Sci-Tech Library Newsletter


Newsletter archive > 2006 March 3 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: Science and Visualization Challenge: Call for Entries, Solar Folklore, Cafe Scientifique, NARA Films Brought to You by Google; Biological Sciences: Genetic Science Learning Center, Science team finds ‘lost world’, Scientific Inquiry through Plants (Sip3), ubio — Universal Biological Indexer and Organizer, Visible Proofs: Forensic Views of the Body, Exploring Space: The Quest for Life, Interactive Body; Computer and Information Science: Thinking Machine 4; Education and Human Resources: Intelligent Designs on Evolution, Science Explorations from Scholastic; Engineering: High School Student Event: The Indiana Super Mileage Challenge; Geosciences: Dapper Data Viewer, QuickBird Images of Tsunami Sites, Volcano Expedition to the Mariana Islands: The Ins and Outs of how Earth Works; Mathematical and Physical Sciences: Small is Big: The Coming Nanotechnology Revolution, Molecular Expressions Microscopy Primer: Introduction to Microscopy, A Chemical Jigsaw Puzzle, Grey Labyrinth; Polar Programs: “Arctic Passage”; Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences: Abraham Lincoln Cartoons, The Tebtunis Papyri Collection, Implicit Association Test …and more… plus news items from Edupage
  5. Inter Alia: Robots, Bookless Libraries, No Libraries, Put Your Face on Science Magazine…
  1. Science Policy

    Design Elements of a Mandatory Market-Based Greenhouse Gas Regulatory System
    Sen. Pete V. Domenici and Sen. Jeff Bingaman have released a white paper which is open for comment. Responses to the white paper are due by March 13. The committee website has detailed submission guidelines.

    R&D in 2007 US Budget
    NSF Budget
    Public Opinion on US Budget
    “On February 6, President Bush released his proposed budget for fiscal year (FY) 2007. The new budget proposes substantial increases for key physical sciences and engineering programs as part of an ‘American Competitiveness Initiative’ that was first previewed in the President’s State of the Union address as a response to a growing wave of concern about the state of U.S. innovation. The three favored agencies of the National Science Foundation (NSF), the Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Science, and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) laboratories in Commerce would receive substantial budget increases after years of flat or declining funding. DOE would also benefit from the President’s ‘American Energy Initiative’ with large increases in its energy R&D portfolio.

    The overall federal investment in research and development (R&D) would increase to $137 billion, but in a repeat of the past budgets the continuing Administration priorities of weapons development and space exploration technologies development would take up the entire increase and more, leaving declining funding for the remainder of the R&D portfolio.

    The federal basic and applied research investment (excluding development) would decline 3.4 percent to $54.7 billion, meaning increases for physical sciences and related research in DOE, NSF, and NIST would be more than offset by cuts in the research investments of other agencies. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) budget would be flat for the second year in a row and would fund less than 1 out of every 5 grant applications; the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), despite being a major sponsor of physical sciences research, would see its research funding fall to offset a big increase in development of new space vehicles.

    The large increases for physical sciences and engineering research are not enough to keep the federal investment in basic and applied research (excluding development) from declining for the third year in a row after peaking in 2004.” (From AAAS Center for Science, Technology, and Congress)

    House Follows Senate and Introduces Competitiveness Bills
    “It’s becoming a movement in Congress. First the Senate introduced a package of three bills, and now the House has introduced three bills that implement the findings of the National Academy of Sciences’ 2005 report, Rising Above the Gathering Storm: Energizing and Employing America for a Brighter Economic Future. The latest action comes from the House Science Committee where Bart Gordon (D-TN), the Committee’s ranking Democrat, has introduced: The 10,000 Teachers, 10 Million Minds Science and Math Scholarship Act (HR 4434), The Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) Act (HR 4435), and the Sowing the Seeds through Science and Engineering Research Act (HR 4596).” (From IEEE Eye on Washington)

