Sci-Tech Library Newsletter


Newsletter archive > 2005 November 28 Issue

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  1. Science Policy
  2. Around DC and on the Net
  3. New E-Books and Reports
  4. Interesting Websites and News from the Internet: ScienceNetwork WA, Enhancements planned for Science.Gov, History of Science Images, IT Conversations, Best of the Web Nominations Open; Biological Sciences: Linus Pauling and the Race for DNA, Can Animals Predict Disaster?, Darwin, Elephants; Education and Human Resources: “National Middle School Science Bowl 2006”, Free Professional Development Training for Hurricane Impacted Science Teachers; Engineering: FLIP: The Scripps Ship That Flips, Design a Satellite, The Worst Sound in the World, Defend Yourself Against the Coming Robot Rebellion, Optical Toys, Exploring the Extreme; Geosciences: NOAA Paleoclimatology Program, BBC Science & Nature: Prehistoric Life, In Pictures: How the World Is Changing, Living with Volcanoes, Storm That Drowned a City, Investigating the Climate System: Energy, Predicting Seasonal Weather, A Photo Gallery of Meteorwrongs; Mathematical and Physical Sciences: Two on Isaac Newton, Einstein Light: A Brief Illumination of Relativity, Advances in nanotechnology continue to be of great interest and concern, Happy 100th Birthday E=mc2, Science and Photography Through the Microscope; Polar Programs: The Northern Research Portal; Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences: Social Psychology Network, American Indian Heritage Resources, The Megiddo Expedition, Institute for Women’s Policy Research …and more… plus news items from Edupage
  5. Inter Alia: Worst jobs in science …
  1. Science Policy

    U.S. Science Citation Rankings
    The US is very prolific, but does not generally have a corner on the market of most heavily cited papers. Our top field is materials science.

    USACM and Others Criticize DOD Export Proposal
    CRA’s official comments
    USACM, the Computing Research Association (CRA), and more than 100 other respondents recently filed comments with the Department of Defense criticizing its proposed changes to the Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation Supplement (DFARS). Among other things, the proposal mandates that all DOD contracts include a clause requiring contractors to:

    • Create and maintain unique badges for foreign nationals and foreign persons employed by the entity;
    • Build segregated work areas for these persons; and,
    • Prevent these individuals from gaining any access to export-controlled technology without first obtaining a specific license, authorization or exemption, even if these individuals may be working under the longstanding fundamental research exemption.

    USACM’s comments express its concern that the proposal, among other things, would place a costly new burden on research, discriminate against foreign researchers, and jeopardize the fundamental research exemption that has long promoted an open and fertile research environment.

    USACM is also worried that DOD, in issuing this proposal, has not given enough consideration to a similar advanced notice of proposed rulemaking issued recently by the Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS). USACM and others were critical of BIS’s proposal, as well.

    USACM’s full statement on the DOD proposal and other relevant items mentioned here are available on the USACM Technology Policy Weblog.

    Kansas Denied Use of National Science Education Standards
    The National Academy of Sciences and the National Science Teachers Association have refused to grant copyright permission to the Kansas State Board of Education to make use of publications by the two organizations in the state’s science education standards. According to a statement from the two groups, the new Kansas standards are improved, but as currently written, they overemphasize controversy in the theory of evolution and distort the definition of science. NAS and NSTA offered to work with the board to resolve these issues so the state standards could use text from the National Research Council’s “National Science Education Standards” and NSTA’s “Pathways to Science Standards.”

    Innovation Agenda
    Democrats Unveil Innovation Agenda to Keep America Competitive, K–12 STEM Education a Key Priority

    On November 15, Democratic House Leader Representative Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) unveiled the House Democrats new agenda for national competitiveness. One of the top action items is to create an educated, skilled workforce in the vital areas of science, math, engineering, and information technology.

    The report, “Innovation Agenda: A Commitment to Competitiveness to Keep America #1,” calls for Congress to work with states, businesses, and universities to develop a new scholarship initiative to educate 100,000 new scientists, engineers, and mathematicians in the next four years; offer tuition assistance to undergraduates; pay competitive salaries to science and math education teachers; engage more engineers and scientists to become teachers; make college tuition tax deductible for students studying math, science, technology, and engineering; and create a special visa for international doctoral and postdoctoral scholars in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. More specific legislative details on these proposals will be available next year. (From the NSTA)

  2. Around DC and on the Net

    There’s Still Time to Apply for NSTA’s Newest Teacher Award-VSP “Vision of Science”
    The Vision Services Plan (VSP) “Vision of Science” Award, NSTA’s newest addition to our Teacher Award Program, has extended its deadline to December 15, 2005. This award recognizes one classroom science teacher (grades K-8) who has developed creative, innovative science lessons that develop an understanding of eye health and vision. The winning teacher will receive $2,500, which includes travel expenses to attend the NSTA National Conference in Anaheim, April 6-9, 2006. The winning teacher’s school will also receive a $3,000 check to be used to further the study, teaching, and learning about eye vision and health. Apply now!

    Biological, Social, & Organizational Contributions to Science and Engineering Success on Dec. 8
    The National Academies Committee on Women in Academic Science and Engineering is hosting a public Convocation to explore the impact of sex and gender on recruiting, hiring, promotion, and retention of academic science and engineering faculty. This convocation will bring together researchers from multiple disciplines to fit together pieces of the puzzle. What does sex differences research tell us about behavior, capability, career decisions and achievement? What roles do organizational structures and institutional policies play? How can we bring forth the cross-cutting issues of diversity within the population of women? What are key research needs, experimental paradigms, and tools? What are the ramifications of this research for policy, particularly for evaluating current and potential academic faculty?

    Free to the public, but registration is required.

    Frontiers in Soil Science Research Dec 12–14
    The National Academies is convening a workshop of experts in soil science and associated disciplines to identify emerging research opportunities and expected advances in soil science, particularly in the integration of biological, geological, chemical, and information technology sciences. Free and open to the public, but registration is required.

    African Science Academy Development Initiative
    Visit the African Science Academy Development Initiative Web site for conference wrap-up. More than 200 leading scientists and policy-makers gathered in Nairobi, Kenya last week for the first annual international conference on science academy development in Africa. Check out interviews with speakers, speaker and organization biographies, audio clips, power-point presentations, images, and more.

    Defining R&D Opportunities in Engineering Education
    Engineering Education
    Presentations from “Defining R&D Opportunities in Engineering Education,” the 2005 Dane and Mary Louise Miller Symposium and CASEE Annual Meeting, are now available online. (CASEE is the NAE Center for Advancement of Scholarship on Engineering Education.) The symposium featured talks on teaching for global competence, diversity, and building support for engineering education R&D.

