Sci-Tech Library Newsletter


Newsletter archive > 2004 January 5 Issue

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  4. INTERESTING WEBSITES & NEWS FROM THE INTERNET: Health Physics Instrumentation Museum Collection, Digital Library Project Publishes UC Books Online, Federal R&D Budget FY2004, Scholarly Publishing, World Summit Calls for Global Internet Access by 2015; Biological Sciences: i-bioUK, EMF RAPID: Electric and Magnetic Fields Research and Public Information Dissemination Program, AGORA, Orchid Hunter, The Keiko Project: Returning Keiko to the Wild; Computer and Information Science: Fastest Reserach Network Ever Goes Online; Education and Human Resources: Become a NASA Explorer School, Free Videos from NASA, Reach Every Child: Aviation, World’s Best Science Demos; Engineering: America on the Move, Recreation of Wright Brothers’ First Flight Fails to Get Off the Ground, Sinking City of Venice, Hyperinstruments, Engineering Innovations, Mechanical Marvels of the Nineteenth Century, DARPA Grand Challenge; Geosciences: Dinosaurs, Dinosaur Planet; Mathematical and Physical Sciences: Balloon Molecules, Leap Year, The Best of Hubble, Base Valued Numbers, The Sounds of Music, Gallery of Mathematics, Mars, Dead or Alive; Polar Programs: Surviving Denali, Shackleton’s Voyage of Endurance, Big Dead Place,; Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences: World Values Survey, California Academy of Sciences Anthropology Collection Database, The Nonverbal Dictionary of Gestures, Signs & Body Language Cues, Folklore and Mythology Electronic Texts, Economics Policy Institute, Ancient Scripts, Cynthia M. Beall Interview, Reporting Civil Rights, AnthroSource … and more … plus news items from Edupage
  5. INTER ALIA: Miniature books …



    Open Access
    Source: SciDevNet “Information summit endorses key role of ‘e-science.’ ” From the article, The first session of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) ended on Friday (12 December) with endorsement of a broad list of principles intended to guide the future development of information and communication technologies (ICTs), and of a ‘road map’ showing how these should be put into practice … Included in the first of these is a statement recognising that science has a central role in the development of the information society, and that there is a need to ensure that scientific data remains widely accessible … The declaration also makes an explicit reference to the need to promote open access initiatives for scientific publishing as part of support for “universal access with equal opportunities for all to scientific knowledge”. (From ResourceShelf)

    The 29th Annual AAAS Forum on Science and Technology Policy
    April 22–23, 2004 * Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill * Washingon, DC
    The AAAS Forum on Science and Technology Policy, held in Washington each spring, provides a forum for discussion and debate about budget and other policy issues facing the S&T community. Since its beginning in 1976 it has grown into an annual institution that draws nearly 500 of the nation’s top science and technology experts. The Forum has established itself as the major public meeting in the U.S. on science and technology policy issues.

    The 29th Annual AAAS Forum on Science and Technology Policy will be held April 22-23, 2004, at the Hyatt Regency Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. Registration and program information will be available in December.


    Improving the nation’s health care is the topic of an upcoming Institute of Medicine summit. The two-day meeting begins at 8:30 a.m. on EST Tuesday, Jan. 6 in the National Academy of Sciences building auditorium, 2100 C St. N.W., Washington, D.C. 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.

    Risk estimation in the public and private sectors is the topic of an upcoming workshop sponsored by the National Academies’ Board on Mathematical Sciences and Their Applications. The two-day meeting begins at 8 a.m. on Jan. 14 in the National Academy of Sciences building, 2100 C St. N.W., Washington, D.C. Registration is free and open to the public.


    The science, engineering & technology communities’ Congressional Visits Day has been scheduled for 3–4 March 2004. The registration deadline is 17 February 2004. IEEE U.S. members are invited to participate in this annual visit to Capitol Hill to help raise visibility and support in Congress for science, engineering and technology.

    Mars Webcasts
    The Exploratorium is offering a rich calendar of webcasts on the exploration of Mars during the entire month of January. You can attend the webcasts “live” or watch the archives. Topics include: camping on Mars, mapping Mars, Mars snowflakes, robotic biomotion, and more! Don’t miss this fun and interesting series!

    Transportation Research Board’s 83rd annual meeting
    Register now for the Transportation Research Board’s 83rd annual meeting. The five-day event, which begins on Jan. 11, 2004 in Washington, D.C., is expected to attract nearly 9,000 transportation professionals from around the world. Attendees will have the opportunity to share knowledge and perspectives with colleagues and to learn about the latest developments in transportation research, policy and practice.

    Public Welfare Medal for Maurice F. Strong
    United Nations undersecretary-general Maurice F. Strong will receive this year’s Public Welfare Medal, the National Academy of Sciences’ most prestigious award. Strong, a Canadian and the first non-U.S. citizen to receive the award, is honored for his leadership in international environmental negotiations and his tireless efforts to link science, technology and society for common benefit. The award will be presented at the Academy’s annual meeting in April.



    The international Journal of Digital Contents (JDC) is a quarterly journal about the management, presentation and uses of contents in digital environments covering research, technical, design and practical issues aimed at researchers, developers and teachers. It is devoted to the rapid publication of new findings in these areas. It also publishes full and mini-reviews and provocative editorials which discuss and review the hottest topics of the moment.

