Sci-Tech Library Newsletter


Newsletter archive > 2004 September 23 Issue

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  6. INTERESTING WEBSITES AND NEWS FROM THE INTERNET: NASA Technical Report Server, Scientist Interviews at NAS, Science Bulletin, Science of Spectroscopy, Infinite Secrets; Biological Sciences: Frogs: A Chorus of Colors, Electronic Biologica Centrali-Americana, Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Alert System, Curiosity Creates Cures: The Value & Impact of Basic Research; Education and Human Resources: Ripley’s Freaky Fridays; Engineering: Battle of the X-Planes; Geosciences: HURRICANES, Dan’s Wild Wild Weather Page, American RadioWorks: Climate of Uncertainty; Mathematical and Physical Sciences: Perspectives on Plasmas, Reciprocal Net, Yale University: Terra Femto, ROCKET TO SATURN, Robert J. Lang Origami, MathDL; Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences: Political Communications Lab, Omaha Indian Music, Decoding the Past: The Work of Archaeologists, ChangingMinds … and more … plus news items from Edupage
  7. INTER ALIA: Shakespeare online, Librarians are the Brainiest, “Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy” on BBC …
    “New Database Provides Doctors and Patients Unprecedented Access to Clinical Study Information for Marketed Medicines Set to launch in October. ‘The pharmaceutical industry today announced that it would inaugurate a central, easily accessible database to better communicate the results of clinical studies of marketed drugs. The database, available at, will contain the results of all controlled clinical trials (mainly Phase III and IV studies), both positive and negative, completed since October 2002 for PhRMA-member company drug products approved in the United States. This will include both published articles and unpublished study summaries. The free, comprehensive Internet database will be publicly available beginning October 1, 2004.’ (From ResourceShelf)”


    Here’s a Do Not Forget List of Deadlines for NSTA Student Competitions and Teacher Awards Programs.

    As you finalize your schedule for the school year, don’t forget to add the following deadlines. NSTA — with the generous support of corporate sponsors — is offering numerous programs to honor and reward outstanding students and teachers.

    1. October 15, 2004: NSTA Teacher Awards. Don’t be shy. Nominate one of your colleagues — or yourself — for a 2005 Teacher Award. NSTA offers 14 different programs to recognize and reward excellence among K–12 educators, professors, and principals. Check out the 2005 awards at
    2. January 19, 2005: Toyota TAPESTRY Grants for Science Teachers. Win money to make your innovative science program a reality. The 2005 TAPESTRY program will award $550,000 in grants and mini-grants to a minimum of 70 K–12 teachers of science. For information, go to
    3. February 1, 2005: Toshiba/NSTA ExploraVision Awards program. Now’s a great time to begin work on the ExploraVision competition, which rewards students for their creativity and ingenuity in envisioning the future in science and technology. Students can win up to $10,000 in savings bonds. For details, visit
    4. March 15, 2005: Craftsman/NSTA Young Inventors Awards. Problem-solving skills take center stage in the Craftsman Young Inventors program. Open to all students in grades 2–8, the program challenges students to use creativity and imagination along with science, technology, and mechanical ability to invent or modify a tool. Top winners receive $10,000 savings bonds. Get all the details at

    (From NSTA)


    Congressional Committee Proposes Taxpayer Access
    Notice: Enhanced Public Access to NIH Research Information
    “The U.S. Congressional committee with budgetary oversight of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), has urged the institutes to provide for public access to NIH-research results paid for with U.S. taxpayer funds. The following is text approved by the U.S. House of Representatives on September 9th. The proposed language is part of the Appropriations Committee report 108-636 to accompany the fiscal year 2005 Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill, H.R. 5006. When the Appropriations Committee presented this language to the full House a colloquy occurred between the chair of the subcommittee responsible for NIH oversight, the Honorable Ralph Regula (R-OH) and the Honorable Ernest Istook (R-OK), a fellow member of this committee which drafted the language. The language made it through deliberations by the House without amendment.

    The Committee is very concerned that there is insufficient public access to reports and data resulting from NIH-funded research. This situation, which has been exacerbated by the dramatic rise in scientific journal subscription prices, is contrary to the best interests of the U.S. taxpayers who paid for this research. The Committee is aware of a proposal to make the complete text of articles and supplemental materials generated by NIH-funded research available on PubMed Central (PMC), the digital library maintained by the National Library of Medicine (NLM). The Committee supports this proposal and recommends NIH develop a policy, to apply from FY 2005 forward, requiring that a complete electronic copy of any manuscript reporting work supported by NIH grants or contracts be provided to PMC upon acceptance of the manuscript for publication in any scientific journal listed in the NLM’s PubMed directory. Under this proposal, NLM would commence making these reports, together with supplemental materials, freely and continuously available six months after publication, or immediately in cases in which some or all of the publication costs are paid with NIH grant funds. For this purpose, ‘publication costs’ would include fees charged by a publisher, such as color and page charges, or fees for digital distribution. NIH is instructed to submit a report to the Committee by December 1, 2004 about how it intends to implement this policy, including how it will ensure the reservation of rights by the NIH grantee, if required, to permit placement of the article in PMC and to allow appropriate public uses of this literature.”

