Sci-Tech Library Newsletter
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- WORLDCAT JOINS OPEN WEB: Now the holdings of virtually all US libraries can be “crawled” …
- SCIENCE POLICY
- AROUND DC AND ON THE INTERNET
- NEW E-BOOKS AND REPORTS
- INTERESTING WEBSITES AND NEWS FROM THE INTERNET: The effect of open access and downloads (‘hits’) on citation impact: a bibliography of studies, Everyday Mysteries: Fun Science Facts from the Library of Congress, Fall Foliage, Best Places to Work in Academia, 2004, Let’s Talk Turkey; Biological Sciences: The reconstructors: travel into the future, solve medicinal mysteries from the past, The life-cycle of a butterfly, Putting DNA to work, Talking Glossary of Genetic Terms; Education and Human Resources: Free and Fee-Based Online Science Resources, Math And Science Song Information, Viewable Everywhere; Engineering: Robert J. Lang Origami, James Bond’s Gadgets; Geosciences: Northern Illinois University: Glaciers, University of Wisconsin-Madison: Paleontology Student Activities, PBS: Extreme Oil, DinoBuzz; Mathematical and Physical Sciences: AstroMeeting, Maths File Game Show, Abacus, the art of calculating with beads, Meteor Showers; Polar Programs: British Antarctic Survey, Antarctic Expedition Tangra 2004/05; Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences: Neanderthals on Trial, Buarra Gathering, America’s Stone Age Explorers, Days of Infamy: December 7 and 9/11 … and more … plus news items from Edupage
- INTER ALIA: Worst jobs in science, DocuTicker, school libraries, more …
WORLDCAT JOINS OPEN WEB
All of OCLC’s WorldCat Heading Toward the Open Web
Open WorldCat Fact Sheet (pdf)
For the last 30 years or so, virtually all U.S. libraries, most Canadian libraries, and many other libraries around the world have used the shared cataloging feature of WorldCat (OCLC) to feed records into their individual catalogs, and to tag their holdings for interlibrary loan purposes. In this massive database exist virtually all the records for the books, technical reports, journals, videos, and more that are held by libraries througout the continent, and even the world. Now the folks at OCLC have decided to open this database to crawlers such as Yahoo, Google, Alta Vista — you name it. You can now use your favorite search engine to find out what “books” exist and what libraries hold them. Wahoo!
Some libraries may choose to exclude their holdings information from the project. Additionally, participating libraries will have to fulfill some OCLC requirements, and not all libraries may choose to do so. But this is still a *big* step forward for the library user population out there.
Human Cloning Research
In a letter to Secretary of State Colin Powell, National Academy of Sciences President Bruce Alberts asked the U.S. delegation to the United Nations to vote against a proposed ban on all human cloning research. Last fall, the NAS and 66 other science academies issued a statement, via the InterAcademy Panel on International Issues, supporting a ban on reproductive cloning aimed at creating a child. However, such a ban should not extend to research on therapeutic cloning, which could lead to life-saving medical treatments.
House-passed Legislation Will Increase Loan Forgiveness for Science and Math Teachers
Legislation passed by the U.S. House of Representatives on October 6 eliminates a provision in the Higher Education Act (HEA) that allowed some student loan lenders to receive higher subsidies, and then uses the savings for increased federal loan forgiveness for math, science, and special education teachers. The bill eliminates the subsidy and provides the extra loan amounts for one year, until Congress finishes work on reauthorization of the HEA. Currently under HEA science, math, and special education teachers who commit to teach in a high poverty school for five years may have up to $5,000 in student loans forgiven; that amount would go to $17,500 for one year under this new legislation.
NIH Proposal for Open Access FAQ and Statements
Assn. of American Universities (pdf)
New England Journal of Medicine
NAS Council Statement
FASEB Expresses Concerns
“AAU strongly supports efforts to achieve the widest possible dissemination of the results of federally funded research … ”
NEJM “We applaud and endorse this effort … ”
“The Council of the National Academy of Sciences endorses the proposed National Institutes of Health (NIH) policy that research supported by NIH will be made freely available online … ”
British Library Archives Scientist’s E-Mails
“The British Library is creating an archive to store the emails of the nation’s top authors and scientists, as the written word is replaced by electronic messages.” As e-mail replaces letters as a primary form of communication, archiving of this ephemeral media becomes critical for historians.
