Sci-Tech Library Newsletter


Newsletter archive > 2005 March 18 Issue

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This newsletter is available to the public at the following locations:

  1. ACS OFFERS OPEN ACCESS!: In response to the NIH initiative.
  5. INTERESTING WEBSITES AND NEWS FROM THE INTERNET: Looking for Planets, Nærfoto: The Visual Impact of Nature, The Vega Science Trust: Online Science Programmes, National Museum of Natural History-Naturalis: 300 Pearls, Supervolcanoes; Biological Sciences: Unsolved Mysteries of Human Health, Two on Gender in Brains, Two Dozen Darwins, BioEd, Frogs: A Chorus of Colors; Education and Human Resources: 2005 International School Student Science Poetry Competition, Eureka! Science Reporting for Kids; Engineering: 2007 Congressional and State Department Fellowships, Speech Technology Pioneer to Receive IEEE Medal of Honor; Geosciences: Reef Check; Mathematical and Physical Sciences: Mathematics Awareness Month, Interactions.Org: Particle Physics News & Resources, Pi, The Mechanical Universe … and Beyond, Deep Impact; Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences: EconoClass,, Cuneiform Tablets: From the Reign of Gudea of Lagash to Shalmanassar III, A Journey to a New Land, Global Nomads Group … and more … plus news items from Edupage

    American Chemical Society Broadens Access to Its Articles

    Conditions set for free availability one year after publication.

    The American Chemical Society, the world’s largest scientific society, is broadening access to research articles published in its 33 scholarly journals. The Society is introducing two new experimental policies that define how readers can view free digital versions of ACS articles beginning one year after publication.

    First, in response to public access guidelines recently released by the NIH, the ACS will post, for public accessibility 12 months after publication, the peer-reviewed version of authors’ manuscripts on the National Library of Medicine’s PubMed Central during 2005. The NIH policy encourages authors whose work it funds to submit their peer-reviewed manuscripts to PubMed Central, the agency’s free digital archive of biomedical and life sciences journal literature.

    Commenting on this new service, ACS Publications Senior Vice President Brian Crawford said, “We understand that NIH-funded authors will wish to comply voluntarily with the NIH’s policy request. By introducing this service, the ACS will take on the administrative burden of compliance and at the same time will ensure the integrity of the scientific literature by depositing the appropriate author version of the manuscript after peer-review.”

    Second, as a value-added service to ACS authors and a method of further opening access to its content, the full-text version of all research articles published in ACS journals will be made available at no charge via an author-directed Web link 12 months after final publication. Allowing unrestricted access to articles 12 months after publication is an expansion of the Society’s current practice of permitting 50 downloads of authors’ articles free of charge during the first year of publication. This initiative will go into effect during 2005.

    “We are very pleased to expand access in this way to research published in ACS journals,” said Crawford. “It is fundamental to the ACS mission to support and promote the research enterprise and to foster communication among its scientists. Providing unrestricted access via author-directed links 12 months after publication — in addition to the 50 free e-prints currently allowed during the first year of publication — reinforces that mission.”

    Robert Bovenschulte, president of the ACS Publications Division, said “These experimental policies balance the important goal of expanding dissemination of research with the need to preserve the integrity of the scientific record as well as the viability of our journals program.”

    The American Chemical Society is a nonprofit organization, chartered by the U.S. Congress, with a multidisciplinary membership of more than 158,000 chemists and chemical engineers. It publishes numerous scientific journals and databases, convenes major research conferences and provides educational, science policy and career programs in chemistry. Its main offices are in Washington, D.C., and Columbus, Ohio.

    Released: March 7, 2005.


    Election 2004: Assessing the Impact on S&T
    1 December 2004 – AAAS, Research!America and the Washington Science Policy Alliance convened a panel of top-tier experts to evaluate how the 2004 election results will affect science and technology in the years ahead. Listen to what they had to say. Agenda:

    • Moderated by Alan I. Leshner,
      CEO of AAAS and executive publisher of Science
    • Former Rep. John Porter (R-IL),
      Former chair of the House Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations Subcommittee,
      Currently a partner in the law firm of Hogan and Hartson and chair-elect of Research!America
    • Kathleen Frankovic,
      Director of the CBS News Survey Unit.
      The unit designs and carries out all CBS News and CBS News/New York Times polls
    • Bob Palmer,
      Minority staff director, House Committee on Science

    New NIH Public Access Policy
    Here is the policy we have all been waiting for. Beginning May of this year, NIH-funded investigators will be asked to submit their final manuscripts to PubMed Central, on the theory that if the public pays for the research, they should be able to view the results of the research without additional cost.

    Visas Mantis
    “On 11 February, the U.S. Department of State announced revisions in the clearance process known as Visas Mantis, allowing more freedom for international students and scholars to study and work in sensitive scientific and technical fields. In a press statement dated 19 February, the Office of the Spokesman gave the details of the Government Accountability Office (GAO) report citing the significant reduction in visa processing time to less than 14 days. In addition, the validity of clearance for an academic program is extended to a maximum of four years, and for a work appointment to a maximum of two years.”

    (From AAAS)

    Center for Advancing Science & Engineering Capacity
    “The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation has awarded AAAS a three-year, $400,000 grant to help establish a new Center for Advancing Science & Engineering Capacity. The Center will provide consulting services to individual universities and colleges seeking to increase the participation of U.S. students, especially women and underrepresented minorities, in science and engineering careers.

    Daryl Chubin, former senior vice president for research, policy & programs at the National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering, will direct the new center. With a distinguished record of scholarship, policy analysis and advocacy, Chubin has emerged as a national expert on expanding and diversifying the science and engineering workforce. He has served in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and has published eight books and numerous policy reports, articles, and commentaries.

    ‘By pulling together what we now know and setting a research agenda for the future, this Center will surely help multiply the impact of the many efforts going on around the country to increase participation in science by members of under-represented groups,’ said Alan I. Leshner, AAAS’s chief executive officer and executive publisher of the journal Science.”

