and Engineering Workforce for the United States: Tasks for University, Industry, and Government. NAP, 2003.

    Marine Reserves Key to Preserving Ocean Ecosystems. Pew Oceans Commission, 2003.

    Congressional Action on R&D in the FY 2003 Budget. AAAS, 2003.

    AAAS Analysis of R&D in the FY 2004 Budget. AAAS, 2003.

    Analysis of R&D in the new Department of Homeland Security “DHS Opens Doors, Proposes $1.0 Billion for R&D”. AAAS, 2003.

    Safety is Seguridad: A Workshop Summary. NAP, 2003.

    Science and the Greater Everglades Ecosystem Restoration: An Assessment of the Critical Ecosystem Studies Initiative. NAP, 2003.

    Connecting Quarks with the Cosmos: Eleven Science Questions for the New Century. NAP, 2003.

    Fulfilling the Potential of Cancer Prevention and Early Detection. NAP, 2003.

    Immunization Safety Review: Vaccinations and Sudden Unexpected Death in Infancy. NAP, 2003.

    Priority Areas for National Action: Transforming Health Care Quality. NAP, 2003.

    The Man Who Would Be Queen: The Science of Gender-Bending and Transsexualism. NAP, 2003.

    The Oil Spill Recovery Institute: Past, Present, and Future Directions. NAP, 2003.

    Cumulative Environmental Effects of Oil and Gas Activities on Alaska’s North Slope. NAP, 2003.

    Beyond the Molecular Frontier: Challenges for Chemistry and Chemical Engineering. NAP, 2003.

    Information Technology for Counterterrorism: Immediate Actions and Future Possibilities. NAP, 2003.

    A Shared Destiny: Community Effects of Uninsurance. NAP, 2003.

    Letter to Virginia Marine Resources Commission from the Committee on Non-Native Oysters in the Chesapeake Bay. NAP, 2003.

    Exploration of the Seas: Interim Report. NAP, 2003.

    Materials Research to Meet 21st Century Defense Needs. NAP, 2003.

    Exposure of the American Population to Radioactive Fallout from Nuclear Weapons Tests: A Review of the CDC-NCI Draft Report on a Feasibility Study of the Health Consequences to the American Population from Nuclear Weapons Tests Conducted by the United States and Other Nations. NAP, 2003.

    Weather Forecasting Accuracy for FAA Traffic Flow Management: A Workshop Report. NAP, 2003.

    Testing and Evaluation of Standoff Chemical Agent Detectors. NAP, 2003.

    Planning Climate and Global Change Research: A Review of the Draft U.S. Climate Change Science Program Strategic Plan. NAP, 2003.


    Advanced Google News Search
    Tara Calishain has put together this neat Google “hack” program which will give you some additional access points to the Google News Search, with easy-to-use drop down menus. Thanks, Tara!

    Population biologist Paul Ehrlich and National Science Foundation Director Rita Colwell are the newest features on the National Academy of Sciences’ InterViews Web site, which contains first-person accounts of the lives and work of members. In hour-long interviews (sound files require free RealPlayer), distinguished scientists talk about their research, why they became scientists and other aspects of their careers. The site is produced by the Office on Public Understanding of Science.

    Biological Sciences

    Tour the Human Genome
    The final version of the human genome is due for unveiling in May or June this year. What does our genome look like? The Ensembl site puts the whole thing — every chromosome, base pair, nucleotide and sequenced protein — into a point-and-click format. It’s a browser interface to the EMBL databank, one of the three publicly available human genome databases. When scientists want to browse the genome, this is where they go.

    Ensembl is a bit of a challenge to browse! Why go to the trouble? With a classroom projector, and after a little practice, you can actually show your class a portion of their own genetic material. I don’t think it’s feasible to show the real genome in a school setting any other way.

    To learn how this Ensembl human genome browser works, you can try these …

    Most features on the screen are incomprehensible to lay folk, but on the “ContigView” screen, check the section called “Basepair View” near the bottom. There is the actual base-pair sequence GTAACGGATTTA … along both sides of the alpha helix. The amino acids they can code for are listed alongside.