    Papers are normally evaluated by a peer review process involving two independent reviewers. Within the scope of the Journal, articles will be accepted on the basis of scientific quality, originality, general interest and up-to-date relevance.


    Third International Mathematics and Science Study 1999 Video Study Technical Report, Volume 1: Mathematics. NCES, 2003.

    Enabling Ocean Research in the 21st Century: Implementation of a Network of Ocean Observatories. NAP, 2003.

    Information and Communications: Challenges for the Chemical Sciences in the 21st Century. NAP, 2003.

    Review of NASA’s Aerospace Technology Enterprise: An Assessment of NASA’s Pioneering Revolutionary Technology Program. NAP, 2003.

    Understanding Climate Change Feedbacks. NAP, 2003.

    Remarks by Dr. John Marburger, Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology to the NSF Workshop on Social Implications of Nanoscience and Nanotechnology, 2003.

    Nanotechnology: Economic Opportunities, Societal & Ethical Challenges. Remarks by Under Secretary of Commerce For Technology Phillip Bond, 2003.

    The Digital Economy 2003. U.S. Department of Commerce, 2003.

    ACM Technology Guide.

    Schoomaker, Peter. The Way Ahead — Our Army at War — Relevant and Ready: Moving from the Current Force to the Future Force … Now. 2003.

    National Priorities in Science and Technology Policy, Remarks by Dr. John Marburger, Director, Office of Science and Technology Policy at Renssellaer Polytechnic Institute (14 Nov. 2003).

    Critical Issues in Weather Modification Research. NAP, 2003.

    Neon: Addressing the Nation’s Environmental Challenges. NAP, 2003.

    The Sun to the Earth — and Beyond: Panel Reports. NAP, 2003.

    Assessing Research-Doctorate Programs: A Methodology Study. NAP, 2003.

    Factors Affecting the Utilization of the International Space Station for Research in the Biological and Physical Sciences. NAP, 2003.

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

    An Assessment of NASA’s Aeronautics Technology Programs. NAP, 2003.

    Dioxins and Dioxin-like Compounds in the Food Supply: Strategies to Decrease Exposure. NAP, 2003.

    Enabling Ocean Research in the 21st Century: Implementation of a Network of Ocean Observatories. NAP, 2003.

    Engaging Schools: Fostering High School Students’ Motivation to Learn. NAP, 2003.

    Learning and Instruction: A SERP Research Agenda. NAP, 2003.

    Distribution and Administration of Potassium Iodide in the Event of a Nuclear Incident. NAP, 2003.

    Evaluating Military Advertising and Recruiting: Theory and Methodology. NAP, 2003.


    Federal R&D Budget FY2004
    An agency by agency discussion.

    World Summit Calls for Global Internet Access by 2015
    “Delegates at the World Summit on the Information Society adjourned on Dec. 12 having adopted a declaration of principles and 29 point action plan to extend the benefits of the Internet and telecommunications technologies by 2015 to the estimated 90% of the world’s population not currently connected.

    Conferees rejected proposals to create a United Nations agency to regulate the Internet, instead agreeing that the U.N. should convene a working group on Internet governance with representatives from the U.S. Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) and the U.S. Commerce Department to explore whether international oversight of Internet administration is needed. Their report will be discussed at a follow-up summit in Tunis in 2005. Conferees from developed nations also rejected a proposal by the President of Senegal to establish a voluntary Digital Solidarity Fund to support Internet adoption in developing nations. The event drew of 12,000 participants including 40 heads of state with representatives from 170 countries.” (From IEEE Eye on Washington.)

    Scholarly Publishing
    “Source: The Guardian. UK Government Preparing Investigation of Scientific Publishers. From the article, Reed Elsevier faces a serious challenge to one of its main revenue drivers as a committee of MPs prepares to investigate the growing academic backlash against scientific publishing — a market worth more than £4.5bn a year … Increasingly, universities are reluctant to pay the large fees demanded by publishers and are turning to so-called open access journals, where the costs of publication are paid by the authors. Yesterday the House of Commons science and technology committee said it planned to conduct an inquiry into scientific publications early in the new year. The committee will look at access to journals, with particular reference to price and availability. Specifically the committee will ask about the importance of open-access journals and whether the government should support the trend towards free scientific information.” (From ResourceShelf)

    Digital Library Project Publishes UC Books Online
    “The University of California has launched the eScholarship Editions collection, which represents about a third of the University of California Press books in print with an additional 300 out-of-print titles. Most of the books are available only from computers on the UC campus, but about four hundred of them are available to all readers.

