Sci-Tech Library Newsletter


Newsletter archive > 2003 June 27 Issue

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  1. SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN WEB AWARDS: Which are the best sci-tech websites in 2003?
  2. SCIENCE POLICY: Should more research results be in the public domain?
  5. INTERESTING WEBSITES AND NEWS FROM THE INTERNET: Find A PhD - Find A PostDoc, ISI Announces Hottest Journals of the Decade, Hotbot Now Offers A Search “Deskbar”, OpenURL Standard Trial Implementation Launched; Biological Sciences: Biodiversity Hotspots, Traits of Life, Protist Information Server, HHMIs Biointeractive, Bloodlines; Computer and Information Science: History of Computing, OOPWeb (Object Oriented Programming Web); Engineering: Nanomedicine Art Gallery, Virtual Machine Shop; Mathematical and Physical Sciences: Instructional Resources for Chemistry, Archimedes’ Laboratory; Polar Programs: Toothwalkers: Giants of the Arctic Ice, Wild-Eyed Alaska: Gull Island in Kachemak Bay; Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences: Discovery Channel: Walking With Cavemen, World Policy Institute, Rhetorica … and more … plus news items from Edupage

    Sci/Tech Web Awards 2003
    “It’s a jungle out there. With more than three billion Web pages to sift through, finding great science sites is harder than ever. The good news is the editors at Scientific American have once again trawled the Internet for the best the Web has to offer. We think our list of winners has something for everyone.

    Grouped into 10 categories below, our 50 favorites are a diverse lot. Learn everything you ever wanted to know about the abacus, toast Watson and Crick’s discovery of the structure of DNA, find out how to patent that invention you’ve been contemplating. Or maybe virtual stargazing is more your style. Whatever the case, we hope you enjoy these sites as much as we do.” Hey, folks, these are terrific websites!


    Measure Calls for Wider Access to Federally Financed Research
    Should the results of research financed by taxpayers be freely available to all? A group called the Public Library of Science, which includes scientists, doctors, researchers and their public supporters, thinks so, and is prepared to back legislation toward that end.

    “The group’s objective is an open system of scientific publishing that would bypass the current system, which centers on journals that charge, through their subscriptions, for access to results.

    The measure places results of research financed primarily by the government into the public domain so access cannot be prohibited by copyright, said Dr. Michael B. Eisen, a co-founder of the library, and a biologist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. The bill also calls on federal agencies to improve access to their research results.” From an article in the New York Times.


    National Academies Seek
    The National Academies are seeking nominations for researchers to participate in an interdisciplinary conference on the nature and role of “signaling” in neuroscience, cell biology, physical science and engineering. The National Academies Keck Futures Initiative Conference will be held in Irvine, Calif., Nov. 14–16, 2003.

    New Frontiers in Contraceptive Research
    “New Frontiers in Contraceptive Research” is the subject of an upcoming Institute of Medicine symposium. The two-day event, sponsored by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, begins at 8 a.m. EDT Tuesday, July 15 in the auditorium of the National Academy of Sciences building, 2100 C St. N.W., Washington, D.C. The symposium is free and open to the public. Registration is required.

    New Lectures on MIT World
    The Center For International Studies at MIT Starr Forum and The Boston Review present:

    “Islam and the Challenge of Democracy”
    A Panel Moderated by Tom Ashbrook
    Host, WBUR’s On Point.

    As the period of rebuilding Iraq begins, this discussion focuses on the big questions of political systems and religion based value systems — can Islam and democracy co-exist in the Arab world? The panel features:

    • Fawaz Gerges, Professor, International Affairs and Middle Eastern Studies, Sarah Lawrence College
    • Khaled About El Fadl, Professor of Law, UCLA
    • Jack Beatty, Senior Editor, The Atlantic Monthly and On Point news analyst

    ALSO on MIT World — Industrial Liaison Program, the 2003 MIT Innovations in Management Conference “Driving Innovation through Technology” presents:

    Rebecca Henderson,
    Eastman Kodak Professor of Management,
    MIT Sloan School of Management,
    “Building Growth: Why Don’t We Use What We Know?”