AROUND DC AND ON THE INTERNET
Science in the National Interest
The National Academies release the report “Science in the National Interest: Ensuring the Best Presidential and Federal Advisory Committee Science and Technology Appointments” during a one-hour public briefing starting at 11 a.m. EST Wednesday, Nov. 17, in Room 100 of the National Academies’ Keck Center, 500 Fifth St. N.W., Washington, D.C. Attendees to the event, which is free and open to the public, will receive a complimentary pre-publication copy of the report. Participate by listening to a live audio webcast (requires free RealPlayer) and submitting questions using an e-mail form, both accessible on the National Academies home page during the event. Please go to http://webcast.nationalacademies.org/ for additional information. Webcast available at: http://www.national-academies.org/
Facilitating Interdisciplinary Research
The National Academies release the report “Facilitating Interdisciplinary Research” during a one-hour public briefing starting at noon EST Friday, Nov. 19, in Room 100 of the National Academies’ Keck Center, 500 Fifth St. N.W., Washington, D.C. Attendees to the event, which is free and open to the public, will receive a complimentary pre-publication copy of the report. Participate by listening to a live audio webcast (requires free RealPlayer) and submitting questions using an e-mail form, both accessible on the National Academies home page during the event. Please go to http://webcast.nationalacademies.org/ for additional information. Webcast available at: http://www.national-academies.org/
Inventive Students Take Top Honors in the Craftsman/NSTA Young Inventors Awards Program
Fourth-grader Nicolette Mann from Christiansburg, Va., designed a special box so her little brother could reach the “piano peddles,” while seventh-grader Katelyn Eubank, from Indianola, Iowa, added paint rollers to the sides of a wheelchair so her grandmother could move smoothly through doorways. Last week, these inventive students were named national winners — and 10 others named national finalists — in the 2004 Craftsman/NSTA Young Inventors Awards Program, sponsored by Sears through its Craftsman tools brand and NSTA.
NSTA President Anne Tweed and representatives from Sears, including famed home building expert Bob Vila, honored the students during an awards ceremony at Chicago’s prestigious Museum of Science and Industry and presented them with their awards: the two national winners received a $10,000 savings bond and the 10 national finalists received a $5,000 bond. For a picture of this year’s winners, visit http://science.nsta.org/nstaexpress/nstaexpress_craftsman.htm.
Could your students be on the winner’s podium next year? Get them involved now by downloading competition information from NSTA’s website at http://www.nsta.org/programs/craftsman; by calling 1-888-494-4994; or e-mailing email@example.com. (From NSTA)
Safety of Genetically Engineered Food
The safety of genetically engineered food is the topic of a lunchtime discussion being hosted by the Marian Koshland Science Museum. The event, part of a series of discussions based on National Academies reports, begins at 11:30 a.m. EST Tuesday, Nov. 16, in the museum located at Sixth and E streets N.W., Washington, D.C. Admission is free and open to the public, but registration is required.
Water Distribution and Availability
UCI Distinguished Professor and Director
Center for Hydrometeorology and Remote Sensing (CHRS),
Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering
University of California, Irvine speaking at NASA Goddard 3:30 p.m. on Friday, 11/19 in the Building 3 (Goett) auditorium. Coffee and tea will be served at 3:00 p.m., courtesy of GEWA. If you plan to attend and do not have a NASA badge, please contact Carol Krueger, at (301) 286-6878, at least 48 hours beforehand. To be added to the mailing list, call the same number.
Access to Goddard Space Flight Center is limited to those holding Goddard badges or official visitors. You can become an official visitor by finding a badged Goddard employee to escort you. The Scientific Colloquium Committee cannot promise to provide escorts. We regret the inconvenience to our regular guests.
The Goddard Library has made streaming video available for some colloquia.
“From the perspective of water resources, the 20th century is the century of a remarkable number of engineering solutions (construction of hundreds of thousands of dams, aqueducts and water distribution systems) to meet the ever-increasing demand for water by the world’s growing population. Addressing the uncertainties in hydrologic variabilities, such as floods and droughts, due to climate and weather related phenomena, were often dealt with through the engineering design and conjunctive use of both surface and ground waters.