    New Directions in Health: The Global Burden of Chronic Disease: December 8
    Join eleven of the world’s distinguished researchers and experts to learn about cutting-edge discoveries and the latest efforts to conquer cancer, obesity, heart disease, and other chronic diseases — a rare, day-long opportunity to explore the frontiers of medicine and health.

    This program represents the inaugural event for the Philip Hauge Abelson Advancing Science Seminar Series, in honor of Dr. Abelson’s deep commitment to the scientific enterprise and multidisciplinary collaborations.

    The seminar will be held on Thursday, December 8, 8:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m., at AAAS Headquarters, 1200 New York Avenue, NW, Washington, DC. There is no charge to attend. Simply RSVP to

    The Geographic Diversity of New Firm Formation and Human Capital
    December 1, Zoltan Acs, George Mason University, “The Geographic Diversity of New Firm Formation and Human Capital”
    GMU-GW Technology, Science, and Innovation Policy Research Seminar at:
    GMU Law School, Room 348
    3301 Fairfax Drive, Arlington, VA
    Lunch available at 12:00; Seminar, 12:15–1:15
    To sign up for lunch and to receive a copy of the paper, please contact David Hart (

    About the Seminar: Jointly sponsored by George Mason University School of Public Policy’s Center for Science and Technology Policy and George Washington University’s Center for International Science and Technology Policy, this seminar seeks to expose the Washington-area research community to new ideas and work-in-progress. It’s open and free to all interested researchers. A special invitation is extended to graduate students.

    The seminar will generally meet on the first Thursday of the month. Lunch will be available at 12 noon. The seminar will start at 12:15 and conclude at 1:15. In the fall, we will meet at the George Mason University Law School, room 348, a short walk from the GMU Orange Line Metro stop.

    This will be the final seminar of the fall term. In the spring, we will meet at GW. Speakers will be announced shortly. To be added to the mailing list, please contact David Hart (

    Uncommon Knowledge
    Hosted by Peter M. Robinson of the Hoover Institution, Uncommon Knowledge has been taking a critical look at public policy issues since 1996. With support from the John M. Olin Foundation, Uncommon Knowledge is distributed by American Public Television and can also be heard on NPR. In keeping with the traditions of the Hoover Institution, the programs feature lively debate on any number of topics, ranging from gun control to international foreign diplomacy. Visitors to the website can browse through a list of recent shows, or look through their archives which date from 1997. Visitors may also wish to view the entire television program on their computer, listen to the audio presentation, or read a transcript. [KMG] (From the Scout Report)

    Saving Springer
    The Emmy award-winning NOAA documentary, Saving Springer, is a remarkable and inspirational story about the work that NOAA does every day. Springer, a young abandoned killer whale, might have faced a solitary existence, left to make her way as best she could. Instead, the work and dedication of NOAA professionals gave Springer a new chance at life and helped her return to her family.

  3. New E-Books and Reports

    Long-Lived Digital Data Collections Enabling Research and Education in the 21st Century. NSB, 2005.

    ANSI/NISO Z39.19 - 2005, Guidelines for the Construction, Format, and Management of Monolingual Controlled Vocabularies. Equivalent international standard: ISO 2788.

    State Indicators of Science and Mathematics Education, 2005. Council of Chief State School Officers, 2005.

    Renewables 2005 : global status report / paper prepared for the REN21 Network by the Worldwatch Institute ; lead author: Eric Martinot.

    Security Controls on the Access of Foreign Scientists and Engineers to the United States. CSIS, 2005.

    Jill Boberg. Liquid Assets: How Demographic Changes and Water Management Policies Affect Freshwater Resources. RAND, 2005.

    Addressing Our Global Water Futures. CSIS, 2005.

    Waiting for Sputnik: Basic Research and Strategic Competition. CSIS, 2005.

    An Assessment of the National Institute of Standards and Technology Measurement and Standards Laboratories: Fiscal Years 2004–2005. NAP, 2005.

    Drawing Louisiana’s New Map: Addressing Land Loss in Coastal Louisiana. NAP, 2005.

    From Cancer Patient to Cancer Survivor: Lost in Transition. NAP, 2005.

    An International Perspective on Advancing Technologies and Strategies for Managing Dual-Use Risks: Report of a Workshop. NAP, 2005.

    Ethical Considerations for Research on Housing-Related Health Hazards Involving Children. NAP, 2005.

    Expanding Access to Research Data: Reconciling Risks and Opportunities. NAP, 2005.

    Sensor Systems for Biological Agent Attacks: Protecting Buildings and Military Bases. NAP, 2005.

    Reaping the Benefits of Genomic and Proteomic Research: Intellectual Property Rights, Innovation, and Public Health. NAP, 2005.

    Extending the Effective Lifetimes of Earth Observing Research Missions. NAP, 2005.

    Strategic Guidance for the National Science Foundation’s Support of the Atmospheric Sciences: An Interim Report. NAP, 2005.

    Water Resources Planning for the Upper Mississippi River and Illinois Waterway. NAP, 2005.

    Treating Infectious Diseases in a Microbial World: Report of Two Workshops on Novel Antimicrobial Therapeutics. NAP, 2005.

    Review of the GAPP Science and Implementation Plan. NAP, 2005.

    Animal Care and Management at the National Zoo: Final Report. NAP, 2005.

    Review of the Research Program of the FreedomCAR and Fuel Partnership: First Report. NAP, 2005.

    Dietary Reference Intakes for Energy, Carbohydrate, Fiber, Fat, Fatty Acids, Cholesterol, Protein, and Amino Acids (Macronutrients). NAP, 2005.

    Cord Blood: Establishing a National Hematopoietic Stem Cell Bank Program. NAP, 2005.

    The Atacama Large Millimeter Array (ALMA): Implications of a Potential Descope. NAP, 2005.

    Bioastronautics Roadmap: A Risk Reduction Strategy for Human Exploration of Space. NAP, 2005.

    Toxicogenomic Technologies and Risk Assessment of Environmental Carcinogens: A Workshop Summary. NAP, 2005.

    Improving Data to Analyze Food and Nutrition Policies. NAP, 2005.

    Critical Needs for Research in Veterinary Science. NAP, 2005.

    Globalization of Materials R&D: Time for a National Strategy. NAP, 2005.

    Informing the Future: Critical Issues in Health, Third Edition. NAP, 2005.

    Bioastronautics Roadmap: A Risk Reduction Strategy for Human Exploration of Space (prepublication). NAP, 2005.