    “The Council of the National Academy of Sciences endorses the proposed National Institutes of Health policy that NIH-supported research will be made freely available online not later than six after publication in a peer-reviewed journal. ‘The benefits of this policy to science worldwide and to the general public seem to us to be significant,’ the Council said in a statement today. ‘We applaud the NIH for taking this important step.’ ”

    Update on FY 2005 Appropriations
    “Congress returns to session this week, with just three weeks to go before the October 1 start of FY 2005. Before the August recess, the House of Representatives drafted FY 2005 budget bills that would keep the federal investment in nondefense, non-homeland security R&D flat funded next year. Excluding a modest increase for biomedical research, nondefense R&D would decline under the latest House plans. The AAAS R&D web site features an August Status Report on R&D in FY 2005 appropriations provides a comprehensive analysis of congressional action on FY 2005 R&D appropriations so far, including funding trends, historical context, and a budget forecast for the fall.” (From AAAS R&D Funding Update)


    Global Environmental Health in the 21st Century
    “Global Environmental Health in the 21st Century” is the topic of a two-day meeting by the Institute of Medicine’s Roundtable on Environmental Health Sciences, Research and Medicine. The event begins on Wednesday, Oct. 13 in the National Academy of Sciences Building auditorium, 2100 C St. N.W., Washington, D.C. Admission is free and open to the public, but registration is required.

    Guidelines for Human Embryonic Stem Cell Research
    **Live Webcast**
    “Guidelines for Human Embryonic Stem Cell Research” is the title of an upcoming two-day workshop being held by the National Academies’ Board on Life Sciences. The event begins at 8:30 a.m. EDT Tuesday, Oct. 12 in the National Academy of Sciences Building, 2100 C St. N.W., Washington, D.C. Admission is free and open to the public, but registration is required. 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. Please go to for additional information.

    Global Environmental Health in the 21st Century
    “Global Environmental Health in the 21st Century” is the topic of a two-day meeting by the Institute of Medicine’s Roundtable on Environmental Health Sciences, Research and Medicine. The event begins on Wednesday, Oct. 13 in the National Academy of Sciences Building auditorium, 2100 C St. N.W., Washington, D.C. Admission is free and open to the public, but registration is required.

    Institute of Medicine Annual Meeting
    **Live Webcast**
    The Institute of Medicine holds its two-day annual meeting beginning at 8 a.m. EDT Monday, Oct. 18 in the National Academy of Sciences Building auditorium, 2100 C St. N.W., Washington, D.C. Presentations on day one address “Longevity and Health” while the topic of day two will be “The Rising Cost of Health Care: Why Is It Happening and How Much Does It Matter?” Events on both days are free and open to the public, but registration is required. 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. Please go to for additional information.

    Political Campaigns and Campaign Effects
    Brookings-Princeton Fall Election 2004 Series
    “Political Campaigns and Campaign Effects”
    Panelists: Richard Berke (New York Times), Anthony Corrado (Colby College and Brookings Institution), Kenneth Goldstein (University of Wisconsin, Madison), and Daron Shaw (University of Texas, Austin). Moderated by Thomas E. Mann.

    Friday, October 1, 10:00am, Falk Auditorium
    For more information or to RSVP, contact 202/797-6105 or


    Federal R&D Funding by Budget Function: Fiscal Years 2002-04. NSF, 2004.

    Scientific and Engineering Research Facilities: 1999, Detailed Statistical Tables. NSF, 2004.

    Agroterrorism: Threats and Preparedness. CRS, 2004.

    Allard, Scott. Access to Social Services: The Changing Urban Geography of Poverty and Service Provision. Brookings Institution, 2004.

    Eliminating Health Disparities: Measurement and Data Needs. NAP, 2004.

    Strengthening Peer Review in Federal Agencies that Support Education. NAP, 2004.

    Capturing the Full Power of Biomaterials for Military Medicine: Report of a Workshop. NAP, 2004.

    Accident Precursor Analysis and Management: Reducing Technological Risk Through Diligence. NAP, 2004.

    Army Science and Technology for Homeland Security: Report 2 -- C4ISR. NAP, 2004.

    Licensing Geographic Data and Services. NAP, 2004.

    Proposed Criteria for Selecting the WIC Food Packages: A Preliminary Report of the Committee to Review the WIC Food Packages. NAP, 2004.