Towards the latter decades of the last century and due to a number of factors, among them environmental concerns and rapid depletion of resources, the emphasis has shifted from ‘structural’ to ‘non-structural’ solutions and more efficient use of fresh waters. Implementation of non-structural solutions will require: (a) improved understanding of the interconnection between climate and eco systems and the elements of the hydrologic cycle, (b) deployment of observation systems (both spaced-based and in-situ) across local-regional-continental scales which allow monitoring of basin conditions at relevant spatial and temporal scales, (c) better predictive models, and most importantly (d) dissemination of information which is useful and relevant for decision making.
A review of progress towards addressing the above requirements for an integrated water resources management system will be provided.”
FELLOWSHIPS FOR SCIENTISTS FROM AIP
Through its State Department Science Fellowship, the American Institute of Physics enables one or more scientists a year to contribute S&T expertise to the formulation of the nation’s foreign policy. AIP has now begun the selection process for a 2005-2006 Fellow (FYI #133). Other Fellowship opportunities are also available to scientists in physics-related fields, including Congressional Science Fellowships sponsored by several AIP Member Societies, and White House Fellowships (FYI #141).
Science and Religion in Science Fiction
Thursday December 2, 2004,
Reception 5:30 p.m.,
Lecture and Discussion 6:00–7:30 p.m.
The lectures, which are free and open to the public, will be held in the AAAS auditorium located at 1200 New York Avenue, NW, Washington DC Please use the entrance on the 12th Street NW side, at the intersection with H street, and proceed to the 2nd floor. (The New York Avenue entrance is locked after 5:00 p.m.) Please RSVP at website if you plan to attend.
“Public entertainment in the form of books, films and television more and more as a matter of course incorporate purportedly scientific elements, these at very least help shape the public understanding of nature and content science, and, for many outside technical professions, may be their chief explicit ‘scientific’ influence. In addition, science fiction authors have frequently incorporated religious themes in their writings (e.g., Arthur Clarke’s ‘The Star;’ Walter M. Miller’s A Canticle for Lebowitz; Frank Herbert’s Dune series; James Blish’s A Case of Conscience; Mary Doria Russell’s The Sparrow). These lectures will consider science fiction as a popular cultural context for informal science education (or miseducation) and the exploration of ethical and religious issues.”
- First Lecture: Science, Non-science and Nonsense in Science Fiction —
Beginning with a bang, and using clips from well known movies and TV shows from Star
Trek to the X-files, Dr Krauss will explore how the science fiction universe and the
real universe do, and don’t compare, by discussing forefront scientific issues such
as space and time travel and areas of fictional focus such as UFO’s and telekinesis.
Ultimately it turns out that truth is far stranger than fiction, and we don’t need
all the nonsense to make the universe an interesting place in which to live.
Lawrence M. Krauss, PhD
Ambrose Swasey Professor of Physics and Professor of Astronomy
Chairman, Department of Physics
Case Western Reserve University
- Second Lecture: ET vs. God: Smackdown! —
“The discovery of a single bacterium somewhere beyond Earth will be as
revolutionary as finding out the Earth wasn’t the center of the solar system, let
alone the center of God’s universe. If we find evidence of life beyond our planet,
the religious implications will be even more profound than those of heliocentrism
and the discovery of the Americas. A number of theologians have thought about this,
and come to some surprisingly scientific conclusions. Dr. Russell, a
paleoanthropologist and the author of science fiction classics; The Sparrow and
Children of God, will discuss the possible effect of extraterrestrial life on human
Mary Doria Russel
Children of God,
A Thread of Grace.
- First Lecture: Science, Non-science and Nonsense in Science Fiction — Beginning with a bang, and using clips from well known movies and TV shows from Star Trek to the X-files, Dr Krauss will explore how the science fiction universe and the real universe do, and don’t compare, by discussing forefront scientific issues such as space and time travel and areas of fictional focus such as UFO’s and telekinesis. Ultimately it turns out that truth is far stranger than fiction, and we don’t need all the nonsense to make the universe an interesting place in which to live.
NEW E-BOOKS AND REPORTS
Science & Technology: the Untapped American Resource. US House, Comm. on Science, Minority Staff, 2004.
National Park Service in the 21st Century. NPS, 2004.
Engagement, Capacity and Continuity: A Trilogy For Student Success. GE Foundation, 2004. [Science education].
Cloning: A Select Chronology, 1997-2003. CRS, 2004.
Stem Cell Research. CRS, 2004.
An Ocean Blueprint for the 21st Century Final Report of the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy. The Commission, 2004 (pre-publication copy).