    In this lively talk, Professor Henderson takes on the organizational and operational challenges to a corporations’s growth and offers some provocative ideas about some human factors that make growth so difficult to achieve.

    Racial Diversity in the Classroom
    Racial diversity in the classroom is the topic of a seminar sponsored by the National Academies’ Christine Mirzayan Science and Technology Policy Internship Program. The speakers will debate the issues surrounding racial diversity in primary, secondary and higher education and focus the discussion in terms of scientific evidence, rather than legal or ethical viewpoints. The 90-minute event, which is free and open to the public, begins at 12:30 p.m. EDT Friday, July 11 in Room 100 of the National Academies’ Keck Center, 500 Fifth St. N.W., Washington, D.C.

    Dioxins and Dioxin-like Compounds in the Food Supply: Strategies to Decrease Exposure
    The Institute of Medicine releases “Dioxins and Dioxin-like Compounds in the Food Supply: Strategies to Decrease Exposure” at a one-hour public briefing at 11 a.m. EDT Tuesday, July 1. Participate by listening to a live audio webcast (requires free RealPlayer) and submitting questions using an e-mail form, both accessible on the home page during the event.

    Academic librarians and their staff are invited attend one of two 60-minute Internet sessions covering upcoming enhancements to IEEE online collections, followed by a “tips and tricks” tour of the IEEE Xplore online delivery platform. Please RSVP for one of the two sessions by contacting the IEEE representatives below:
    July 18 — RSVP to Ruth Wolfish,
    July 29 — RSVP to Rachel Berrington,


    Physics in the Two-Year Colleges: 2001–02. AIP, 2003.

    Characteristics of Recent Science and Engineering Graduates: 1999. NSF, 2003.

    Teaching Mathematics in Seven Countries: Results from the TIMSS 1999 Video Study. U.S. Dept. of Education, 2003. NOTE: pdf available on the internet, hard copy with CD available for ordering, free.

    Glossary for Toxokinetics (Draft for public comment). IUPAC, 2003.

    Does Water Flow Influence Everglades Landscape Patterns? NAP, 2003.

    Invasive Species: Federal Efforts and State Perspectives on Challenges and National Leadership. GAO-03-916T, June 17, 2003.

    Assessment of Directions in Microgravity and Physical Sciences Research at NASA. NAP, 2003.

    Cybersecurity of Freight Information Systems: A Scoping Study — Special Report 274. NAP, 2003.

    Great Lakes: An Overall Strategy and Indicators for Measuring Progress Are Needed to Better Achieve Restoration Goals. GAO-03-515 April 30, 2003.

    Effectiveness of Air Force Science and Technology Program Changes. NAP, 2003.

    Improved Operational Testing and Evaluation: Better Measurement and Test Design for the Interim Brigade Combat Team with Stryker Vehicles, Phase I Report. NAP, 2003.

    Letter Report on the Review of the Desalination and Water Purification Technology Roadmap. NAP, 2003.

    Pan-Organizational Summit on the U.S. Science and Engineering Workforce: Meeting Summary. NAP, 2003.

    Progress in Improving Project Management at the Department of Energy: 2002 Assessment. NAP, 2003.

    Satellite Observations of the Earth’s Environment: Accelerating the Transition of Research to Operations. NAP, 2003.

    Survey Automation: Report and Workshop Proceedings. NAP, 2003.

    Tracking and Predicting the Atmospheric Dispersion of Hazardous Material Releases: Implications for Homeland Security. NAP, 2003.


    Hotbot Now Offers A Search “Deskbar”
    This new tool has been adapted from “Dave’s Quick Search Deskbar” and offers a number of shortcuts. For example, from the search window access the Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary, get a weather forecast, or find a synonym using Thesaurus.Com. You can find a list of other shortcuts here. Back in December, Hotbot was relaunched and currently offers the ability to simultaneously search 4 web databases (AllTheWeb, Google, Inktomi, and Teoma) simultaneously and then have results from each delivered in their native format. Unlike meta engines, result sets ARE NOT merged together. (From the Resource Shelf)

    ISI Announces Hottest Journals of the Decade
    The folks who bring you the Science Citation Index now announce their analysis of the journed science over the last ten years.