    Gulf War and Health: Updated Literature Review of Sarin. NAP, 2004.

    Developing a Research and Restoration Plan for Arctic-Yukon-Kuskokwim (Western Alaska) Salmon. NAP, 2004.

    The Future of Genetically Modified Crops: Lessons from the Green Revolution. Felicia Wu, William Butz. RAND, 2004.

    Shanghaied? The Economic and Political Implications of the Flow of Information Technology and Investment Across the Taiwan Strait. Michael Chase, Kevin Pollpeter, James Mulvenon. RAND, 2004.

    The U.S. Scientific and Technical Workforce: Improving Data for Decisionmaking. Terrence Kelly, William Butz, Stephen J. Carroll, David M. Adamson, Gabrielle Bloom. RAND, 2004.

    Physics Roster (detailed, department by department listing of enrollment and degree data for US degree-granting physics departments). AIP, 2004.

    Astronomy Roster (detailed, department by department listing of enrollment and degree data for US degree-granting astronomy departments). AIP, 2004.

    Climate Data Records from Environmental Satellites: Interim Report. NAP, 2004.

    Analytical Methods and Approaches for Water Resources Project Planning. NAP, 2004.

    Air Quality Management in the United States. NAP, 2004.

    Adaptive Management for Water Resources Project Planning. NAP, 2004

    Retooling Manufacturing: Bridging Design, Materials, and Production. NAP, 2004.

    Immunization Safety Review: Vaccines and Autism. NAP, 2004.

    Damp Indoor Spaces and Health. NAP, 2004.

    Keeping Score for All: The Effects of Inclusion and Accommodation Policies on Large-Scale Educational Assessment. NAP, 2004.

    Improving the Use of the “Best Scientific Information Available” Standard in Fisheries Management. NAP, 2004.

    A Patent System for the 21st Century. NAP, 2004.

    The Proteus Effect: Stem Cells and Their Promise. NAP, 2004.

    Iodotrifluoromethane: Toxicity Review. NAP, 2004.

    Seeking Security: Pathogens, Open Access, and Genome Databases. NAP, 2004.

    Emerging Technologies and Ethical Issues in Engineering: Papers from a Workshop, October 14-15, 2003. NAP, 2004.

    Meeting the Energy Needs of Future Warriors. NAP, 2004.

    Strategies to Leverage Research Funding: Guiding DOD’s Peer Reviewed Medical Research Programs. NAP, 2004.

    Factsheet on “Dirty Bombs”. NAP, 2004.

    Accident Precursor Analysis and Management: Reducing Technological Risk Through Diligence. NAP, 2004.

    Assessing the National Streamflow Information Program. NAP, 2004.

    Implementing Climate and Global Change Research: A Review of the Final U.S. Climate Change Science Program Strategic Plan. NAP, 2004.

    River Basins and Coastal Systems Planning Within the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. NAP, 2004.

    U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Water Resources Planning: A New Opportunity for Service. NAP, 2004.

    Review of NASA’s Solid-Earth Science Strategy. NAP, 2004.

    Saving Lives, Buying Time: Economics of Malaria Drugs in an Age of Resistance. NAP, 2004.

    Atlantic Salmon in Maine. NAP, 2004.

    Understanding Racial and Ethnic Differences in Health in Late Life: A Research Agenda. NAP, 2004.

    1st Annual Crossing the Quality Chasm Summit: A Focus on Communities. NAP, 2004.

    Seeking Security: Pathogens, Open Access, and Genome Databases (prepublication). NAP, 2004.

    Convergence -- Where Mathematics, History and Teaching Interact
    “We all strive to make our teaching of mathematics meaningful to students. Yet we are constantly plagued by the reverberating questions, ‘Why do we have to learn this?’ and ‘When am I going to use it?’. Often the answers to these relevant questions can be found within the history of mathematics, accounts of the development of mathematics and the historical reasons these developments occurred. In recent years, more and more teachers have begun to realize how a knowledge of the history of mathematics can enhance student understanding as well as enrich classroom presentations.

    This new climate of appreciation has been reflected in a marked increase of professional activities devoted to the subject. Regional and national meetings of the Mathematical Association of America and the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics frequently feature presentations and workshops devoted to the history of mathematics as well as its use in teaching. A variety of publications supporting this effort have also appeared. But despite this response, there still remains an urgent need for readily available, user-friendly, teacher resources on utilizing the history of mathematics as a pedagogical aid.