    AAAS Science Magazine on Funding for NSF’s Education and Human Resources (EHR) Directorate
    Stated priorities for improving math and science education at all levels of government are at odds with programs slated for elimination from the proposed 2007 federal budget. EHR programs are an example: “…a major internal reshuffling (at EHR) that is being seen as accelerating a move away from direct intervention in the classroom. Several researchers worry that the change will reduce the impact of NSF’s strong research-based approach to educational reform and substitute lower-quality programs run by ED (Department of Education).” (From WhiteBoard)

    Globalization and Offshoring of Software
    “After more than year of study, ACM released its report examining issues surrounding the migration of jobs within the computing and information technology field. It found that, despite the media drumbeat on offshoring, the demand for IT jobs remains strong. However, that doesn’t mean countries can be complacent. The study also found that global competition is fierce and growing, offshoring and globalization will continue to be part of corporate strategies, and if countries want to compete in this marketplace they must adopt strategies that attract, educate, and retain the best IT talent.”

    Cerf Cautions Congress on Internet Fast Lanes
    Members of the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee met this month for a hearing into so-called “Net Neutrality,” the range of issues surrounding whether or not telecommunications companies should be prevented from providing (for a price) faster speeds or better access for some (perhaps at the expense of others) or whether Congress should step in with legislation to require that all traffic flowing over network pipes be treated in the same neutral fashion. Neutrality supporters fear that creating “fast” lanes on the Internet for those willing to pay the price could stifle innovation by limiting the access of new companies or by creating an unfair advantage for larger companies able to pay the higher price for better access (or for the telcos themselves in offering their own services). Critics of the net neutrality idea, on the other hand, argue that enforcing neutrality through legislation will only limit their ability to innovate, invest in new networks, and bring new services and capabilities to consumers.

    Witnesses appearing before the committee included last year’s Turing Award winner Vinton Cerf, now at Google, Inc., and a long proponent of net neutrality. Other witnesses included Senator Ron Wyden (who signalled that he may soon be introducing a bill to legislate net neutrality), Jeffrey Citron (Vonage), Lawrence Lessig (Stanford Law), Gregory Sidak (Georgetown Law), and Gary Bachula (Internet2). The full witness list (with links to their written testimony) and a video archive of the hearing is also available. (From ACM Washington Update)

  2. Around DC and on the Net

    Nominations for Communication Awards
    On Feb. 1 the National Academies began accepting nominations for the 2006 National Academies Communication Awards, which recognize excellence in reporting and communicating science, engineering, and medicine to the public during 2005. Three $20,000 prizes will be awarded to a book author; print or online journalist; and a producer or reporter in television or radio. Nominations must be completed online no later than April 7.

    Loss and Extreme Weather Events — March 15
    Have loss of life and damages associated with extreme weather events actually increased in recent years? On March 15 at 5:30pm, the National Academies Ocean Studies Board will hold the Seventh Annual Roger Revelle Commemorative Lecture where the topic is “Disasters, Death, and Destruction: Accounting for Recent Calamities.” Dr. Roger Pilke Jr., director of the Center for Science Technology Policy Research, will talk about how recent catastrophes have led to a perception that the economic impact and severity of weather-related disasters is increasing and that this increase could be related to climate change. Pilke will discuss observed trends, our state of knowledge in this area, and the implications for policy and research related to natural hazards and global climate change. This free, public event will be held at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C.; registration and more information are online.

    Congressional Visits Day — 28, 29 March
    Mark Your Calendar for Congressional Visits Day — The annual CVD has been set for 28–29 March, and is expected to bring over 250 scientists, engineers, researchers, educators, and technology executives to Washington to raise visibility and support for science, engineering, and technology.

    NAS Symposia April 24 and 25
    Two symposia will be held in conjunction with the 143rd National Academy of Sciences Annual Meeting. On Monday, April 24, Robot Learning will examine how robots learn and adapt to their environment, with applications such as robotic missions in space and therapy for autism. On Tuesday, April 25 Forensic Science discusses the impact of scientific approaches to validating evidence, such as fingerprints, DNA, photographs, and memory, for our justice system. The symposia are open to the public and free of charge. Read the program details and register online.