    Building a Better Delivery System: A New Engineering/Health Care Partnership. NAP, 2005.

    Globalization of Materials R&D: Time for a National Strategy. NAP, 2005.

    Monitoring at Chemical Agent Disposal Facilities. NAP, 2005.

    Rising Above The Gathering Storm: Energizing and Employing America for a Brighter Economic Future (prepublication). NAP, 2005.

    More Free Archives from HighWire Press
    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 243 journals participating (31 of these are entirely free), making over 1,000,000 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.

    These articles are freely accessible on the journals’ web sites, with free links, supporting supplemental information, and linked corrections as appropriate; the free content’s abstracts are indexed in — and full text is linked to from — major reference databases such as ISI and PubMed; the full text is increasingly indexed in and linked to from Google and Google Scholar.

    The newly-participating publishers and publications in the free back issues program:

    • American Medical Association Archives journals
      • Archives of Dermatology
      • Archives of Facial Plastic Surgery
      • Archives of Family Medicine
      • Archives of General Psychiatry
      • Archives of Internal Medicine
      • Archives of Neurology
      • Archives of Ophthalmology
      • Archives of Otolaryngology — Head and Neck Surgery
      • Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine
      • Archives of Surgery

      For Archives journals, the previous policy had been that editorials, commentaries, letters, news, and other small copy had been free immediately on publication through 5 years back, but research articles and reviews were never made free. Now, original research and review articles are made freely available to registered guests at 12 months back to 1998 but the content that was free previously is no longer free. (See policy change for JAMA below.)

      No change has been made to the JAMA & Archives policy that an original research article in the current issue is free to everyone. For JAMA, this is always the lead research article.

    Changes in publications’ free back issue policies:

    • American Medical Association
      • JAMA — original research articles, review articles, special communications, and editorials 6 months after publication to 5 years after publication have been free to registered guests since February 2004. Now, the 5-year wall was removed so that those articles are free back through 1998.
    • The RNA Society
      RNA, Print ISSN: 1355-8382, Online ISSN: 1469-9001
      free after 6 months, rolling; was after 12 months
    • Society for Endocrinology
    • European Federation of Endocrine Societies
      • European Journal of Endocrinology
        Online ISSN: 1479-683X, Print ISSN: 0804-4643
        free after 12 months, rolling; was after 24 months
      • Radiological Society of North America
        • Radiology
          Online ISSN: 1527-1315, Print ISSN: 0033-8419
          free after 12 months
        • Radiographics
          Online ISSN: 1527-1323, Print ISSN: 0271-5333
          free 12 months

    The complete list of journals with free issues, free sites, and free trial periods — and the timing of the release of each free issue — can be found at: Note that “rolling” refers to back issues being made free as new issues are put online.

  4. Interesting Websites and News from the Internet

    History of Science Images
    Science and Society Picture Library (SSPL) represents the collections of the British Science Museum, the National Railway Museum and the National Museum of Photography, Film and Television, as well as a variety of related collections. SSPL now has over 150 image collections from both within and outside the museums’ core collections. These contain over 70,000 online records, including over 40,000 digital images. (From Whiteboard)

    ScienceNetwork WA
    A well organized site from Western Australia promoting science in general with particular interest to folks from the region. It aims to raise community awareness of the importance of science to our daily lives and the scientific principles at work in every day life, as well as encourage the uptake of scientific careers.

    The site contains breaking news from industry, educational and research institutions; a database of upcoming events; profiles of leading scientists, key scientific organisations, and top industry bodies; and links to many resources for students, teachers and professionals. Worth a look!

    Best of the Web Nominations Open
    Recognizing achievement in heritage Web site design, a committee of museum professionals selects the Best of the Web each year. Nominate your favorite sites in any of these categories.

    Enhancements planned for Science.Gov
    Query structure enhancements as well as a new results ranking system are on the way.

    IT Conversations
    This website brings you audios and podcasts of interviews, lecture, and conversations on any and all aspects of science and social science. Recent examples include:

    • Bob Hanner — Seeing What’s There.
      We are bio-illiterate, which means that non-specialists have generally a very poor understanding about other species.
    • David Fogel — Accelerating Problem Solving.
      In many discussions of artificial intelligence it’s clear that the emphasis is on artificial. What passes for intelligence in machines is more often than not simply very good programming.
    • Norman Packard — Synthetic Biology.
      The debate about the definition of life is one that compels philosophers and technologists alike. Norman Packard of ProtoLife blurs the edges of the discussion by creating synthetic biology — cells made from scratch.

    Biological Sciences

    This site from the BBC provides a number of informational sites on elephants, rich with video clips. Do NOT miss the video clip of baby elephants playing soccer (“Elephant Diaries”) in an effort to teach these orphans to bond with each other and to have fun.

    The website for a 2005–2006 American Museum of Natural History exhibit about evolutionary biologist Charles Darwin. It features essays about Darwin’s life as a naturalist and his theories about evolution and natural selection, images, video and audio clips, and a webcam of the Galapagos tortoise exhibit at the museum. Also includes an educator’s guide and links to related websites. (From Librarian’s Index to the Internet)

    Can Animals Predict Disaster?
    This Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) program “explores a variety of science-based explanations for unusual animal behavior observed prior to natural disasters.” The website features eyewitness accounts of unusual animal behavior, essays and video clips on infrasound (“any sound pitched below 20 hertz to as low as 2 hertz”) scientist views, and a list of related websites and reading. (From Librian’s Index to the Internet)

    Linus Pauling and the Race for DNA
    This site explores one of the greatest scientific achievements of the twentieth century: the legendary race for the discovery of the structure of deoxyribonucleic acid, or DNA, the basic foundation of life. Features over 800 scanned manuscripts, letters, communications, photographs, audio clips, video excerpts, and rare documents never previously displayed. Includes a chronological illustrated narrative written from Linus Pauling’s perspective. From the Ava Helen and Linus Pauling Papers, Valley Library, Oregon State University. (From Librarian’s Index to the Internet)

    Education and Human Resources

    Free Professional Development Training for Hurricane Impacted Science Teachers
    NSDL and Digital Library for Earth System Education (DLESE) Program Center Offer Free Professional Development for Teachers Impacted by Hurricane Katrina
    The National Science Digital Library (NSDL), in partnership with the Digital Library for Earth System Education (DLESE) will offer free online professional development workshops for K–12 science and math teachers in hurricane-impacted schools and those teaching hurricane-displaced students.