    You may browse or you can search. Browsing is available by subject, author, or title. Publicly-available books are marked with a PUBLIC icon; you also have the option of listing only publicly-available books (look for the links at the top of the page.) For searching, I recommend the advanced search. It allows you to search either the book text or the book description, with a checkbox to limit search results to publicly-available books.” (From ResearchBuzz)

    Health Physics Instrumentation Museum Collection
    With more than 1,000 objects related to the scientific and commercial history of radioactivity and radiation, Oak Ridge University possesses a impressive and unique collection. In the atomic movie poster section, you’ll gasp at the site of terror disguised as a woman in “Operation Uranium” and breathe a sigh of relief as the Canadian Mounties come to the rescue against atomic invaders. There’s even an area in which you can learn how to build your own Kearny Fallout Meter from a soup can, aluminum foil, thread, plastic, wire, bits of drywall, and tape. The quack cures section harkens back to a time when radioactive water was thought to be healthy and radium indicated high value. This repository of all things radioactive allows investigation into everything from radioluminescent household items to things that survived Hiroshima and the Trinity test. (From Yahoo’s Picks of the Week)

    Biological Sciences

    “Since the discovery of the double-helix by James Watson and Francis Crick fifty years ago, the interest in what is now referred to as biotechnology has grown exponentially. Currently, the United Kingdom is second only to the United States in terms of biotechnology research and is looking to increase its share of this particular realm of economic and scholarly activity. Those unfamiliar with the world of biotechnology would do well to start with the Absolute Beginners area of the site, which offers a broad description of the field, examples of what exactly biotechnology is, and case studies from the UK and the rest of the world. Other sections of the site offer information about the biotech industry, academic research in this field (along with material on the role of universities), and current government policy and support initiatives for biotechnology and ancillary forms of research. [KMG]” (From the Scout Report)

    The Keiko Project: Returning Keiko to the Wild
    “Information about Keiko, an orca (a type of dolphin sometimes called a ‘killer whale’). Keiko starred in the 1993 movie, ‘Free Willy.’ His rescue from a Mexico City amusement park and eventual release into the wild were featured in the television documentary, ‘The Free Willy Story.’ Keiko died on December 12, 2003. Includes a timeline, photographs, video clips, an audio file of Keiko, a FAQ about wildlife rehabilitation and release, and an article about marine mammals in captivity.” (From Librarian’s Index to the Internet)

    Access to Global Online Research in Agriculture (AGORA) is an initiative to provide free or low-cost access to major scientific journals in agriculture and related biological, environmental and social sciences to public institutions in developing countries. Launching in October 2003, AGORA will provide access to over 400 journals from the world’s leading academic publishers.

    Led by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, the goal of AGORA is to increase the quality and effectiveness of agricultural research, education and training in low-income countries, and in turn, to improve food security. Researchers, policy-makers, educators, students, technical workers and extension specialists will have access to high-quality, relevant and timely agricultural information via the Internet. You must LOGIN in order to use article searching and to be able to access the full text of the journal articles.

    All users may browse journal abstracts without login. You may still have full-text access through the AGORA website, if your institutions subscribe to the journals.

    Orchid Hunter
    “For nine months in 2000, Tom Hart Dyke was a captive of guerrillas who seized him while he was collecting wild orchids in the Colombian rain forest. Now Hart Dyke is at it again in the most orchid-rich and politically unstable part of New Guinea. NOVA investigates an all-consuming passion that for some people is more precious than life itself. Ranging from the scientific to the sociological, ‘Orchid Hunter’ covers research at the forefront of plant biology. Long of interest to scientists because of their remarkable evolutionary history, orchids are equally exciting to collectors, who have made them a multibillion-dollar industry.” This companion to the NOVA program has an orchid gallery, video clips, information on famous amateur scientists, and more …

    EMF RAPID: Electric and Magnetic Fields Research and Public Information Dissemination Program
    Web headquarters of a “federally coordinated effort to evaluate developing technologies and research on the effects on biological systems of exposure to 60 Hz electric and magnetic fields produced by the generation, transmission and use of electric energy.” Users can view reports assessing the health effects of EMF and detailed proceedings from symposiums. Also provides links to related resources. From the U.S. National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. (From Librarian’s Index to the Internet)

    Computer and Information Science

    Fastest Reserach Network Ever Goes Online
    “Will an experimental high-performance network form the basis of the ‘next Internet’? Last month, the National LambdaRail (NLR), started connecting a consortium of research institutions at universities and technology companies, with the complete network expected to be linked up by the end of next year. NLR uses 10,000 miles of previously laid but unused optic cable to form what is described as the biggest and fastest scientific research network ever.” (From What’s New @ IEEE in Computing)

    Education and Human Resources

    Reach Every Child: Aviation
    On Dec. 12–17, the nation celebrates the 100th anniversary of the Wright Brothers’ flight. This event provides teachers with many tools to build integrated lesson plans.

    To this end, Reach Every Child presents a list of free resources that includes everything from an interactive site where students can fly the first airplane to space resources.

    Become a NASA Explorer School
    “Schools from across the country are now eligible to apply online for an opportunity to partner with NASA in a program designed to bring engaging mathematics, science, and technology learning to educators, students, and families. Each year the NES program establishes a three-year partnership between NASA and 50 school teams consisting of teachers and education administrators from diverse communities across the country.

    While partnered with NASA, NES teams will acquire and use new teaching resources and technology tools for grades 4-9 using NASA’s unique content, experts, and other resources. Schools in the program are eligible to receive up to $17,500 over the three-year period to purchase technology tools that support science and mathematics instruction.