    NARA Appraisal Guidelines for Federal Research and Development Records — Request for Comment
    NARA is seeking public comment on these draft guidelines for appraising the historical value of Federal agency R&D facilities records.

    Human Cloning

    UN Press Release
    Bruce Alberts of the NAS
    AAAS Letter to the United Nations on the Human Cloning Vote
    The U.N. General Assembly approved this week a nonbinding declaration calling upon member states “to prohibit any attempts to create human life through cloning processes and any research to achieve that aim.” The U.S. National Academy of Sciences and other members of the InterAcademy Panel, a worldwide organization of science academies, have stated that a worldwide ban on human reproductive cloning — a technique that attempts to produce a child — is justified. However, the declaration is ambiguous and should not extend to nuclear transfer, also known as “therapeutic cloning,” which is very different and enhances the likelihood of attaining medical breakthroughs, says NAS President Bruce Alberts.

    The following is from the Scout Report:

    United Nations urges governments around the world ban all human cloning:

    1. U.N. approves call for ban on human cloning
    2. UN Approves Non-Binding Resolution on Cloning [RealPlayer]
    3. General Assembly approves declaration banning all forms of cloning
    4. Ad Hoc Committee on an International Convention against the Reproductive Cloning of Human Beings [pdf]
    5. Cloning Fact Sheet
    6. Scientific and Medical Aspects of Human Reproductive Cloning

    The potential for human cloning seems to hold various intriguing possibilities to some parties, while many others remain wholly appalled by the very idea of this process. Despite this substantial difference of opinion, the United Nations General Assembly passed a nonbinding statement on cloning this past Tuesday that urges governments to ban all human cloning, including the cloning of human embryos for stem-cell research. While the United States did not play a substantive role in advocating for such a statement, the vote was seen by some as a victor for the administration of President George W. Bush. The actual measure was proposed by Honduras, and was largely supported by Roman Catholic countries, though there were some unusual schisms in the final vote on the statement. One example was the case of the United States and Britain, with Britain voting against the statement. While some in the United Nations bemoaned the final vote on this statement, some, such as Costa Rican Ambassador Bruno Stagno Ugarte were more enthusiastic, as he noted: “…therapeutic cloning involves the creation of human life for the purpose of destroying it.”

    The first link will take visitors to a news article from that discusses the results of the recent United Nations vote. The second link will take visitors to additional audio coverage of the vote as offered by Peter Heinlein, reporting for Voice of America. The third link leads to the official press release from the United Nations on the vote in the General Assembly this past Tuesday. The fourth link leads to the very timely homepage of the Ad Hoc Committee on an International Convention against the Reproductive Cloning of Human Beings, which presents material from the various committees from the year 2001 to the present. The fifth link leads to a succinct and eminently readable factsheet on cloning, provided by the Human Genome Project. The sixth and final link leads to a very thorough online book from the National Academies press on the various aspects of human reproductive cloning. [KMG]

    Science Education Funding in Congress
    As Members of Congress work to determine their priorities for FY2006 programs, three Dear Colleague letters are ciculating in Congress — one in the House of Representatives and two in the Senate — asking for increased funding for science and math education.

    In the House, Representatives Ehlers (R-MI), Udall (D-CO), Holt (D-NJ) and Biggert (R-IL) are sending a letter asking for $200 million for the Math and Science Partnership (MSP) Program at the National Science Foundation (NSF) and $400 million for the Department of Education (ED) Math and Science Partnership Program. Read more at

    In the Senate, Senator Pat Roberts (R-KS) is seeking $269 million for the ED MSPs: (pdf)

    Also in the Senate, Senators Rockefeller, Coleman, and Durbin are seeking $200 million for the NSF MSPs. (pdf)

    Dear Colleague letters are sent from Representatives or Senators to their fellow members who serve in leadership positions, asking them to take a specific course of action in support of an issue. Often the author(s) of the Dear Colleague letter seeks other members of Congress to “sign on” to a proposed letter before it is sent to the rest of Congress. This is very important, since the letters gauge the level of interest and support among all Members of Congress for a specific issue. In other words, the number of Members of Congress who sign on to a Dear Colleague letter indicates that a particular issue is very important and has a very high level of support. (From NSTA)

    House Science Committee Offers Views and Estimates on FY 2006 Budget Proposal
    3 MARCH: House Science Committee Chairman Sherwood Boehlert (R-NY) released his committee’s views on the administration’s FY 2006 budget request. Read the entire committee document here. The Republican majority believes proposed funding for basic research is insufficient. Democratic minority urges the U.S. to take steps to protect investments in S&T that are needed to safeguard our economic future. (From IEEE Eye on Washington)

    Near-Earth Object Survey Act (HR 1022)
    Congressman Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.), The 2004 winner of the IEEE-USA Distinguished Public Service Award, introduced the George E. Brown, Jr. Near-Earth Object Survey Act (HR 1022). The bill requires NASA to use its “unique competence” in science and engineering to plan and implement a program to detect, track, and catalogue near-Earth asteroids and comets to assess the threat of such near-Earth objects in striking the Earth.


    Designing Nanostructures
    Notes from the second Keck Futures Initiative conference, “Designing Nanostructures at the Interface between Biomedical and Physical Systems” are now available online.

    Election 2004: Did the Media Fail?
    “Few realized how much better at getting their man elected the Republicans were. It wasn’t just Karl Rove. They were exceptionally well financed and did much, much better than anything on the Democratic side. It should have been possible to see it during the course of the campaign … but it was a missed story.” — Terence Smith

    In the third and final part of the series, Media and the Election: Is our Democracy Working?, Terence Smith and Cathy Young discuss the role of the traditional media on the electoral process. In the first “internet election” the speakers also consider the role of bloggers, gatekeepers, spinners and strategists in covering the race for President.


    • Terence Smith,
      Media Correspondent and Senior Producer,
      The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer
    • Cathy Young,
      The Boston Globe and Reason Magazine

    AskNSDL Experts Needed for ESTEME Week 2005
    NSDL is currently engaged in a recruiting campaign to expand the base of experts who answer questions in preparation for Excellence in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Education (ESTEME) Week. ESTME Week is co-sponsored this year by the Department of Education and NASA as a celebration of science and technology during the week of April 11-15, 2005. AskNSDL will be featured as a recommended resource on the ESTEME Week website.