Portfolio Analysis and Management for Naval Research and Development. Richard Silberglitt, et al. RAND, 2004.
Internet Governance: The State of Play. Internet Governance Project, 2004.
Advancing Scientific Research in Education. NAP, 2004.
Nature Methods — New Journal
Nature Methods is a new print and online publication dedicated to publishing novel methods together with significant advances to tried-and-tested techniques allowing researchers to perform better, faster and more efficient experimental research.
A limited number of *free* subscriptions to Nature Methods are available to life scientists and chemists in North America and Europe and will be sent to *individual applicants* who qualify. Online access is only available to print journal recipients or via an institutional site license.
INTERESTING WEBSITES AND NEWS FROM THE INTERNET
Everyday Mysteries: Fun Science Facts from the Library of Congress
This site provides answers to questions that “deal with everyday phenomena that we often take for granted, but … can be explained scientifically. … All of the questions presented on this Web site were asked by researchers and answered by librarians from the Library’s Science Reference Services.” Searchable and browsable; links to the library’s “Ask a Librarian” feature. (From Librarian’s Index to the Internet)
Fred Stoss has a terrific webpage with links to everything you ever wanted to know about fall foliage, the biology, the chemistry, the peak weeks, and more. Enjoy!
The effect of open access and downloads (‘hits’) on citation impact: a bibliography of studies
A bibliography of studies of the impact of open access on bibliometrics.
Let’s Talk Turkey
This website from the US Patent and Trade Mark Office invites kids to look at some of the inventions that have been patented through the years and that have a “turkey” theme.
Best Places to Work in Academia, 2004
(Requires free site registration to “The Scientist”.)
The Best Places to Work in Academia, 2004
“There are more work-related factors that unite scientists than divide them, according to The Scientist’s 2004 survey on the Best Places to Work in Academia. Across the world, scientists are surprisingly uniform in their needs. Adequate laboratory and research facilities for themselves and their coworkers topped the list in just about every country. A desire for good working relationships with peers also holds a high place in the ranking.” Rankings for the US and Canada.
The reconstructors: travel into the future, solve medicinal mysteries from the past
It’s 250 years in the future, and you’re part of an intrepid band of scientific mystery solvers. In one mystery, you go back to the past to find a painkiller that will help Earth’s population cope with pain effectively. In another mystery, you work to find out why so many young people are ending up in the emergency room. These interactive adventures are engaging and fun while managing to impart a lot of information about the nervous system, the chemical process of pain relief and addiction, and the use of scientific detective work. (From ENC)
The life-cycle of a butterfly
Children all over the world take great delight in watching the transformation that turns a caterpillar into a butterfly. At this web site, full-color images document the process from beginning to end, including details about the different kinds of eggs laid by various butterflies. You can also click on the names of the butterflies for more in-depth information. (From ENC)
Putting DNA to work
“What do the letters A, T, G, and C spell? DNA! Find out how these four essential chemicals, or nucleotides, make up the genetic code that binds us. This site has interactive activities that illustrate how forensic science uses DNA to identify criminals, how scientists probe DNA for unique gene sequences, and how gene mutations can create diseases such as hemochromatosis.” (From ENC Digital Dozen)
Talking Glossary of Genetic Terms
“The National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) created the Talking Glossary of Genetic Terms to help people without scientific backgrounds understand the terms and concepts used in genetic research. Simply click on the term of interest to open a page with a wealth of information, including the term’s pronunciation, audio information, images and additional links to related terms.”
Education and Human Resources
Free and Fee-Based Online Science Resources
An annotated webliography by Robert J. Lackie and Robert J. Congleton published in Information Today.
Math And Science Song Information, Viewable Everywhere
Math And Science Song Information, Viewable Everywhere, or MASSIVE, is a database containing information on more than 1700 science and math songs. The songs, suitable for a variety of ages and of varying sound quality, are both silly and serious. Visitors can search on a song or listen to MASSIVE radio, “an Internet radio station devoted entirely to science/math songs.” (Note that the radio station requires a connection speed of at least 64 kilobits per second). The database includes the name of the performer, songwriter, the album title, lyrics, and links to sample files along with purchasing information. The database is maintained by Greg Crowther, who is affiliated with the University of Washington, Science Groove, and the Science Songwriters’ Association. The project is part of the National Science Foundation’s National Science Digital Library. [VF] This site is also reviewed in the November 5, 2004 _NSDL MET Report_. [VF] (From the Scout Report)
James Bond’s Gadgets
How about all those neat “toys” from the Q department? Could any of them be real? Surprisingly, some exist already, others are pure fantasy and likely to stay so. Learn which is which at this interesting site from the BBC.