    The application deadline is January 30, 2004.” (From NSTA)

    Free Videos from NASA
    “NASA has a great source of free education videos (not just science). If you send them a blank video tape, they will record it for you and send it back for....... free of charge!” Topics are broad, everything from history of aviation to polynomials. There are also a few interactive CDs available for sale. This website is a pdf catalog of what is available. (From Mary Croix Ludwick)

    World’s Best Science Demos
    “The Exploratorium Web site has a great new feature: Our new Try This section highlights fun and compelling science activities that you can do yourself. Every month, our own Dr. Paul Doherty introduces you to a science teacher famed for great demonstrations — watch the Webcast, follow the links to the ‘recipes,’ then do your own hands-on science! Make sure to bookmark the page, because new activities will be added each month.”


    Mechanical Marvels of the Nineteenth Century
    “Pulsing red lights and mobile trash cans are all fine and well, but whatever happened to old-school robots? Walking, talking, man/machine robots? Alas, they died out in the twilight of the 19th century, along with bloomers and the British Empire. Meet Boilerplate, the original Terminator, who fought bravely alongside Teddy Roosevelt and his Rough Riders. Say hello to The Electric Man, an itinerant android who traveled the globe on his trusty steam-powered steed. And quiver in amazement at The Automatic Man, a giant mustachioed automaton who could pull a horse carriage. Giant robots all!” (From Yahoo’s Picks of the Week)

    Engineering Innovations
    “The National Academy of Engineering announces the launch of a new project with WTOP, Washington, D.C.’s all-news radio station. A series of short weekly radio pieces highlight engineering innovations in the context of everyday life.”

    Sinking City of Venice
    “Today’s tourists often need wading boots to explore the architectural wonders of Venice. Will they one day need scuba gear? NOVA covers the battle to keep the world’s most unusual city from drowning beneath the rising tides of the Adriatic Sea. For centuries Venetians have been fighting the forces of nature that threaten to alter their city’s precarious relationship with the encircling lagoon that has long served as protection from invading armies. Now they have to decide how to keep that water out. NOVA looks at the choices that they have to make — the same kind of choices that all coastal cities, including Miami, New Orleans, and New York City, will eventually have to make.” This companion to the PBS show includes videos, articles, and interactive features.

    Recreation of Wright Brothers’ First Flight Fails to Get Off the Ground

    Rainfall Ruins Wrights’ 100
    Wright Flight, Wrong Outcome
    U.S. Centennial of Flight Home Page
    Wright Experience: Reconstructing the Wright Brothers’ Legacy
    Wright Brothers Aeroplane Company and Museum of Pioneer Aviation Home Page
    30,000 people were on hand Wednesday to commemorate the first flight of the Wright Brothers along the sandy dunes of Kill Devil Hill, North Carolina. Unfortunately, inclement weather (particularly the lack of wind), made effectively recreating that flight an impossibility. The detailed reproduction of the original 1903 Wright Flyer was built by the nonprofit group, the Wright Experience, and was to be flown by engineering professor Kevin Kochersberger. A number of dignitaries and celebrities were on hand for the event, including astronaut Buzz Aldrin, singer Lee Greenwood, actor John Travolta, and President George W. Bush. Some had speculated that President Bush might use the occasion to announce a new NASA-sponsored mission to the moon, but no such announcement was forthcoming. In his introduction of the President, John Travolta commented (in regards to such an endeavor), “Not only do I vote for that option, but I volunteer to go on the first mission.” Bush responded thusly by saying of Travolta, “We shall call him ‘Moon Man’ from now on.” [KMG]

    “The first link will take visitors to a recent news story about the problems encountered by the recent attempt to reproduce the Wright Brothers’ historic 1903 flight provided by the Moscow Times. The second link takes users to another story about the events of Wednesday provided by the Melbourne Herald Sun. The third link leads to the U.S. Centennial Flight home page, and contains a host of valuable essays, interactive features, and timelines designed as an online resource for the general public. The fourth link takes visitors to the home page of the Wright Experience, the group responsible for constructing the reproduction of the Wright Brothers’ 1903 Flyer. Here visitors can learn about their efforts and look at images of airplane artifacts that the group studied in order to make their reproduction airplane. The fifth link leads to the web presence established by the Wright Brothers Aeroplane Company and Museum of Pioneer Aviation in Dayton, Ohio, where visitors can learn about the Wright Brothers, download plans and instructions for hands-on aviation projects, and view all 19 types of aircraft that the Wright Brothers produced. The final link provided here will take users to, where they may peruse various sections that tell the stories of various famous airplane models from the 20th century and some nice photo galleries, including strong galleries of dirigibles and aircraft carriers.” (From the Scout Report)

    “This site features information about the research projects of MIT Media Lab’s Hyperinstruments (also known as Opera of the Future) Group that ‘explores concepts and techniques to help advance the future of musical performance, composition, learning, and expression.’ Includes details about experimental musical instruments, music toys, performance spaces, and other research involving music and technology. Provides research papers and links to further information for some of the projects.” (From Librarian’s Index to the Internet)

    America on the Move
    “How did the U.S. go from the original 13 colonies to the sprawling country it is today? Transportation played an integral part in the expansion and transformation of America — sometimes bringing change slowly, sometimes at a breakneck pace. This site from the National Museum of American History examines how the ability to get from here to there shaped lives, landscapes, culture, and communities across the nation. The first transcontinental railroad line was finished in 1869, and by the end of the 19th century, railroads transported produce and other goods farther and faster than the old system of rivers and canals ever could. Decades later, migration and commuting impacted day-to-day life, as mobility became more important to Americans. The automobile quickly went from being a toy for the rich to becoming a necessary part of suburban life. In fact, the car built the suburbs and created the need for the interstate highway. This vast collection of artifacts and images drives through the themes that powered transport and growth in America.” (From Yahoo’s Picks of the Week)

    DARPA Grand Challenge
    “DARPA intends to conduct a challenge of autonomous ground vehicles between Los Angeles and Las Vegas in March of 2004. A cash award of $1 million will be granted to the team that fields the first vehicle to complete the designated route within a specified time limit. The purpose of the challenge is to leverage American ingenuity to accelerate the development of autonomous vehicle technologies that can be applied to military requirements. Many of the details of the event are being developed, and new information will be posted to this web site as soon as possible.”