    From Functional Genomics of Model Organisms to Crop Plants for Global Health
    Join NAS from April 3 to 5 for “From Functional Genomics of Model Organisms to Crop Plants for Global Health,” part of the Arthur M. Sackler Colloquia of the National Academy of Sciences. The colloquium will examine fundamental breakthroughs in genomics that will impact the future of food and agriculture, and the technical and non-technical challenges of bringing discoveries to the consumer. Lecturers will also discuss potential consumer responses to biotechnology. The honorable U.S. Senator Kit Bond will give the keynote speech for the colloquium on April 3 at 7:00 p.m. Registration is required.

    Innovation Everywhere—How the Acceleration of “GNR” (genetics, nanotechnology, robotics) Will Create
    “Ray Kurzweil may be the closest thing we have to a crystal ball. And if anyone has the right to some credibility in the prognostication arena, this overachieving inventor can. With crackling speed, Kurzweil powerpoints through charts illustrating the growth of various technologies over the centuries. His main points: technology evolves exponentially; the rate of technical progress itself is accelerating, so expect to ‘see 20,000 years of progress in the 21st century, about 1000 times greater than the 20th century.’ Before you can say, ‘Hold your horses,’ Kurzweil is off and running.”

    “The Dance of the Fertile Universe: Chance and Destiny Embrace” — March 27
    RSVP BY MARCH 22 at:

    Monday, March 27, 2006,
    Reception 5:45 PM, Lecture and Discussion 6:30–8:00 PM,
    Dialogue on Science, Ethics, and Religion (DoSER),
    American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS),
    1200 New York Ave. NW, 2nd floor auditorium

    The universe we live in is full of a vast variety of objects: gas, galaxies, frogs, us. What is the best scientific understanding of how they came to be? Are they related to one another? If we order them from the simplest (quarks, protons) to the most complex (the human brain) is there a unified explanation of their coming to be? A tentative answer is found in their emergence as chance and destiny danced away in a fertile expanding universe. Does God have something to do with it?

    Lecturer — George V. Coyne, S.J. — Vatican Observatory

    A Harmonious Commitment to Science and Culture
    “A Harmonious Commitment to Science and Culture,” an evening conversation with Drs. Hana and Francisco J. Ayala, will be held on 23 March at AAAS headquarters in Washington, D.C. Hana Ayala heads an economic development company that blends tourism with conservation and research. Francisco J. Ayala is a past president of AAAS, a university professor of biological sciences, and a pioneer in revolutionizing evolutionary theory to develop new ways to prevent and treat diseases. There is no cost for the 7:30 p.m. event, but seating is limited. RSVP promptly by calling (800) 215-1969 or e-mail

    Science Podcast
    On a pilot basis, Science will be offering periodic podcasts built around interesting stories in the journal and on its sister sites. Go to Science Podcast to listen to the latest podcast and for instructions on how to subscribe.

    When Science Informs Policy, What is the Role of the Scientist? March 8
    Wednesday, March 8th, 2006,
    12:30 – 2:00 PM,
    Keck 100 Conference Room, The Keck Center of the National Academies,
    500 5th Street, NW,
    Washington, DC 20001

    To what extent should scientists participate in the public policy arena? Some argue that scientists have an obligation to speak out based on their scientific expertise, while others contend that scientists tarnish their credibility when they advocate particular policy preferences.

    Disasters, Death and Destruction: Accounting for Recent Calamities, March 15
    Date: March 15, 2006
    Time: 5:30 PM
    Location: the Baird Auditorium at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History in Washington, DC.
    Featuring: Dr. Roger Pielke, Jr.

    The recent devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina, the Indian Ocean tsunami, and South Asian earthquake has kept natural disasters at the focus of our attention. The past decades have seen a spectacular series of catastrophes around the world with ever increasing economic losses and horrific loss of life. The recent spate of disasters has created two common perceptions among decision makers and the general public.

    Sensing Terrains — An Installation by Patricia Olynyk
    February 12 – June 16, 2006
    Open weekdays, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.
    Closed April 20 – 25 and May 29
    Artist’s Reception: March 19, 1 – 2:30 p.m.
    (precedes concert by Apollo’s Fire — The Cleveland Baroque Orchestra)
    National Academy of Sciences
    2100 C St NW, Rotunda Gallery
    Patricia Olynyk juxtaposes triggers of sensation with the sensory system itself. She incorporates her own imagery of the sensory organs of a variety of specimens with photographs of Japanese gardens meant to tickle the senses.