    Find A PhD — Find A PostDoc
    This website has a searchable database that contains details of PhD opportunites in the sciences. It can be searched by location, keyword, or discipline. Its a small site right now, and a bit puzzling to navigate. Although a map displays the entire world (the site obviously has big expansion plans) most continents as yet have no entries, but there is a nice collection of projects in the UK and a few European countries. Let’s hope it catches on and grows!

    OpenURL Standard Trial Implementation Launched
    “Bethesda, Md., USA (June 18, 2003) — The National Information Standards Organization (NISO) has released The OpenURL Framework for Context-Sensitive Services standard (version 1.0) for a trial use period ending November 1, 2003. The OpenURL standard allows a user who has retrieved an information resource citation to obtain immediate access to the most ‘appropriate’ copy of the full resource through the implementation of extended linking services. The selection of the best source for the full resource is based on the user’s and the organization’s preferences related to location, cost, contractual or license agreements in place with information suppliers, etc. — all done transparently to the user. The transparency is accomplished by storing context sensitive metadata with the ‘OpenURL’ link from the source citation, and linking it to a ‘resolver’ server where the preference information and links to the source material are stored.

    The initial development of OpenURL was targeted at the electronic delivery of scholarly journal articles. In version 1.0 of the Standard the framework is generalized to enable communities beyond the original audience of scholarly information users to adopt extended linking services and to lower the entry barrier for new implementers. An impressive international group of trial users including data providers constructing OpenURL metadata, providers of OpenURL resolvers, and libraries providing end user services using OpenURL resolution are testing the standard. The goal of the trial period is to test the standard’s framework using a variety of data sources and resolver services to ensure that users can seamlessly receive and process OpenURLs and to solicit feedback on the proposed standard.”

    Biological Sciences

    Traits of Life
    “What are the essential elements of life? How can you distinguish between the living and nonliving world? You can explore these questions and more at the Exploratorium’s new collection of Life Science exhibits. After more than three years of research and development, Traits of Life opened to the public in the fall of 2002. Featuring over 30 new and revitalized biology exhibits and demonstrations, the Traits collection examines the fundamental elements common to all living things. On this site, you can find information ABOUT the collection, view a PHOTO GALLERY of the exhibits, sample EXHIBITS online, see the Traits POSTER ‘How Does a Muscle Work?’ and meet the SCIENTIST who illustrated it, and explore LINKS to other sites where you can find more information about the nature and structure of the natural world.

    Traits of Life is made possible by a grant from the National Science Foundation, with additional support from the Genentech Foundation for Biomedical Sciences, National Endowment for the Arts, and The Camille and Henry Dreyfus Foundation, Inc.”

    Protist Information Server
    The Protist Information Server is available through the Soken Taxa Web Server and Japan Science and Technology Corporation. Intended as a resource for research and education, the Protist Information Server contains over 31,000 images of protists representing 487 genera and 1617 species. Users will also find over 500 QuickTime movies, tons of related Web links, a recently added list of biodiversity Web sites in Japan, plus lots of other resources. Specific protist images are quickly found and organized by taxa or by subject, such as behavior, cell division, surface structure, and so on. Also available in Japanese. [RS] (From the Scout Report)

    “Offering hope to infertile couples. Curing disease by mixing human and animal cells. Assessing risk with genetic testing. Over the past few decades, the public has become increasingly comfortable with a growing menu of medical procedures, as interventions that were once science fiction become commonplace. But as reproductive and genetic technologies move out of the laboratory and into medical practice — as they are combined into complex applications and applied in unforeseen ways — they are forcing us to ask the question: are we creating a world that we won’t want to inhabit?”