    The December edition of Surf Report is replete with links to excellent dinosaur sites. Go on a virtual dinosaur egg hunt, listen to dinosaur roars, or trade “dino cards” with your friends.

    Dinosaur Planet
    “They’re wilder, woollier, and more menacing than ever! In true Discovery Channel style, the land before time lives again with all new, recently identified dinosaurs rendered in scary detail. Bang foreheads and exchange vital stats with the oldest inhabitants of Asia and Europe, then reach out to their rowdy and horny cretateceous cousins across the primordial pond. Do you prefer more intimate face time? The DinoViewer provides it, with 360-degree, rotatable views of 20 dinosaurs and their unique body parts. In an us-versus-them, glad-they’re-extinct moment, compare their superior reptilian frames with our squishy mammalian form, and watch how they might have chased after us with stunning animation. Tune into the Discovery Channel special for more on the evolution of each dynamic and fascinatingly bizarre creature. Then breathe a sigh of relief that (at least for now) it’s a mammal planet.” (From Yahoo’s Picks of the Week)

    Mathematical and Physical Sciences

    The Sounds of Music
    “Have you ever wondered about the annoying hum your car makes at a certain speed on a particular stretch of highway? Or why a flute’s notes are higher than a trombone’s? Walter Lewin uses rubber hose, wooden boxes with holes, metal plates and an assortment of other home-made instruments to demonstrate how objects produce sound. It all boils down to how something vibrates — pushing air out in all directions.

    Lewin illustrates the shape of sounds, taking a rope tethered at one end, shaking it up and down at different speeds and producing specific wave shapes. These shapes are the rope’s resonant frequencies, or harmonics. It’s the same for a bowed violin, where the oscillations of the strings generate a set of harmonics, producing the notes we hear — the faster the oscillations, the higher the tones. Lewin invites children from the audience to produce sounds with their musical instruments, and shows the amplitude and frequency of the tones. Later he demonstrates destructive resonances: video of a bridge that twists so violently that it collapses, and then, live in the laboratory, the shattering of a wine glass with progressively louder and higher tones. In this event where physics meets performance art, Lewin provides surprises throughout.”

    Base Valued Numbers
    “Most basic math classes are taught using the decimal number system, but the concept of number systems that use a base value other than ten is rarely mentioned. This educational website attempts to shed light on this overlooked theme by illustrating some common number systems that have practical value or historic significance. The material is very well presented, helping the reader to understand how numbers are represented in binary, octal, hexadecimal, and many other number systems. It also demonstrates how using a base value other than ten can actually be simpler for certain purposes. [CL]” (From the Scout Report)

    Gallery of Mathematics
    From the Department of Mathematical Sciences at Loughborough University comes this entertaining website with brief descriptions and illustrations of concepts like Quaternionic Fractals, Self-similar Structures, and The Mandelbrot Set.

    The Best of Hubble
    “On April 24, 1990, the Hubble Space Telescope began its eye-popping mission after being launched into space by the shuttle Discovery. Since then, thousands of images of never-before-seen galaxies, stars, and celestial bodies have been sent back to Earth to be marveled at and studied. Unfortunately, the end of the Hubble’s life is near — its mission is scheduled to end in 2010, although many astronomers would like to see it refurbished and its mission extended. And after perusing the absolutely amazing photos on this site, you’re sure to agree. The Flash presentation offers some of the telescope’s most amazing photos, including a shot of the Monocerotis star, which suddenly brightened in January 2002 to become 600,000 times brighter than our sun. As the mysterious and beautiful photos roll by, you’ll no doubt question our place in the universe. Just imagine what’s to come in the future.” (From Yahoo’s Picks of the Week) NB: This takes a long time to load, but is worth the wait!

    Balloon Molecules
    “Two chemistry PhDs and a balloon sculptor in Germany have created an entertaining way to visualize atomic particles and structures. Using modeling balloons and a few twists, they’ve designed simple tetrahedrons and giant DNA helixes to demonstrate math and chemistry lessons. And they hope educators around the world will give it a try. Animations and photos illustrate all the basic knots, so you can tell a saved pinchtwist from a tuliptwist. If you get stuck, the FAQ helps troubleshoot problems like balloons that burst when you build with them. At last, the fine art of the poodle knot may be recognized for its contribution to science!” (From Yahoo’s Picks of the Week)

    Leap Year
    This site provides easy-to-understand scientific background information on the concept of a leap year. Features illustrations and links to information on related astronomical events such as leap day, the calendar, seasons, vernal equinox, tropical year, century, and Gregorian, Iranian, and Julian calendrical systems. The author is a scientist with advanced degrees in physics and planetary science. (From Librarian’s Index to the Internet)