  3. New E-Books and Reports

    Science & Engineering Indicators, 2006. NSB, 2006.

    Rethinking How We Provide Bibliographic Services for the University of California. Univ. of California Libraries Bibliographic Services Task Force, 2005.

    Decisions on Moving R&D Offshore Depend Upon More Than Cost, by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, 2005. (report highlights)

    Globalization and Offshoring of Software. ACM, 2006.

    Statewide Databases of Registered Voters: Study Of Accuracy, Privacy, Usability, Security, and Reliability Issues commissioned by the U.S. Public Policy Committee of the Association for Computing Machinery. ACM, 2006.

    Nuclear Weapons: NNSA Needs to Refine and More Effectively Manage Its New Approach for Assessing and Certifying Nuclear Weapons (GAO-06-261). GAO, 2006.

    Higher Education Tax Credits: Test An Economic Analysis (RL32507). CRS, 2006.

    Drinking Water: EPA Should Strengthen Ongoing Efforts to Ensure That Consumers Are Protected from Lead Contamination (GAO-06-148). GAO, 2006.

    Renewable Energy: Tax Credit, Budget, and Electricity Production Issues (IB10041). CRS, 2006.

    Computer Wonder Women: Historic Beginnings of Computers. Educational Cyber Playground, 2006.

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

    The 2006 Horizon Report. New Media Consortium, 2006.

    New case studies on the coexistence of GM and non-GM crops in European agriculture. European Science and Technology Observatory, Institute for Prospective Technological Studies, 2005.

    Assessment of Planetary Protection Requirements for Venus Missions — Letter Report. NAP, 2006.

    Defending the U.S. Air Transportation System Against Chemical and Biological Threats. NAP, 2006.

    Drawing Louisiana’s New Map: Addressing Land Loss in Coastal Louisiana. NAP, 2006.

    Engineering Studies at Tribal Colleges and Universities. NAP, 2006.

    Frontiers of Engineering: Reports on Leading-Edge Engineering from the 2005 Symposium. NAP, 2006.

    The Fundamental Role of Science and Technology in International Development: An Imperative for the U.S. Agency for International Development (prepublication). NAP, 2006.

    Innovating for Profit in Russia: Summary of a Workshop. NAP, 2006.

    Review of the Department of Energy’s Genomics: GTL Program (prepublication). NAP, 2006.

    Strengthening Long-Term Nuclear Security: Protecting Weapon-Usable Material in Russia. NAP, 2006.

    Structural Performance of the New Orleans Hurricane Protection System During Hurricane Katrina: Letter Report. NAP, 2006.

    Trends in Oil Supply and Demand, Potential for Peaking of Conventional Oil Production, and Possible Mitigation Options: A Summary Report of the Workshop. NAP, 2006.

    Progress in Preventing Childhood Obesity: Focus on Communities — Brief Summary: Institute of Medicine Regional Symposium. NAP, 2006.

    When I’m 64. NAP, 2006.

  4. Interesting Websites and News from the Internet

    Cafe Scientifique
    If your city doesn’t have a Cafe Scientifique, it should! Why don’t you start one?

    Cafe Scientifique is a place where, for the price of a cup of coffee or a glass of wine, anyone can come to explore the latest ideas in science and technology. Meetings take place in cafes, bars, restaurants and even theatres, but always outside a traditional academic context.

    The Cafe Scientifique in Denver draws crowds of 200 or more. “The Café Scientifique idea started in England a few years ago, based on the French Café Philosophique. In the Café Scientifique, people (often science buffs) come together in a friendly pub after work and hear an informal introduction to an interesting current scientific topic, led by an expert. We take a short break for refreshments, to meet new people, and chat, and then we return for questions and answers and general discussion. All questions and comments are welcome, as this isn’t a seminar, it’s a chance for all of us to express an opinion, expert or otherwise.