    It is with this need in mind that the concept of Convergence was conceived as an online magazine where mathematics, teaching and history interact. This magazine is sponsored by the Mathematical Association of America with the cooperation of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics. It is intended to be a resource and forum for mathematics teachers of grades 9–14 mathematics who are interested in using mathematics history as a learning/teaching tool. Convergence is envisioned to be an evolving resource whose features will include:

    • Expository articles on aspects or concepts from the history of mathematics that the author feels possess a special pedagogical or learning appeal.
    • A sharing of classroom experiences.
    • Animated mathematical demonstrations that can be downloaded for classroom use.
    • Translations and commentaries of mathematical works that shed particular light on mathematical discovery and understanding.
    • Discussions of particular problems from an historical context.
    • Reviews of materials, books, websites and teaching aids that lend themselves to historical enrichment.”

    (Supported by NSF)


    Science Bulletin
    You are invited to visit the new and improved Science Bulletin Website sponsored by the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH), for breaking news on astrophysics, Earth sciences, and biodiversity. The bulletins present current science news stories through a host of interactive videos (5- to 7-minute video stories that follow scientists into the field), compelling photographs, graphics (using 3-D computer models), and interactive data visualizations (using NASA satellite data) that the Museum says will “bring science alive for adults and children alike.” AMNH is an NSTA Institute online partner. (From NSTA Reports).

    Scientist Interviews at NAS
    Scientists Views on How Science Is Changing Us

    1. The redesigned National Academy of Sciences’ InterViews Web site takes you into the lives and minds of the distinguished members of the NAS. More than 30 members talk about their research, why they became scientists and other aspects of their careers. New interviews are added regularly.
    2. The BBC brings us several video clips from leading scientists and broadcasters on how they think that science is changing us.

    NASA Technical Report Server
    The NASA Scientific and Technical Information (STI) Program’s mission is to collect, archive, and disseminate NASA aerospace information, and locate domestic and international STI pertinent to NASA’s missions and Strategic Enterprises. Examples of NASA’s STI include research reports, journal articles, conference and meeting papers, technical videos, mission-related operational documents, and preliminary data. NASA’s technical information is available via the NASA Technical Report Server (NTRS) is to provide students, educators, and the public access to NASA’s technical literature. NTRS also collects scientific and technical information from sites external to NASA to broaden the scope of information available to users.

    Science of Spectroscopy
    This website guides students through a study of spectroscopy, beginning with an introduction to light and its properties, the electromagnetic spectrum, types of light both visible and invisible to the human eye, and the effects of light interaction with matter. The site includes descriptions of common spectroscopic analysis techniques, and applications of spectroscopy in consumer products, medicine and space science. Created by Michael A. Rooke and Stewart L. Mader. (FromBlue Web’n)

    Infinite Secrets
    “Christie’s, New York, 1998: In a blaze of publicity, an extraordinary item is put up for sale. To the untrained eye, it is nothing more than a small and unassuming Byzantine prayer book, yet it sells for over $2 million. Its real value rests not in the prayers but in a much earlier, spidery script that lies hidden almost invisibly beneath them. Lost for over a millennium, the original manuscript turns out to be the oldest and most authentic copy of a compendium of works by the ancient Greek scholar Archimedes. In ‘Infinite Secrets,’ NOVA shadows scientists using cutting-edge imaging techniques to unlock the secrets of this time capsule and gain unique insight into one of the greatest minds the world has ever known.”

    Biological Sciences

    Frogs: A Chorus of Colors
    “Frogs have been on Earth for more than 200 million years, and range in size from half an inch (the Cuban tree toad) to the much larger goliath frog of West Africa, which can grow to 15 inches and weigh up to 7 pounds. As a public service, the American Museum of Natural History has created this thoughtful online site that introduces visitors to the world of frogs, and as a way of highlighting their own work with these amphibians, both in the field and at the Museum. After reading an introductory essay, visitors can peruse a section on a number of frog species, which include some fine photographs and general information. Visitors will want to take a look a the Budgett’s frog, which can puff up its body with air, arch its back, and scream like a cat in order to frighten intruders. The rest of the site is equally delightful, including a nice area on the reproductive cycle of frogs, a live ‘FrogCam’ direct from the Museum, and a great section containing the sounds of frogs from the island of Madagascar. [KMG]” (From the Scout Report)

    Electronic Biologica Centrali-Americana
    This electronic edition of the Biologica Centrali-American raises the bar, both in terms of its thoroughness and the collaborative efforts that helped create this quite compelling collection. The original 58 volumes of this remarkable work of natural history were created and composed during the 19th century in an effort to identify, categorize, and document the flora and fauna of Meso-America. As the project notes note on its site, “This will be a model for biodiversity informatics worldwide, to meet the global need for access to information for science, public policy, eco-tourism, and other uses.” To create the project, a group of institutions were involved throughout the mark-up and design process, including the National Museum of Natural History in Washington, DC, the Natural History Museum in London, and the Missouri Botanical Garden. Visitors will enjoy perusing the various volumes, with their excellent descriptions and elegant plates and illustrations. Additionally, there is ample documentation online here that offers other like-minded institutions information about how the project proceeded. [KMG] (From the Scout Report)

    Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Alert System
    “Want to know how many new species have been found in your state in the past six months, or where the latest sighting of snakeheads occurred? You can find the answers to both these questions at the USGS Nonindigenous Aquatic Species (NAS) Alert System. USGS developed the new NAS Alert System to track the spread of invasive species nationwide. Now, users can report nonindigenous and invasive aquatic species they sight, automatically receive email alerts, or perform searches on aquatic species — such as American alligators in Pennsylvania, Asian carp in Colorado, or snakehead fishes in Virginia. The system is flexible, providing two different perspectives — one to a user interested in an area, the other to users interested in a species — whether the user chooses automatic alerts or prefers to search the site.”