    I expect that biology teachers who have learned some genomics can explain more features in this genome browser.

    It’s a joint venture of the European Bioinformatics Institute and the Sanger Institute in Cambridge, UK. There is no advertising. Faster web access is recommended since it’s heavily graphical. (From Network Nuggets)

    Deep-Sea Invasion
    “In 1989 marine biologist Alexandre Meinesz went diving off southern France and was stunned by what he saw: a dense blanket of waving green fronds stretching around him in every direction on the seabed. At first Meinesz had no idea what it was. Then he made the alarming discovery that a tropical alga had taken root in the cold water of the Mediterranean, wiping out native sea life wherever it grew. ‘Deep Sea Invasion’ follows Meinesz on his scientific detective hunt to discover the source of this deadly organism, his uphill battle to alert authorities to its danger, and the struggle to find a non-toxic way to control it.” This companion website to the NOVA program contains articles and discussions on the problem of alien species invasions and a game to match invaders with the impacts they have caused.

    The Biomolecular Interaction Network Database
    “The Biomolecular Interaction Network Database (BIND) is a database designed to store full descriptions of interactions, molecular complexes, and pathways.” A joint project of several Canadian research institutions, BIND allows users to quickly find molecular interactions, complexes, and pathways for any given protein. The BIND Web site also contains a useful FAQs page, molecular biology news, links to related databases and Web sites, jobs listings, publications, and many other useful resources for the molecular biologist. [RS] (From the Scout Report)

    Foodweb Kerplunk
    This educational game produced by the Yale Center for Computational Ecology offers a highly interactive and engaging way to get a feel for the complex interrelationships of food webs. In Foodweb Kerplunk, the user plays the part of a town council member in suburban California, trying to protect native chaparral wildlife against the pressures of urban sprawl. Although Foodweb Kerplunk is designed for adult students, it could also serve as a valuable addition to advanced ecology-related courses at the high school level. The Web site includes detailed instructions and a brief introduction to the chaparral ecosystem. [RS] (From the Scout Report)

    The Virtual Gallery: New Trilobites
    The Natural History Museum in London presents images of three trilobites from Morocco recently added to the museum collection. Unlike most fossils — often flattened by the weight of surrounding sediment during fossilization — these trilobites have been preserved with their structures intact. Images of these fantastic creatures (the big-eye, mega-spined, and trident trilobites) may be rotated 360 degrees. Viewers also have the option of downloading a 3-D bird’s eye view of one of the fossils (a high-speed connection is recommended). The site also provides interesting background information on each fossil. [RS] (From the Scout Report)

    Life of Mammals
    The BBC companion site to the David Attenborough series must have something for everyone. It includes a video introduction, “Ask Attenborough”, “Mammals Up Close” featuring ten species, a variety of games, quizzes, articles, gorgeous photographs, even a mammal screensaver. Lots of content here!

    Vancouver Island Marmot Recovery Program
    A piercing scream introduces you to this colorful site about these engaging little endangered species. What’s a Vancouver Island marmot? Vancouver Island marmots (scientists know this animal as Marmota vancouverensis) live only in the high mountains of Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada and nowhere else in the world.

    Marmots are the largest members of the squirrel family, related to prairie dogs. Adults typically grow as large as a big housecat (about 5 to 7 kilograms). All of the world’s 14 marmot species build elaborate underground burrows, hibernate during winter, and feed on grasses and flowers.

    This website has marmot science, marmot trivia, field guide, links and even adopt-a-marmot.

    Antimicrobial Resistance
    The National Center for Infectious Diseases provides both basic general information about the growing problem of antibiotic-resistant bacteria and clinical and technical information for health professionals. The site has a glossary, links to relevant Web sites, and tips for preventing the spread of drug resistance and of infectious diseases. (From Librarian’s Index to the Internet)

    Computer and Information Science

    ROVer Ranch
    The ROVer Ranch is an interactive, Web-based robotics workshop for assembling the hardware and instructions for a software robot to perform a mission in a virtual environment. ROVer Ranch gives students and educators an opportunity to learn and apply basic math and science concepts and to observe the behavior of a system they design.

