Sci-Tech Library Newsletter
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- AWARD NOMINATIONS NEEDED: Know someone who communicates science exceptionally well?
- CONGRATULATIONS TO THE TOP MENTORS: The 2002 United States Presidential Awardw for Excellence in Mathematics, Science, and Engineering Mentoring!
- AROUND THE DC-METRO AREA AND ON THE NET
- NEW E-BOOKS AND REPORTS
- INTERESTING WEBSITES AND NEWS FROM THE INTERNET National Science Digital Library, Sloan Career Cornerstone Center, Visual Thesaurus-Online Edition, National Ecological Observatory Network, Fagan Finder Offers Image Search, MIT World, AAAS Launches Public Outreach Initiative Focused on Science Literacy; Biological Sciences: Expeditions in Conservation: Rhinos of the Terai Arc, PLoS Biology now accepting articles!, Virtual Frog Dissection Kit, NOVA: Secret of Photo 51, Infrared Zoo, ARMI National Atlas for Amphibian Distributions, 2can Bioinformatics, Galapagos: Way Beyond Darwin [RealOne Player, Windows Media Player]; Computer and Information Science: Scientific Computing on the Sony Playstation 2, Gilgamesh, Computer Immune Systems; Education and Human Resources: Pitsco’s Guidelines for Hands-on Competitions; Engineering: TLC: Junkyard Wars, Bruce Weiner Microcar Museum; Geosciences: The Dynamic Earth; Mathematical and Physical Sciences: Einstein Archives Online, Physics Classroom, The Atoms Family; Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences: MIT World — Civil War High Tech: Excavating the Hunley and Monitor, TelecomVisions.com … and more … plus news items from Edupage
- INTER ALIA
AWARD NOMINATIONS NEEDED
Communication Awards Nominations Sought
The National Academies and the W.M. Keck Foundation announce the “call for nominations” for new Communication Awards recognizing excellence in reporting and communicating science, engineering and medicine to the general public. The Academies will present three $20,000 prizes, one to a book author; one to a newspaper or magazine writer/journalist; and one to a television, radio or film producer who, in the preceding two years, have made significant contributions to the public’s understanding of science, engineering, and medicine. Nominations will be accepted from June 1 to August 1, 2003.
CONGRATULATIONS TO THE TOP MENTORS
White House Announces Nation’s Top Science, Engineering, Mathematics Mentors
10 individuals and six institutions have received the 2002 Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics, Science and Engineering Mentoring in a ceremony at the White House March 18.
The president annually recognizes the people and institutions that have provided broad opportunities for participation by women, minorities and disabled persons in science, mathematics and engineering at the elementary, secondary, undergraduate and graduate education levels.
AROUND THE DC-METRO AREA AND ON THE NET
Disasters Roundtable: Challenges for Emergency Managers
Challenges that may face emergency managers of the future will be the focus of an upcoming public forum. The event, held by the National Academies’ Disasters Roundtable, takes place on Friday, June 13. The forum is free and open to the public. Registration is required.
Hidden Costs, Value Lost: Uninsurance in America
The Institute of Medicine releases “Hidden Costs, Value Lost: Uninsurance in America” at a one-hour public briefing at 11 a.m. EDT Tuesday, June 17. Participate by listening to a live audio webcast (requires free RealPlayer) and submitting questions using an e-mail form, both accessible on the National-Academies.org home page during the event.
Under Antarctic Ice
Photographer Norbert Wu’s exhibition, “Under Antarctic Ice,” will be on display during a wine and cheese reception at 5 p.m. EDT Thursday, June 19. Wu’s efforts to document life under the Antarctic ice are captured in more than 40 photographs. The event takes place on the first floor of the National Academies’ Keck Center, 500 Fifth St. N.W., Washington, D.C. Admission is free.
NEW E-BOOKS AND REPORTS
Keeping science open: the effects of intellectual property policy on the conduct of science. The Royal Society, 2003.
Neutrinos and Beyond: New Windows on Nature. NAP, 2003.
National Benchmarking Analysis of Technology Business Incubator Performance and Practices, Technology Administration. U.S. Department of Commerce (May 2003).
Measuring Access to Learning Opportunities. NAP, 2003.
Robert Lempert, et al. Next Generation Environmental Technologies: Benefits and Barriers. Rand, 2003.
The Condition of Education 2003. US Dept. of Education, 2003.
The Dynamics of Technology-Based Economic Development: State Science and Technology Indicators, 3rd Edition. US Dept of Commerce, Office of Technology Policy, April 2003.
Space Studies Board Annual Report 2002. NAP, 2003.
David Howell, Richard Silberglitt, Douglas Norland. Industrial Materials for the Future R&D Strategies: A Case Study of Boiler Materials for the Pulp and Paper Industry. RAND, 2003.
New Challenges, New Tools for Defense Decisionmaking. RAND, 2003.