    “Experts” can sign up to answer questions related to specified areas of science, mathematics, or technology; educational materials and instructional practices in these disciplines; or about NSDL and other online resources. Scientists, educators, librarians, museum professionals, graduate students, and others are encouraged to share their knowledge with the students and teachers who will be sending their inquiries during ESTEME Week and beyond. It is easy to register as an expert and requires only as much time as you prefer to commit in responding to the questions that you choose to answer.

    To register, go to the AskNSDL website and click on the “For Experts” tab. Select “register as an expert” and follow the instructions.

    Please assist our recruiting efforts by sharing this call for experts with appropriate colleagues and forwarding to other relevant listservs.

    Please contact Susan Van Gundy ( / 303-497-2946) with any questions.

    Call For Entries: Science & Engineering Visualization Challenge
    When the left brain collaborates with the right brain, science merges with art to enhance communication and understanding of research results — illustrating concepts, depicting phenomena, drawing conclusions.

    The National Science Foundation and Science, published by the American Association for the Advancement of Science, invite you to participate in the annual Science and Engineering Visualization challenge. The competition recognizes scientists, engineers, visualization specialists and artists for producing or commissioning innovative work in visual communications. The entry Deadline is May 31, 2005.

    Awards Categories: Photos/Still Images, Illustration, Explanatory Graphics, Interactive Media, Non-interactive media. First place awards in each category will be published in the September 23, 2005 issue of Science and Science Online and displayed on the NSF web site.

    Visionary Anatomies
    “Visionary Anatomies,” an exhibition of contemporary art based on medical images and concepts, runs until May 20 at the National Academy of Sciences Building, 2100 C St. N.W., Washington, D.C. No reservations or tickets are required to view the exhibit, but a photo I.D. is necessary to enter the building.

    Communication Awards Nominations
    The National Academies are now accepting nominations for their 2005 Communication Awards for excellence in reporting and communicating science, engineering, and medicine to the public during 2004. Three $20,000 prizes will be awarded to a book author; print or online journalist; and a television or radio producer or reporter. Nominations must be completed online no later than April 13.


    Kirby, Sarah. Free Resources Containing Searchable Abstracts in Science, Technology and Engineering. ELD-Net, 2005.

    Losing the competitive advantage: the challenge for science and technology in the United States. AeA, 2005.

    A Commitment to America’s future: responding to the crisis in mathematics education. Business-Higher Education Forum, 2005.

    Science in society: findings from qualitative and quantitative research. UK Dept. of Trade & Industry, 2005.

    The Unintended Audience: Balancing Openness and Secrecy. Center for Public Policy & Private Enterprise, U of Md., 2005.

    Status of Coral Reefs of the World 2004. Australian Inst. of Marine Science, 2005.

    Final List of Bird Species to Which the MBTA Does Not Apply. Fish & Wildlife Service, 2005.

    A Budgetary Analysis of NASA’s New Vision for Space Exploration. CBO, 2004.

    Achieving Success in Internet-Supported Learning in Higher Education: Case Studies Illuminate Success Factors, Challenges, and Future Directions. Alliance for Higher Education Competitiveness, 2005.

    2004 Annual Global Climate and Catastrophe Report. Aon, 2005.

    OECD Factbook 2005: Economic, Environmental and Social Statistics. OECD, 2005.

    Initial Employment Report of 2001 and 2002 Physics and Astronomy Degree Recipients. AIP, 2005.

    U.S. Climate Policy: Toward a Sensible Center. (Transcripts of a conference sponsored jointly by Brookings and Pew), 2004.

    AAAS Analysis of R&D in the FY2006 Budget. AAAS, 2005.

    Frontiers of Engineering: Leading-edge Reports from the 10th Annual Symposium. NAP, 2005.

    Implementing Health-Protective Features and Practices in Buildings: Workshop Proceedings — Federal Facilities Council Technical Report Number 148. NAP, 2005.

    Diana Oblinger. Educating the Net Generation. Educause, 2005.

    The Owner’s Role in Project Risk Management. NAP, 2005.

    Review and Assessment of Proposals for Chemical Agent Destruction Pilot Plant at Pueblo, Colorado: Letter Report. NAP, 2005.

    Marine Health Check 2005. WWF, 2005.

    Cary Coglianese and Jennifer Nash. Management-Based Strategies for Improving Private Sector Environmental Performance. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard Univ., 2005.

    Science and Technology in the National Interest: Ensuring the Best Presidential and Federal Advisory Committee Science and Technology Appointments. NAP, 2005.

    Conflict in the Cosmos: Hoyle Biography. NAP, 2005.

    Peter, Katherin. Gender Differences in Participation and Completion of Undergraduate Education and How They Have Changed Over Time. NCES, 2005.

    Fifty Years of Supporting Children’s Learning: A History of Public School Libraries and Federal Legislation from 1953-2000. NCES, 2005.

    E.D. TAB: Public Libraries in the United States: Fiscal Year 2002. NCES, 2005.

    School Library Media Centers: Selected Results From the Education Longitudinal Study of 2002 (ELS:2002). NCES, 2005.

    The Smallpox Vaccination Program: Public Health in an Age of Terrorism (prepublication). NAP, 2005.

    Veterans and Agent Orange: Update 2004 (prepublication). NAP, 2005.

    Improving the Characterization and Treatment of Radioactive Wastes for the Department of Energy’s Accelerated Site Cleanup Program. NAP, 2005.

    Risk and Decisions About Disposition of Transuranic and High-Level Radioactive Waste. NAP, 2005.

    Assessment of Options for Extending the Life of the Hubble Space Telescope: Final Report. NAP, 2005.

    Water Conservation, Reuse, and Recycling: Proceedings of an Iranian-American Workshop. NAP, 2005.

    21st Century Challenges: Reexamining the Base of the Federal Government. GAO, 2005.

    Greenhouse Gas Emissions Trading in U.S. States: Observations and Lessons from the OTC NOx Budget Program. World Resources Inst., 2005.