    Mars, Dead or Alive
    “This weekend, a strange sight is scheduled to unfold on the planet Mars. Above a vast, dry lake bed south of the martian equator, a conical vehicle will parachute toward the surface; then, just before touchdown, it will be enveloped by a gigantic protective airbag allowing the craft to bounce safely to a stop. Inside is ‘Spirit,’ the most sophisticated rover ever launched from Earth, which NOVA covers in depth in this special program, airing just hours after NASA expects the rover’s thrilling landing. NOVA’s behind-the-scenes look at the construction of ‘Spirit’ and its twin, ‘Opportunity,’ will include a special segment with the latest news from Mars — to learn if Spirit survived its risky landing and is ready to undertake the most comprehensive search for evidence of liquid water ever attempted on Mars.” This companion to the PBS NOVA program has images, interactive features, and more …

    Polar Programs

    Surviving Denali
    “This site is a companion to a Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) NOVA program that followed ‘a medical expedition to Alaska’s Denali (Mt. McKinley).’ The site features a description of the expedition, images of the climb, information on survival skills (such as an illustrated guide to building an igloo), a glossary of climbing terms, and a discussion of how the body uses oxygen. Also provides links to related materials.” (From Librarian’s Index to the Internet)

    Shackleton’s Voyage of Endurance
    “In 1914, Ernest Shackleton boarded the Endurance with a team of seamen and scientists, determined to be the first to cross the Antarctic continent. But when the pack ice closed in and crushed their wooden ship, Shackleton and his men found themselves stranded 1,200 miles from civilization with little hope of rescue. For the next 14 months, they undertook a harrowing journey across the ice, subsisting mainly on penguins and seals. When the ice broke up, Shackleton saved his men by embarking on a heroic 800-mile voyage in a tiny rowboat across the treacherous South Atlantic. Amazingly, all Shackleton’s men survived their ordeal. Although many are now familiar with this epic story, NOVA presents a definitive two-hour documentary that includes spectacular footage of Antarctic locations and moving interviews with descendants of the original expedition team.” This companion website includes biographical profiles, timeline, film clips, an interview with Shakleton’s granddaughter, diaries and Antarctic survival stories, and a QuickTime VRs, exploring 360-degree panoramas of eight locations in the Antarctic, including Grytviken and Stromness whaling stations, Shackleton’s grave site on South Georgia Island, and an ice floe in the Weddell Sea.

    Big Dead Place
    This caustic and brilliant exploration of life at polar extremes is written from McMurdo Station, an American research station in Antarctica. McMurdo is the largest Antarctic post — its population tops 1,100 during the summer and slims down to 250 hardy souls in winter. As for its savvy chronicler, a researcher who goes by the pseudonym F. Scott Robert, imagine H.L. Mencken on an ice floe. His introduction opens with the immortal line, “Many of the early explorers who came to Antarctica died miserably of starvation while freezing to death.” The narrative quickly goes south from there. On John Carpenter’s “The Thing”: “No other movie in history has ever depicted daily Antarctic life and its problems with such accuracy and intuitive brilliance.” This site is the perfect place to chill. (From Yahoo’s Picks of the Week)
    An intrepid six-member team of scientists, explorers, and educators is set to venture into the Arctic regions of Northern Canada to chronicle climatic changes within the Arctic Circle. You’re invited to join their voyage into this rarely visited corner of the world. Set to depart on December 15, the explorers promise daily updates and information direct from the field. Until then, you can meet the dogs and the humans set to embark on the environmentally themed adventure. For students and teachers, an online classroom encourages education on this interesting voyage on subjects from A to Z. Round up your sled dogs and head into Inuit country. (From Yahoo’s Picks of the Week)

    Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences

    Cynthia M. Beall Interview
    Physical anthropologist Cynthia M. Beall discusses her research on humans’ adaptation to high altitudes in an hour-long interview with journalist Dorian Devins. The discussion is part of the National Academy of Sciences’ InterViews project, in which distinguished scientists talk about their research, why they became scientists and other aspects of their careers. (Interview audio files require free RealPlayer.)

    Economics Policy Institute
    “Founded in 1986, the Economics Policy Institute (EPI) was established to ‘broaden the discussion about economic policy to include the interests of low- and middle-income workers.’ In keeping with that particular view, the Institute places a premium on real world analysis and a concern for the living standards of working people. The EPI site serves a clearinghouse for much of its research findings, along with some fine web-only features, such as profiles of economic indicators, the Quarterly Wage and Employment Series (which analyzes wage and employment trends), and a number of online supplemental tables. Much of the material on the site falls into one of the broad themes with which the EPI is primarily concerned — such as trade and globalization, education, and living standards and labor markets. Finally, the site also contains an audio archive of events and discussions sponsored by the EPI dating back to August 1999, including programs on globalization and most recently, the ongoing debate surrounding the proposed privatization of Amtrak. [KMG]”(From the Scout Report)

    World Values Survey
    “This is a worldwide investigation of sociocultural and political change. … The survey is performed on nationally representative samples in almost 80 societies on all six inhabited continents.” This site provides information about completed surveys (browsable by geographic area), data from the surveys, and a list of publications covering topics such as religion, political science, and consumer behavior. Includes project news updates. (From Librarian’s Index to the Internet)

    The Nonverbal Dictionary of Gestures, Signs & Body Language Cues
    “Items in this Dictionary have been researched by anthropologists, archaeologists, biologists, linguists, psychiatrists, psychologists, semioticians, and others who have studied human communication from a scientific point of view. Every effort has been made to cite their work in the text. Definitions, meanings, and interpretations left uncredited are those of the author. Gestures and consumer products with current trademark registrations are identified with the (r) symbol.”