INTERESTING WEBSITES AND NEWS FROM THE INTERNET
Sloan Career Cornerstone Center
“A resource center for those pursuing careers in engineering, mathematics, information technology, and the physical sciences. Its comprehensive education, networking, job hunting, and career planning resources revolve around personal interviews with over 400 individuals who offer candid insight into their career paths. Almost everything on this site is downloadable in PDF format, and may be reproduced.” This site is well organized and contains a wealth of useful information. Great website!
Visual Thesaurus-Online Edition
“Plumb Design, an information visualization software company, provides free access to the thesaurus. It utilizes Plumb’s Thinkmap (R) visualization software. The content comes from the WordNet project from the Cognitive Science Laboratory at Princeton University. The database contains over 50,000 words and 40,000 phrases collected into more than 70,000 sense meanings. Learning how to use the thesaurus to it’s fullest is as easy as taking the tour. Of course, learning as you go, using Ran Hock’s ‘clicking everywhere’ method is also an option. You’ll need to be using Netscape 7.0 or Internet Explorer 4.0 or higher. I was also able to access using Mozilla. Java will also be need to available. Interesting, useful, and fun! Btw, a fee-based version (with extra features) can be downloaded. Thanks to Mary Ellen Bates, i pro legend and author of the just published, Building and Running a Successful Research Business, for alerting me to this tool. Congrats Mary Ellen!” (From The Resource Shelf)
The main body of the image search is a query box and a series of radio buttons that allows you to choose the resource to search. Categories to search include search engines (including Google and AltaVista), Graphics and Clip Art (including Clipart Connection and Icon Browser) and Regional and Historical (including Library of Congress and Images Canada.) Hold your mouse over the name of each resource to get a complete description in a popup window.
In addition to the search option, this page also contains links to image archives in several different categories. Nicely, nicely done. Keep it up Fagan. (From Research Buzz)
National Ecological Observatory Network
The National Research Council committee on National Ecological Observatory Network will be holding a workshop on June 10, 2003 (Tuesday) at the National Academy of Sciences building (2101 Constitution Ave., Washington DC). The workshop will be open to the public between 1:30 – 4:30 p.m. EDT. This will be an opportunity to learn about NSF’s plans for NEON and about the views of relevant professional societies and other government agencies.
If you cannot attend, you may participate in the meeting by listening to a live audio webcast and submitting questions using an e-mail form at the National Academies website. Listening to the webcast requires either RealPlayer or Windows Media Player.
MIT World(tm) is a free, open, video streaming web site that provides on-demand video of significant public events at MIT. A variety of symposia and lectures are presented on a wide range of fascinating topics, everything from the stem cell debate to the quest for Mars.
National Science Digital Library
Digital Library Will House World’s Largest Collection of Science-Related Material
The National Science Digital Library (NSDL), a National Science Foundation (NSF) website, offers free science-related resources to the public, including text, graphics, interactive video, links, and other resources pertinent to computing, engineering, global mapping, physics, mathematics, earth science, paleontology, and more. By 2007, the site will house the largest collection of science-related material available on the Internet, and it will include three portals mega-websites that can personalize a broad array of Internet functions. The portals will be titled Using Data in the Classroom, NSDL Educators Portal, and Science Pictures.
The digital library opened to the public in December 2002, and NSF continues to accept proposals for projects that enhance the quality and widen the scope of the site. Currently, 119 projects have received NSF funding for inclusion on the site. These projects consist of smaller-scope digital libraries (such as the Digital Library for Earth System Education), message boards that link visitors with experts, collections of news articles, and more.
(From NSTA Express)
AAAS Launches Public Outreach Initiative Focused on Science Literacy
“Science. It’s Everywhere” is the message of a new public outreach initiative announced earlier this month by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). Designed to help parents and families play a more active role in their children’s science education, the Partnership for Science Literacy initiative includes television, radio, magazine, and newspaper advertising endorsed by the Advertising Council and a web site to help motivate parents and families to take action in helping their children learn science. The initiative focuses special attention on minority and Hispanic audiences and will feature Spanish language versions of the web site and other materials.
Funded by the National Science Foundation through a grant to AAAS’s science education initiative, Project 2061, the Partnership for Science Literacy is a collaborative effort involving AAAS and many other organizations. NSTA supports the effort and is helping to spread the news about the campaign. The initiative’s web site is hosted by TryScience.org and offers great information for parents and others, including a brochure, “Family Guide to Science.” Visit the ScienceEverywhere web site.