    This well-done companion site to the PBS program explores ethical and legal dilemmas in which our societal values have not caught up with the emergence of biotechnology. The site explores a series of case studies, provides a quiz and a timeline, and more. Fascinating and very real problems!

    HHMIs Biointeractive
    “Become a scientist in … virtual labs, where you can identify deadly pathogens, probe heart patients, dissect a leech, or assay antibodies!” This site offers a variety of interactive learning features, along with background materials, glossaries, and teaching tips. In addition to virtual laboratories, the site features animations such as “Anatomy of the Cochlea” and interactive exhibits on topics such as biological clocks and cardiovascular disease. From the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI). (From Librarian’s Index to the Internet)

    Biodiversity Hotspots
    The hotspots described on this site are “the 25 richest and most threatened reservoirs of plant and animal life on Earth.” Search, browse by name of spot, or click on the map to access vital statistics; ecosystem, biodiversity, human impacts, and conservation information; a detailed map; and related links. Also includes a glossary and a definition of the word “hotspots.” (From Librarian’s Index to the Internet)

    Computer and Information Science

    OOPWeb (Object Oriented Programming Web)
    OOPWeb is a non-commercial service which collects and publishes computer science and object oriented programming articles, tutorials, lecture notes and online books and software. The site contains materials that are either public domain or free for non-commercial or education purposes. There is access to free articles, tutorials, lecture notes and online books and software, all searchable and available locally for viewing and download. (From EEVL)

    History of Computing
    This site is not visually fancy, but it is straightforward in arrangement, and chock full of content. A new addition to the site is the “take-off” on the ABC show “Who Wants to be a Millionaire?” in a history quiz. Who can resist trying your knowledge of the history of computing? This collection of materials relating to the history of computing is provided courtesy of the Department of Computer Science at Virginia Tech, and is sponsored in part by a grant from the National Science Foundation.


    Virtual Machine Shop
    The Virtual Machine Shop aims to create lecture/demos for machine tool technology instruction and to have them available on the web. Experienced machine tool technology instructors and industry professionals will write “lessons” on various aspects of the technology which will culminate in over 180 machine tool lecture topics. These lessons do not follow a curriculum; they are simply topics of interest, likened to a teacher’s filing cabinet full of magazine clippings, photo copies, and personal notes. It is hoped that these assets can be used to enhance existing curriculums or to facilitate the building a new one. The lessons include video clips, animation, photographs and illustrations.

    The project, funded by the United States Department of Labor, requires an IBM Compatible PC, DSL or faster connection, Explorer 4.0 or newer, Windows Media Player, and Flash Player. Some of the lessons are also available in Spanish. (From EEVL)

    Nanomedicine Art Gallery
    “Here you will find a small but growing collection of visual artwork that describes many different views of how medical nanorobots and other nanomedical devices and systems might appear. Some of these works have been borrowed with permission from already-published print-media or electronic-media works. Other contributions are original graphics created by the named individual artists especially for this Gallery exhibition, for your additional enjoyment. The images in the Nanomedicine Art Gallery are organized into three nonexclusive conceptual groupings — Nanorobot Species, Medical Challenges, and Individual Artists — for easy browsing.” Part of the Foresight Institute website.

    Mathematical and Physical Sciences

    Instructional Resources for Chemistry
    “This site provides annotated Web links to instructional materials and other resources of interest to Chemistry teachers and course designers. The links are carefully selected to represent what this author considers to be the most useful and exemplary resources. Special emphasis is placed on CAI lessons, digital text, Web-based tutorials and similar materials that can serve as alternatives to traditional methods of instruction.” (From Infomine)

    Archimedes’ Laboratory
    Inspired by the work methods of scientist Archimedes, this online companion to the print magazine of the same name provides a virtual lab of geometric puzzles to make and solve, games, mazes, and optical illusions. Appropriate for children and adults. Searchable. Available in English, Italian, and French. (From Librarian’s Index to the Internet)

    Polar Programs

    Toothwalkers: Giants of the Arctic Ice
    “Filmmakers Adam Ravetch and Sarah Robertson, who are husband and wife, have been studying the giant saber-toothed Arctic walrus for five years. To put his diving skills to use in learning about the walrus’s other existence — the one hidden deep below massive sheets of ice — Ravetch and Robertson accompany an Inuit hunting party in its arduous and hazardous quest for the food that will carry the Inuits and their dogs through the winter.”