Robert J. Lang Origami
“Way beyond any origami you may have seen in the past, this site shows the ultimate in origami skill. Divided into various sections, Art contains insects & anthropods, birds &mammals, plants & flowers, sea life & mollusks, human figures, reptiles & amphibians, dinosaurs & mythical, objects, and geometrics & tessellations. Think origami is just a fun-pastime? In the Science section, you can explore engineering and mathematical applications behind origami. There is also a list of publications should students care to pursue origami further.” (From Blue Web’n)
PBS: Extreme Oil
“It’s not just a high price at the pump. It’s in our clothes, CDs, painkillers, and plastic. Oil is everywhere — fueling modern life. So unless you live in a cardboard box, you are a consumer of black gold. And when the ‘easy oil’ floodgates close forever, what extremes will we go to to drill in uncharted terrain? To better understand our predicament, follow the BTC pipeline’s winding geographic and political route from the Caspian through to the global market. Then dig into oil’s dark past to uncover how fossil fuels first formed, when we learned to tap it, and how crude became a commodity. Like it or not, oil is the lifeblood that feeds our appetite for consumption. Before it all goes away, we have critical issues to tackle.” (From Yahoo’s Picks of the Week)
DinoBuzz: current topics concerning dinosaurs. “Is Jurassic Park ever likely to be a popular vacation destination? Probably not, asserts this web site about dinosaurs — the real dinosaurs, not the monsters that Hollywood dreams up. Here you’ll find a measured examination of dinosaurs that looks at scientific research and facts. Explore the connection between the beasts of old and the birds of today; consider whether or not there could have been warm-blooded dinosaurs; and discern for yourself the scientific accuracy of movies such as Jurassic Park.” (From ENC Digital Dozen)
University of Wisconsin-Madison: Paleontology Student Activities
The Paleontological Experiences course at the University of Wisconsin-Madison provides great hands-on experiments that have been submitted by teachers across Wisconsin. The fun exercises are divided into three levels: elementary, middle, and high school. Through the activities, students will dig for fossils, map sites, learn about geological time scale, and much more. The Teacher Notes link offers a brief, yet comprehensive, summary of cladistics and diagrams. Users can find descriptions of latex molds, cast-making, and other techniques. This website is sure to excite students about paleontology. [RME] (From the Scout Report)
Northern Illinois University: Glaciers
Northern Illinois University offers illustrative summary of glaciers and glacial processes. The website provides a timeline of the glacial advances into Illinois. Students and educators can learn a few of the landscape features that scientists use to interpret geologic history. Users can learn how glaciers affected Illinois’s topography and waterbodies. The site furnishes educational maps of Illinois’s bedrock geology and shaded relief. The text is linked to a glossary to assist users with glacial terminology. While this website does concentrate on the state of Illinois, everyone can learn basic characteristics of glacial movements. [RME] (From the Scout Report)
Mathematical and Physical Sciences
“No, these gorgeous images are not from NASA or the Hubble telescope. They are courtesy of Stuttgart-based Stefan Seip, humble IT consultant by day and intrepid astronomy photog by night. His quest for the best images possible takes him to the depths of the Black Forest where ambient light isn’t a factor. From his lonely perch he captured comets, shooting stars, the aurora borealis, and other atmospheric phenomena as well as the galactic ‘big guns’ like supernova remnants, double stars, planetary nebulae, and pinwheel galaxies galore. Click the Perseid meteor showers and find his handy map of nearby constellations. Then click more to see what a little moonlighting can do for the soul.” (From Yahoo’s Picks of the Week)
Abacus, the art of calculating with beads
Get a bead on the evolution and use of the abacus, a counting tool that’s been around — in one form or another — for centuries. This web site looks at the history of the abacus and provides interactive applets that demonstrate how to calculate with a variety of different abaci. You’ll also find articles that explore the contribution of the abacus to our mathematical and historical knowledge. (From ENC)
Meteors and Native Americans
The 2003 Leonids
Meteor Showers and their Observation
Major Meteor Showers
Leonids, Orionids, meteor Showers. The first site from the BBC is a nice run-down on the Orionid event. The page on Meteors and Native Americans contains information on how meteors figured in the science and mythology of these keen sky observers. The page on the 2003 Leonids is full of general information about meteor showers, including animations. Meteor Showers and their Observation is an on-line book on how newbies can get started in this activity. Major Meteor Showers gives you the dates and other information about these events.