NOVA: Secret of Photo 51
Many Shakespearean sonnets were inspired by and written for a mysterious “dark lady” whose identity remains unknown to this day. In a scientific parallel, a woman whose seminal research inspired important breakthroughs in the field of genetics remains largely unknown. PBS hopes to rectify the situation by introducing Rosalind Franklin, aka the Dark Lady of DNA. James Watson and Francis Crick are credited with the discovery of DNA’s disctinctive double-helix structure, yet Franklin’s research helped set the stage for their achievement. She took the first clear picture of DNA’s structure, Photo 51, which motivated Watson and Crick to visualize the double helix. Franklin’s early death from cancer sadly consigned her to scientific obscurity. Thanks to PBS and this important site, Franklin’s discovery is revisited with an interactive anatomy of Photo 51, along with a journey deep inside DNA itself. (From Yahoo’s Picks of the Week)
Expeditions in Conservation: Rhinos of the Terai Arc
Tucked away in shadows of the Himalayas is a remote region that’s home to a real-life “Jungle Book”. The Terai Arc is a corridor of biodiversity teeming with Asian elephants, swamp deer, and river dolphins galore. A crew of WWF scientists is in Nepal on a two-week mission with modern-day dinosaurs, 10 greater one-horned rhinos, in an ambitious restoration effort. They’re relocating the rhinos from Nepal’s Royal Chitwan National Park to a protected area nearly 125 miles away. Along the perilous journey, they’re sending daily dispatches, introducing you to the sights and sounds of the land, and mapping out a vision for the region’s future. The bigger goal is to restore and reconnect 11 national parks from Nepal to India to create a continuous, protected landscape where all living things can flourish. (From Yahoo’s Picks of the Week)
PLoS Biology now accepting articles!
The mission of PLoS Publications is to make the original published reports of ideas, discoveries, and research results in the life sciences and medicine (and eventually other fields) freely available online, without restrictions on use or further distribution, free from private or government control.
- Great Science
- The very best life science research — from molecules to ecosystems.
- Provocative opinions and commentary from young scientists, scientific leaders, educators, and professional writers.
- Open Access
- Every article will be freely available as soon as it is published, with no restrictions.
- Read it, download it, print it, copy it, use it in your class, and put it in your database.
- Your Journal
- PLoS is a nonprofit organization founded and operated by scientists.
- All editorial decisions are made by members of our outstanding editorial board working in partnership with first-class professional editors.
Be a leader. Shape the future. Choose PLoS.
Virtual Frog Dissection Kit
As part of the “Whole Frog Project” one can dissect Fluffy the digitized frog, make a movie of the dissection, and play a game and learn about the “3D spatial relationships between the organs in the frog” at this interactive site. Available in several languages including Spanish, German, and French. (From Librarian’s Index to the Internet)
ARMI National Atlas for Amphibian Distributions
The Amphibian Research and Monitoring Initiative National Atlas for Amphibian Distributions (ARMI Atlas) is “a compilation of current and historic records of amphibian occurrences” developed by the Patuxent Wildlife Research Center — part of the U.S. Geological Survey. New to the Scout Report, the ARMI Atlas integrates records from peer-reviewed scientific literature, museum records, state and regional herpetological atlases, and “other confirmed and validated observations.” This regularly updated resource allows users to quickly determine when and where amphibians were last documented in a given area — distribution gaps may suggest potential areas of study. The ARMI Atlas is intended as an educational tool, a reference for habitat managers, a resource for and by herpetologists, or any other use that contributes to long-term amphibian monitoring efforts. [RS] (From the Scout Report)
2can Bioinformatics, an educational Web site from the European Bioinformatics Institute, offers a valuable guide to the different molecular biology databases available to researchers. A series of well-designed tutorials covers the basics of comparing and analyzing gene sequences -- no small feat considering the dizzying number of bioinformatics databases available on the Web. The tutorials cover nucleotide analysis, protein analysis, protein function, protein structure, genome browsing, and database browsing. Other features include an overview of the numerous molecular databases available online, a Medline literature search engine, a much- needed glossary, and other resources. Considering that an astonishing amount of biological data — especially from sequencing projects — is deposited in electronic databases and no longer published in the conventional sense, 2can Bioinformatics really provides an indispensable service. [RS] (From the Scout Report)
Galapagos: Way Beyond Darwin [RealOne Player, Windows Media Player]
Visitors to this Web site will find an interesting presentation given by marine biologist, Carole Baldwin, as part of the Pfizer Foundation Distinguished Lecture Series at the Smithsonian Institution. Baldwin, Curator of the Smithsonian’s Division of Fishes, provides a “behind-the- scenes glimpse of the making of the popular 3-D IMAX film about the Galapagos Islands.” The site provides both audio and video of the entire presentation as well as a number of related links. [RS](From the Scout Report) [NOTE: I could not get the video or audio to load on my PC].