    Curiosity Creates Cures: The Value & Impact of Basic Research
    Introduces the work of basic biomedical scientists — scientists who seek answers to key biological questions like how cells talk to each other, how biological machines fold into their active shapes, & how genes are regulated. Topics include Alzheimer’s disease, anthrax, flu vaccines, Nobel Prize winners, & more.

    Education and Human Resources

    Ripley’s Freaky Fridays
    A Live Chat program starting at ePALS every Friday for 10 weeks, September 17 – November 19, 2004 at 1 – 2 p.m Eastern Time (10-11 a.m. Pacific). Each week, a new topic will be introduced for discussion and a Teacher’s Guide distributed to participating classrooms. The Teacher’s Guide includes a short excerpt from Ripley’s Believe It or Not!, discussion topics designed to engage students, and Ripley Riddles to test your knowledge of the boundless limits of nature. Teachers and students are invited to join a one-hour, moderated chat led each week by two fabulous science teachers, both winners of the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science Teaching! Produced with support of Ripley Entertainment, Ripley’s Freaky Fridays Online Classroom Companion teaches the wonders of science while helping students and teachers practice collaborative technology. (From Blue Web’n)


    Battle of the X-Planes
    Two aviation giants, Lockheed Martin and Boeing, compete to build the next-generation fighter jet and win the largest government contract ever awarded. For more than five years, with unprecedented access from the Pentagon, NOVA followed the trials and tribulations of this neck-and-neck design war. The program gives a unique inside perspective on every phase of the competition, from design and assembly to the thrilling test flights and finally to the Pentagon’s stunning announcement of the winner.


    • Designing for Stealth.
      How do you render a 15-ton hunk of flying metal nearly invisible to the enemy?
    • Outfitting a Fighter Pilot.
      A pilot’s gear is a sophisticated support system that can save his life in deadly situations.
    • Getting Airborne.
      Send a plane down a runway at top speed and see how it achieves enough lift to take off.
    • Wing Designs.
      Experiment with airfoil shapes and discover how they affect the way a plane flies.


    Dan’s Wild Wild Weather Page
    Dan Satterfield, a chief meteorologist for a local news station in Alabama, educates children between the ages of six and 16 about various aspects of meteorology at this fun website. With the help of amusing images, the site introduces the concepts of radar technology, tornadoes, lightning, humidity, forecasting, and much more. Users can listen to the sounds of storms, hurricanes, rain, wind, and snow. Students can participate in entertaining games, puzzles, and quizzes. Educators will appreciate the For Teachers link, which provides links to many outside meteorological resources. [RME] (From the Scout Report)


    National Hurricane Center
    Hurricanes (FEMA)
    Hurricanes Online Meteorology Guide
    Hurricane: Storm Science
    2004 Atlantic Hurricane Season
    Hurricanes: Just for Kids
    Flying into the Eye of a Hurricane
    First, the National Weather Service addresses the work of the National Hurricane Center “to save lives, mitigate property loss, and improve economic efficiency by issuing the best watches, warnings, forecasts and analyses of hazardous tropical weather, and by increasing understanding of these hazards” (1). At this vast website, users can find satellite imagery, current and archived advisories, hurricane awareness information, and much more. FEMA created the second site to inform the public about the hazards of hurricanes (2). After discovering the physical characteristics of hurricanes, visitors can find information about hurricane threats and the proper steps to take before, during, and after the storm. The third website, developed by the University of Illinois, discusses a hurricane’s stages of development, structure, and movement (3). Users can follow past tropical cyclone activities and explore a 3-D hurricane. Next, the Miami Museum of Science furnishes a fun site where children can essentially travel inside a hurricane (4). Families who have experienced a hurricane will benefit from the Healing Quilt link and the family survivor stories. The fifth website, created by USA Today, provides the general public with the latest hurricane news, storm science, and safety (5). Visitors can view graphics of how hurricanes are created and can submit their hurricane questions to the site. Next, Florida State University supplies the latest advisories and forecasts for hurricanes in the Atlantic Ocean (6). Users can view images of the hurricanes and find a history of Florida hurricane landfalls. Environment Canada produced the seventh web site to educate children about how hurricanes form, how they work, and where they go (7). Students can learn how El Niño affects hurricanes. Lastly, the National Geographic presents children with an exciting article about the work of hurricane hunters (8). Users can view images of storm winds, paths, and damage. [RME] (From the Scout Report)

