Sci-Tech Library Newsletter
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- Conference Paper Federated Search Engine: Looking for conference papers? OSTI provides one-stop shopping …
- Science Policy
- Around DC and on the Net
- New E-Books, Reports and E-Journals
- Interesting Websites and News from the Internet: 125 Questions: What Don’t We Know?, The Art of Science Competition, NSF Special Reports, NOVA Science Now, New PubMed Training Materials; Biological Sciences: The Scopes Monkey Trial 80 Years Later, Wood’s Hole Harmful Algae Page, HHMI Virtual Museum, NOVA: “Deep Sea Invasion”, Understanding Genetics, Chickscope, Conservation Central, Charles Darwin in His Own Words; Engineering: Bike Science; Geosciences: What’s Up With the Weather?, Africa to Atlantic: Dust to Dust, The Voyage of Discovery Continues: A Satellite View of the Journey of Lewis and Clark; Mathematical and Physical Sciences: 10th Planet, BBC Space Gallery, The Learning Wave, Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO), Three Lectures by Hans Bethe, BBC — Space — Life?, The Launch of Google Moon, NOVA — Mars, Dead or Alive?; Pickle Lab — The Chemistry of Pickles; Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences: Interview with Claude M. Steele, Eco5.com, Haka, Traditions of the Sun, Pew Global Attitudes Project, Cycles: African Life Through Art …and more… plus news items from Edupage
- Inter Alia: How industry artfully changes landscapes …
Conference Paper Federated Search Engine
The OSTI Science Conferences portal was devised to expedite access to conference papers and proceedings in various fields of science and technology. Emphasis is on U.S. conferences hosted and/or published by scientific and professional organizations whose areas of focus relate substantially to the Department of Energy’s mission. This portal provides the capability to search for conference information on multiple web sites and databases with a single query utilizing a combination of surface web and deep web tools (specifically Distributed Explorit from Deep Web Technologies) that can reach where ordinary search engines cannot. Features include:
- A simple search capability. Enter the text you want to search for, check the sources you want to query, and click the “Search” button.
- An advanced search capability supporting searches on author, title, and date-ranges, as well as full-text of proceedings (where available). Enter the text you want to search for in the appropriate box, check the sources you want to query, and click the “Search” button. You may search one source, a group of sources of your choice, or all sources at once.
- An option to display results by ranking or by source. The display by relevance ranking is the default. If you would like to display results by source, click on the “See Results by Source” button.
Sources indexed include:
- American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG)
- Association for Computing Machinery (ACM)
- American Chemical Society (ACS)
- American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA)
- American Institute of Physics (AIP)
- American Meteorological Society (AMS)
- American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE)
- American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME)
- Energy Citations Database (ECD)
- Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI)
- Institute of Electrical & Electronics Engineers (IEEE)
- International Society for Optical Engineering (SPIE)
- Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL)
- National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL)
- National Nuclear Data Center (NNDC)
- Stanford Linear Accelerator Center (SLAC)
OSTI does it again!
STEM Education Takes Cuts
The Senate Appropriations Committee cut funding for K-12 Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) programs at the National Science Foundation (NSF), while a House panel establishes a National Science Board commission to improve science education. (From NSTA)
US Competitiveness — the Innovation Challenge (pdf)
House Science Hearing: Innovation Must Be Priority or U.S. Will Cede Its Position as Global Leader.
Witnesses testifying at a House Science Committee hearing — US Competitiveness: The Innovation Challenge — last week warned that the changing dynamics of the global economy are threatening America’s economic position and innovation is crucial to the nation’s future economic growth. IEEE-USA staffer Vin O’Neill created a summary of the hearing and the recommendations of each witness. (From IEEE Eye on Congress)
White House Announces FY 07 R&D Budget Priorities
“We’re barely halfway to finishing a budget for FY 2006 and already the White House is laying out priorities for FY 2007, the budget that the President will present to Congress in just 7 months. On 8 July, Office of Science and Technology Policy Director John Marburger and Office of Management and Budget Director Joshua Bolten laid out the Administration’s research and development priorities for FY 2007. The guidance states that interagency R&D priorities should receive attention in agencies’ budget requests. Among the highest priority inter-agency R&D initiatives are homeland security, high-end computing and net-working, National Nanotechnology Initiative, priorities in the physical sciences, understanding complex biological systems, and energy and the environment.” (From IEEE Eye on Washington)
DoD Proposes Changes in Restrictions on Foreign Researchers
The U.S. Department of Defense recently proposed new restrictions on foreign researchers’ access to sensitive technology and related information. These changes would apply only to research activities carried out under government contracts. The proposal includes such things as unique badging requirements for foreign nationals and foreign persons, segregated work areas for export-controlled information and technology, and initial and periodic training on export compliance controls for those employees with access to export-controlled information and technology. The department is accepting public comments on the proposal until September 12, 2005. (From ACM Washington Update)
15 Leading Business Groups Launch Action Plan To Improve Science and Math Education (pdf)
Call for Doubling of STEM Graduates in 10 Years
“15 major business groups representing business of every size and from every sector of the economy—led by the CEO members of the Business Roundtable—last week called for doubling the number of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) graduates by the year 2015 and issued an action plan to do this by:
- Launching an awareness campaign to make improvements in STEM fields a national priority;
- Motivating students and adults to study and enter careers in these disciplines;
- Upgrading elementary and secondary teaching in math and science;
- Reforming visa and immigration policies to enable the U.S. to attract and retain top STEM students;
- and Boosting and sustaining funding for basic research.