This eye-catching menagerie takes a peek inside the animal kingdom by using infrared light to show the differences between warm- and cold-blooded animals. For the most part, every living creature falls into one of these two camps, with a few exceptions to the rule (bats, echidnas, and mole rats to name a few). Mammals and birds try to keep their bodies at a constant temperature, while reptiles, insects, arachnids, amphibians, and fish take on the temperature of their surroundings. See how cool a python appears compared to the people holding it, and then take a look at a blood hound and the areas of heat on the face of the pooch. The spots of the giraffe glow brighter in infrared photos, while a scorpion can only be seen against the warm glow of the person holding it. The unseen colors of animals are brought to light in this one-of-a-kind “zoo.” (From Yahoo’s Picks of the Week)
Computer and Information Science
“A completely interactive digital library book” of ancient Mesopotamia’s most important literary product, which combines browsable text with a recording of it being read, animated pictures, and music. A “testbed product” for multimedia software developed by the Poznan (Poland) Supercomputing and Networking Center. Bandwidth intensive. (From Librarian’s Index to the Internet)
Computer Immune Systems
A research group at the University of New Mexico Computer Science Department is using an analogy to biological immune systems to develop similarly functioning computer security systems. This is a significant departure from existing methods. Computer immune systems are designed to detect and contain intrusions in the same way their biological counterparts deal with viruses and infections. The research group has a large collection of papers from conferences and journals available on its homepage. [CL] (From the Scout Report)
Scientific Computing on the Sony Playstation 2
Scientific computing installations traditionally use clusters of workstations for massively parallel processing. This research effort at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is using clusters of the Sony Playstation 2 (PS2) for the same purpose. Since the gaming console has special vector processing capabilities, it is a relatively low-cost implementation that is suitable for complex matrix arithmetic (an important characteristic of most scientific computing applications). Technical aspects of the PS2 are given on the project’s homepage, as well as details about networking 65 PS2 consoles. [CL] (From the Scout Report)
Education and Human Resources
Pitsco’s Guidelines for Hands-on Competitions
Thinking of hosting a science competition? Competition Guidelines from Pitsco consists of guidelines for 32 hands-on competitions. Print the guidelines in simple text form or download the full-color, printable document. You are free to print, copy, and even modify them, if you wish, to suit your purpose. These guidelines are NOT the official rules of any national organizations, although, wherever applicable, organizations are listed that sponsor similar competitions. (From Blue Web’n)
Bruce Weiner Microcar Museum
Long before today’s Cooper Mini, microcars were all the rage. Born in post-WWII Europe out of the need for small, efficient transportation, former aircraft companies built tiny cars seating one or two people. The inspiration behind microcars predates the war, when companies enclosed bicycles and scooters, turning them into vehicles like the 1935 Velocar Camionette. During WWII, engineers designed tiny cars like the 1942 Peugeot VLV. But it was the 1950s and ’60s that saw the bubble-car boom with popular minis like the BMW Isetta 250, BAG Spatz, Messerschmitt Tiger, and Berkeley. More recently, the 2000 MCC Smart Convertible and the 2001 Corbin Sparrow have hit the streets. Although the actual microcar museum in Georgia is temporarily closed, fans can take a virtual tour anytime. And be sure to check out the excellent video of minicars in action. (From Yahoo’s Picks of the Week)
TLC: Junkyard Wars
This is the fan site of The Learning Channel’s exciting series, Junkyard Wars. Visitors can read about upcoming episodes and learn about the engineering and technology aspects unique to each week’s feature. Junkyard Science is the most informative section, providing insights into vehicle design for land, air, and water. There are descriptions of jet skis, cannons, blimps, and many others with details about how they work and what components are required to make them. An interactive quiz lets visitors test their knowledge of “basic science concepts introduced in the challenges of Junkyard Wars.” [CL] (From the Scout Report)
The Dynamic Earth
We may not always feel it move under our feet, but make no mistake — our Earth is a restless planet! It rumbles, grumbles, and continually spews its molten insides beyond the horizon. This pattern of birth, destruction, and renewal is Earth’s natural metamorphic process — and the geological record reveals a stunning history book. This presentation by the National Museum of Natural History seeks to tell the stories behind the rocks we walk on and the gems we covet, and ultimately explain how they were made. Deep in Earth’s pressure-cooker core, rocks morph into different minerals, depending on temperature. As magma races to the surface, it faces another set of factors. If the outside temperature is cold enough, the magma crystallizes and can harden into gems. Rocks such as marble, slate, granite, and even sandstone all had previous incarnations somewhere beneath Earth’s crust. Next time you kick a pebble or skip a stone, consider how far it traveled to cross your path! (From Yahoo’s Picks of the Week)
Mathematical and Physical Sciences
The Atoms Family
“This resource contains educational activities about energy concepts, the power of the sun, energy conservation, energy transformation, electricity and fossil fuels being presented by famous gothic horror characters.” The activities are variously designed for students from grades K to 12. Also available in Japanese. (From Librarian’s Index to the Internet)