    Online resources, such as those offered by NSDL and DLESE, present one solution to the scarcity of textbooks and other basic teaching materials in affected communities. These workshops will provide practical ideas for finding and using digital library resources, with a particular emphasis on strategies that are easy to implement in storm-stressed classrooms and in distance learning courses being offered to displaced students. These interactive sessions will include insights from teachers already using NSDL and DLESE resources who will share advice and answer questions.

    The first 90-minute online workshop will be offered on December 6th from 3:30 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. Central Time and repeated on December 8th from 3:30 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. Central Time. There is no charge for the workshops, but space is limited. To register or for more information, contact Susan Van Gundy, NSDL Education and Outreach Director at or 303-497-2946.

    NSDL and DLESE are National Science Foundation funded programs that provide free coordinated access online to educational resources from contributors that represent the best of both public and private institutions including universities, museums, commercial publishers, government agencies, and professional societies. NSDL supports teaching and learning at all levels, from preschool through adult, with materials ranging from journal articles and lesson plans to interactive animations, and from real-time data sets and technology-based tools to ask-an-expert services. (From Whiteboard)

    “National Middle School Science Bowl 2006”
    “National Middle School Science Bowl 2006” is two competitions: an academic competition in which middle school students answer fast-paced questions about math and science and a model fuel cell car competition that challenges students to design, build, and race model cars. In 2005, more than 2,000 students participated in 24 regional competitions. (DOE) (From EdInfo)


    The Worst Sound in the World
    “Fingernails scraping down a blackboard… the scream of a baby… your neighbour’s dog barking: what is the worst sound in the world? This is what this website is trying to find out. Acoustic science is concerned with the production, transmission, manipulation and reception of sound, from unwanted raffic noise to beautiful music. Acoustics is about both the physical properties of sound waves and the reaction of humans. This website is interested in the often complex ways in which people perceive and interpret sounds. The aim is to increase awareness of sound psychology by examining what makes a sound unpleasant to hear. Your votes on the site will also give us an insight into what is the worst sound in the world, and maybe why it is the worst sound.” Vote for your … favorite …

    FLIP: The Scripps Ship That Flips
    “Remember the last scene in ‘Titanic,’ when the ship rolls ninety degrees before sinking into the cold icy depths? There is a boat in San Diego that performs this stunt on a regular basis — except for the sinking part. FLIP (or Floating Instrument Platform) is an ocean research vessel that resembles a 350-foot baseball bat. After it’s towed out to sea, a majority of the ship fills with water, turning it on its side. That explains the need for beds on the walls, refrigerators on casters, and some flexibility on the part of the crew. However, FLIP is far more stable, and much less noisy, than a regular ship. As a result, the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in San Diego uses FLIP to study how sound waves behave underwater. But we really like to watch it turn over — check out this quicktime movie.” (From Yahoo’s Picks of the Week)

    Design a Satellite
    “A simulation game that challenges children to design a satellite that will send TV signals to places far across the country. ‘Central to the design process is exploring the ways that high technologies are the products of human ingenuity.’ ” (From Blue Web’N) A simple and fun interactive site.

    Defend Yourself Against the Coming Robot Rebellion
    This article discusses a new, humorous book from a graduate of Carnegie Mellon University’s Robotics Institute, and, while the article itself is entertaining and informative, it also has several links to audio files about the impact of robots on our lives.

    Optical Toys
    Laura Hayes and John Howard Wileman Exhibit of Optical Toys
    Small exhibit of pre-20th century optical toys and illusionary devices from the collection of the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics. Includes images and descriptions of the stereoscope, magic lanterns, chromatope, phenakistoscope (“spindle viewer”), peep egg viewer, poly-o-rama panoptique, and other toys. (From Librarian’s Index to the Internet)

    Exploring the Extreme
    “Exploring the Extreme” provides lessons (K-8) on key concepts in the design of F-15 fighter planes: center of gravity; its relationship to thrust vectoring, pitch, and yaw; how thrust is created in a jet engine; how vectoring (directing the thrust from a jet engine) affects movement of a plane; and fuel efficiency and drag. (NASA) (From EdInfo)


    In Pictures: How the World Is Changing
    A brief collection by BBC of side by side pictures of the same location but different years, illustrating some very dramatic climatic changes.

    A Photo Gallery of Meteorwrongs
    Apparently too many well-meaning astronomy fans are mistaking rocks that look like upside-down mushrooms or charred tofu for meteorites, and sending them off to the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences at Washington University. Now it seems this amateur dabbling has lost its charm, and the boys and girls over at the lab want any would-be space archaeologists to think-damn-you before you send them photos of your discovery. So here’s a checklist of features found in both meteorites and “meteorwrongs,” the latter category including those would-be space rocks that are too spherical or pockmarked with holes, have a goofy shape, contain “layer, lamination, or other planar features,” or display writing or pictures. And remember to follow the department’s “rude admonishments,” including: “We don’t want to hear, ‘Maybe this is a kind of meteorite nobody’s ever seen before.’ Get real.” (From Yahoo’s Picks of the Week)

    Living with Volcanoes

    Pompeii: Stories From an Eruption
    Volcano Under the City
    1. “Companion website to a 2005–2006 exhibition at the Field Museum (Chicago) about the volcanic eruption of Mount Vesuvius in A.D. 79 that affected Pompeii, Herculaneum, Oplontis, and other areas. Features images of selected items in the exhibition (artifacts, casts, and frescoes), and essays on volcanism and some of the ancient Roman cities near Mount Vesuvius. Also includes a classroom guide.” (From Librarian’s Index to the Internet)

    2. “Companion website to a Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) Nova program that follows a team of scientists studying Mount Nyiragongo, a volcano in eastern Congo. Dangers include molten lava and gas vents that release carbon dioxide so that there is a danger of asphyxiation. Features an evaluation of forecasting volcano eruptions, an anatomy of a volcano, and an overview of ‘some of the worst volcanic disasters of the past 400 years.’ Includes a teacher’s guide and related links.” (From Librarian’s Index to the Internet)

    Storm That Drowned a City
    In less than 12 hours on August 29, 2005, Hurricane Katrina devastated the Louisiana coast, leading to more than a thousand deaths and transforming a city of over one million into an uninhabitable swamp. “Storm That Drowned a City” is NOVA’s definitive investigation into the science of Hurricane Katrina, combining a penetrating analysis of what went wrong with a dramatic, minute-by-minute unfolding of events told through eyewitness testimony. What made this storm so deadly? Will powerful hurricanes like Katrina strike more often? How accurately did scientists predict its impact, and why did the levees protecting New Orleans fail?