In a press statement Business Roundtable President John Castellani says the business community would ‘take the lead in building public awareness and support for greater interest, investment, and performance in science, technology, engineering, and math by:
- Expanding the successful State Scholars program that encourages students to take rigorous courses in high school;
- Offering more opportunities for company employees to serve as role models and mentors in these fields;
- Providing teachers with materials that will show students the importance of math and science in a wide range of careers;
- Funding scholarships for students and professional development for math and science teachers;
- Working with education groups, the media, and the entertainment industry on messages showing how math and science learning leads to a wide range of interesting careers;
- Meeting with and lobbying Governors and Members of Congress to carry out the report’s recommendations.’ ”
House Committee Okays Science/Math Initiative as Part of Higher Education Act
The House Education and Workforce Committee passed an amendment to the Higher Education Act (HEA) that will create a new scholarship program for STEM graduates, provide loan forgiveness to science and math teachers, and supply grants to create state-based councils, which will focus on K-12 science and math education. (From NSTA)
The roles of codes of conduct in preventing the misuse of scientific research
A new paper outlines the Royal Society’s position on the roles of codes of conduct in preventing the misuse of scientific research, building on the Society’s previous publications on the subject. This paper also discusses methods that complement codes of conduct in preventing the misuse of science, including training and the extension of existing regulations. The key points made in this paper are as follows.
- Codes of conduct can help to reduce misuse of science research.
- The process of producing codes raises awareness amongst the target group and fosters discussion on the potential for misuse.
- Having a code provides a valuable educational tool for students and employees.
- The process of defining the code should include extensive consultation with the target groups to ensure that it is workable; it should also increase the number of individuals aware of the issues of concern.
- It is extremely difficult to list the guiding principles that underpin all scientific work without producing bland and generic statements.
- There are clear benefits in producing more detailed codes of practice or conduct that concentrate on a specific area of the life sciences and target audience.
- Many valuable guidelines and principles for the professional conduct of scientists already exist at organisational, national and international level.
- Introducing extended codes of conduct or practice based on existing health and safety regulations will provide an opportunity for education and training to reinforce these regulations.
Energy Bill into Law
The Nation has 1,725 pages of a new energy policy, although it does not include many Senate provisions on greenhouse gas reductions or renewable mandates. It was signed into law on August 8 after passing both houses by a wide margin. (From AAAS Center for Science, Technology, and Congress)
Climate Change Hearings
Two hearings were held in the Senate that featured scientists testifying that climate change is occurring. The inaugural hearing of the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation Subcommittee on Global Climate Change and Impacts took place on July 20. The Senate Energy and Commerce Committee held a hearing promised during the debate on greenhouse gas provisions in the Energy Bill on July 21. Both were notable for the shift in focus from if climate change is occurring to how to mitigate it. (From AAAS Center for Science, Technology, and Congress)
Controversy on Barton Letters on Climate Change
Letters Requesting Information Regarding Global Warming Studies
American Association for the Advancement of Science (pdf)
Union of Concerned Scientists
National Academy of Sciences (pdf)
Article in The Scientist
Talk of the Nation
Last month, Representative Joe Barton of Texas, Chair of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, sent a letter to several climate scientists demanding copies of raw data used in their studies. Here are the text of the letters along with articles and statements on the controversy spurred by these letters.
Around DC and on the Net
100 Years of Physics — Webcast August 5, 11, 19 2:00 pm PDT
In this three-part series, senior scientist Paul Dougherty celebrates great advancements in science. Each show will investigate one of Einstein’s great discoveries. (20 min.) Albert Einstein was awarded the Nobel Prize based on three papers that shook the world of physics and spawned a completely new understanding of how the world works. In each of these Webcasts, Exploratorium Staff Scientist Paul Doherty will explain Einstein’s key discoveries and their impacts on our views of science, reality, and the universe.
- August 5, 2005 2:00 p.m. PDT
The Existence of Atoms — Using a simple ball-bearing model, Paul will demonstrate Brownian Motion and explain how it proved the existence of atoms.
- August 11, 2005 2:00 p.m. PDT
Inventing Photons — Paul will take us through the Photoelectric Effect and the “invention” of photons.
- August 19, 2005 2:00 p.m. PDT
Creating Space-Time — The concept of Space-Time—perhaps Einstein’s most fundamental contribution to our understanding of the universe—will be explored using special red lasers.
Webcast links will be active on the day of the program and for archived programs after webcast date.
Assessing Interactions Among Social, Behavioral, and Genetic Factors in Health
Thursday, September 29
The National Academies’ Keck Center
500 Fifth St., N.W.,
The Nobel Prize Lectures — The Exploratorium
You may not have been able to attend the Exploratorium’s lectures on the Nobel Prize, but you can listen to some of them at this website.
- Tuesday, June 14, Nobel Lecture Series: Behind the Scenes: Awarding the Nobel Prize with Anders Bárány
- Tuesday, June 28, From Special Relativity to String Theory: How Einstein Turned Physics into a Search for Symmetry with K. C. Cole
Migratory Narratives: Why Some Stories Replicate Across Media, Cultures, Historical Eras
“By still having myths, explaining ourselves in terms of myths we make about ourselves, we have far more in common with so-called primitive ancestors separated by time and space, but we all use media at hand to tell theses enduring migratory narratives.” — Richard Howells
True stories and their fictional spin-offs—especially bloody ones—occupy an enduring spot in western culture. Thomas Pettitt’s specialty, the “murdered sweetheart” tale, emerged from medieval times to seize hold of the public imagination in England and Scandinavia over several centuries. The story, involving a seduced girl, her murder by a lover, and the lover’s death, stems from some long-lost actual case. Publishers cranked out ballads based on this story, with helpfully lurid woodcut illustrations. In this “highly successful genre,” says Pettitt, “marketing strategies” distilled the “shocking and juicy story” down to the bare bones. “I sometimes wonder if the weapon of choice was a knife because it rhymes conveniently with wife,” muses Pettitt.
The sinking of the Titanic sparked a media frenzy all too familiar these days: reporters rowed out to meet survivors, so they could wire their newspapers first. Richard Howells takes stock of this tragedy and its media manipulation over time. First the Edwardians “celebrated the heroism, triumph, Anglo-Saxon pluck and courage” of the voyagers, with newsreels (including one a month after the tragedy), postcards, sheet music and records. Later, fiction films exploited the story as a fable about the emerging middle class. In our own times, with the epic James Cameron film and assorted merchandise including Titanic software, and beer, Howells sees the Titanic as an “allegory for decline, disaster, decadence and doom … and finally as kitsch-entertainment.” As a modern myth, the Titanic has become “a multimedia narrative.”