Hosted by Studyworks! Online and created by Tom Henderson, this site has lots of great stuff! Divided into three main sections: Physics Tutorial, Multimedia Physics Studio, and Physics Help. Within each section there are numerous lessons, animations, and quizzes. Not only top-natch learning applications; but aesthectically pleasing too. (From Blue Web’n)
Einstein Archives Online
Officially released on the Web last week, this impressive digital archive features the writings, scholarship, and thoughts of Albert Einstein, one of the 20th century’s greatest scientists. The site allows visitors to view and browse 3,000 high-quality digitized images of Einstein’s writings, ranging from his travel diaries (many of which are in German) to his published and unpublished scholarly manuscripts. The online archive draws on the manuscripts held by the Albert Einstein Archives at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and was produced by the Jewish National & University Library’s Digitization Project. Additionally, visitors have access to the archive database, which contains 43,000 records of Einstein related documents, such as his notebooks and third-party items. More casual visitors will want to visit the online gallery, which contains a selection of some of the key documents available here, such as his famous article that mentions the equation E=mc2. Overall, this is a thoroughly engaging and informative trove of digitized material on one of the world’s most respected scientists. [KMG] (From the Scout Report)
Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences
MIT World — Civil War High Tech: Excavating the Hunley and Monitor
Monitor Research & Recovery Photo Gallery
Monitor Virtual Tour
Institute of Nautical Archaeology’s Conservation Research Laboratory
Friends of the Hunley
The Uncivilized Engine of War
Mariner’s Museum - Monitor
Advances in underwater archaeology are making possible some spectacular recovery projects, among them the recovery of the Civil War vessels, the Monitor and the Hunley. These two ships are not only tremendously important historically, but also represent some of the most creative engineering efforts of their time — the Monitor had devices of over 40 original patents on board. The first link is to a mini-symposium at MIT on these recovery projects and the science involved. The photo gallery is a NOAA site with arrays of fascinating photographs of the Monitor recovery effort. The Monitor virtual tour shows you underwater views of the Monitor wreck site. Although the INA is not involved directly with these two projects, they are deeply involved in the recovery and restoration of many other nautical archaeology projects, and a tour of their research lab will introduce you to these and to the techniques used in this type of archaeological effort. The Friends of the Hunley website has a wealth of information on the Hunley history and recovery efforts, including an animation of the recovery. The Uncivilized Engine of War is a brief Scientific American presentation of the Hunley, with links to a few other vessel restoration presentations. The parts of the Monitor that have been recovered are today undergoing restoration at the Mariner’s Museum in Newport News.
Professor Michael Hobday is Director of the Complex Product Systems (CoPS) Innovation Centre at SPRU. Michael Hobday works on (a) innovation management in CoPS and (b) East and South Asian innovation studies. He recommends the following website in economics as his “expert’s choice”.
Established by a group of academics at the University of Edinburgh, TelecomVisions.com is an independent, non-profit, interactive site focusing on a key question: What will happen to the Telecoms Industry and its companies in the Internet Age over the next five years? The site has a “Guest Visionary” slot that aims to bring together the views of leading academics, industry players, and government policy makers. Visitors are then invited to compare their visions of the future and contribute to the debate. I’d recommend this site as it is *dynamic* — it asks you questions and is interesting. (From SOSIG)
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BUSH NOMINATES 25 FOR PITAC
President Bush has nominated 25 new members to the President’s Information Technology Advisory Committee (PITAC), which serves the president, Congress, and federal agencies in dealing with information technology issues. Observers said the nominations indicate a recognition on the part of President Bush that information technology is vital to the country’s well-being and global leadership in many areas, including the economy and national security. Edward Lazowska of the University of Washington and Marc Benioff, a former Oracle executive, have been nominated to serve as co-chairs of the committee. Other nominees include Ruzena Bajcsy of the University of California-Berkeley, Eugene Spafford of Purdue University, and Peter Tippett of TruSecure Corp.
Federal Computer Week, 9 May 2003 via Edupage
CALTECH RESEARCH TO TURBOCHARGE THE INTERNET
The journal New Scientist reports that a team from the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) has created a new system called Fast TCP that can significantly boost download speeds, using the existing Internet infrastructure. Fast TCP researchers have achieved speeds of more than 8.6 gigabits per second, or 6000 times the capacity of ordinary broadband. All Internet traffic currently uses Transmission Control Protocol (TCP), which breaks down large files into data packets of about 1,500 bytes. Slow performance occurs from glitches in the process of the sending computer’s having to wait for acknowledgement from the receiving computer before sending the next packet. According to the report, FTC software installed on the sending computer predicts the highest supportable data rate connection without data loss by identifying likely packet losses through continuously monitoring the time taken for sent packets to arrive and for acknowledgements to be received.