    American RadioWorks: Climate of Uncertainty
    The American Radio Works radio documentary programs have been garnering acclaim over the past few years, and their latest production is definitely worth a listen. Created by Daniel Grossman and John Rudolph (and narrated by Ira Flatow), this one-hour program addresses the effects that global warming may have on the northern half of the United States over the coming years and decades. The radio program itself is divided into three sections, including one that deals with ice cores and their use in paleoclimatology, the nature of the great ocean conveyor belt, and what might be done to prevent a climatic catastrophe. The site is also complemented by a fine selection of external weblinks, including those leading to the Pew Center on Global Climate Change and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. [KMG] (From the Scout Report)

    Mathematical and Physical Sciences

    Robert J. Lang Origami
    Forget your grade-school attempts at paper cranes and pay attention, because this master folder’s rendition of a koi, golden eagle, and exotic orchid will put you to shame. While origami can be an undeniably whimsical enterprise, Robert J. Lang demonstrates how this ancient art’s underlying mathematical concepts have been adopted by science. Auto engineers incorporate origami to help design better airbags, while professional stargazers dabble with the notion of “folded” space telescopes. The basic theory of proportions, at the core of a paper frog, is also related to these loftier projects. Yet as Lang’s intricate paper specimens take on the familiar animal shapes, he doesn’t settle for a predictable posse. Consider his allosaurus skeleton, cicada, Maine lobster, and daring rock climber. Some of his creations have been bronzed. Wrap you mind around that! (From Yahoo’s Picks of the Week)

    “Hop aboard an international mission to the ringed planet! The Cassini-Huygens spacecraft — built by NASA and the European and Italian Space Agencies — is now orbiting Saturn, taking pictures of the giant planet’s amazing rings and many moons. At the Exploratorium’s new Cassini-Huygens Web page, you can learn more about Saturn and its mysterious moon Titan, get mission updates, and view the latest stunning photos from deep space.” (From the Exploratorium)

    Yale University: Terra Femto
    “This Yale University website presents the Schmuttenmaer chemistry group’s research in the development of experimental techniques that observe low frequency motions and absorptions directly. After reading the series of intriguing unanswered questions, students and educators can find an introduction to THz spectroscopy. The Research link offers colorful images and comprehensible text about several of its THz spectroscopy investigations. Within the descriptions, links are provided to better explain otherwise complicated phenomena. Researchers can find lengthy lists and a few downloads of the group’s publications. [RME]” (From the Scout Report)

    Perspectives on Plasmas
    Dr. Timothy Eastman developed this website to address aspects of plasma science and technology for the general public and for research and education communities. In the Basics link, users can learn about plasmas and their functions in space, energy, the environment, businesses, governments, and in the home. The Applications link offers many resources about fields of plasma application and institutions involved with plasma technology. Educators can find many images illustrating fusion plasmas, space plasmas, and technology. The site provides a lengthy list of references as well as many helpful links to outside plasma-related educational and research sites. [RME] (From the Scout Report)

    provides Java applets, interactive modules, & Flash presentations for studying numerical & graphical solutions of differential equations, parametric representations of curves, conic formulae, Euler’s analysis of the Genoese Lottery, Van Schooten’s ruler constructions, Riemann sums, & how to use calculators (for introductory statistics students). (NSF)

    Reciprocal Net
    Reciprocal Net is a database used by crystallographers to store information about molecular structures. Images of molecules can be manipulated in 3D. Learn about molecules of minerals & gems, biochemicals, ions & elements, medicines, insects, plants, & space.

    Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences

    ChangingMinds looks at persuasion and changing the minds of others. Changing others’ minds is at the core of many professions and disciplines, from leadership to brand management to psychotherapy to sales. And although each has its body of knowledge, they all have much in common. You’ll find theories and explanations, principles, techniques, a links page, book reviews, and a carefully-selected bookshop. The general philosophy of the site is to keep things clean and simple with minimal fancy graphics. Interesting resource presented by (From Blue Web’n)

    Omaha Indian Music
    The oral traditions of many North American Indian groups are generally well known, though access to existing sound recordings and the like can often be limited to on-site listening booths at major museums and archives. This nice collection of traditional music from the Omaha tribe is a fine way to begin learning about these traditions. The online exhibit was created by the American Memory project at the Library of Congress and includes traditional Omaha music both from the 1890s and the 1980s. The selections from the 1890s include 44 wax cylinder recordings made by Francis La Flesche and Alice Cunningham Fletcher. Equally compelling are the 323 songs from the 1983 Omaha harvest celebration powwow that are also available here. The collection also includes a brief introductory essay, fieldnotes from the 1983 powwow, and an original program from the 1983 celebration. [KMG] (From the Scout Report)