Janet Staiger finds lots of reasons for storytelling, from the anthropological to the psychoanalytical. But she emphasizes “economic explanations: the standardization of stories for a capitalist purpose.” We know that a murdered sweetheart ballad “will be a seller,” so it can be premarketed and mass-produced. Some stories get yoked to particular characters, and others can wander more freely across formulas. Staiger compares Barbie and Cinderella, stuck in their plot lines, to Batman, who can show up in detective, adventure, parody or melodrama form. The “ability to sell figures separate from a formula enhances their capacity for capitalization,” says Staiger.
History of the Scopes Trial and the Controversy over the Teaching of Evolution in the Schools
Wednesday, July 20, 2005,
3:30 PM – 5:00 PM,
1200 New York Avenue, NW Washington DC
Eighty years ago this month, John Thomas Scopes went on trial in Dayton, Tennessee, for violating a state law prohibiting the teaching of the theory of evolution. William Jennings Bryan, three-time Democratic candidate for president, served on the prosecution team; Clarence Seward Darrow led Scopes’s defense. Scopes was convicted. A year later, the Tennessee Supreme Court reversed Scopes’s conviction on a technicality but upheld the statute. The controversy over teaching evolution continues to the present day.
The Daily Planet: A journalist’s search for sustainability
The seventh annual Robert C. Barnard Environmental Lecture will take place on Tuesday, September 13 from 4:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. Andrew Revkin, Environment Reporter from The New York Times will give a talk entitled “The Daily Planet: A journalist’s search for sustainability, from the Amazon to the Arctic” at the AAAS headquarters in Washington D.C., followed by a book signing and reception. R.S.V.P. by Friday, 9 September 202-326-6700 or via e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Assessment of US Coast Guard Polar Icebreaker Roles and Future Needs
Assessment of U.S.C.G. Polar Icebreaker Roles and Future Needs
August 25, 2005 – August 26, 2005,
National Academy of Sciences Building,
2100 C St. NW,
NAS Fall Exchibition Schedule
The Altered Landscape, Riverbirds and Rainforests, Cycloids and Utopia.
- August 5, 2005 2:00 p.m. PDT
New E-Books, Reports and E-Journals
Freeman, Richard. Does Globalization of the Scientific/Engineering Workforce Threaten U.S. Economic Leadership? NBER, 2005.
Keeping American Competitive: Five Steps to Improve Mathematics and Science Education. Education Commission of the States, 2005.
Science, Engineering and Technology and the UK’s Ethnic Minority Population. Royal Society, 2005.
Body Burden: Pollution in Newborns. Environmental Working Group, 2005.
Preventing the Forward Contamination of Mars. NAP, 2005.
Safe Medical Devices for Children. NAP, 2005.
Veterans and Agent Orange: Update 2004. NAP, 2005.
Opportunities in High Magnetic Field Science. NAP, 2005.
Enrollments and Degrees Report. AIP, 2005.
Announcing the debut of a new open-access journal from the Public Library of Science — PLoS Genetics. The Public Library of Science (PLoS) is pleased to announce the July 25 launch of PLoS Genetics, a new open-access, peer-reviewed journal. The journal is led by the Editor-in-Chief, Dr. Wayne N. Frankel, a Senior Staff Scientist at The Jackson Laboratory in Bar Harbor, Maine.
Genetics and genomics research has grown at a bewildering pace in the past 15 years. PLoS Genetics reflects the interdisciplinary nature of the field, and the research featured in the inaugural issue ranges from nematodes to humans and from cancer to evolution. Each research article is accompanied by a summary that places the findings in a broader context.
“The vision we have for PLoS Genetics as a community resource is first and foremost to support the dissemination of our science in a way that draws attention to the quality, depth, and scope of our best work. That this is an open-access journal is an integral part of this vision,” the editorial team says. Open access-free availability and unrestricted use-to all articles published in the journal is central to the mission of PLoS Genetics and the Public Library of Science.
Two research articles from the inaugural issue are highlighted here. The first describes the molecular reason why cats are indifferent to sugar, and the second reports the discovery of 23 new longevity genes. We also invite you to explore the full complement of research, commentaries, and interviews that PLoS Genetics offers. Open access ensures that everything published is immediately freely available to anyone, anywhere in the world.
New and Changed Free Journal Archives at Highwire
Additional journals working with Stanford University’s HighWire Press have begun to participate in the “Free Back Issues” program; and some publications have changed their Free Back Issue policies.
The Free Back Issues program now has about 233 journals participating (31 of these are entirely free), making nearly 940,000 full-text articles free to the community; over two-thirds of all online full-text articles produced by publishers working with HighWire Press are now free (88,000 more articles have been made free since my mid-April 2005 report; if you need a copy of that or other previous announcements, please let Lisa Krauss, copied on this email, know). These publishers comprise the largest archive of free full-text research articles we know of.
- Experimental Physiology — free after 12 months, rolling
- Annals of Oncology — free after 12 months, rolling
- Radiology — free after 6 months, rolling; was after 12 months
- Radiographics — free after 6 months, rolling; was after 12 months
— HTML full text free after 3 months; was after 6 months
(PDF full text remains free after 6 months)
- Diabetes Care
— HTML full text free after 3 months; was after 6 months
(PDF full text remains free after 6 months)
- Pediatric Research — free after 6 months, rolling; was after 12 months
- British Journal of Anaesthesia — free after 12 months, rolling; was after 24 months