    The site has video clips, photographs, special features, a walrus “wallpaper” download, and more!

    Wild-Eyed Alaska: Gull Island in Kachemak Bay
    “Imagine watching a bald eagle close up. Or joining a puffin inside its burrow. Or plunging over rocky cliffs into the water to gaze at giant barnacles and other sea life. Now you can do all this and more — virtually. An HHMI grant enabled the Pratt Museum in Homer, Alaska, to place several video cameras on nearby Gull Island in Kachemak Bay. Soon the birds on the island became accustomed to their electronic companions, even as students and other visitors controlled the cameras remotely from the museum. You can check out the action, too, in six video clips that bring Alaska to your computer.”

    Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences

    Discovery Channel: Walking With Cavemen
    This Web site presents online material for “Walking with Cavemen,” a Discovery Channel documentary covering 3.5 million years of human evolution. The site offers an “illustrated journey of human evolution” introducing six hominids from Australopithecus afarensis to Homo neanderthalis. Likewise, visitors can take a look at some of the famous fossil findings that have shaped our understanding of human evolution, and also view a slide show about the traits that set humans apart from other species. The coolest feature is the virtual cave, where visitors take up a flashlight and search for clues about Neanderthal life in Western Europe 50,000 years ago. The fun multimedia features in this site make it well worth a visit even for those not especially interested in paleoanthropology. [RS] (From the Scout Report)

    “Offers analysis and commentary about the rhetoric, propaganda, and spin of journalism and politics, including analysis of presidential speeches and election campaigns.” In addition to a blog, this site has background information on rhetorics (“Rhetorics Primer”) and explanations of critical terms and techniques (“Critical Meter”). From a rhetoric scholar and former journalist. (From Librarian’s Index to the Internet)

    World Policy Institute
    The World Policy Institute, located within the New School University since 1991, is concerned with promoting and engaging the public debate and scholarship surrounding international diplomacy and world politics. As such, the Institute seeks to “offer innovative policy proposals for public debate with the goal of developing an internationalist consensus on the measures needed for the management of a world market economy” and “to nurture a new generation of writers and public intellectuals committed to internationalist thinking.” From the well-organized home page, users can read current and archived issues of the World Policy Journals (one of WPI’s scholarly publications), read about ongoing research projects (including those dealing with the international arms trade and counter-terrorism), and find out about events sponsored by the Institute. Perhaps the highlight of the site is the archive, including lecture and discussion video recordings, which address such topics as “The Democratic Deficit in Latin America” and “Nation Building: Does it Work?” and are viewable in their entirety. [KMG] (From the Scout Report)


    The following items are from Edupage. To subscribe to Edupage: send mail to: with the message: subscribe edupage Anonymous (if your name is Anonymous; otherwise, substitute your own name). To unsubscribe send a message to: with the message: unsubscribe edupage. (If you have subscription problems, send mail to:

    Researchers at the California Institute of Technology have devised a mirror that reflects atoms in much the same way that an optical mirror reflects light beams. The researchers etched trenches into an old computer hard drive to create the “atomic mirror,” which is able to reflect atoms when it is magnetized. Researcher Benjamin Lev explained, “If a cloud of cold atoms is dropped on the atom mirror, they will bounce up and down in much the same manner as a rubber ball falling on the floor.” The technology of atomic mirrors could have application in the field of quantum physics or in developing communication technologies that work with atoms instead of photons.
    NewsFactor Network, 23 June 2003 via Edupage