    Political Communications Lab
    How do polls of public opinion and political behavior work exactly? Well, it’s definitely a complex answer, and when you add the mix of how exactly these polls work when done in a less “traditional” fashion, such as with the Internet, things get even more complicated. Part of the mission of the Political Communication Lab at Stanford University is “to develop and administer experimental studies of public opinion and political behavior through the use of both on-line and traditional methods”. The site is a rather fascinating one, as it contains a number of informative areas on work at the Lab and on the current presidential election campaign. One of the group’s projects that is worth a look is the Voter Attention Share project, in which the Lab is tracking the total number of daily references to key election issues across national TV newscasts and the 80 most widely read daily newspapers from June 1 to Election Day. Visitors can also read about the group’s other projects and listen to a talk on online polling by Professors James Fishkin and Shanto Iyengar. [KMG] (From the Scout Report)

    Decoding the Past: The Work of Archaeologists
    This website introduces students to archaeology — the study of material remains to learn about past human experiences. This lesson (Grades 3–8) discusses the challenges of an archaeologist: locating a site that will yield clues about the people who once lived there, conducting excavations, & more. Students identify “artifacts” from a contemporary setting, describe the function of each artifact, identify methods for dating soil layers, & interpret soil profiles.


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    A researcher and professor at Carnegie Mellon University is developing a computer that he believes can prove to be an economically sustainable product for developing countries. With support from Microsoft and Korean computer maker TriGem, Raj Reddy hopes to have working models of the so-called PCtvt ready by the end of the year. The PCtvt will be a wirelessly networked computer that also functions as a television, telephone, and DVD player. Reddy believes that such a device, which he said will cost $250, can be a viable product in the developing world, offering consumers a set of features for a price they could manage while providing makers of the device a profit without relying on subsidies or philanthropy. Because the PCtvt is intended for many consumers who cannot read, it will likely require a wireless infrastructure that can support significant amounts of bandwidth to accommodate content heavy on audio and video transmissions. To this end, Reddy is working with researchers at the University of California who are developing high-speed wireless networks for application in rural areas.
    New York Times, 16 August 2004 (registration req’d) via Edupage.

    Marti Hearst, a professor at the School of Information Management and Systems at the University of California, Berkeley, has developed a prototype search program designed to turn Web searches into something that approximates browsing the stacks of a library. The Flamenco search tool uses descriptions of archived items — in Hearst’s tests, 35,000 images from an art collection — to display items grouped by criteria such as artist, period, medium, and subject. Users searching for representations of flowers in the 18th century, for example, could see results grouped by decade or by variety of flower. Flamenco can show groups of results that include paintings and sculptures of irises, or paintings of irises and roses. Hearst said the tool allows users to “compare and contrast, discovering new categories and relationships.” Bruce Horn of Ingenuity Software is working on a tool that would allow a similar type of browsing on a computer, helping users find relevant resources that might be distributed in many places around a hard drive.
    New York Times, 19 August 2004 (registration req’d) via Edupage.

    The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has invalidated 10 patents held by the University of California and licensed to Eolas Technologies, confirming a preliminary ruling from the office in March. The patents cover technologies developed by Michael D. Doyle while working at the university; Doyle later started Eolas, which holds an exclusive license to the technology. The technology at issue, which allows Web browsers to automatically launch applications such as Java applets and software plug-ins, is at the heart of a patent-infringement case against Microsoft. A court had awarded the university and Eolas $520 million from Microsoft for using the technology without licensing it, but the decision from the Patent Office could invalidate that ruling. If the patents were upheld, Microsoft and other companies including Adobe and Macromedia would be forced to license the technology or redesign their products to work differently. A spokesperson from the Patent Office said the university will have one more opportunity to convince the office of the legitimacy of the patents.
    Chronicle of Higher Education, 20 August 2004 (sub. req’d)via Edupage

    Presidential candidates George Bush and John Kerry have been invited to participate in separate, online town hall meetings to discuss the nation’s science programs. Organizers said that federal policies toward research and scientific projects are an important issue for the three million scientists, engineers, and doctors who would be eligible to participate in the meetings. Specifically, the issue of stem cell research has lately become the focus of disagreement between the two candidates, with Kerry promising to reverse Bush’s ban on federal funding for stem cell lines created after August 9, 2001. A spokesperson for John Kerry said he would accept the invitation to participate in the virtual town halls; a spokesperson for Bush said he had not yet seen the invitation and so had no response at this time.
    USA Today, 20 August 2004 via Edupage.