    Intellectual Property—United States. Patent and Trademark Office, 2004.


    The beauty of America’s Yellowstone National Park masks one of the rarest and most destructive forces on Earth — a supervolcano. This BBC website is a companion to their the BBC1 program. The website includes a photogallery, free wallpaper, and a disaster game to play.

    National Museum of Natural History-Naturalis: 300 Pearls
    This fascinating website was created collaboratively by the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences, the Hungarian Natural History Museum, and the National Museum of Natural History-Naturalis to present highlights of its vast natural history collections. Students and other curious visitors can roam the virtual halls of the museums looking for information about specimens in such categories as Animals and Plants, Endangered Species, Extinct Animals, and Fossils. The numerous exhibit pages contain concise text sections and great photographs and share information about a host of interesting plants and animals like the Tasmanian wolf, Thylacinus cynocephalus. The site also links to exhibits organized into the following categories: Rare Books and Other Treasures; Anthropology and Prehistory; Recent Research; and Minerals and Rocks. The website is available in Dutch, Hungarian, French, and English. Note: This website is best viewed using Internet Explorer; technical problems occur when using Mozilla and Netscape. [NL] (From the Scout Report)

    The Vega Science Trust: Online Science Programmes
    The nonprofit, UK-based Vega Science Trust broadcasts free science programs over the Internet. The programs “are mainly produced by experts in science and engineering and many have been previously shown on mainstream television.” The Vega Science Trust website contains a sizeable collection of science programs for viewing. Program subject categories include: Biology, Health, Molecular Biology, Safety, Physics, and more. As indicated by the various categories, the programs address a wide range of issues including ocean life, genetically modified organisms, brain science, and ageing, to name a few. In addition to being categorized by subject, the annotated programs can also be browsed by scientist, by series, and by alphabetic order. [NL] (From the Scout Report)

    Nærfoto: The Visual Impact of Nature
    This free, non-commercial website was created by professional nature photographer and former aquatic ecologist Bjørn Rørslett to exhibit his remarkable photographic work. A stand-out section of the website, titled Flowers in Ultraviolet, provides a glimpse into the visual world of pollinators by displaying fantastic ultraviolet and visible light images of different flower species. The website also contains some intriguing images featuring frogs, plants in urban settings, aquatic species, water surfaces and more. Site visitors will also find camera reviews, information about infrared and ultraviolet color photography, opinions about different types of lenses, and related links. [NL] (From the Scout Report)

    Looking for Planets

    Kepler Education Page
    SuperWASP: Wide Angle Search for Planets
    PlanetQuest — the Search for Another Earth
    PlanetQuest Collaboratory
    1. “The Kepler Mission is a NASA Discovery Program for detecting potentially life-supporting planets around other stars.” Users can discover how NASA scientists are using the transit method to find planets through a demonstration using Legos. The website offers space science activities, factsheets, and an interactive program to educate individuals about planet detection. Visitors can read the latest news about the Kepler Mission. The website also offers a link to a thorough description of the Kepler Mission’s goals, scientific basis, and technology.” [RME] (From the Scout Report)

    2. “SuperWASP is the UK’s leading extra-solar planet detection program comprising of a consortium of seven academic institutions.” The website presents how SuperWASP works through clear text and helpful images. Researchers can find technical information on the Torus Fork Mount, CCD Cameras, and the Enclosure. Students and educators can discover the common techniques the Program uses to detect exoplanets such as pulsar timing and photometry. The website offers a gallery of images, the latest Program news, and other Web resources.” [RME] (From the Scout Report)

    3. Are we alone? For centuries, human beings have pondered this question. Medieval scholars speculated that other worlds must exist and that some would harbor other forms of life. The recent discovery of numerous planets around stars other than the Sun confirms that our solar system is not unique. Indeed, these “extrasolar planets” appear to be common in our galactic neighborhood. The extrasolar planets we have discovered thus far are giants, like Jupiter and Saturn. They are unlikely to support life as we know it. But some of these planetary systems might also contain smaller, terrestrial planets like Mars and Earth. Over the next 15 years, NASA is embarking on a bold series of missions to find and characterize new worlds. These will be the most sensitive instruments ever built, capable of reaching beyond the bounds of our own solar system.

    4. We are a diverse group of researchers dedicated to the search for new planets and to enabling you to join this great adventure! We’re building free software with which you can search for and discover new planets, classify stars and learn new facts about known stars, learn much more about your world and the universe, and meet new friends. See what you’ll be able to do with the Collaboratory.

    Biological Sciences

    Two on Gender in Brains

    Intelligence in Men and Women is Gray and White Matter
    She Brains, He Brains
    1. January 2005 article about a University of California, Irvine (UCI) study that has found that “while there are essentially no disparities in general intelligence between the sexes … [there are] significant differences in brain areas where males and females manifest their intelligence.” Includes frontal and side images of male and female brains with comparisons of white and gray matter. From the Web site that provides current information on UCI news. (From Librarian’s Index to the Internet)

    2. “Are there really any differences between female brains and male brains?” This site designed for children discusses differences in male and female brains and where in the brain these differences might be located. Topics include differences in brain size, the corpus callosum (the “major pathway that connects the right and left cerebral hemispheres”), and the hypothalamus. From an anesthesiology professor at the University of Washington. (From Librarian’s Index to the Internet)

    Two Dozen Darwins
    These stickers and bookmarks are being introduced to increase awareness and appreciation of Charles Darwin, whose theory of natural selection solidified scientific support for the theory of evolution. Natural selection continues to be central to an understanding of how life on earth changes over time, and is rightly hailed as one of the most important scientific discoveries of all time. Honor Charles Darwin and the scientific method by stickering something with his image, or by distributing Darwin-themed bookmarks to your friends. (From Whiteboard)

    “From stem cells to flu prevention to mad cow disease, biology is the stuff of everyday life. Get a handle on the issues, news, and views at this site for biology teachers. You’ll find slide shows and presentations, resources for teachers, and informative articles on issues such as the scope of underwater devastation wreaked by the December 26, 2004, earthquake.” (From ENC)