ZDNet, 6 June 2003 via Edupage
MIT MERGES TECHNOLOGY LABS
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has announced plans to merge two high-profile labs into what will be one of the largest research labs in the world. The Laboratory for Computer Science and the Artificial Intelligence Laboratory will be combined to form the New Laboratory for Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence (NLCSAI), which will comprise 750 faculty, staff, and students. According to a statement from MIT, the NLCSAI “will aspire to germinate and cultivate the most far-reaching new ideas and carry out the world’s best research in information and intelligence technology and science.” Rodney Brooks, who will be co-director of the NLCSAI, offered this comment on the kinds of research the new lab might do: “[I]magine instead of growing a tree, cutting it down and building a table, you just grow a table, digitally instruct the organism how to grow.”
Wired News, 11 June 2003 via Edupage
MENTORING PROGRAM SUPPORTS WOMEN IN SCIENCE AND ENGINEERING
MentorNet is a national nonprofit organization whose goal is to provide support in the form of e-mail mentoring for women studying science and engineering. The program matches female students with working professionals who give advice and encouragement. Many women feel uncomfortable in a field dominated by male students and faculty. Participants in the program — both students and mentors — say that e-mail mentoring is effective, despite the perception that it is impersonal. E-mail allows students and mentors in different time zones to communicate at their convenience. One mentor said, “[Y]ou don’t have to drop what you are doing &helip; and I can take time to think about my answer.” MentorNet was started in 1997 by Carol Muller, who, as associate engineering dean at Dartmouth College, was disturbed to see that women left science and engineering programs at twice the rate of men.
San Jose Mercury News, 10 June 2003 via Edupage
DHS ANNOUNCES NATIONAL CYBER SECURITY DIVISION
Tom Ridge, secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), announced Friday the creation of the National Cyber Security Division (NCSD) to secure government and private sector networks from Internet-based attacks. The 60-person NCSD falls under the Analysis and Infrastructure Protection Directorate (IAIP), which consists of several agencies including the FBI’s former National Infrastructure Protection Center (NIPC), the Department of Commerce’s Critical Infrastructure Assurance Office, and the General Services Administration’s Federal Computer Incident Response Center. The NCSD will follow the approach outlined in the National Strategy to Secure Cyber Space report, spearheaded by former White House security advisor Richard Clarke. Clarke resigned when the security board he headed was dissolved and its duties absorbed into the DHS. The new division aims to respond to major incidents, issue warnings, assist with major recovery efforts, and conduct ongoing cyberspace research.
Internet News, 9 June 2003 via Edupage
BERTELSMANN SELLS ACADEMIC PUBLISHING UNIT
Bertelsmann has announced the sale of its academic publishing group, BertelsmannSpringer, to two firms, Candover and Cinven, which last year purchased Kluwer Academic Publishers. The two publishing groups will be merged to form a new company, called Springer, that will control an estimated 10 percent of the academic publishing market. Springer will be larger than publishers such as Wiley, Blackwell Publishing, and Taylor & Francis, though Elsevier Science will remain the largest, with approximately 25 percent of the market. Observers said that since Bertelsmann bought Springer-Verlag in 1999, creating BertelsmannSpringer, the parent company has not made promised investments in the publishing group and that the Springer management is probably pleased about the sale to Candover and Cinven. Indeed, a spokesperson from BertelsmannSpringer said, “[I]t is good that we are moving from Bertelsmann, where we were not part of the core business, to a new owner where we will be.”
Information Today, 27 May 2003 via Edupage
WASHINGTON STATE BUDGET CUTS AFFECT IT PROGRAMS
As in many other states, institutions of higher education in Washington State are facing severe cuts in state funding. Some higher education officials have expressed concern that, because technology programs are among the most costly, they will be some of the most significantly affected by proposed budget cuts. Some administrators and business leaders in the state argue that such cuts are likely to exacerbate the economic problems that have led to the cuts in the first place. Washington State, they said, lacks adequate numbers of graduates with high-tech training, and restricting the capacity of technology programs will hamper efforts to fill the high-tech jobs in the state. Ken Myer, president of the Technology Alliance, a consortium of state businesses and institutions, said what the state needs is to expand, not contract, those programs, which will ultimately benefit the state’s economy.
Chronicle of Higher Education, 24 April 2003 via Edupage
FEW HIGH-TECH JOBS FOR COLLEGE GRADS
A recent report from outplacement firm Challenger, Gray, and Christmas Inc. paints a grim picture for new college graduates looking for high-tech jobs. The slowdown in the tech sector has led to a very difficult job market for recent graduates, due to a number of circumstances, according to the report. Many high-tech workers have been laid off over the past couple of years, flooding the market with available workers with prior experience. Most employers will typically opt for an experienced applicant over one just out of college. In addition, companies are spending significantly less on new technologies and therefore have much reduced needs for workers who understand the newest hardware and software. Many companies are able to operate efficiently with current staff rather than seeking new employees with cutting-edge skills. Students who have participated in programs such as internships are likely to have an edge over those whose education has been limited to college courses.