    Here’s what you’ll find online:

    • The Man Who Knew — Hurricane expert Ivor van Heerden has long predicted the tragedy brought by Katrina.
    • A 300-Year Struggle — Follow the Big Easy’s ever-bigger battles with the water surrounding it.
    • Flood Proofing Cities — What can New Orleans learn from Venice, the Netherlands, and other flood-prone places?
    • Anatomy of Katrina — Track the hurricane from its birth in the open ocean through its catastrophic encounter with the Gulf Coast.
    • How New Orleans Flooded — Examine a visual chronology of exactly where and how 85 percent of the city wound up underwater.
    • Map the Flood — See how much of your city would have been submerged.
    • A series of downloadable audio and video podcasts on Hurricane Katrina, including a three-minute excerpt from the broadcast, Links & Books, the Teacher’s Guide, and more.

    NOAA Paleoclimatology Program
    “It is a tall order to try to study even the recent past, so visitors should find the research accomplishments of the staff members at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Paleoclimatology Program quite impressive. Their work revolves around examining different aspects of the natural world, such as ice cores and lake sediments, in order to understand climate variability over a wide range of time periods. Visitors to the homepage will find themselves presented with a clickable interface that presents information on such topical areas as paleoceans, caves, and ice core analysis. Perhaps one of the real highlights here is the ‘Paleo Perspectives’ area, which contains three different well-written documents that offer the paleoclimatological perspective on drought in the North American historical record and abrupt climate change in the historical past. [KMG]” (From the Scout Report)

    Investigating the Climate System: Energy
    “Investigating the Climate System: Energy” offers lessons that focus on questions: Does ground surface influence temperature? How important is water evaporation to the cooling of a surface? If my town grows, will it affect the area’s temperature? Why are summer temperatures in the desert southwest so much higher than at the same latitude in the southeast? (NASA) (From EdInfo)

    Predicting Seasonal Weather
    Recently, the National Science Foundation has developed a number of Flash-enabled features that showcase the latest research done under their general direction. Many of these features deal directly with a host of pragmatic issues, and some are quite delightful in their overall execution and visual appeal. One such feature highlighted on this site deals with predicting seasonal weather. Of course, predicting such trends in weather are both important to the general public, and to those businesses that are sensitive to the weather conditions. In a series of brief essays, replete with illustrative diagrams, visitors can learn about a new proposed seasonal forecast model. The site is rounded out by a link to a number of classroom resources, thematically organized for convenience. [KMG] (From the Scout Report)

    BBC Science & Nature: Prehistoric Life
    The BBC is well-regarded for their laudable efforts to provide high-quality online content that complements their fine radio and television offerings. Devised as part of their general Science and Nature website, this particular corner of the web offers a number of educational resources on prehistoric life. The casual visitor may want to take a look through some of the highlights offered here, which include a section on so-called ’killer’dinosaurs (such as the triceratops) and ancient sea monsters. The highlights area also includes a fun interactive game that allows visitors to match fossilized feces (called coprolites) to the animal that is most likely to have created it. Visitors would also do well to take a close look at the “Human Beginnings” area of the site, which allows them a number of insights into the various early achievements of prehistoric man, along with information about those hominids that are sometimes affectionately referred to as cavemen. [KMG] (From the Scout Report)

    Mathematical and Physical Sciences

    Two on Isaac Newton

    Newton’s Dark Secrets
    The Chymistry of Isaac Newton
    1. “He was the greatest scientist of his day, perhaps of all time. But while Isaac Newton was busy discovering the universal law of gravitation, he was also searching out hidden meanings in the Bible and pursuing the covert art of alchemy. In this companion website to the program, NOVA explores the strange and complex mind of Isaac Newton.”

    Here’s what you’ll find on the companion Web site:

    • A Complicated Man — If there’s one word to describe Isaac Newton it is “genius,” as this interview with historian Jed Buchwald makes clear.
    • Birth of a Masterpiece — Edmond Halley visited Newton with a simple question and came away with the seeds of a masterwork, the Principia.
    • Einstein on Newton — In 1927, 200 years after Newton’s death, Albert Einstein wrote a glowing appreciation.
    • Newton’s Alchemy — He kept it hidden, but was it truly scandalous? Find out in this interview and interactive manuscript.
    • His Legacy — Gravity. Laws of motion. Reflecting telescope. Calculus.

    2. “To merely say that Isaac Newton was a good scientist and brilliant thinker would be a bit like saying that Rachmaninov’s manipulation of the pianoforte was merely pleasing. Newton’s legacy in the annals of science is the mark of a genius, and there are literally hundreds of his manuscripts that have not yet fully been interpreted, described, or annotated. With support from the National Science Foundation, Indiana University’s Digital Library program has produced this fine website which will eventually contain a complete scholarly online edition of Newton’s alchemical manuscripts, along with new research on Newton’s ’chymistry’. This ’chymistry’ was the term used in 17th century England to describe the science of alchemy. So far, approximately 250 pages of these laboratory notebooks are available online, with another 1500 scheduled for digitization in the future. The site contains a number of reference tools, such as a symbol guide, and an introductory essay. [KMG]” (From the Scout Report)

    Einstein Light: A Brief Illumination of Relativity
    “With endorsements from both Scientific American and Science magazines, this website developed by The University of New South Wales is gaining currency among those interested in using the web for educational purposes. The basic mission of the Einstein Light site is to present a brief overview of Einstein’s theory of relativity and its relationship to the work done by Galileo and Newton. This of course means they must address such thorny topics as time dilation and length contraction. They do just that, with the assistance of two animated models, Zoe and Jasper. Throughout the various modules presented here, the two models provide the means by which the casual visitor can begin to understand these concepts. Visitors may also appreciate the fact that there are also a number of related links offered here for further edification. Some of the sections here include ‘Electricity and magnetism in a moving frame: what would you expect?’ and ‘Is time dilation true?’. Overall, this is a well-designed site that will be of interest to those with a general interest in this subject and for educators as well. [KMG]” (From the Scout Report)

    Science and Photography Through the Microscope
    Science and Photography Through the Microscopy
    “Over the past thirty years, Dennis Kunkel has worked in the field of microscopy, and along the way, he has developed a number of exhibits, publications, and other such materials on the subject. For those looking for such material online, this site provides both a fine image bank for general use and general information about the art and science of this interesting field of scientific endeavor. The first stop for most visitors should be the education image library area of the site. Here they can search the database of micrographs in its entirety, or browse the contents by category, which includes such areas as crystals, insects, or protozoa. One rather fun feature on the site is the ‘Most Wanted Bugs’ section, which contains twelve ‘bug mugs’ and ‘bug body’ shots taken through the process of photomicrography. The site is rounded out by the ‘Zoom In’ area, which allows users the opportunity to zoom in on a black ant, a fruit fly, or a mosquito. [KMG]” (From the Scout Report)