    The first set of simulated mission environments is centered on the International Space Station (ISS) and the mission goals are to navigate to various locations on the ISS and perform video reconnaissance. These missions and prototype robot are generally based on the Sprint AERCam, a small spherical free-flying camera platform used for outside inspection of spacecraft which has been put in an ISS VRML model.

    The second set of simulated mission environments is based on the terrestrial exploration of Mars. The mission goals include photographic reconnaissance, taking spectrometer readings and other measurements of the environment. These missions are generally based on the Mars Pathfinder robot that explored Mars in 1997 and planned future missions to Mars.

    The ROVer Ranch presents the learner with fundamental information about robotics, mission goals and facts about the orbital environment. Based on this information, the user builds and programs a virtual robot to accomplish its task.

    Users design the robot by selecting parts for various functions such as propulsion, electric power, navigation and inspection. Once the robot is built, it is programmed and placed in a 3-D virtual environment. Options available in the simulation depend on the planning and design of the robot.

    The idea is to involve users in a simplified design and programming task that exercises skills in mathematics and science, not as abstract fact, but as tools that can be explored interactively.

    Since the robots are virtual, they are available to an large audience. The ROVer Ranch isn’t intended to be a detailed simulation of space hardware, but rather emphasizes concepts related to robotics and the environment of the mission.


    Engines of our Ingenuity
    The Engines of Our Ingenuity is an American public radio program that describes how culture is molded by human creativity. The site carries transcripts of each broadcast since the program’s inception in 1988. If you’re at all curious about how art, technology, and ideas have shaped us then take a listen. Every episode reveals a nuance about how we have come to a culture with cable cars and civil wars, submarines and bar codes. As with all good multimedia presentations there are a few spinoffs for consumption too. Material for talks, classroom materials (still under construction unfortunately), there is even a free text book of college-level engineering — A Heat Transfer Textbook, by presenter John Lienhard IV and John Lienhard V available as well as an audio CD called Inventing Europe. The online episode at the time of this review was number 1720, which is rather impressive run to say the least. Episode 1720 talks about the Silk Road, the almost mythical trade route between China and the eastern end of the Mediterranean that went by way of Tibet, Siberia, Samarkand, and Baghdad. The show’s presenter John Lienhard IV has presented some 1720 episodes so far and is still an active emeritus professor of the University of Houston and presents episodes like the Silk Sea Lane with much passion. Rating: 9 out of 10 DB (From New Scientist Current Picks)

    World Atom
    This site “serves as the world’s central intergovernmental forum for scientific and technical co-operation in the nuclear field.” It contains information on nuclear energy, safeguards, safety glossary, meeting schedules, programs, and job vacancies. Visitors can view an image database and read the full-text of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, 1968 (NPT). From the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). (From Librarian’s Index to the Internet) Junkyard Wars in the Classroom
    Thirteen classroom activities based on _Junkyard Wars_, a television program on The Learning Channel, are given on this site. The premise of _Junkyard Wars_ is to test the engineering abilities of two teams by making them design something from miscellaneous junkyard scraps. These activities build on that idea; each is a mini design project with defined objectives. Students are given certain materials to work with, but specific design methods are not explicitly stated. The reason for this is to allow the students to be creative and discover solutions on their own. Some examples of the activities are bridge building, egg parachutes, and structural design, among others. [CL] (From the Scout Report)

    The Solar Decathlon
    In October 2002, teams of students from universities around the US competed in the Solar Decathlon, an eleven-day event that challenges the participants “to design, build, and operate the most effective and efficient solar- powered house.” The Solar Decathlon homepage features information about the contest, the different designs, and the experiences of each team. Contestants also share their insight into energy conservation and solar power by providing some tips for consumers. An especially interesting section is the contest diaries, where the participants record their progress and challenges in a daily journal. The next Solar Decathlon will not be held until 2005. [CL] (From the Scout Report)