IDG, 21 April 2003 via Edupage
MIT PULLS OUT OF MEDIA LAB ASIA
Citing disagreements with the new Indian minister of information, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has decided to end its participation in Media Lab Asia. The lab was started two years ago to perform research that would benefit the Indian people, and funding was supposed to come from the Indian government, corporations, and MIT. To date, all funding has come from the Indian government, and the new minister of information reportedly disagreed with the approach to salaries at the lab and with the lab’s research focus. Management of the program will be turned over to the Indian government, though the name may remain Media Lab Asia. MIT said despite this decision, the institution remains interested in supporting similar labs in other countries.
New York Times, 8 May 2003 (registration req’d) via Edupage
E-RATE FORUM RAISES THE CALL FOR REFORM
This week the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) held a forum to investigate the troubled E-Rate Program, which has been accused of rampant fraud and has seen recent rules changes. Representatives from schools and libraries, the intended beneficiaries of the program, said policy and procedural complexities left many applicants confused and willing to cede responsibility to vendors. A representative from BellSouth, one of the program’s largest vendors, said policies should be changed to discourage schools and libraries from taking advantage of the system. “Applicants do not have enough incentive to control project costs, and service providers have too much incentive to inflate costs,” said Margaret Greene of BellSouth, which supports lowering the discount cap of 90 percent to around 75–80 percent. All speakers at the forum supported recent rules changes made for the program.
Internet News, 9 May 2003 via Edupage
RIAA SENDS AN APOLOGY TO PENN STATE
The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) apologized this week for a copyright warning notice that it sent in error to the department of astronomy and astrophysics at Pennsylvania State University. The RIAA uses automated programs to locate servers that are distributing copyrighted files, which reported that one of the department’s servers was distributing files by the band Usher. The server in question contained no such files, but the department has a professor emeritus named Peter Usher. This, combined with the presence of an MP3 file of a group of astronomers singing about a satellite, set of the RIAA’s crawler. According to the RIAA, all notices are checked before they are sent out, but this one was not properly reviewed and was sent in error. A statement from the RIAA said, “In this particular instance, a temp employee made a mistake and did not follow RIAA’s established protocol.” The RIAA also said that of the tens of thousands of notices sent out, this was the first faulty notice discovered.
CNET, 12 May 2003 via Edupage
TEXAS EXPECTED TO ESTABLISH ONLINE CHARTER SCHOOL
The Texas Legislature will likely pass a bill to create a virtual charter school to offer online courses to primary and secondary students. The Texas Legislature, however, is currently deadlocked due to partisan rivalry and a resulting lack of quorum. The proposed school would be run by two state universities, which have yet to be selected. Republican State Senator Florence Shapiro sponsored the legislation to “provide flexibility and the use of available technology and online resources to meet students’ individual needs.” A similar bill was rejected due to concerns over the program’s potential cost with unlimited enrollment. The bill proposes a 2,000 student cap and will cost roughly $9 million over two years. The state government created a similar program two years ago that is administered by school districts and enrolls 450 students. The University of Texas, which already runs a virtual charter school without state assistance, would like to participate in the state-run program to increase students’ options, according to Robert Bruce at the Austin campus’s Distance Education Center.
Chronicle of Higher Education, 13 May 2003 (sub. req’d) via Edupage
DESIGNING ERGONOMICALLY SAFE COMPUTER LABS FOR STUDENTS
A bill recently signed by New Jersey Governor James McGreevey will help prevent repetitive strain injuries in school-age children in the state. The bill establishes the Ergonomics in Education Study Commission, a group of teachers, school administrators, medical professionals, and ergonomics researchers who will investigate the problem of such injuries and provide recommendations about implementing ergonomic standards in the state’s schools. Studies show that most children between the ages of 5 and 17 use computers, though no broad-based research has been done on repetitive motion injuries in children. Supporters of the legislation, including Alan Hedge, professor and operator of the ergonomics Web site at Cornell University, argue that a program that encourages children to develop good ergonomic habits will likely prevent many strain-related injuries in adulthood. At least one university has created a program for students with repetitive strain injury; Harvard RSI Action provides information for Harvard University students and for the general public.
Wired News, 14 May 2003 via Edupage
STUDENTS PROPOSE NEW DEFENSES FOR INTERNET ATTACKS
Two graduate students from Carnegie Mellon University presented their ideas about controlling denial-of-service attacks to attendees at the IEEE Symposium on Security and Privacy. The first approach, offered by Abraham Yaar, would use data in e-mail headers to identify the path a message took through a network. Using this information, a system can determine whether traffic from some portions of the Internet should be blocked by the Internet service provider (ISP). According to Yaar, such an approach would leave 60 percent of a server’s capacity for legitimate users, even if “total attack traffic is 170 times the legitimate traffic.” Yaar’s method reportedly works well when IP addresses are spoofed and would even work if fewer than half of the ISPs adopted the protocol. The second proposal, from XiaoFeng Wang, challenges network traffic to perform a task to be allowed to communicate with the server. The server would require small “puzzles” that would be insignificant for legitimate users but would overload someone attempting a denial-of-service attack.