    California Academy of Sciences Anthropology Collection Database
    “Our entire collection database is online and searchable with approximately 17,000 objects and over 8,000 images. Includes materials ‘from the indigenous cultures of western North America (exclusive of Mexico) and the Pacific Rim, including all Pacific islands and East Asia.’ Database is updated monthly. Search by category, object name, materials, maker’s name, collection, catalog number, culture, global region, country, state/province/district, county.” (From the ResourceShelf)

    “The American Anthropological Association (AAA) has received a three-year grant of $756,000 from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to launch a digitized portal of anthropological materials, dubbed AnthroSource.

    Sounds like it’s going to be pretty extensive: ‘Although published text will be the first accessible data, AnthroSource will eventually provide one-stop access to all media ‘sound, video, photographs, collections and databases’ allowing people to tap into a broad range of materials that relate to anthropology from a centralized electronic source which facilitates sophisticated searching and easy retrieval.’ The first project will be to digitize and make available past and current issues of its 29 print publications.” (From ResearchBuzz)

    Folklore and Mythology Electronic Texts
    “Folklore and Mythology electronic texts are listed by category. Tales corresponding to a particular type (mainly using the Aarne-Thompson classification system) are grouped together for comparison. Each tale or story links to its own page, which provides the electronic text, notes on the source of the text, related links and Aarne-Thompson type number. The site presents folktales and mythology from many regions and eras.” (From InfoMine)

    Ancient Scripts
    Ancient Scripts gives overviews of ancient writing systems, as well as phonetics and historical linguistics. Images of the writing systems are displayed with English phonetic approximation. Searchable, with links and a bibliography. (From InfoMine)

    Reporting Civil Rights
    For many Americans born in the late '60s and after, the civil rights movement is likely defined through grainy images of Rosa Parks, MLK Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech, and segregated schools. The reporters who vividly captured our nation’s impassioned struggle are now sharing their important work in a two-book anthology, as well as on this site from the Library of America. From A. Philip Randolph’s 1941 cry for African-Americans to march on Washington, D.C. to a retrospective written by Alice Walker in 1973, all the major moments in the fight for equality are chronologically presented from the '40s through the early '70s in an interactive timeline. Each decade lists the cast of players who contributed to the fight, and includes a robust author index with biographies, bibliographies, and selected texts. This comprehensive journalistic presentation fills in all the gaps and forgotten details, and gives younger citizens an incomparable reference tool for a watershed moment in American history. (From Yahoo’s Picks of the Week)


    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:

    President Bush this week signed a bill authorizing $3.7 billion for research into nanotechnology, the study of manipulating matter on an extremely small scale. The 21st Century Nanotechnology Research and Development Act provides for a national program of research into the fundamentals of using nano-scale components in products for areas including manufacturing, health care, computers, and national security. The legislation also establishes an advisory board of industry and academic representatives. The board will determine short-, medium-, and long-term goals for nanotechnology research and will work to establish performance metrics for the National Nanotechnology Initiative, a collaboration of 13 federal agencies.
    Internet News, 4 December 2003 via Edupage

    Nanotechnology researchers at IBM said they have created polymer molecules that can be used to build memory chips much smaller than current techniques allow with silicon chips. A nanometer is about 1/10,000 the thickness of a human hair, and nanotechnology researchers are working to manipulate materials at the molecular level. IBM’s polymers arrange themselves in patterns on a silicon chip, offering the possibility of making smaller chips than can be manufactured today. The polymers created by IBM have the potential to replace current optical processes to etch patterns onto silicon wafers, a process for making smaller and smaller chips that is expected to reach its physical limit in about a decade.
    San Jose Mercury News, 8 December 2003 via Edupage.

    A report card released by Rep. Adam Putnam (R-Fla.) on federal agencies’ information security shows continued weakness in most of the 24 agencies included. Although the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the National Science Foundation, and the Labor Department saw their grades rise appreciably from last year’s report, 14 agencies had grades below C-minus, and eight failed. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS)received a failing grade, which Putnam attributed to the agency’s having been created very recently. He said he expects big improvements next year from DHS, which “should be the leaders.” Only five agencies have completed inventories of critical information technology assets, which are required by the Federal Information Security Management Act. Putnam said it was “disturbing that 19 of the agencies are still out of line.” Rep. Tom Davis (R-Va.), chairman of the House Government Reform Committee, said, “Clearly, our goal of making computer security a constant management focus has not been met.”
    Federal Computer Week, 9 December 2003 via Edupage