    Advances in nanotechnology continue to be of great interest and concern

    Nanotechnology may help treat cancer
    Big troubles may lurk in super-tiny tech
    Richard E. Smalley, 62, Dies; Chemistry Nobel Winner
    National Nanotechnology Initiative [pdf]
    Nanotubes and Buckyballs
    Center for Responsible Nanotechnology
    “Nanotechnology has been around for several decades, but a number of recent findings have increased the general interest in this emergent combination of scientific knowledge and technological innovation. At the European Cancer Conference in Paris this past Tuesday, researchers from Harvard Medical School and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology presented research findings that suggest that this emergent technology may be used to release cancer-killing drugs inside tumors within the body. The research was conducted on mice, and involved engineering nanoparticles which were embedded with a cancer drug. The initial results were promising, and Dr. David Kerr, a professor of clinical pharmacology at Oxford University commented that ‘This looks like a step forward.’ After Kerr’s initial remarks, he also noted that ‘This is only one design step toward what ultimately must be a systemic treatment.’ As with many emergent technological advances throughout the ages, there remains a great concern about the potential ethical and moral dilemmas posed by the growth of nanotechnology. Not surprisingly, this was also a question under debate at the International Congress of Nanotechnology, which took place this week in San Francisco. [KMG]

    The first link will take visitors to a news article about these recent scientific findings as reported by Emma Ross of AP. The second link leads to a well-written piece in the San Francisco Chronicle that explores some of the growing ethical concerns surrounding the growth of nanotechnology. The third link leads to the obituary of Richard E. Smalley, who shared the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1996, and who is also very closely associated with the exponential growth of interest in the field of nanotechnology. The fourth link leads to the homepage of the National Nanotechnology Initiative, which provides information about the federal government’s efforts to facilitate technology transfer in the field and to maintain a first-rate research and development program. The fifth link will take users to a very nice site that explains both the form and structure of nanotubes and buckyballs. Both of these forms of carbon are tremendously important to the field of nanotechnology, and the explanations offered here are concise and lucid. The final link leads to the homepage of the Center for Responsible Nanotechnology, which offers insights into the benefits and risks of nanotechnology, along with a rather intriguing weblog. [KMG]” (From the Scout Report)

    Happy 100th Birthday E=mc2

    Einstein equation marks 100 years
    Einstein’s E=mc2 inspires ballet
    Rampart Dance Company: Constant Speed
    Albert Einstein Biography
    Einstein’s Big Idea
    American Museum of Natural History: Einstein
    E=mc2 is perhaps the most well known equation in the world. In 1905, German-born physicist Albert Einstein, yet to land a teaching post, published this equation in a series of papers. Scientists are now celebrating 100 years of this equation and Einstein’s genius. The seemingly simple equation that brings together energy, mass, and the speed of light in an equation even the lay person can remember, furthered Einstein’s Theory of Relativity and eventually led to the technology behind the atom bomb. Images of Einstein are still instantly recognized, the bumbling professor with a thick accent and a kindly face. Yet despite looking accessible and providing a seemingly simple equation, he was undeniably profound. A genius above geniuses who discovered just by thinking about it, that the universe was not as we believed. Einstein was the pre-eminent scientist in a century dominated by science. The hallmarks of his era, the Atom bomb, the Big Bang theory, and quantum physics all carry his imprint. Today, he still remains one of the most recognized scientists despite and because of the sheer complexity and genius of his ideas. [CMH]

    The first link is to a short BBC article giving a brief history of E=mc2. The second will take you to another BBC article describing a ballet, Constant Speed, inspired by Einstein’s equation. The third will take you to the website of the Rampart Dance Company performing the ballet, with details on the performance and its inspiration. The fourth link will take you to an interactive website developed by the American Museum of Natural History dedicated to Einstein. The fifth link will take you to the Nobel Prize Organization’s website with an interesting biography of Einstein. The sixth will bring you to a site from PBS’ Nova program, with interesting links including how scientists today are using the equation, an interactive version of Einstein’s time paradox, as well as the legacy of E=mc2. Lastly, you will find a link to the Center for the History of Physics’ Albert Einstein site, which includes essays about Einstein along with a pictorial biography. [CMH] (From the Scout Report)

    Polar Programs

    The Northern Research Portal
    “The Northern Research Portal is now available from the University of Saskatchewan Archives and Library. This unique site presents resources for the study of northern Canada and the circumpolar world. It includes material such as maps, photographs, and published and unpublished works, many of which are presented as interpretive exhibits. The material is grouped for different audiences — K–5 students, general readers, and advanced researchers. There are also resources for K-12 teachers.” A well-organized and attractive site in both English and French.

    Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences

    American Indian Heritage Resources
    The Smithsonian brings you resources for teaching and appreciating the heritage of these peoples. Includes lesson plans, activities, exhibits, and more!

    Social Psychology Network
    “With over 11,000 links contained within its pages, the Social Psychology Network site is arguably the largest social psychology database on the Internet. Maintained by Professor Scout Plous of Wesleyan University, the site has been generously supported by the National Science Foundation. Visitors will appreciate the very clean layout of the site’s homepage, as they are presented with a search engine, along with a number of electronic forums, and a listing of related topics. To delve into the site’s contents, visitors may wish to select from any one of the areas on the left-hand side of the homepage, which include listings of doctoral programs in social psychology and teaching resources. There are numerous other options for interested parties, and they lead to such offerings as rankings of doctoral programs in the field and distance learning options in the field. Finally, visitors can also view many of the site’s documents in a number of languages, including Spanish, French, Italian, and German. [KMG]” (From the Scout Report)

    The Megiddo Expedition
    “Located at a site that is of immense historical importance, the excavations at Megiddo in Israel have drawn researchers and archaeologists for over one hundred years. In the ancient world, Megiddo was a nexus of what may be termed ‘international’ trade, as caravans of merchants came through from as far as Asia and Africa. Of course, there are a number of other reasons the site is tremendously important, including the fact that the Egyptians first began their empire-building ways when in the 15th century BCE they moved to conquer Canaan here. This site, developed by Tel Aviv University, allows visitors to explore a virtual recreation of this ancient site and to learn about the work of previous excavation on the site which have provided new insights into the Bronze Age. Interested parties may also want to read the current and back issues of their newsletter, ‘Revelations’, and learn about how they may join an upcoming excavation on the site. [KMG]” (From the Scout Report)