Maths File Game Show
Math fun becomes informative with The Maths File Game Show, a Digital Dozen selection for November. Students will spin the wheel of fortune with game show hosts Pythagoras and Hypatia and play a variety of math-themed interactive games. Game topics for grades 5–8 include rounding off to significant figures, finding coordinates and determining the equation of a line, and determining the probability of Pythagoras catching a red fish. (From ENC)
Antarctic Expedition Tangra 2004/05
The mission of the Bulgarian expedition “Tangra 2004” is to collect scientific data on the mountain massif of Tangra situated on Livingston Island in the South Shetlands archipelago. These folks will be climbing the peaks of the Tangra mountains to gather geographic information. This website has maps and photographs of this beautiful and remote location.
British Antarctic Survey
Much of this website specifically describes the BAS and what they do, but there is also general information about Antarctica that is put together attractively. Don’t miss the penguin screensaver free for downloading!
Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences
Days of Infamy: December 7 and 9/11
“Attacks on a country’s home soil leave indelible scars. Often an iconic photograph comes to symbolize such events, but the voices of the people illuminate the depth of reactions in a way that no single picture can. Days of Infamy, focuses on two of the deadliest attacks on the United States: Pearl Harbor and 9/11. The accounts from ordinary citizens in the wake of the disasters are both moving and personal. Compare the responses from citizens in 1941 and 2001 and the effect these tragedies had on their views on patriotism, sacrifice, and the alleged ‘enemy among us.’ Despite the 60-year difference between attacks, you’ll find the fears and hopes of those interviewed are remarkably similar.” (From Yahoo’s Picks of the Week)
Neanderthals on Trial
In 1856, bones of an unrecognizable hominid turned up in Germany’s Neander Valley. This early human and others like it — sturdy, large-headed individuals — came to be known as Neanderthals. Despite a century and a half of study and debate, Neanderthals remain an enigma. Were they our ancestors, or an evolutionary dead-end? Were they assimilated into early modern (Cro Magnon) populations, or were they wiped out en masse in a Pleistocene genocide? NOVA investigates this long-standing mystery.
Here’s what you’ll find on the companion Web site:
- Casts of Characters — Using fully rotatable 360-degree QuickTime movies, compare casts of two famous skulls — the La Chapelle-aux-Saints Neanderthal and Cro Magnon I. Learn their histories and ferret out their anatomical differences.
- Into the Fray: The Producer’s Story — In this straight-from-the-shoulder essay, Mark Davis, the producer of “Neanderthals on Trial,” describes how he went about making a balanced film about a subject on whose particulars no two experts seem to agree.
- Tracing Ancestry with MtDNA — By studying mitochondrial DNA, some geneticists have traced the maternal lineages of all modern humans back to a common ancestor who lived 150,000 years ago. They’ve also found no evidence that we’re related to Neanderthals. What’s the logic behind their theory? Find out here.
- Dig and Deduce — In this interactive, uncover bone fragments and artifacts at three Neanderthal excavation sites, then step into the morass known as archeological interpretation.
Also, Resources, a Teacher’s Guide, and the program transcript.
A wonderful animated site to introduce children to the Burarra people of Australia. Your guides will show you many aspects of the ways these people have lived and of their native technologies. How do they build fish traps? How do the navigate by the stars? This site is both informative and absolutely captivating.
America’s Stone Age Explorers
“Ever since unusually ancient and deadly spear points were found near Clovis, New Mexico in the 1930s, many archeologists have believed that this type of weapon originated with the first settlers of the New World, who supposedly migrated from Asia at the end of the last ice age. In ‘America’s Stone Age Explorers,’ NOVA reports new evidence that challenges this widely held view. The hunt for clues takes NOVA to sites of stunning discoveries in western Pennsylvania and southern Chile; to southern France, where Stone Age artifacts have been found that resemble the famous Clovis points; to the high arctic to learn the techniques that may have been used to cross the ice-encrusted Atlantic 17,000 years before Columbus; and to a remarkable find in central Texas that may hold the key to who invented the Clovis technology.” On this companion NOVA site from PBS you will find:
- End of the Big Beasts — Who or what snuffed out the mammoths and other megafauna 13,000 years ago?