    The U.S. government has awarded four contracts to six companies to build a global optical and data network, according to a statement by the Defense Information Systems Agency. The contracts are estimated to be worth $400 million or more initially and could stretch to 10 years with options. The companies awarded the contracts are Ciena Corporation, Cisco Systems, Juniper Networks, Qwest Communications, Sprint, and Sycamore Networks. Sprint and Qwest, the prime suppliers in their contracts, have subcontracted work to Sycamore and Cisco, respectively.
    New York Times, 31 December 2003 (registration req’d) via Edupage

    U.S. Army Chief of Staff General Peter Schoomaker has published the report “The Way Ahead — Our Army at War — Relevant and Ready: Moving from the Current Force to the Future Force … Now.” The report emphasizes the use of information technology and agile logistics in the Army’s Future Force efforts. The report states, “Battle command capabilities must be leveraged to enable interdependent network-centric warfare, supported by sense-and-respond logistics capabilities within joint, interagency and multinational full-spectrum operations.”
    Federal Computer Week, 15 December 2003 via Edupage.

    China has announced the upcoming launch of a research satellite in cooperation with the European Space Agency. The satellite’s mission is to study the Earth’s magnetic fields. According to the National Space Administration of China, the satellite will launch aboard a Chinese-made Long March 2C-SM rocket. A second satellite, part of a pair called “Double Star,” will launch in 2004. The project is the first joint endeavor between China and the European Space Agency, which co-developed the instruments to be used in the research.
    Los Angeles Times, 28 December 2003 (registration req’d)via Edupage

    China and Russia plan to establish the first direct computer link across their shared border by extending a high-speed computer network that already allows scientists in the United States and Russia to collaborate directly on a network separate from the public Internet. The extended network connects Chicago with Amsterdam, Moscow, Siberia, Beijing, and Hong Kong. The National Science Foundation gave $2.8 million to the project, and Russia and China invested similar amounts.
    eWeek, 26 December 2003 via Edupage

    According to a story in the Japanese business daily Nihon Keizai Shimbun, Japan, China, and South Korea are planning to develop Internet Protocol version 6 (IPv6), the next-generation Internet standard, by 2005. Current IPv4-based Internet technology is dominated by the United States. A number of U.S. companies and the U.S. Department of Defense already support IPv6, with the DoD planning to switch to it by 2008. Japan’s Ministry of Public Management, Home Affairs, Posts, and Telecommunications has allocated $18,643,000 annually for a Japanese IPv6 network to connect local governments, corporations, and households in Japan. Similar networks to be built in Korea and China would then reportedly be connected to the Japanese network. A representative from Hitachi, a Japanese electronics company, said that the governments of Japan, China, and South Korea had discussed IPv6, but the representative knew of no recent developments and said Hitachi had no specific terms for co-development.
    CNET, 30 December 2003 via Edupage

    From IEEE-USA Eye on Washington:

    On Dec. 22, the National Science Foundation announced plans to establish a National Nanotechnology Infrastructure Network (NNIN), a five year program to link 13 universities in an integrated, nationwide system of user facilities for support of research and education in nanoscale science, engineering and technology. Due to begin operation in January 2004, NNIN will be led by Cornell University and will include the Georgia Institute of Technology, Harvard University, Howard University, North Carolina State University, Pennsylvania State University, Stanford University, the University of California at Santa Barbara, the University of Michigan, the University of Minnesota, the University of New Mexico, the University of Texas at Austin and the University of Washington. “By assembling and offering to share our specialized resources with any and all qualified users,” says Cornell’s Sandip Tiwari, the electrical engineer who will be director of the NNIN, “we have created the world’s largest, most comprehensive and accessible nanotechnology laboratory.” An initial funding allocation of $70 million to support the NNIN will be requested, and NSF anticipates holding future open competitions to expand the network by adding new sites and capabilities as the need arises.

    See NSF press release at:

    From ResourceShelf:

    Six Senators Call for Library of Congress to Upgrade THOMAS

    From the article, “The Library of Congress’ Thomas portal is inadequate in giving citizens access to House and Senate information, six senators said in a letter to the Librarian of Congress yesterday. Sens. John Cornyn (R-Texas), Jon Corzine (D-N.J.), Russell Feingold (D-Wis.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Joseph Lieberman (D-Conn.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.) told James Billington that Thomas was a ‘bare-bones’ site with limited searching tools. ‘In our view, the current form of Thomas is insufficient as a portal to the Congress,’ the senators said. ‘We urge you to upgrade the Thomas Web site in order to make available to the public the nonproprietary services that are available on the Legislative Information System.’ ”


    4000 Years of Miniature Books
    “‘Miniature books, most of which are less than three inches tall and some of which are smaller than a penny, have delighted readers for centuries.’ This online exhibit features images of a selection of miniature books and a narrative text. Items pictured include thumb Bibles (miniature condensations of the Bible), almanacs and calendars, early manuscripts and printed books, and books from modern presses. From the Lilly Library, University of Indiana, Bloomington.” (From Librarian’s Index to the Internet)

    The Myth of the Alascattalo Lumbers Ever Forward
    “Alascattalo Day, the first Sunday after the third Saturday in November. Named for a hybrid of the moose and walrus with a flipper for a tail, this indigenous mythical Alaska beast has enjoyed the unlikely distinction as our champion of the absurd” since 1982. The day is observed in Anchorage, Alaska, with a five-second parade and prizes for the smallest and ugliest floats. (From Librarian’s Index to the Internet)