    Unsolved Mysteries of Human Health
    There’s something in the air over St. Mary’s Peak in Oregon. Help a team of scientists figure out what it is! Another team of scientists is working on the problem of dioxin in fish and how that can cause trouble for humans who eat them. These and other scientific mysteries await you at this site from Oregon State University. (From ENC)

    Frogs: A Chorus of Colors
    “As humans change natural environments, frogs around the world are disappearing.” This site provides information on frog life cycles and reproduction, environmental concerns, details on various species (including poisonous ones), photographs, and audio files of individual species and of a frog chorus. From the American Museum of Natural History. (From Librarian’s Index to the Internet)

    Education and Human Resources

    2005 International School Student Science Poetry Competition
    You use your whole brain when you write poetry; both the left side of your brain (e.g., language and logic) and the right side (e.g., visualization and creativity). Many employers look for people who can be creative using their whole brain. Poems often emerge when a poet looks at the same things everyone else but see something different. Exceptional future scientists see their world as it is and go about proving that it is something different. That same alchemy allows poets to see common things that everyone else sees and change dust to diamonds. (From Whiteboard)

    Eureka! Science Reporting for Kids
    The new EurekAlert! Science for Kids portal presents family-friendly breaking news, special features, and science, technology, and health resources. The lively and engaging content is provided by hundreds of universities, medical centers, and other research organizations worldwide and is freely accessible to parents, children, teachers, and the media.


    Speech Technology Pioneer to Receive IEEE Medal of Honor
    IEEE has announced that James L. Flanagan, Vice President of Research for Rutgers University in New Jersey, USA, will receive the 2005 IEEE Medal of Honor for his sustained leadership and outstanding contributions in speech technology. The IEEE Medal of Honor recognizes individuals like Flanagan who have had exceptional careers or made contributions in any IEEE field of interest. Flanagan’s research career is internationally recognized for his contributions to voice coding, speech analysis and synthesis, hearing and electroacoustics. Which other innovators will receive IEEE medals this year? Find out here: 2005 IEEE Medal Recipients

    2007 Congressional and State Department Fellowships
    An engineer once changed careers to serve as Calvin Coolidge’s Vice President. As vice president, Charles Dawes influenced the public policy process and won a Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts. Dawes, conscious of the job’s lack of opportunity, once said, “This is a hell of a job. I can only do two things: one is to sit up here and listen to you birds talk. The other is to look at newspapers every morning to see how the president’s health is.” Dawes earned his Nobel prize for creating the economic roadmap that scheduled Germany’s post-World War One reparations payments. Dawes also penned the lyrics to, “Its All in The Game,” which Elton John recorded in 1970.

    Dawes might be an extreme example, but that doesn’t mean engineers can’t influence the public policy process in other ways. If you don’t want to run for office but would like to take a year off from your regular job, IEEE-USA is now accepting applications for the 2007 government fellowship program that links engineers with government. Our 2005 fellows are working on issues such as homeland security and R&D funding. For more information on what past fellows have learned and experienced, see Congressional Fellowship Alumni. The deadline is 20 February 2006.


    Reef Check
    This international organization runs an extensive coral reef monitoring program and “works with communities, governments and businesses to scientifically monitor, restore and maintain coral reef health.” The organization’s Web site provides information about why reefs should be saved, what people can do to help, and how the organization is working through research and educational activities to help conserve reefs. Includes a barometer of global reef conditions. (From Librarian’s Index to the Internet)

    Mathematical and Physical Sciences

    Interactions.Org: Particle Physics News & Resources
    “ is designed to serve as a central resource for communicators of particle physics. The site is updated daily with news, information, images and links from the world of particle physics. It provides links to current particle physics news from the world’s press, high-resolution photos and graphics from the particle physics laboratories of the world; links to education and outreach programs; information about science policy and funding; links to universities; a glossary; and a conference calendar. Although is not designed to provide basic education about the science of particle physics, it provides links to many such educational sites.” This is a well-organized webpage that dishes up an image bank, short biographies, video clips and animations, news stories, and more.

    Deep Impact
    “Our understanding of comets has been limited by our inability to physically gather samples. Deep Impact will yield a dramatic breakthrough in our understanding of comets with the first experiment to sample deeply below the surface of a comet.” Deep Impact has a lauch date of January 12 and will arrive at comet 9P/Tempel 1 in July 2005. The spacecraft will deliver an impactor to the comet to excavate a large crater. This website has a host of materials about this mission and about comets in general. It comes complete with images, activities, news and more!

    Mathematics Awareness Month
    “Mathematics is at the core of our attempts to understand the cosmos at every level: Riemannian geometry and topology furnish models of the universe, numerical simulations help us to understand large-scale dynamics, celestial mechanics provides a key to comprehending the solar system, and a wide variety of mathematical tools are needed for actual exploration of the space around us. Mathematics Awareness Month is held each year in April. Its goal is to increase public understanding of and appreciation for mathematics.” The website has tips for publicizing events, and links to interesting resources.

    The Mechanical Universe … and Beyond
    “Something for every week of the year! That’s right, this Annenberg site features 52 episodes of the Mechanical Universe and Beyond on streaming video. From Galileo to Newton to Kepler and beyond, the series is designed to make physics accessible and meaningful for all students.” (From ENC)

    I myself missed National Pi Day this year, but you can still find a host of fun educational activities about Pi at the ENC webpage.

    Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences

    A Journey to a New Land
    “The Museum of Archaeology & Ethnology and the Media Production Group, Simon Fraser University created a web site on the first peopling of the New World with funding from the Virtual Museum of Canada. This multi level educational resource was designed as a series of reusable learning objects, thus maximizing its educational potential. Based on a spiral curriculum approach, the site targets multiple learning styles as well as cognitive, affective and other domains to present complex current research in a public forum. The stunning visuals, engaging games, interactive timelines and video interviews with leading scientists can be accessed by a large variety of viewers. From the Simon Fraser University Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology. (From Blue WebN)

    Cuneiform Tablets: From the Reign of Gudea of Lagash to Shalmanassar III
    This site “presents clay tablets, cones, and brick fragments inscribed using the ancient pictographic writing system known as cuneiform from the Library of Congress’ collections.” Contents include “school tablets, accounting records, and commemorative inscriptions.” Features 38 cuneiform tablets, along with links to related resources. Searchable; browsable by title and subject. From the African and Middle Eastern Division, Library of Congress. (From Librarian’s Index to the Internet)
    “Lyndon Johnson’s speech, which might charitably be described as ‘folksy,’ is caught on tape as he orders six pair of pants in language that is downright crude. Offering actual recordings made in the Oval Office over the course of 33 years and six administrations — from FDR to Nixon — this site lets you overhear the conversations surrounding minor and major events in our history. Listen in as Nixon and Chief of Staff Bob Haldeman discuss Donald Rumsfeld, then counselor to the president. (‘Rummy is tough enough. He’s a ruthless little bastard,’ according to the president.) Eavesdrop on JFK and the head of NASA as they discuss the importance of landing a man on the moon. Although the Nixon tapes are the most numerous and famous in this vast archive, there’s much to be learned about our presidents, our history, and the machinations of our government. It’s ‘The West Wing’ for real.” (From Yahoo’s Picks of the Week)

    The EconoClass offers great interactive activities for teaching high school economics. Includes games and simulations, case studies, debate topics, and brain teasers. (From Blue Web’n)

    Global Nomads Group
    “Founded in 1998, the Global Nomads Group (GNG) is a non-profit organization dedicated to heightening children’s understanding and appreciation for the world and its people. Using interactive technologies such as videoconferencing, GNG brings young people together face-to-face to meet across cultural and national boundaries to discuss their differences & similarities, and the world issues that affect them.” (From Blue Web’n)


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    A study conducted by two academics at Iowa State University has shown a remarkably high rate of “decay” for online citations. Michael Bugeja, professor of journalism and communication, and Daniela Dimitrova, assistant professor of communication, looked at five prestigious communication-studies journals from 2000 to 2003 and found 1,126 footnotes that cite online resources. Of those, 373 did not work at all, a decay rate of 33 percent; of those that worked, only 424 took users to information relevant to the citation. In one of the journals in the study, 167 of 265 citations did not work. Bugeja compared the current situation to that of Shakespearean plays in the early days of printing, when many copies of plays were fraught with errors due to the instability of the printing medium. Anthony T. Grafton, a professor of history at Princeton University and author of a book on footnotes, agreed that citation decay is a real and growing problem, describing the situation as “a world in which documentation and verification melt into air.”
    Chronicle of Higher Education, 14 March 2005 (sub. req’d) via Edupage.

    A team of HP researchers said it has made important strides in developing a technology that could one day replace the transistor as the fundamental building block of computers. The ability to increase the number of transistors on a silicon chip — thereby increasing the processing power — is nearing its physical limit, as transistors reach a point where they simply cannot be made any smaller. The technique being investigated by the HP research team was developed in collaboration with James R. Heath, then at the University of California at Los Angeles, and creates circuits at the junction of tiny platinum wires. Early tests of the technology in 1998 showed that it was capable of storing data. In its recent findings, the HP team said it has now shown that the technology is also able to perform so called “not” functions and that electrical signals can be restored such that circuits can be chained together effectively.
    Wall Street Journal, 1 February 2005 (sub. req’d) via Edupage

    A new online television network began operating this month, offering programs from 33 college and university stations around the United States. The Open Student Television Network is supported by the CampusEAI Consortium in cooperation with Internet2. CampusEAI, a member of Internet2, is an organization of more than 100 colleges and universities dealing with software and digital content. The network runs on Internet2’s high-speed backbone, resulting in an extremely high-quality signal. For those watching the new network who are not connected to Internet2, however, the picture quality can be compromised, though the sound works fine. Supporters of the network said it provides a needed avenue to get valuable campus-produced programming to broader audiences. Amy Grill, graduate student at Emerson University and manager of Emerson Television Channels, said, “We've got all of this content, and we’re looking for ways to distribute it.”
    Chronicle of Higher Education, 17 March 2005 (sub. req’d) via Edupage.

    According to the Government Accountability Office (GAO), ongoing errors plague the Student Information and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS), causing headaches both for visiting scholars and for many on college campuses. Although many errors are minor, those that are significant can result in a student’s having to file for reinstatement and pay another fee. In some cases, students are denied entry into the country while the problem is being resolved. Witnesses at a Congressional subcommittee hearing on SEVIS testified that one of the main hurdles to streamlining fixes to the data is a requirement that SEVIS officials — rather than staff on campuses — must enter any changes. Lawrence H. Bell of the University of Colorado at Boulder noted at the hearing that in addition to expediting fixes, allowing campus staff to enter changes would free up federal officials to devote their energy to “enforcement efforts that target those who have truly violated immigration law.” C. D. Mote Jr., president of the University of Maryland at College Park, called for the Department of Homeland Security, which oversees SEVIS, to certify one person at each campus to enter changes to the system and be responsible for reporting those changes to the agency.
    Chronicle of Higher Education, 18 March 2005 (sub. req’d) via Edupage

    A new report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) puts forth renewed charges of fraud and mismanagement in the federal government’s E-rate Program, designed to subsidize technology to connect U.S. schools and libraries to the Internet. The report was prepared for the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which is conducting its own investigation. Rep. Joe Barton (R-Tex.), chairman of the committee, blamed the Federal Communications Commission, unscrupulous vendors, and certain schools for the problems in the program, which he said was a “disgrace.” Although investigations have led to a handful of penalties for abuse in the program, the report advises increased efforts to clean it up. Among the report’s recommendations are calls to “comprehensively determine which federal accountability requirements apply to E-rate; establish meaningful E-rate performance goals and measures; and take steps to reduce its backlog of appeals.”
    Internet News, 17 March 2005 via Edupage

    High-level officials in France have put their support behind an initiative to digitize European works of literature and make them available free online. President Jacques Chirac, as well as Jean-Noel Jeanneney, president of the National Library of France, and Renaud Donnedieu de Vabres, minister of culture and communication, met recently to discuss efforts to digitize the “cultural patrimony” of France and Europe, a discussion evidently prompted by recently announced plans by Google to digitize vast amounts of English-language literature. Following the meeting, Donnedieu de Vabres published an essay called “Google Is Not the End of History,” in which he commented that “we probably have a lot to learn from Google” and said the Google announcement “comes in an intellectual and cultural climate in which the digitization of documents and works seems to be the key to all problems.” French officials rejected the notion that their actions are merely a reaction to Google or that their project should be seen as antithetical to or in competition with Google.
    Chronicle of Higher Education, 21 March 2005 (sub. req’d) via Edupage.