    Institute for Women’s Policy Research
    With over ten years of experience, the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR) continues to inform the general public and policymakers about the critical issues that affect women and their families. The IWPR is primarily focused with addressing questions of poverty and welfare, employment and earnings, health and safety, and women’s civic and political participation. From their homepage, visitors have immediate access to some of their latest research findings, including papers on the gender wage gap, state strategies to improve the quality of family child care, and women and Social Security. Along with basic press releases and basic information about the IWPR’s mission, one real gem on the site is The States of Women in the States report. Visitors clicking on the link to this annual report will be able to read state-by-state reports about women’s economic status and the provisioning of child care and education as well. Finally, visitors can also read about upcoming conferences and special events sponsored by the IWPR. [KMG] (From the Scout Report)


    The following items are from Edupage. To subscribe to Edupage: send mail to: with the message: subscribe edupage Anonymous (if your name is Anonymous; otherwise, substitute your own name). To unsubscribe send a message to: with the message: unsubscribe edupage. (If you have subscription problems, send mail to:

    A new report says that the United States stands to lose its leading position in science and research unless efforts are made to strengthen support for educational and other scientific programs. The panel that wrote the report was convened by the National Academies and included representatives from corporations and higher education, as well as Nobel laureates and former presidential appointees. The panel pointed to the narrowing scientific gap between the United States and countries such as China and India; recent results showing declining performance among U.S. students in science and math compared with students around the world; and economic factors that work against U.S. scientific interests. Among the report’s recommendations are funding scholarships to support 10,000 students annually to pursue careers in teaching math and science; allocating money for 30,000 students per year to study science, math, and engineering; and relaxing visa regulations to allow international students to find employment in the United States after they graduate.
    CNET, 13 October 2005 (via Edupage)

    In the United Kingdom, a report from the Council for Science and Technology calls on the government to share information among its various agencies while keeping a close eye on privacy concerns. Due to the sheer amount of data that the government collects and stores, pooling that data can facilitate improved public services, as happens already with health-related data. Mark Walport, head of medical charity at the Wellcome Trust and author of the report, said such data sharing in medical research has uncovered links between health problems and social factors and can allow researchers to closely track the effectiveness of various treatments over time. Walport suggested that similar benefits could be derived from governmental sharing of other types of data, which is currently not being used effectively. Walport said he believes that with adequate creative thinking, the government could see significant benefits from sharing data while ensuring protection for personal privacy.
    BBC, 20 November 2005 (via Edupage)

    The European Commission has called for increased research spending at universities and other research organizations, saying that Europe is lagging behind the United States and Japan in such spending. According to the proposal, spending on research should climb to 3 percent of GDP by 2010, up from 1.9 percent in 2003. The report noted that U.S. spending was 2.59 percent and that Japan spent 3.15 percent of GDP. The report also cautions that countries such as China could surpass Europe in research spending as a percentage of GDP, saying that increases in research spending result in direct increases in GDP. Under the proposal, which must be approved by European governments, more money would be devoted to academic research projects and to partnerships between industry and universities. Guenter Verheugen, EU industry commissioner, said, “Every cent which goes into innovation and research is a cent invested in jobs, growth and hence, our future.”
    San Jose Mercury News, 12 October 2005 (via Edupage)

    A new report from a National Science Board task force calls on the federal government to implement a clear and focused strategy to ensure that growing collections of information in databases remain accessible and easy to use in the coming years. The report argues that the National Science Foundation (NSF), which has financed many technological developments in recent years, has not crafted policies and strategies that consider and address the range of technologies for storing data. The report praises the improvements that have been made to systems that collect various types of material in digital form and make those materials widely available online, but it says the need is “urgent” for a strategy to guarantee the viability of those materials. The concern, according to the report, is that as technology platforms continue to evolve, some digital content could be left in the lurch, unable to be accessed by newer systems. The report makes a number of recommendations for the NSF, including coordinating efforts between data storage and users of those data, promoting effective training, and supporting efforts to educate “a sufficient number of high-quality data scientists” to manage such systems.
    Inside Higher Ed, 13 October 2005 (via Edupage)

    The U.S. Library of Congress has launched an effort to create a vast digital collection of artifacts representing the cultures of the world. Librarian of Congress James Billington said the World Digital Library would be “a documentary record of other great cultures of the world,” dealing “with the culture of those people rather than with our contacts as Americans with those cultures.” The new initiative will use as models the American Memory Project, which has digitized more than 10 million items representing “Americana,” and the Global Gateway, a joint project with five national libraries in Europe and Brazil that highlights connections between those cultures and that of the United States. Initial funding for the World Digital Library will come from Google, which has pledged $3 million for the effort. Billington said he hopes to attract other private funding for the project.
    MSNBC, 22 November 2005 (via Edupage)

    As part of its recently announced involvement with the Open Content Alliance (OCA), Microsoft will scan 100,000 books from the British Library, adding about 25 million pages of text to an online archive. The OCA is a project led by Yahoo that takes an approach different from Google’s in digitizing books and making them available online. Whereas books both with and without copyright protection are to be included in Google’s scanning, officials with the OCA have said they will only scan books that are in the public domain or for which they have obtained permission from copyright holders. Microsoft has an established relationship with the British Library, providing tools and resources as part of the National Digital Library plan. Lynne Brindley, chief executive of the British Library, said Microsoft’s latest announcement is “great news for research and scholarship and will give unparalleled access to our vast collections to people all over the world.”
    BBC, 4 November 2005 (via Edupage).

    Researchers at Stanford University have created a device that could lead to much faster optical networking that is also significantly less expensive than today’s technologies. The device, called a modulator or solid-state shutter, is made from silicon and germanium, two materials that are compatible with current technologies and are not nearly as costly as the materials found in today’s optical networking hardware. Researchers demonstrated that the device is able to turn a beam of light on and off 100 billion times per second, a speed that is equivalent to 10 times that of existing optical networks. David A. B. Miller, director of the Solid State and Photonics Laboratory at Stanford, noted that the new technology could solve “the bottlenecks of wiring,” which, he said, are the primary reason that processor speeds have not improved substantially in the past few years. James S. Harris, an electrical engineering professor involved in the research, conceded that the group was surprised by the result. “No one thought it would work,” he said.
    New York Times, 27 October 2005 (registration req’d)(via Edupage).

    MIT and Nokia announced a venture to create a joint research lab, to be called the Nokia Research Center Cambridge. The lab is part of MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, and researchers there will study “the state of the art in mobile computing and communications,” according to a statement from the two organizations. Specifically, researchers will focus on low-power hardware and user interfaces, in particular those that are based on speech. More broadly, the center will address questions concerning software architecture, wireless technologies, and methods of managing information. The center will comprise about 20 researchers from each of the two organizations and will be directed by James Hicks of the Nokia Research Center.
    The Register, 28 October 2005 (via Edupage).