    The Transistor Museum
    The Transistor Museum is a fascinating site “dedicated to preserving the history of the greatest invention of the 20th century.” The museum’s front page mentions some remarkable facts and quotes that demonstrate the importance of the transistor in modern life. Visitors can read transcripts of lectures, oral histories, and short biographies of notable individuals who played a role in the development of transistor applications. An impressive photo gallery showcases some of the most prominent historical transistors, while providing information about their usage, type, date of introduction, and other interesting notes. [CL] (From the Scout Report)


    Hurricane: Storm Science
    The Miami Museum of Science educational Web site provides a fun and interactive page called Hurricane: Storm Science. The main page consists of a clickable illustration that includes a Inside a Hurricane link where kids can learn what hurricanes are, how they form, and how to understand a radar image; see a cutaway picture of a hurricane; and more. The weather instruments page lets students explore and complete activities on wind, moisture, temperature, air pressure, and weather measuring tools. Other interesting areas of the site include how radar tracks hurricanes, an interactive exercise to learn how this is done, and even stories that have been submitted by people who have survived hurricanes and other disasters. [JAB] (From the Scout Report)

    Earth Science Australia
    This is an interesting page of materials in all fields of earth sciences. Items are as varied as a teacher packet for classroom discussion on whether dinosaurs should be cloned from fossil DNA, to instructions on how to restore an ancient stone axehead to functional condition using traditional methods and materials. Not your usual earth sciences webpage, this! There are a lot of animations and visualizations. Well worth a look!

    Mathematical and Physical Sciences

    Celebrating Diversity: Women Energize an Atomic World
    “This site highlights and celebrates the contribution of women in the nuclear field.” Read or listen to the women of IAEA profile their stories of challenges to balance home and work. Includes statistics on the number of women in the nuclear industry, the efforts to educate and include women in the industry, and how nuclear science is used to help impoverished women. From the International Atomic Energy Agency. (From Librarian’s Index to the Internet)

    Two on Smart-1

    BBC News: Europe Targets the Moon
    By Sun Power to the Moon [.pdf]
    Tentatively set for a July 2003 launch, the Smart-1 spacecraft will host Europe’s first lunar mission. A news article from the BBC outlines the objectives of this pioneering mission. The Smart-1 is incorporating many new technologies and testing them for the first time in space. One of the most notable is the ion thruster, but several other novel items used in the Smart-1, if successful, will end up in a mission to Mercury around 2010. A twenty-page brochure from the European Space Agency provides a more detailed profile of several of the spacecraft’s systems. Particular attention is given to the ion engines and the solar panels that will power them. Communications and navigation experiments are also highlighted. [CL] (From the Scout Report)

    Fractals, Chaos
    Paul Bourke of the Astrophysics and Supercomputing department at Swinburne University of Technology is the author of this massive resource on fractals and chaos. He gives examples of many different kinds and classes of fractals, including the Mandelbrot set and various attractors; and brief explanations accompany each one. A substantial introduction to fractals covers the underlying principles and connection to chaos theory. Many stunning, high resolution fractal image galleries show elaborate patterns and colors. Examples of C and PovRay code used to create the remarkable images are provided. Bourke’s homepage has many other sections of tutorials, papers, and notes on a diverse range of subjects. [CL] (From the Scout Report)

    Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe
    NASA’s Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe mission attempts to reveal conditions as they existed in the early universe by measuring the properties of the cosmic microwave background radiation over the full sky. Visitors can learn more about the particulars of the mission, explore the subjects of cosmology and the “Big Bang Theory” on the Universe link, view images of the probe and its launch in June 2001, and study the first detailed full-sky map of the oldest light in the universe. Although it may not seem it at first, this site contains a lot of material to browse, including an attempt in the FAQ section to answer whether or not there is there a conflict between science and religion. [JAB] (From the Scout Report)

    Polar Programs

    Antarctic Meteorology Online from the British Antarctic Survey
    “If you want a simple, easy-to-use guide to recent Antarctic weather reports, then look no further! If you know the name of the station that you want, then use the Selected Stations list. If you are interested in a particular area, you may prefer to use the Clickable Map interface. If you want all the stations we decode, then look at the oracle interface below, or the list of all land, ship or buoy stations.” Just the facts, ma’am.