ZDNet, 13 May 2003 via Edupage
STUDY SHOWS IMPROVED VISUAL PERCEPTION FROM VIDEO GAMES
A study conducted at the University of Rochester indicates that playing high-action video games can increase a person’s performance on a range of visual tests. The tests included locating the position of a blinking object, counting simultaneous objects on a screen, and identifying the color of an alphabet letter. In the study, subjects who spent several months regularly playing action video games consistently performed better on the tests than those who did not play the games. The study did not address the question of how violence in video games influences those who play them. The authors of the study said the results suggest that such video games could be beneficial to people with visual impairments or to soldiers training for combat. Military experts confirmed the latter notion, saying that soldiers who have spent many years playing action video games are often better at certain combat skills, such as operating long-range unmanned aerial vehicles.
Wall Street Journal, 28 May 2003 (sub. req’d) via Edupage
HOWARD UNIVERSITY TO BUILD GENETICS DATABASE
Citing the possibility for significantly improving health care for blacks, officials at Howard University this week announced the creation of a genetics database culled from laboratory samples collected from 25,000 African American patients at Howard University Hospital. All information in the database would be kept confidential from groups such as life insurance companies. Officials at the university noted that blacks have generally not participated in large-scale medical research, despite suffering from some diseases at much higher rates than other racial groups. Some observers questioned the potential value of such a database and expressed concern that the project would serve to exacerbate racial stereotypes or attitudes. Troy Duster of New York University argued that health issues among a certain population are at least as likely to be influenced by social factors, such as lifestyle and environment, as by genetic factors.
Washington Post, 28 May 2003 via Edupage
REPORT SAYS CIA NOT USING IT CREATIVELY
A report written by a member of a CIA think tank argues that the agency’s use of information technology is handicapped by a culture that treats technology as a threat rather than a benefit. In the report, “Failing to Keep Up With the Information Revolution,” Bruce Berkowitz writes that the agency’s focus on security prevents the CIA’s Directorate of Intelligence “from applying information technology more effectively.” Berkowitz points to a CIA database, the Corporate Information Retrieval and Storage (CIRAS) database, which the report states is the most-used database at the CIA. Compared to systems outside the CIA, he said, CIRAS is primitive. Because of the shortcomings of CIRAS, CIA analysts depend largely on an informal source network, according to Berkowitz, who characterized such an informal network as “exactly what the World Wide Web does in an automated fashion when it is combined with a search engine like Google or Alta Vista.”
Internet News, 29 May 2003 via Edupage.
CHANGING TIDES FOR COMPUTER MAJORS
As the technology bubble has burst and most companies have slashed the number of computer programmers they are hiring, so too the numbers of students choosing to major in computer science have dropped significantly. The slump in technology has increased the number of graduate students, however, as many stay in or return to school to avoid the difficult job market. Computer science departments report enrollment declines of as much as 40 percent for undergraduates from two to three years ago. Officials at some universities noted, however, that even as the numbers of students have gone down, the quality has increased. Randal Bryant of Carnegie Mellon said current students in computer science programs are “very enthusiastic about computers” and that they “aren’t looking to become millionaires by age 25.” Some expressed concern that the low numbers of undergraduates in such programs today will become a significant problem when the demand picks up again.
New York Times, 22 May 2003 (registration req’d) via Edupage
- Great Science
My Tiny Garden
Whether fact, fiction, or a little bit of both, the quirky narrative that accompanies this beautiful bug book draws you into the site’s clever premise. The mysterious guide takes you on a macro tour of his tiny urban garden. His backyard plot is not very big and is rather unkempt — but it is home to all manner of strange inhabitants that await discovery. His lens zeroes in on creatures that buzz, creep, crawl, and leave slimy trails all over the ignored vegetation. The spare interface and easy navigation allow you to swing from limb-to-limb for a close-up view of various multi-legged creatures. Amazingly crisp shots of gossamer wings flapping, fruit flies swarming, shield bugs chilling, and spiders preying command your attention. In fact, this site might inspire you to look at your own backyard in a whole new light.
Birds of the World on Postage Stamps
Images of birds on postage stamps, browsable by species (using Birds of the World: A Checklist by James Clements) or country, and searchable. Both the species and country lists are on single pages, making them slow to load. Species entries include a map showing the bird’s range. Clicking on individual stamps allows for navigation between the species and country pages. Site also includes recent bird stamp issues, identification information, and related links. (From Librarian’s Index to the Internet)