    Researchers at several universities have received grants from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to study the social implications of nanotechnology. Until now, most funds for nanotechnology projects have supported efforts to develop the technology itself rather than to study its potential effects. Over the next five years, Arizona State University at Tempe and the University of California at Santa Barbara will receive $6.2 million and $5 million, respectively, to study the possible societal side effects of manipulating matter at the atomic level to create new substances and extremely small devices. The University of South Carolina and Harvard University will receive smaller grants to support existing projects. Among the speculative uses of nanotechnology is an idea to create tiny sensors that could reside within a human body and monitor its health. Such sensors would presumably spawn a host of ethical and privacy questions. Moreover, the prospect of creating new types of compounds at the atomic level raises concern about possible risks to the environment. Research at Arizona will focus on security, privacy, and biomedicine; at Santa Barbara, research will address social perceptions of the risk inherent in nanotechnology.
    Chronicle of Higher Education, 10 October 2005 (sub. req’d) (via Edupage)

    A new organization hopes to eliminate one of the major obstacles to adoption of open source technology: concern over patent and royalty disputes over shared code. The Open Invention Network (OIN), which includes IBM, Sony, Royal Philips Electronics, and Linux distributors Red Hat and Novell, will acquire and freely share patents that organizers hope will encourage broader adoption of open source tools, particularly Linux. Any organization that agrees not to assert its patents over those who have licenses with OIN will be permitted to use OIN patents for free. The business model for OIN represents a new arrangement in which patents are shared to promote the underlying Linux technology. Industry analyst Richard Doherty said, “A lot of lawyers are going to throw their hands up and ask, ’How do we make money from this?’” The answer, he said, is that they might not.
    ZDNet, 10 November 2005 (via Edupage)

    Members of a Congressional committee this week took up discussions of the USA PATRIOT Act, including two highly controversial sections of the law. Several provisions of the law are scheduled to expire this year, and the committee is charged with reconciling House and Senate proposals to extend those provisions. Expected to be the focus of the discussions are Sections 215 and 505, which greatly expand federal authority to obtain information such as phone and library records on individuals and which prevent those under investigation from revealing, even to their attorneys, that they are under investigation. Advocates for civil liberties have been pressing federal officials for details on how these key sections of the law have been applied, including a letter recently sent by five U.S. Senators to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, demanding data on how many so-called national security letters have been issued since the PATRIOT Act was enacted. Although federal officials have revealed few specifics, supporters of the legislation argue that “vigorous oversight by congressional committees has uncovered no instances of abuse,” according to Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kans.). Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.) noted, “The very act of surveilling citizens who aren’t even suspected of wrongdoing is an abuse in itself.”
    Chronicle of Higher Education, 11 November 2005 (sub. req’d)(via Edupage)

    According to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, the Justice Department recently submitted a package of legislative proposals to Congress that would broaden the scope of laws to protect copyright and would strengthen law enforcement powers to investigate such crimes. Among the proposals are recommendations to allow enforcement of copyrights, regardless of whether they are registered; to hold those found guilty of infringement liable for compensation to the victims; and to allow the seizure and destruction of counterfeit goods, equipment used to make such goods, and property acquired with the profits from such goods. The proposals would also make it a crime to “attempt to infringe copyright.” Groups such as the Business Software Alliance and the Recording Industry Association of America welcomed the proposed changes to copyright law, while those concerned about fair use rights expressed reservations. An organization called Public Knowledge said in a statement that it is “concerned that the Justice Department’s proposal attempts to enforce copyright law in ways it has never before been enforced.”
    CNET, 10 November 2005 (via Edupage)

    The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation has announced a grant to fund online education efforts in Africa. The $900,000 grant will support the Teacher Education in Sub-Saharan Africa consortium, which is working to develop an online portal that will offer a broad array of educational materials from institutions such as MIT, the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, and Chinese Open Resources for Education. According to Kuzvinetsa Peter Dzvimbo, rector of the African Virtual University, which is part of the consortium, Africa is in great need of math and science teachers, and the new portal will be used in “teach the teacher” programs to educate new instructors in sub-Saharan Africa. The online resources will not be limited to teachers, however. Beginning in Tanzania and South Africa and spreading to other African countries, the portal will be openly available to anyone with Internet access. Dzvimbo said he hopes that eventually teachers in Africa will join the online efforts alongside the professors and students in the United States who will be initially involved.
    Inside Higher Ed, 17 November 2005 (via Edupage)

    Following a story last week in the journal “Science,” the National Institutes of Health (NIH) acknowledged that information included in grant applications submitted to the agency had been inadvertently exposed online. According to the NIH, an individual who was reviewing the applications downloaded them in such a way that they were indexed by Google and were available on its site. The NIH did not say how many applications were exposed, nor did it comment on how it is dealing with the incident. The NIH said it has changed procedures to prevent such an incident from happening again. Representatives from “Science,” which put the number of exposed applications at 140, accused the NIH of being slow to notify affected applicants and to provide them with specifics about when their data were exposed. The incident raises concerns about an NIH plan to migrate to an entirely online application process by 2007, a move designed to save money and streamline the application process.
    Chronicle of Higher Education, 31 October 2005 (sub. req’d) (via Edupage)

    Some researchers developing electronic tutoring tools are adding animated faces that talk to students and respond to questions. Amy L. Baylor, associate professor of instructional systems at Florida State University, has created what she calls “pedagogical agents”—essentially a talking head on a screen that she believes provides a more compelling experience for students. Baylor has conducted research into the effectiveness of varying types of tutoring “characters,” from older males to younger female faces. She said that students always rate male personas as more credible than female ones, but research has also shown that “female agents are more motivating than male agents.” Ronald A. Cole, professor and director of the Center for Spoken Language Research at the University of Colorado at Boulder, has created similar models and said they have demonstrated real benefits to student learning. Others are not convinced that a face adds much to the learning experience. Kurt VanLehn, professor of computer science and a director of the Pittsburgh Science of Learning Center at the University of Pittsburgh, focuses his efforts on text-based online tutoring programs. He said he considered adding a character to his application but decided against it, noting that the “literature on the talking heads is mixed.”
    Chronicle of Higher Education, 23 November 2005 (sub. req’d) (via Edupage)

  5. Inter Alia

    Popular Science : Worst Jobs in Science
    Even the worst jobs in science are pretty interesting…