    Spirit of Shackleton
    Explore Antarctica with the Explorer Project — an exciting new Global SchoolNet partner project!

    Join the Spirit of Shackleton expedition which started February 24, 2003. Follow adventurers Conrad Anker, Bob Wallace, Dave German and the Fathom Explorer as they voyage into the ice. Share in their experiences as they boat, trek, and climb their way from the Antarctic Peninsula to the Falkland Islands. Learn the history of Terra Australis Incognito, a landmass that remained the subject of myth for over 1500 years. Discover the unique wildlife that inhabits the icy waters and coastline of the coldest continent on earth. Find out what issues face Antarctica today, and how they are being resolved.

    Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences

    Mysteries of Catalhoyuk
    The Science Museum of Minnesota has mastered the trick of grabbing the attention of young people, and this exploration of Catalhoyuk is done in a colorful comic-book style. Puzzling artifacts have been found at this site in Turkey — thousands of clay balls, a goddess-like figurine in a grain storage area, burials beneath living quarters, bear paws, and murals. The archaeologists offer their interpretations, and invite input from kids, who can type in their thoughts. Mystery cards are designed to allow further investigation of a body found with owl pellets scattered about, and that of a baby buried with beads. Games, a virtual exhibit, animations, and slide shows add to a fresh, engaging look at what might have been the very first city. Rating: 10 out of 10 AD (From New Scientist Current Picks)

    Crisis at Fort Sumter
    An “interactive historical simulation and decision making program” that allows the user to make decisions just as President Lincoln had to at the beginning of the Civil War. With an explanation of events and advice from the official advisors, the user chooses a course of action based upon the information provided. A fascinating exercise in history, public policy, and the political process. From a history professor at Tulane University. (From Librarian’s Index to the Internet)

    EKU Department of Geography Web Links
    A collection of annotated Web links related to geography. It includes aerial and satellite imagery, country information, driving directions and street maps, global information systems (GIS), journals and magazines, mapping software, map publishers, vendors, online maps, atlases, professional associations, university departments, and U.S. government resources. From the Department of Geography at Eastern Kentucky University. (From Librarian’s Index to the Internet)

    Sultan’s Lost Treasure
    This companion website to a NOVA program follows a French-led expedition to recover thousands of porcelain and other artifacts from a centuries-old Chinese shipwreck off the coast of Brunei. The site contains a information on Chinese blue & white ceramics, Chinese explorer-merchants of the 14th century, Asia’s undersea archaeology, and a “date the dish” game.

    American Indians and the Natural World
    “Through exploration of four different visions of living in and with the natural world — those of the Tlingit of the Northwest Coast, the Hopi of the Southwest, the Iroquois of the Northeast, and the Lakota of the Plains-North, South, East, West: American Indians and the Natural World examines the belief systems, philosophies, and practical knowledge that guide Indian peoples’ interactions with the natural world.” Not an in-depth site, but a very nice brief introduction to this topic.

    after september 11 archive
    In the days following September 11, the SSRC asked social scientists from around the world to contribute essays to a website called “After September 11.” Although they were written under quick deadlines, these web-essays still hold remarkable value for the insights they provide on September 11 and its aftermath, especially in the days and weeks immediately following. The reader is advised that information contained in the essays should be checked against contemporary sources for accuracy.