Interesting Websites and News from the Internet
125 Questions: What Don’t We Know?
What if a bunch of scientists got together and wrote a list of the most compelling scientific puzzles that can’t currently be solved, but have a good chance of being figured out in the next 25 years? Enter the editors of Science Magazine. To celebrate the magazine’s 125th birthday, they present 125 questions representing a current survey of “scientific ignorance.” The top 25 questions each feature a short essay with an opportunity for readers to reply. Questions include: “What is the biological basis of consciousness?”; “What are the limits of conventional computing?”; “Is an effective HIV vaccine feasible?”; and “Why do humans have so few genes?” For science fans, these questions should stimulate some serious thinking. For scientists, the questions may inspire them to roll up their sleeves and get to work! (From Yahoo’s Picks of the Week)
The Art of Science Competition
The speculative nature of art meets the objective field of science in this Princeton University exhibition of unintentional artwork. The online gallery displays 55 images created during scientific research or using scientific tools and concepts. In the contest, an evocative dust cloud of silicon micro-spheres took first prize, with a visual essay on surface tension and some painted ants coming in at second and third place. Other highlights include Warhol-esque planktic foraminifera and computer innards that look like a miniature housing development. A plasma reactive ion etching bears a striking resemblance to Mardi Gras beads, while a dissonance reduction algorithm turns the Slayer song “Blood Red” into visual art. Who says scientists are a dull, nerdy bunch? Some of them obviously have an eye for color. (From Yahoo’s Picks of the Week)
New PubMed Training Materials
PubMed is one of my favorite databases. It is frustrating for novices to search because it is such a large database, and because its search engine is very different from most standard search engines, but if you take the time to really get to know how it works, it is, in fact,an extremely elegant search engine and an amazingly broad and deep database. Don’t be misled into thinking this database is for medicine only. PubMed indexes articles from across the range of sciences. If you take the time to learn how to really use this database it will be well worth it.
Don’t forget the handy “Single Citation Finder” that allows you to get a complete citation from the barest of the information.
Now you can also identify cited articles in PubMed archives. “The full text of articles archived in PubMed Central (PMC) includes the references cited by the articles. You can now also see a list of those references in PubMed, using the option Cited Articles, on the Links menu.”
NSF Special Reports
The National Science Foundation presents web-based reports on language & linguistics, Einstein & physics, weather patterns, the chemistry of water, the 2004 tsunami, arctic climate research, Admiral Byrd’s historic flight to the South Pole (1929), cyberinfrastructure, fossils, earthquake engineering simulation, ecology of infectious diseases, robotics, visualization of research results & scientific phenomena, the world’s first electronic nervous system, teacher institutes, & Nobel prize winners. The site provides videos, images, and additional resources for each topic. (NSF)
NOVA Science Now
A companion to the PBS show, this website presents information on the topics covered in show episodes. Each topic has the usual high quality, well presented information you expect from NOVA, along with links to further information.
NOVA: “Deep Sea Invasion”
French marine biologist Alexandre Meinesz was diving in the Mediterranean when he spotted a strange blanket of bright green plants on the seabed. Meinesz was alarmed to find that the plants were toxic algae that were decimating marine life in the Mediterranean, but his findings were ignored for years by the scientific establishment. Nicknamed “killer algae,” these organisms have since taken over thousands of acres of seabed, and no one knows how to stop them. Recently they appeared for the first time off the coast of California, and now U.S. officials are struggling to contain their spread along the coast of California.
Here’s what you’ll find on the companion Web site:
- The Impact of Invasive Species — Explore varying degrees of menace posed by alien invaders, from the gray squirrel to far more damaging organisms.
- Battling Introduced Wildlife — Ecologist Daniel Simberloff outlines strategies for combating weed-like species, both those that have gained a foothold and those that might.
- Time Line and Interactive
- Chronology of an Invasion — Follow the alarming spread of Caulerpa taxifolia, the so-called “killer algae,” as it colonizes new waters around the world.
- Matching Aliens with Impacts — Take a look at ten successful invaders and see if you can match them to the damage they’ve caused in their new environment.
While most people may retain a smattering of information and basic concepts about the field of genetics, some may also wish to refresh their knowledge base, and the Understanding Genetics website is a fine way to get back up to speed. Created and maintained by the good people at the Tech Museum of Innovation in San Jose, the homepage is well thought out, and provides a nice entry point to many of the features available here. Visitors can peruse the questions posed to geneticists in the “Ask a Geneticist” feature, browse a selection of recent news stories regarding genetics, and take a survey on the ethical questions posed by the issues of stem cell research and genetically modified foods. The feature story is a fine resource as well, as it provides basic, non-jargon-laden answers to such question as “What is a gene?” and “How do genes work?”. The site also contains a number of activities that can be done at home, including a fun exercise that teaches users how to extract DNA from strawberries. [KMG] (From the Scout Report)
The wonders of the web combined with the wonders of…the egg? Chickscope, a Digital Dozen pick for July, uses the web to bring students (K-12) into the lab, examining embryos virtually and using animations of eggs to learn about such math topics as symmetry and plane curves. Students get access not only to unique resources but also to scientific expertise through the different areas of this site. From ENC)
“Conservation Central is a habitat education program … [which] explores the temperate forest, home of the giant panda and black bear’ through online activities. Activities include designing a panda habitat, conserving a forest habitat, and exploring a virtual forest. Also includes teaching materials, learning activities, panda photos, and links to related information. From the Smithsonian National Zoological Park. (From Librarian’s Index to the Internet)
The Scopes Monkey Trial 80 Years Later
July 10 marked the 80th anniversary of the infamous Scopes Monkey Trial in which John Scopes, a high school science teacher from Dayton, Tennessee, was convicted for teaching evolution, which was a violation of state law. Tennessee’s law at the time forbade teachers to teach “any theory that denies the story of the divine creation of man as taught in the Bible.” Presidential candidate William Jennings Bryan prosecuted Scopes, who was defended by lawyer Clarence Darrow. According to news reports, the jury found Scopes guilty after only nine minutes of deliberation. He was fined $100. The trial was the inspiration for the Broadway play and film, Inherit the Wind, as well as numerous books.
The media reported heavily on the anniversary of the trial and the ensuing challenges to the teaching of evolution. NSTA provides this website with links to the news coverage.
Charles Darwin in His Own Words
This is a visually splendid website with snatches of text from Darwin’s autobiography, and replete with lovely pictures of Darwin and Darwinia. Darwin himself, his family, his house and gardens, friends, colleagues, books, illustrations. These images are photographs, water colors, line drawings, and more.