    A new journal published by the Ethics and Public Policy Center aims to narrow what its publishers see as a gap of understanding between technologists and lawmakers. Eric Cohen, editor of the journal — called New Atlantis, named for an essay by Sir Francis Bacon — described the problem this way: “Policymakers know too little about science, and scientists think too little about the ethical and social consequences of their research.” Glenn Zorpette of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers noted that many new technologies open the door to privacy threats, a situation that calls for greater understanding of the social implications of technology. Article topics in the first issue of the journal include military technology and DNA databases. The Ethics and Public Policy Center is a conservative think tank founded in the 1970s to “promote the moral and ethical traditions of Western Civilization.”
    NewsFactor Network, 25 June 2003 via Edupage

    A British higher education organization will pay BioMed Central $138,000 over 15 months in an agreement that will allow members of BioMed Central to publish for free in the company’s more than 90 online journals. BioMed Central — whose 331 members are largely British institutions but which include Harvard University, Princeton University, and Yale University — offers most of its content free but typically charges authors $500. The agreement with the Joint Information Systems Committee, the organization paying the fee, represents a new model for academic publishing. According to a spokesman from the committee, British libraries spend $128 million each year on journals. The new agreement, he said, will not replace the traditional system right away but could go a long way toward providing a new, less-expensive option for scholarly publishing.
    Chronicle of Higher Education, 20 June 2003 (sub. req’d) via Edupage.

    Intel is teaming up with a group of universities around the world to create a new network, called PlanetLab, that will comprise 1,000 servers in 16 countries. The goal of PlanetLab, which functions on top of the Internet but is separate, is to provide opportunities for researchers to build and test applications designed to work simultaneously on computers across the globe, accessing data from separate storage systems. Dave Culler, one of the researchers involved in the project, said, “In the future, applications will spread themselves over a large fraction of the planet,” and, according to Larry Peterson, one of the project’s designers, “Simulation and emulation doesn’t cut it.” Institutions taking part in PlanetLab include Princeton University; the University of California at Berkeley; the Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Harvard University; Cornell University; Rice University; and universities in Israel, China, England, Sweden, Taiwan, and Germany.
    CNET, 23 June 2003 via Edupage

    Leaders of the European Union (EU) have approved a plan to investigate adding computer chips with biometric data to passports and visas. The proposal to add the chips, which could include identifiers such as eye scans or fingerprints, is part of a larger effort to coordinate immigration policies among EU nations. The plan does not establish a date for adding biometric data to passports; the Enhanced Border Security and Visa Entry Reform Act, however, passed by the United States in 2002, requires all countries whose citizens are allowed to travel to the United States without a visa to add biometric data to passports by October 26, 2004. Most EU nations fall into this category. Privacy advocates object to the chips. Trevor Hennings of Statewatch, a British privacy organization, said, “There is a complete lack of any kind of accountability with this.”
    New York Times, 20 June 2003 (registration req’d) via Edupage

    Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) will join forces on a new research institute funded by a $100 million grant from Eli and Edythe Broad. Also involved in the project will be the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research. The Eli and Edythe L. Broad Institute will include researchers in the fields of biology, medicine, engineering, and chemistry and will study the application of genomic research to the causes and treatments of diseases. The institute’s goal is to address the causes of diseases rather than simply treating symptoms. Harvard and MIT will try to raise another $200 million in private funding for the institute.
    New York Times, 20 June 2003 (registration req’d) via Edupage.

    Donald R. Riley has resigned his post as chief information officer of the University of Maryland at College Park, marking a shift in focus away from national initiatives and toward campus-based needs. Riley was hired by the university five years ago to bring the school into high-profile, local and national computing projects such as Internet2 and USA Waves. Riley’s resignation came in the wake of an investigation into the university’s Office of Information Technology. The investigation indicated that the office needed to spend more resources maintaining and upgrading campus services, and this meant less involvement with the projects Riley had championed. Riley will continue at the university as a professor and an advisor to the university’s president on national technology issues.
    Chronicle of Higher Education, 17 June 2003 (sub. req’d)via Edupage