    Researchers at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) and the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) this week set a new record for data transfer between the CERN facility in Switzerland and Caltech in Pasadena, California, 9,800 miles away. In the exercise, the group was able to transfer 859 gigabytes of data in less than 17 minutes, achieving a rate of 6.63 gigabits per second. Enabling such high rates of data transfer is vital to the success of the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), due to begin operating in 2007. The $10 billion LHC is an enormous particle accelerator that scientists hope to use to find the Higgs boson, a theoretical particle that they believe creates mass. The LHC is expected to generate 15 petabytes of data per year, and this data must find its way to scientists around the globe to be effectively analyzed.
    Internet News, 2 September 2004 via Edupage.

    Researchers at the SANS Institute’s Internet Storm Center estimate that an unprotected PC will be compromised within 20 minutes of being connected to the Internet, down from an estimated 40 minutes last year. The estimate is based on observations of vacant IP addresses, which received reports approximately every 20 minutes. According to the researchers, if those reports come from Internet worms, the unprotected machine would likely become infected within 20 minutes, which is especially troublesome because most patches that would protect the computer take longer than that to download and install. Scott Conti, network operations manager for the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, said that, as a test, his institution recently put two unprotected computers on the school’s network, and both were compromised within 20 minutes. As a result, all computers at the institution will be checked before they are allowed to connect to the network.
    CNET, 17 August 2004 via Edupage


    An international group of scientists from Canada, Germany, the United Kingdom, and the United States has been working on an ambitious project to simulate on a supercomputer the evolution of the entire universe, from just after the Big Bang until the present. The group, dubbed the Virgo Consortium — a name borrowed from the galaxy cluster closest to our own — is creating the largest and most detailed computer model of the universe ever made. Read all about it, in this month’s issue of IEEE Spectrum:


    The Content Police?
    A group called the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors, whose members include a number of prominent publications such as the Journal of the American Medical Association and the New England Journal of Medicine, is stepping up to fill a gap in medical and pharmaceutical research reporting practices. Members announced that they will no longer publish clinical trial results unless the test has been registered in advance in a public database. The move is designed to prevent selective reporting by researchers, who might be inclined to underreport negative results involving a research sponsor’s products. The issue has been very much in the news this week as information surfaced linking certain antidepressants to suicidal tendencies in children and adolescents. Positive test results regarding those drugs had been published, but negative findings had not. The publishing industry’s step here is on good ethical grounds — it sees its responsibility to publish the bad as well as the good — but it should go hand-in-hand with regulatory measures and self-policing by the pharmaceutical industry. The success of the initiative also depends on smaller, less-prestigious publishers participating in the plan.


    The British Library is posting high-resolution copies of some of the earliest versions of Shakespeare’s plays online. The 21 plays included in the online collection were originally printed during the playwright’s lifetime and include many lines and passages that are different from those found in the First Folio editions, which were not printed until after Shakespeare’s death. Having the copies available online will allow scholars easy access to works that are believed to be closer to the original text of the plays. The Web site that contains the images of the plays will also include background information, images, sound clips, and tools to allow comparison of the earlier versions of the plays with the more common later versions, to see how the text has changed. BBC, 10 September 2004 via Edupage.

    Librarians — Britain’s brainiest professionals?
    A big victory for UK librarians!!! “Scoring a thrilling (220:160) win over Oxford University Press, the British Library emerged victorious in the final of BBC2’s ‘University Challenge’ — The Professionals. The tournament, which began in April 2004, featured teams from 22 of the UK’s brainiest professions (including diplomats, journalists, lawyers, politicians and zoologists … The British Library team comprised Kathryn Johnson, Curator of Theatrical Manuscripts; Ron Hogg, a Slavonic specialist; Colin Wight, editor of the Library’s website and Bart Smith (Captain) a Humanities reference specialist. After the event the team attributed their victory to ‘team-work, a thirst for knowledge and a real hunger to win’. The team captain said, ‘Our victory not only reflects the knowledge and expertise of British Library staff but is a tribute to the skills of the library profession, whose members are true information providers with an ability to access virtually every subject under the sun, however seemingly obscure.’ ” (From ResourceShelf)

    The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy: Life, the Universe and Everything
    At the heart of this comedy lies a lot of true science. Join Arthur Dent, Ford Prefect and a certain paranoid android for brand new radio adventures through space. Tuesday 21 September, 6.30pm Radio 4 (repeated Thursday 23 September, 11pm)

    As Radio 4 prepares to unleash a brand new series of Douglas Adams’ classic space travel saga, take a moment to find your place in space with the Interactive Space Map.

    If you’re in the market for a new galactic home, choose between thousands of galaxies from spirals to ellipses.

    Can you improve on the famous description of Earth as, ‘mostly harmless’? Try the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy competition.