    An undergraduate student in the biology program at the University of Alabama at Tuscaloosa has received accolades for a database he created for epilepsy research. Cody Locke created the database, CarpeDB, on the advice of one of his professors. CarpeDB, which has been acknowledged by Science magazine and the National Institutes of Health, aims to serve as a single source for information on the numerous genes and DNA that might be responsible for epilepsy. Locke continues to add to CarpeDB, which also allows other researchers to submit new information that, after review by Locke, goes into the database. Locke is a junior in the university’s Computer-Based Honors Program, which encourages students to put technology skills to use in innovative ways.
    Inside Higher Ed, 3 March 2005 via Edupage

    Researchers hoping to locate unknown planets outside the solar system have launched a project to encourage computer users to donate unused processing power on their computers to analyze telescope data. Participants in the PlanetQuest Collaboratory whose computers discern variations in the data that indicate the existence of a planet will be allowed to name it. The project is led by David Gutelius, visiting scholar at Stanford University, and Laurance Doyle, an astrophysicist with the SETI Institute in California. The PlanetQuest project is not unlike the SETI@Home project, sponsored by the University of California at Berkeley, which uses donated computing power to search for extraterrestrial intelligence. Gutelius and Doyle hope to raise enough money for their project to build as many as 10 telescopes around the world dedicated to searching for unknown planets. Gutelius said start-up costs could reach $20 million, with annual operating costs running about $10 million, money he hopes can be raised from private investors as well as from subscriptions to premium content and revenue from ads on the site.
    Wired News, 2 March 2005 via Edupage

    At the request of the board of regents of the University of Texas System, administrators of the system’s UT Telecampus conducted two studies to assess the relative cost of online delivery of university courses. The studies, which covered 2002 and 2003, did not include faculty salaries, which are the same for online or on-campus courses, or costs to develop courses, focusing instead on infrastructure required to deliver the course content to students. In both years of the studies, online delivery cost less than on-campus delivery. The studies did not evaluate the amount of time professors spent teaching — some say teaching online takes appreciably more time. Although the UT Telecampus is the university’s online education organization, members of the board said the group’s methodology resulted in a fair assessment. According to board member Cyndi Taylor Krier, the board was pleased with the results of the studies but wants next to investigate the relative quality of courses taught over the Web.
    Chronicle of Higher Education, 4 March 2005 (sub. req’d) via Edupage.

    Researchers at Stanford University are working on software they hope will allow doctors to assess the likely outcomes of surgical procedures before they are performed. For about 10 years, Charles Taylor has been gathering medical data and writing algorithms for the application, which is intended to predict surgical variables, such as blood flow and the flexibility of veins and arteries, for individual patients. Doctors can use various tools to diagnose patients’ health problems, but because of differences from one patient to another, doctors cannot reliably predict how an individual will respond to a specific treatment. Taylor and his colleagues have used Stanford’s supercomputer to process data related to predicting blood flow, and the team recently reported success in modeling the behavior of veins and arteries. According to the researchers, children born with heart defects stand to benefit enormously from the technology, which is expected to be available in about two years.
    Wired News, 28 February 2005 via Edupage

    The World Bank has released a report contending that the digital divide is closing fast, putting the organization at odds with the United Nations (U.N.), which asserts that the divide is a problem that still needs to be addressed. The U.N. is hosting the World Summit on the Information Society in Geneva, where attendees are expected to call for increased funding to provide access for poorer countries to digital technologies. The U.N. believes that increasing such access will help poorer countries build stable democracies and deal with problems such as poverty. The World Bank cited statistics, however, that seem to contradict the need for ongoing funding to shrink the divide. The group’s report said, for example, that in 2002, Africa had 59 million fixed-line or mobile phones, far more than some other estimates. The report also said half the world’s population now have access to a fixed-line phone and 77 percent have access to a mobile phone.
    Reuters, 24 February 2005 via Edupage

    A pilot project run by an organization called EduVision is distributing handheld computers to schoolchildren in western Kenya to replace aging, outdated textbooks. In the program, students receive devices called E-slates, which receive transmissions from a base station in the school. The base stations receive and process information delivered by satellite and transmit text, images, and study questions to the E-slates. EduVision’s Matthew Herren explained that the system is very simple to set up but that “getting feedback or specific requests from end users is difficult” because the system uses one-way connections. Herren said organizers of the program are working with Google, which has begun an initiative to digitize millions of public-domain texts and make them available online. Putting those resources into the handheld program, said Herren, would give “every rural school in Africa … access to the same libraries as the students in Oxford and Harvard.”
    BBC, 28 February 2005 via Edupage

    Researchers at the University of Washington are looking for ways to make graphics accessible to blind or visually impaired students. Funded in part by a grant from the National Science Foundation, the Tactile Graphics Project aims to open up science and engineering to students with visual disabilities, who have traditionally been largely left out of such fields due in part to the difficulty of “seeing” graphics with their hands. Researchers in the project are working with blind students from the university and local high schools to develop new and effective means of representing graphics and figures in a way that the blind can understand clearly. Such representations must be sufficiently detailed to be useful but not so complex as to be confusing. Tactile printers, or embossers, is one technology that already exists, but because the software is outdated and difficult to learn, the printers are not extensively used, according to Melody Ivory-Ndiaye, an assistant professor at the university’s Information School.
    Associated Press, 14 February 2005 via Edupage.