HHMI Virtual Museum
The medical and scientific marvels on display at BioInteractive Virtual Museum, created by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, invite wonder, exploration, and hands-on interaction. Topics include obesity, biological clocks, DNA, and immunology, just to name a few, and are presented with online laboratories, animations, museum presentations, and video clips. (From ENC)
Wood’s Hole Harmful Algae Page
New England suffered from red tide this summer. This webpage tells you all about the various algae that cause this and other problems. It includes a photo gallery, information on the algae species, adverse effects, and more.
Lance Armstrong’s unprecedented seventh Tour de France victory has focused world interest on bicycling. Investigate the technology of two-wheelers at the Exploratorium’s “The Science of Cycling”, where you’ll explore engineering, aerodynamics, the workings of your muscles, and more.
The Voyage of Discovery Continues: A Satellite View of the Journey of Lewis and Clark
Not a fancy website, but really quite nicely done by the USGS.
What’s Up With the Weather?
This site examines “the science and politics of one of the most controversial issues of the 21st century: the truth about global warming.” Topics include fossil fuel consumption, the role ice cores play in the global environment, and predictions for “what would happen to the world’s coastlines if the West Antarctic Ice Sheet melted.” Includes a teacher’s guide and a FAQ. A production of Nova and Frontline, programs produced by the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS). (From Librarian’s Index to the Internet)
Africa to Atlantic: Dust to Dust
Heavily linked “article about sand and dust storms in which ‘the planet’s deserts kick up literally millions of tons of dust, and winds send it flying to far-flung destinations where it clogs our lungs, changes soil chemistry, deposits minerals in bodies of water,’ and cause other environmental damage. Includes a link to images of recent storms, such as the storm in Iraq in August 2005, and links to related sites. From the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.” (From Librarian’s Index to the Internet)
Mathematical and Physical Sciences
NOVA — Mars, Dead or Alive?
This NOVA goes behind the scenes to document the tension-filled process of building, testing, final checking out, and launching of a pair of NASA rovers designed to be robotic geologists on Mars. Engineers face a tight deadline as Mars approaches its closest rendezvous with Earth. They’re stretched to the limit as parachutes rip, bolts fail, and airbags deflate. Watch them apply all their ingenuity to overcome the technical hitches, and witness the excitement at NASA as the first rover finally touches down on the red planet.
Here’s what you’ll find on the companion Web site:
- Life’s Little Essential — Everybody knows that liquid water is necessary for life, at least as we know it. But just exactly why?
- Man on a Mission — Steve Squyres, the lead scientist who dreamed up the rovers, reveals his hopes and fears for the mission.
- Explore the Red Planet — See some of the finest images ever taken of the martian surface.
- From Launch to Landing — Watch an animation of one rover’s planned journey from Earth to Mars.
- Mars Up Close — Steve Squyres narrates this visual tour of the rovers’ most revealing discoveries.
- Anatomy of a Rover — Examine the robotic geologists and their scientific instruments.
- Design a Parachute — Create a parachute both strong and light enough to safely slow the rovers in their descent toward Mars.
Pickle Lab — The Chemistry of Pickles
Pickling is the ancient culinary craft of preserving foods in salt brine or vinegar. Over millennia, cultures across the globe have tinkered with pickling recipes to make dishes spanning the gamut of tastes. Kids can explore the chemistry of pickles at this fun site from the Exploratorium.
The Launch of Google Moon
“It was 36 years ago today when Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin landed on the moon while Michael Collins circled overhead. I remember it like it was just yesterday. This five year old was glued to his television in suburban Chicago watching history. To celebrate the historic event Google has not only put up a special logo on all of their home pages but they’re also releasing Google Moon.
That’s right space fans, you’re now able to use the same technology that you’ll find at Google Maps and Google Earth to wander around the Moon. In many cases you’re unable to zoom-in very close. This is due to NASA providing Google with a limited data set.” (From SearchEngineWatch)
Three Lectures by Hans Bethe
In 1999, legendary theoretical physicist Hans Bethe delivered three lectures on quantum theory to his neighbors at the Kendal of Ithaca retirement community (near Cornell University). Given by Professor Bethe at age 93, the lectures are presented here as QuickTime videos synchronized with slides of his talking points and archival material.
BBC — Space — Life?
This BBC website presents information on:
- How life starts
- Looking for life
as well as an “alien invaders” video game, as well as links to other related games, quizzes, and information sources. All are presented in a visually compelling format.
Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO)
“Information about NASA’s summer 2005 mission to Mars that ‘will examine the red planet in unprecedented detail from low orbit’ and ‘will examine Martian features ranging from the top of the atmosphere to underground layering.’ The mission’s launch opportunity begins August 10, 2005. Includes news, fact sheets, and images, which will expand as the mission progresses. From the Jet Propulsion Laboratory at the California Institute of Technology.” (From Librarian’s Index to the Internet)
The Learning Wave
Students in grades 3–9 can interact with their math at LearningWave Online: Interactive Mathematics. Here they’ll find concept pages that explain math content—in categories such as number theory, fractions, algebra, and probability—and application problems that reinforce the learning. These applications can take the form of games and puzzles; for instance, one game challenges players to land the job of host or hostess at El Miro in Radiant City Prime, where they have to be fluent with fractions to succeed. (From ENC)
BBC Space Gallery
Astoundingly beautiful images from amateur photographers around the world.
Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences
Cycles: African Life Through Art
African art is meant to be used—for dancing, wearing, holding, or healing. This colorful Flash exhibition from the Indianapolis Museum of Art explores the life and culture of Africa through its art. Graphics, music, text, sounds, and film clips skillfully weave together to create a cyclical experience that highlights the themes of ancestors, youth, leadership, and adulthood. The cultural context of each piece is key, and the site carefully explains the important elements of each. Discover what an Akuaba is and how it is used by the Asante women in Ghana, or learn about the role a babalawo plays in Yuruba tradition. All 19 featured art objects may be examined in detail: Rotate them or zoom in for a closer view. (From Yahoo’s Picks of the Week)
Traditions of the Sun
How often do you get to see the day’s first light through an ancient Mayan archway? With this site, crack-of-dawn-loving organizations NASA and the National Park Service extend an invitation to do just that. Using two “explorer modes,” Traditions of the Sun leads you to ancient solar observatories in the Yucatan and New Mexico’s Chaco Canyon. From there, you can investigate how ancestral people built those locales to reflect and interact with the sun. There’s a wealth of stuff here, but we particularly recommend the time-lapse movies: Glimpse the first blush of sunrise at the Sun Temple in Dzibilchaltun. Behold the sun as it creeps across the great house of Pueblo Bonito. Or see a shaft of light briefly illuminate a Native American rock painting. It’s like a date with daylight; don’t miss it. (From Yahoo’s Picks of the Week)
You know those days when you’re racking your brain for a good way to intimidate your co-workers? The haka may be just what you’re looking for. Thanks to Tourism New Zealand, you can experience the “energy and awe of the haka.” Read about its Maori origins and its various forms, then why New Zealand’s national rugby team, the All Blacks, performs it on the field before every match. A nifty “Learn to Haka” feature shows you how to perform the moves and chant, step by step, complete with menacing eye-rolling and grimaces. So next time you just want everyone to leave you alone and have a few minutes to yourself, let loose with a mighty “Ka mate!” (From Yahoo’s Picks of the Week)
“Source: European Business School (International University Schloß Reichartshausen)
‘Eco5.com is a free professional research platform for the financial and economic world. The concept of eco5.com is based on ‘adding value by selection’. This is put into practice by carefully selecting free research resources and making these directly accessible via a simple menu structure, enabling our users to save research time and energy.’
The home page is deceptively simple. Start exploring the eight sections here and you’ll uncover some real gems. For example, you’ll find an extensive collection of nicely organized links to historic financial data—stock market, GDP, exchange rates, interest rates, employment income/personal consumption, trade, public finance, budget and more. Data is available in varying quantities for North America, Europe, Asia, Africa and Australia—mainly, but not exclusively, from the U.S., the UK, Japan, Germany and France. You’ll also find links to key sources of global historic data.
There’s also good one-stop shopping here for repositories of working papers, finance and economics glossaries, and dictionaries and translation sites. The international institutions section provides links to central banks, finance ministries, chambers of commerce, exchanges and commissions, governments, international organizations and statistical offices. Browse by type of institution or geographic location.” (From The Resources Shelf)
Pew Global Attitudes Project
This is “a series of worldwide public opinion surveys. More than 90,000 interviews in 50 countries have been conducted as part of the project.” The website features reports (on topics such as European views of the U.S. and Islamic extremism), commentaries (on free trade, global gender gaps, and other topics), datasets, and summaries of news items. From the Pew Research Center. (From Librarian’s Index to the Internet)
Interview with Claude M. Steele
Growing up just outside of Chicago during the civil rights era, Claude Steele was raised with an awareness of the importance of education for black Americans. His interest in literature nearly led him to become a writer, but he found that social psychology was more to his liking.
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U.S. LOSING GROUND IN SCIENCE AND ENGINEERING
Confirming the suspicions of many, a new report from the National Bureau of Economic Research indicates that the United States is steadily losing ground to a number of other countries, particularly China, in the number of PhDs it awards in science and engineering fields. In 1970, nearly one-third of the world’s college students attended a college or university in the United States, and more than half of the science and engineering PhDs were awarded by U.S. schools. A number of global factors contributed to those numbers, making them artificially high. Since that time, however, higher education around the world, and especially programs in science and engineering, has greatly expanded, leaving the United States with just 14 percent of the world’s college students by 2001. According to the report, China could surpass the United States as early as 2010 in the number of science and engineering PhDs it awards.
Inside Higher Ed, 15 July 2005 (via Edupage)
BRITAIN SEES FUNDAMENTAL SHIFT IN PUBLISHING
A new study by the British Library predicts that by the year 2020, 90 percent of newly published work in the United Kingdom will be available electronically. Just 10 percent of works published then will be printed only, and half of those published electronically will also be printed, according to the study. Lynne Brindley, chief executive of the library, said such a “seismic shift” in publishing requires different methods to ensure adequate protection and storage of the electronic materials. The library is developing a digital storage system that it hopes will prove sufficiently robust. Three copies of every item will exist, with one stored off-site for recovery in the event of a catastrophic failure. A spokesperson from the library noted that as published content is increasingly in electronic format, officials must make decisions about what new types of content they will archive, such as Web sites and possibly even blog content.
BBC, 29 June 2005 (via Edupage)
GOOGLE MODIFIES LIBRARY PROJECT
Google has announced some changes to its Library Project following vocal criticism from a number of publishers. Under the terms of the project, Google made arrangements with five major libraries to scan some or all of their books, posting at least a portion of each book in an online repository for public access. Publishers complained that making such electronic copies of copyrighted works—regardless of whether they are put online—violates the rights of the copyright holder. Google now says it will not scan any book that a publisher specifically asks to be exempted, and it will not scan any copyrighted books until November, giving publishers time to review titles they might want excluded. Publishers appeared unmoved, however, with the Association of American Publishers (AAP) saying that Google’s new plan “places the responsibility for preventing infringement on the copyright owner rather than the user.” Peter Givler of the Association of American University Presses echoed the AAP’s dissatisfaction with the changes to the project. He was glad that Google is trying to address publishers’ concerns but said of the new policy that it “doesn’t seem to me that it gets us very far.”
Chronicle of Higher Education, 12 August 2005 (via Edupage)
BROADENING THE SCOPE OF FREE COURSEWARE
Rice University’s Connexions project is an effort to take the idea of free educational materials to a new level. Started in 1999 by Richard Baraniuk, professor of electrical and computer engineering at Rice, Connexions is not unlike MIT’s OpenCourseWare project, which puts course materials from all MIT classes online for free. In contrast, Connexions takes the approach of aggregating course materials from professors at any school. Connexions also offers feedback tools that allow users to rate content, similar to rating systems on sites such as Amazon.com. In Connexions, ratings happen after publication, rather than before publication as in traditional peer review, but Baraniuk believes the rating system can provide an alternative to traditional peer review, a system Baraniuk believes is broken. Baraniuk also sees enormous potential in Connexions to help community colleges, which rely heavily on adjunct professors who often have little time for course development. With relatively limited resources, faculty at community colleges could use Connexions to create courses tailored for their institution and students, rather than the common practice of simply having to rely on a single textbook for material.