- The Fenn Cache — Ten exquisite Clovis stone tools reveal the artistry and skill of America’s early flintknappers.
- Before Clovis — There wasn’t supposed to be anyone in the Americas before the Clovis people, but ostensibly earlier sites keep turning up.
- Stone Age Toolkit — Would you know what to use an ancient stone tool for if you unearthed one? Try your hand here.
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WEST VIRGINIA PLANS LARGEST PUBLIC COMPUTING GRID
Officials in West Virginia this fall plan to unveil the Global Grid Exchange, a statewide open infrastructure that organizers say will be the largest public computing grid in the world. The grid, which is being developed under the West Virginia High Technology Consortium Foundation and funded by the Economic Development Authority, will use unused computing resources around the state and will initially be available for government, industry, and academic interests within West Virginia. Later, the grid is expected to be opened to anyone around the world. West Virginia Governor Bob Wise said the response has been “incredible, resulting in an amazing commitment of donated computing resources.”
Federal Computer Week, 14 October 2004 via Edupage.
NCES CONSIDERS CHANGES TO IPEDS REPORTING STRUCTURE
The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) is considering fundamental changes to the way data are reported in the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS). IPEDS is the government’s primary means of collecting data from the nation’s providers of postsecondary education. NCES is conducting an IPEDS Student Unit Record Feasibility Study to address the agency’s goal of using record-level student data for IPEDS rather than the aggregate data currently supplied by colleges and universities. Such a change would reportedly eliminate certain inefficiencies of the system, both for NCES and for higher education institutions, and would allow for more accurate calculation of statistics such as graduation rate. At least one association, the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers (http://www.aacrao.org/), has suggested the proposal carries a number of risks, including privacy concerns of submitting individual student data to the agency as well as a range of technical concerns. The agency will hold three technical review panels to address the provisions of the suggested change.
National Center for Education Statistics, 12 October 2004 via Edupage
PURDUE RESEARCHERS TRACE PAPER TO PRINTER
Researchers at Purdue University have developed a technique to identify the model of printer used to produce a particular document. Technology for scanners and desktop printers has evolved to the point that users can print relatively convincing forgeries of many currencies. Purdue’s Edward Delp found that laser printers have unique signatures that are transmitted onto documents they produce. Using image-scanning software developed by the research team, Delp and his colleagues were able to identify which printer a document came from in 11 of 12 tests. According to Delp, the process involves extracting “mathematical features, or measurements, from printed letters” and using those to identify which printer produced the letters. Delp said, “We also believe that we will be able to identify not only which model of printer was used but specifically which printer was used.” Delp and his team will now work to apply the identification techniques to inkjet printers.
BBC, 18 October 2004 via Edupage.
STANDARDIZED TEST TO MEASURE TECHNOLOGY LITERACY
Working with representatives of seven universities, the Educational Testing Service (ETS), which administers the SAT, has developed a new test to measure how well students apply information technology skills to solve problems. Students taking the ICT Literacy Assessment exam will be asked to perform tasks such as build a spreadsheet, write an e-mail that summarizes a passage, and evaluate the credibility of online information. Barbara A. O'Connor, a professor of communications at California State University at Sacramento, was involved in the development of the exam and said that organizers wanted to expand the idea of the digital divide. Rather than simply describing the difference between having technology and not, the term should be understood to mean the disparity of how that technology is used and how it is applied to various situations, said O’Connor. The test will be given starting in January 2005, and for the first year, results will be provided in the aggregate only. After ETS has developed a baseline for scoring, test takers will receive individual scores.
Chronicle of Higher Education, 12 November 2004 (sub. req’d) via Edupage.
LAPTOPS PREPARE STUDENTS FOR COLLEGE, BRIDGE INCOME GAPS
Laptop programs are showing up at a number of high schools around the United States, including T.C. Williams High School in Washington, D.C., which this week issued 2,100 laptops to its students. Technology literacy is one of the primary goals of such programs, as is ensuring that students from varying socioeconomic backgrounds have equal access to such technology. John Crites, head of technical support for the Alexandria school district, said of the $1.4 million program to supply all students with laptops, “It gives us the ability to level the playing field.” In an effort to control how the computers are used, administrators of the program at T.C. Williams configured the school’s laptops to allow Internet access only on school grounds, installed several Web filters, and elected not to allow instant messaging or e-mail, though a limited e-mail system may be added later.