    Working with a graphics specialist and another student, a blind graduate student at Cornell University has developed a computer application that translates colors into sounds, allowing him to read and understand colored maps of the atmosphere. Victor Wong, who has been blind since age seven, said he recognized the need for such a tool for his own studies, as well as for blind scientists generally. The application translates the colors of digitally created images into one of 88 notes, with blue at the low end and red at the high end. Users manipulate a stylus on a tablet to “read” the images through sound. Wong believes that because he formerly could see, his “color memory” may afford him the ability to visualize the colors and use the application in a way that someone who has never been able to see could not. The software remains primitive, but Wong said he hopes it can one day be developed to give blind people access to photographs and other images.
    BBC, 14 February 2005 via Edupage.

    A number of academic and commercial researchers are working to limit the distractions that computer users continually face. Activities such as reading e-mail, checking the weather online or surfing other Web sites, or simply fiddling with electronic music files can prove to be significant impediments to productivity for many people. Researchers often speak of “cognitive flow,” a state of strong focus on a particular task. Some projects, including one involving researchers at Microsoft and the University of Maryland, study flow with the goal of designing applications that attempt to discern such a state in computer users. Software can then assign priority levels to potential interruptions, such as a new e-mail message, and determine whether to alert the user or to wait until the flow has ended. Alon Halevy, a professor of computer science at the University of Washington, is also working on e-mail systems that can decide when best to interrupt the user. Other efforts focus on understanding the types of functional structures that cause or promote distractions.
    New York Times, 10 February 2005 (registration req’d) via Edupage.

    Physicians at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), are using iPods in conjunction with an open source application developed in-house to avoid some of the steep costs of medical imaging. Physicians Osman Ratib and Antoine Rosset created Osirix, an open source tool that allows radiologists to participate in teleconferences and see high-resolution medical images on desktop Macintosh computers, rather than the $100,000 workstations that were previously required. Files for the 3D images are too large for many media, so Ratib and his team turned to the iPod, which offers a portable storage medium of 60GB. Although some cautioned that using iPods for storage presents a security risk, Ratib said the risk is no greater than with any other medium. “It’s not the device, it’s how you use it,” he said. “When [users] are outside the institution, they can be compliant or not.”
    CNET, 7 February 2005 via Edupage.

    Google’s recently announced plans to scan millions of volumes in several libraries has some wondering if the project is at risk of running into copyright limitations. Google will scan books that are in the public domain and make those texts available online; the company will also scan copyrighted books and offer short excerpts of a few lines each. Some publishing groups argued that putting even small pieces online will violate copyright and that the company should seek explicit permission from copyright owners. Critics also expressed reservations about copyright determinations for books that might, for example, be in the public domain in one country but not in another. Sally C.L. Morris, chief executive of the Association of Learned and Professional Society Publishers, said that although the sheer number of academic publishers represents a powerful disincentive to obtaining permissions from all of them, “that doesn’t mean there’s not a legal requirement to do it.” For its part, Google insists that its actions are acceptable. Google spokesperson Steve Langdon said, “In every case, Google’s presentation of the works to the public will keep authors and publishers in mind and be well within the bounds of copyright law.”
    Chronicle of Higher Education, 7 February 2005 (sub. req’d) via Edupage.

    A new report from the Alliance for Higher Education Competitiveness identifies degree programs as the single largest factor that determines whether a distance education program is successful. In preparing the report, “Achieving Success in Internet-Supported Learning in Higher Education,” the group conducted a survey of 21 distance education programs it deemed successful. Among those schools, 89 percent offered online degrees rather than just online courses. “It’s easier to measure the progress at a programmatic level,” according to the report’s author, Rob Abel, president of the alliance. “The programmatic approach also gets institutions thinking about student-support services,” Abel continued. Among the institutions profiled in the study is the University of Florida, which currently has more than 6,000 students enrolled in distance education programs. According to William H. Riffee, associate provost for distance, continuing, and executive education at the university, the program was a response to growing numbers of students who wanted degrees from the university, which could not handle them all. Riffee attributes his school’s success to its having scaled the program effectively. The report also identified the for-profit institution Westwood College as successful. Shaun McAlmont, president of Westwood College Online, credits some of the success to the agility of the for-profit educational industry, compared to traditional higher education, which he said is slow to change.
    Chronicle of Higher Education, 4 February 2005 (sub. req’d) via Edupage.

    Computer researchers at the University at Buffalo are working on software that will allow computer scanners to read Arabic writing, including handwritten texts. Arabic is a visually complicated language, with some words, for example, having multiple representations. In addition, Arabic characters can be represented differently depending on where they appear in a word, and vowels are often not written at all. Intelligence-gathering efforts after September 11 were hampered by the lack of Arabic-language scanning software, but organizers of the project note other potential benefits, including expanded access to Arabic writings and the ability to digitize vast amounts of Arabic literature and put it on the Web. Venu Govindaraju, director of the Center for Unified Biometrics and Sensors at the University at Buffalo, noted that “The whole Internet is skewed toward people who speak English.” Govindaraju said the software will help prevent classic texts in Arabic from “disappear[ing] into oblivion.”
    New York Times, 27 January 2005 (registration req’d) via Edupage.

    A researcher at University College London wants to change the basic functioning of the Web, allowing readers of Web pages to change those pages — similar to wikis — and making every word a “hyperword.” The Liquid Information project is the brainchild of Frode Hegland, who is collaborating with Doug Engelbart, inventor of the computer mouse. Hegland’s vision of the Web is one in which consumers of content can also be producers of content. Users would be able to make connections, add links, and change the way information is presented. On an example page, Hegland has modified a CNN Web page such that users can hover over any word to display a menu of choices, including getting a definition of the word, performing a Google search for the word, and highlighting instances of the word in various colors. Hegland said that we need to replace the current Web, which consists of “handmade, one-way links” with what he calls “deep legibility” so that users can “make connections, explicit or otherwise.” Hegland conceded that a Web like the one he envisions would require smart users. But, he added, “people are pretty smart. The days of baby steps when everything is shown to users are over.”
    Wired News, 25 January 2005 via Edupage.