Inside Higher Ed, 29 July 2005 (via Edupage)
HP CLAIMS PROGRESS ON QUANTUM COMPUTING
Researchers at HP said they have taken a significant step in the development of a functioning quantum computer, and the Pentagon’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is contributing as much as $10 million to support the project. As opposed to the transistors—which can register either 1 or 0—that underlie today’s computer processors, quantum computing is based on the physics of subatomic particles, allowing so-called “qubits” to represent both 1 and 0 simultaneously. The result could be vastly expanded processing power of quantum computers compared to those based on transistors. The DARPA funding will be used by the researchers to construct a functioning prototype. One researcher commented that to perform a single demonstration will not be difficult; the challenge lies in doing it reliably and “in a way that will allow us to do quantum information processing.” Other quantum physics researchers question the basis of the HP team’s approach, saying that fundamentally different approaches to quantum computing hold more promise.
New York Times, 1 July 2005 (registration req’d) (via Edupage)
PRINCETON DEBUTS UNIVERSITY CHANNEL
Princeton University has launched the University Channel, an online repository of video footage of academic lectures. The service serves as a central location for finding lectures and presentations from colleges and universities that submit materials. Donna Liu, executive director of the project, noted that although some institutions provide Webcasts of important lectures, frequently tapings of lectures are purely for archival purposes and cannot be easily located or viewed later. The focus of the channel initially will be lectures on public policy and international affairs, and several institutions have already submitted content for the site. Topics might be expanded in the future. The University Channel is also working with cable companies to broadcast some of the lectures over cable networks. The new channel is similar in concept to a project at the University of Washington called the Research Channel, which focuses on scientific and medical research.
Chronicle of Higher Education, 28 July 2005 (sub. req’d) (via Edupage)
NEW LAW ESTABLISHES DATABASES OF MEDICAL ERRORS
A bill signed into law last week mandates the creation of a network of databases that store anonymous information on medical errors. According to a 1999 report by the Institute of Medicine, medical errors cost the lives of 98,000 people in the United States each year. Sharing information about those errors is seen by many as a useful step toward preventing similar errors in the future, but many health care providers have been reluctant to share such information for fear of litigation. To that end, the databases mandated by the Patient Safety and Quality Improvement Act of 2005 will strip identifying information regarding patients and providers. Reporting information to the databases will be voluntary, and backers of the measure hope that the anonymity provision will encourage providers to submit details of medical errors, allowing others to learn from their mistakes. Dr. J. Edward Hill, president of the American Medical Association, called the new law “the catalyst we need to transform the current culture of blame and punishment into one of open communication and prevention.”
Federal Computer Week, 1 August 2005 (via Edupage)
WEBCASTING LECTURES TO VAST AUDIENCES
In September, the University of Pittsburgh will host a Webcast that organizers of the event believe will be the academic lecture with the largest audience in history. The lecture, given by Dr. Eric K. Noji on the topic of the public-health consequences of disasters, will potentially be viewed by as many as one million doctors, students, and others around the world. The lecture will be transmitted live to a number of organizations, including Internet2, Egypt’s Library of Alexandria, the Medical Library Association, and UNICEF. Those organizations will then distribute the Webcast on their own networks. Because the participating organizations are covering their own costs for the event, the overall expense for the university will be relatively small. Ronald E. LaPorte, a professor of epidemiology at the university, said that disseminating medical research often takes a long time, and part of the goal of the Webcast is to make such information available much more quickly. LaPorte also acknowledged that many developing nations lack the technology infrastructure to support the Webcasts. For them, the university will offer presentation materials from the lecture as well as other resources.
Chronicle of Higher Education, 26 July 2005 (sub. req’d) (via Edupage)
SENATORS TO ADDRESS SHORTAGE OF SCIENCE GRADS
U.S. Senators said they will propose a bill next week to increase federal funding of multidisciplinary research and support for “revolutionizing” manufacturing technologies and processes. The legislation will also increase spending for the Technology Talent Act, which provides grants to colleges and universities to increase the number of science and engineering graduates. The proposed legislation is based on the 2004 National Innovation Initiative Report released by the Council on Competitiveness. That report calls for creating 5,000 new federally funded graduate fellowships, reworking immigration laws, and building 10 “innovation hot spots.”
Internet News, 21 July 2005 (via Edupage)
PHOTOGRAPHY MUSEUMS DEVELOPING ONLINE DATABASE
Two prominent photography collections have announced a joint project to create an online database of images from both collections. The George Eastman House and the International Center of Photography said the Photomuse.org site will contain nearly 200,000 images when it is launched, which is projected to be in the fall of 2006. Between them, the two organizations have some of the most complete archives of photos, including work from the early days of cameras. Photos in the database will be assigned a range of keywords so that users can locate images by more than simply photographer’s name or title of the photo. A photo of an immigrant couple, for example, will be included in search results for terms such as “immigration,” “Italian-Americans,” or “Ellis Island.” Photos in the database, all of which will be publicly available online, will be of modest resolution, though higher-resolution images will also be available. Organizers still must sort out copyright questions for photos not in the public domain. Owners of some photographs are happy to have the exposure from including their work, while others are concerned about potential lost revenue if their work is included.
New York Times, 20 July 2005 (registration req’d) (via Edupage)
KANSAS SUPREME COURT TO RULE ON OWNERSHIP OF FACULTY WORK
The Kansas Supreme Court will evaluate an appellate court decision giving public institutions in Kansas the right to claim ownership of any faculty work, including books, with no negotiation on terms required. The lower court treated faculty work as “work for hire” under federal copyright law, classifying scholarly work as within the scope of employment of a faculty member. The current policy, designed in 1998, allows faculty to keep their book rights and has a revenue-sharing model for technology copyrights. Should the higher court decide in favor of the board, the policy could be changed at will. The case pits the Kansas Board of Regents against the Kansas National Education Association.