Washington Post, 13 October 2004 via Edupage.
VIRGINIA TECH MODIFIES SUPERCOMPUTER, BOOSTS SPEED
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University has upgraded its System X supercomputer to increase its processing speed, making it the fastest computer at an academic institution. The System X was originally built with 1,100 Apple Power Mac G5 processors for a cost of $5.2 million, significantly less than the tens of millions of dollars usually spent on supercomputing projects, such as those of the Energy Department and weather researchers. Virginia Tech spent about $600,000 adding 50 more nodes to the system and bumping its processing speed from 10.28 teraflops to 12.25 teraflops. The computer is in service at Virginia Tech’s Institute for Critical Technology and Applied Science.
Federal Computer Week, 26 October 2004 via Edupage.
MORE SUPPORT FOR ADDING GAMES TO CURRICULUM
Researchers at the Institute of Education at London University contend that the study of computer and video games has a place in the academic curriculum just as do studies of film, television, and literature. The findings are based on a three-year study in the United Kingdom of games and their influence on education. According to Caroline Pelletier, manager of the project, “Games literacy is a way of investigating how games are means of expression and representation, just like writing or drawing.” Andrew Burn, associate director of the Institute of Education’s Centre for the Study of Children, Youth, and Media, called games “a legitimate cultural form that deserve critical analysis.” Burn noted that, according to the study, a key element of the value of games is allowing students to create their own games. Researchers did acknowledge, however, that in the often male-dominated world of gaming, many of the girls in the study felt left out. Research fellow Diane Carr said that girls “have little motivation to play and remain disengaged.” Representatives of the gaming industry praised the researchers for “intelligently” addressing the “cultural, social, and educational value of computer and video games.”
BBC, 26 October 2004 via Edupage.
Public School Science Teacher Makes Popular Science’s List of “Worst Jobs in Science”
Popular Science magazine has again published its “Worst Jobs in Science,” which this year includes … you guessed it … public school science teacher, which landed 13th on the list. Written in an entertaining and at times grossly descriptive manner the article contained a profile of Arizona science teacher, Howard Ruffner, who was asked to teach science with “no budget, no equipment, no lab.” NSTA is quoted in the story, which highlights the lack of attention being given to science education. Other jobs on the list include landfill monitor, tick dragger, and Iraqi archeologist. (From NSTA)
“When Sen. Kerry referred to the genocide in Darfur, Sudan, during a recent presidential debate, many viewers were likely expecting elucidation on the topic. Instead, the talk shifted to the familiar issues of Iraq, North Korea, and WMDs. To many that moment reflected mainstream media’s obsession with marquee news stories. DocuTicker is about issues that interest us all yet slip under the TV radar — Darfur, women’s rights and the High Court, even Congress’ travel habits. Because this information is compiled by librarians who cull documents from government agencies, think tanks, and the like, the paper trail is immense and varied. The resulting unique news lineup covers everything from tax cut rhetoric, to why men murder women, to the true state of U.S. prisons.” (From Yahoo’s Picks of the Week)
Scholastic Unveils Study on Effective School Libraries
Scholastic Library Publishing recently released a collection of studies that proves the effectiveness of school libraries on student achievement. “School Libraries Work!” shows that school libraries with certified media specialists and strong collections that support the curriculum lead to higher test scores on standardized tests across all grade levels, regardless of socioeconomic or educational levels.
Name NOAA’s New Ship for Ocean Exploration
Beginning October 15, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), is sponsoring a contest to “Name NOAA’s New Ship for Exploration” for student teams in grades 6-12. Posters with guidelines and a prize list will be mailed out to targeted science teachers in grades 6-12. Complete information about the contest will be posted on the NOAA Education website at http://www.education.noaa.gov/ on October 15, 2004.
Univ of Hawaii Library Hit by Flood
Floods Destroy Documents at Hawaii Library
“Heavy rain sent water as much as 8 feet deep rushing through the University of Hawaii’s main research library, destroying irreplaceable documents and books, toppling doors and walls, and forcing a few students to break a window to escape.”