    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:

    The U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation approved a bill to create a $250 million grant program to help minority-serving institutions develop digital and wireless technologies. The full Senate is expected to consider the bill. If the bill passes, Congress will be challenged to figure out how to fund the program. The bill, S.196, was sponsored by Sen. George Allen (R-Va.). The National Science Foundation would be authorized to oversee the grants for five years. Recipients must match a minimum of a quarter of the grant money with their own funds, a requirement that would be waived for institutions with endowments of less than $50 million.
    Chronicle of Higher Education, 14 March 2003 via Edupage

    In a study conducted at the University of Pittsburgh, computer spelling and grammar checkers actually increased the number of errors for most students. The study looked at the performance of two groups of students: one with relatively high SAT verbal scores and one with relatively lower scores. The group with lower SAT scores made an average of 12.3 mistakes without the spelling and grammar tools turned on and 17 mistakes with the tools. The students with higher SAT scores made an average of 5 mistakes without the tools and an average of 16 errors with the tools. According to Dennis Galletta, a professor of information systems at the Katz Business School, the problem is one of behavior rather than of technology. Some students, he said, trust the software too much. Richard Stern, a speech-recognition technology researcher at Carnegie Mellon University, said that when computers attempt to identify proper grammar, the computer has to make some guesses. It becomes “a percentage game,” he said.
    Wired News, 14 March 2003 via Edupage

    A project at the new Alexandria Library in Egypt hopes to make virtually every existing text available online. The Alexandria Library Scholars Collective uses software called CyberBook Plus designed to link archives of digital texts from around the world. In addition to offering a single point of entry to access most of the world’s texts, the software includes virtual lecture halls, a hub for international scholars, and a gateway for ordinary readers. David Wolff of online-learning venture Fathom noted that doing any one of these successfully would be challenging. The challenges confronting the project include copyright, language barriers, and funding. The project’s primary sources of funding are currently the Egyptian government and UNESCO.
    New York Times, 1 March 2003 (registration req’d)via Edupage

    Experts speaking at a University of California at Berkeley conference were in general agreement that copyright law is currently being applied inappropriately. The event featured speakers from a range of companies and institutions, representing a variety of perspectives on the issue of copyright. Most speakers faulted the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) and its application, saying the interests of the majority of persons involved are not being served. Notable DMCA opponents Larry Lessig and Edward Felten spoke out against the current state of copyright enforcement. Alex Alben of RealNetworks also attended the conference. He criticized a recent action by Lexmark, which has won a preliminary injunction under the terms of the DMCA to prevent a competitor from selling a chip that would allow Lexmark printers to function with non-Lexmark toner cartridges. “This is a travesty,” Alben said. “This is not what we intended when we created the DMCA.”
    CNET, 1 March 2003 via Edupage

    According to test data released by the federal government, facial-recognition systems have become significantly more accurate and reliable since 2000. The tests, which were overseen by the National Institute of Standards and Technology and covered products from 10 companies, also showed, however, that in certain conditions the accuracy of the systems dropped to 50 percent. In “reasonable, controlled indoor lighting,” the best of the systems was able to correctly match facial images with those in a database 90 percent of the time. The results are expected to support efforts to add facial-recognition systems, as well as other biometric identification technologies, in situations where security is vital, such as at airports.
    New York Times, 14 March 2003 (registration req’d) via Edupage

    The city of Lincoln, Nebraska, is about to introduce a new system that allows the public to download a new emergency alert application from the city’s Web site. When government officials have urgent warnings for the community, such as notices about weather or about national or local security, computer users who have downloaded the application will hear an alarm and then will see the warning in a pop-up box. Information about the warning, as well as URLs for further information, will be included. The system will work in conjunction with existing alert systems for television and radio. The system also allows targeted alerts to particular groups of users, such as school administrators in the event of a school shooting. An official from the city said the system will later be available for PDAs, cell phones, and beepers.
    Federal Computer Week, 10 March 2003 via Edupage


    Revolting Librarians
    Several poems, stories, and essays by librarians. From a 1972 collection described as “one of the lasting monuments of the library underground … Thirty years on, its mixture of wild-eyed idealism and bleary-eyed realism is still a testament of solidarity with the enthusiastic, disgruntled or just plain bolshy librarian, the sort of thing that the Association of Assistant Librarians did so well before putting on a tie and becoming the Career Development Group.” (From Librarian’s Index to the Internet)

    Operation Rubythroat
    Join in an experiment to see if giant fake feeders will attract migrating hummingbirds to real feeders.

    Build Your Own Lightsaber
    If you are a little handy, you too can be a sci-fi fantasy figure with these instructions!