Inside Higher Ed, 7 August 2005 (via Edupage).
SURVEY SHOWS MIXED IMPACT OF INTERNET ON STUDENTS
A survey conducted in May 2004 by Steve Jones, professor of communciation at the University of Illinois at Chicago, and Camille Johnson-Yale, a graduate student in communication at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, determined that 42 percent of the professors surveyed saw a decline in the quality of student work with the advent of the Internet, while 22 percent noted an improvement. However, a majority of respondents, 67 percent, indicated that the Internet had improved their communication with students. The nationwide survey of 2,316 faculty elicited a concern with student plagiarism, and 74 percent of respondents said they use the Internet or other tools to detect plagiarism. The researchers have presented some of their findings at academic conferences and have submitted their work to a peer-reviewed academic journal.
Chronicle of Higher Education, 7 August 2005 (sub. req’d) (via Edupage)
BRINGING THE INTERNET TO RURAL INDIA
As many as 5,000 villages in rural India may soon be connected to the Internet, thanks to efforts of an international group of companies and organizations, including the World Bank. Many rural Indians do not have easy access to business or government functions, and the project is designed to fill that gap for villages with more than 5,000 residents in the Indian state of Karnataka. The computer centers or kiosks will connect to the Internet either through wired networks or by satellite and will have between 5 and 10 “thin client” computers. In addition to the World Bank, partners in the project include Comat Technologies, an Indian Internet service provider; ICICI Bank, a commercial bank in India; and California-based Wyse Technology, maker of computer terminal equipment.
New York Times, 15 June 2005 (registration req’d) (via Edupage)
U.K. SCHOOLS TEST VALUE OF GAMES
Four secondary schools in the United Kingdom will be part of a research project designed to determine what educational value lies in computer gaming and what changes could be made to computer games to create or increase that value. The project, which is funded by game maker Electronic Arts and led by educational organization Futurelab, will primarily study mainstream games rather than so-called edutainment programs, which are created specifically for educational purposes. Researchers will work with teachers to develop lessons that incorporate commercial games, looking for benefits students gain from playing those games. Initial results from the project are expected in about a year.
BBC, 10 August 2005 (via Edupage)
The following item is via NSTA:
Massachusetts Adds Science Test to Graduation Requirement
In a 6 to 1 vote, last week the Massachusetts Board of Education added science to the MCAS (Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System) test, which students will be required to pass before they graduate. The requirement will first affect the class of 2010, which are this year’s incoming eighth-graders. According to an article in The Boston Globe, by making science a graduation requirement, “Massachusetts is joining 13 others states that require the tests or plan to do so soon.”
According to the Globe article, the tests are a mix of “multiple-choice and open-ended questions and should draw from the knowledge that students gain from experiments, textbooks, and lectures.” Opinions about the tests have been mixed. Board members believe the new requirement will focus more time and attention on science. Opponents contend that teachers will focus too much time on test preparation and cut out valuable time for experiments that help students gain a deeper understanding of science. Others worry that too many students will fail the test. To read The Boston Globe article, go to http://www.boston.com/news/local/articles/2005/06/29/science_mcas_added_to_list.
At least since the Romantics, beauty in nature has often been associated with benevolence. So what are we to make of the photographs of Edward Burtynsky, which showcase breathtakingly beautiful landscapes of quarries or fire-orange rivers stained with nickel tailings? He calls his eerie, painterly images “reflecting pools of our times,” and much of his work explores how industry transforms nature. The 16 collections featured here demonstrate Burtynsky’s fascination with cut rock, recycling yards, and the oil and shipping industries. His “Three Gorges” collection presents desolate images from China, where 11 cities were recently destroyed in a six-month period to make way for a massive dam and reservoir. In Burtynsky’s photos, beauty could very well be the mother of death. (From Yahoo’s Picks of the Week)
The Invisible Library
Want to read Jo March’s “The Curse of the Coventrys” or Eccentrica Gallumbits’ “The Big Bang Theory, A Personal View”? Sorry, you can’t. They’re fictional. Not books of fiction, but fictional books. These and all the other books listed in The Invisible Library are imaginary titles dreamed up by authors and referenced in actual works of fiction. Librarian Brian Quinette, with help from friends also obsessed with fictional fiction, has carefully cataloged hundreds of non-existent titles. Browse the names of real authors and titles to find the pseudo versions. From the “books” written by Sherlock Holmes in Arthur Conan Doyle’s novels, to the “Misery” series created by the fictional hero of Stephen King’s “Misery,” to the mysterious “Necronomicon” by H.P. Lovecraft’s Abdul Alhazred, this library boasts lists of potentially rich reading material—if only they existed. (From Yahoo’s Picks of the Week)
Oblivious to human conflict, birds go about the ancient patterns of their lives. Soldiers, however, can afford neither obliviousness nor ancient patterns, especially members of the United States military stationed in Iraq. “J,” the blogger behind Birding Babylon, is both a U.S. soldier and a devoted observer of avian life. On his first day in Iraq, he was struck by the number of birds he saw—and identified 26 species. Over the next 18 months, J managed to observe and identify many feathered friends. At times, his experience seems surreal; once, while fully armed and guarding his convoy, he couldn’t help but notice a pair of crested larks nearby. Now that he’s home, he hasn’t given up his obsession, and continues to research and write about wildlife in Iraq. Perhaps, like J, we all could learn something from the birds. (From Yahoo’s Picks of the Week)
Bye Bye Blackboard: From Einstein and others
Educational theorists, professors, and other such types have long predicted the demise of the blackboard in the classroom. While many remain skeptical of other forms of transmitting knowledge (such as the use of tools such as PowerPoint and the like), it is certainly true that blackboards are disappearing from many classrooms. With that in mind, the Museum of the History of Science at the University of Oxford has created this online exhibit that pays tribute to the blackboard and its many uses. Visitors to the site can view eighteen different blackboards from contributors that include Albert Einstein, Brian Eno, Glenda Jackson, and Alain de Botton. Visitors can view large images of each blackboard and its contents and also view some brief commentary from each contributor. [KMG] (From the Scout Report)