    Grady Booch, Chief Scientist at IBM, who spoke at the Café in 2004, wrote: ‘While I typically speak only to fellow geeks, this was absolutely the most refreshing encounter I’ve had in a very long time. It’s wonderful to be among a group of such intelligent and diverse people who are passionate about pursuing knowledge and understanding.’ And Dennis Van Gerven said of his talk: ‘I can honestly say I haven’t had that much fun without losing consciousness in years!’”

    NARA Films Brought to You by Google
    Archivist of the United States Allen Weinstein and Google Co-Founder and President of Technology Sergey Brin today announced the launch of a pilot program to make holdings of the National Archives available for free online. This non-exclusive agreement will enable researchers and the general public to access a diverse collection of historic movies, documentaries and other films from the National Archives via Google Video as well as the National Archives website.

    NASA and Dept. of the Interior films are currently available, including The Eagle Has Landed 1969, Who’s Out There? 1975, Assignment Shoot the Moon, Work of Rivers 1935, The Wapiti of Jackson Hole 1939. Also United Newsreel Motion Pictures from the WWII era.

    Solar Folklore
    “For centuries, humans have attempted to explain the Sun in terms of their own worldviews. The Sun can be a god, a demon, a mischievous spirit, an omnipotent creator or a ruthless taker of life. Whatever role it plays, most cultures have recognized the significance of the Sun as prime controller of all life on Earth.”

    Science and Visualization Challenge: Call for Entries
    From the diagrams of DaVinci to the latest photos from the most remote galactic outback, art promotes understanding of research results and scientific phenomena. Awards for outstanding examples of visual media will recognize photography, illustration, informational graphics, interactive media, and noninteractive media. The deadline is 31 May for international entries in the 2006 annual competition, sponsored by AAAS and the National Science Foundation.

    Biological Sciences

    Visible Proofs: Forensic Views of the Body
    Companion to a 2006–2008 exhibition that teaches about the history of forensic medicine, items in a forensic laboratory, and recent developments in forensic science. Features galleries of significant cases (such as the autopsy of President Lincoln), technologies, biographies of prominent scientists, and artifacts. Also includes lesson plans and other material for educators. Many of the descriptions are not for the faint-hearted. From the National Library of Medicine (NLM), National Institutes of Health (NIH). (From Librarian’s Index to the Internet)

    Exploring Space: The Quest for Life
    The search through the cosmos for intelligent life, or any life for that matter, continues to fascinate everyone from dedicated scientists working for NASA to such personages as Shirley MacLaine. Broad in its scope, and innovative in its use of computer-animated deep-space imagery, this program from PBS explores the various mysteries about the origins of life that may lie in outer space. This site provides a host of online essays and interactive features that are meant as complements to the television program. The sections here include “The Mars Prospect”, “The Search for Aliens”, and “Meteorites & Life”. Within each section, there are a number of quizzes and fun activities, such as one that lets visitors attempt to fly to Mars. The site is rounded out by a number of insightful essays, including those that deal with the themes of the rights of alien life forms and other such speculative topics. [KMG] (From the Scout Report)

    Genetic Science Learning Center
    This site from the Univ. of Utah has a wonderful simple, clean look and an easy, well planned delivery of information on genetics. Animations and games let you look at the parts of a cell, build a DNA molecule, discover how proteins function and more. Additional interesting modules discuss questions such as how fireflies glow, genes and blood type, and using genetics to solve a mystery.

    ubio — Universal Biological Indexer and Organizer
    “uBio is an initiative within the science library community to join international efforts to create and utilize a comprehensive and collaborative catalog of known names of all living (and once-living) organisms. The Taxonomic Name Server (TNS) catalogs names and classifications to enable tools that can help users find information on living things using any of the names that may be related to an organism.”

    “[This is a] tool that searches through text documents and classifies them according to the organisms that are referenced, not only by the name it finds, but also by the common names and any additional scientific names that might have been used prior or after (because names change over time). Announcements of new organism names are automatically added to the database by analyzing relevant RSS news feeds. The tool also provides a link to all other documents that are related to organisms’ common or scientific names.” (From WhiteBoard)

    Scientific Inquiry through Plants (Sip3)
    Scientific Inquiry through Plants (Sip3) is an innovative forum allowing students to discover biological core concepts through hands-on inquiry projects coupled with online science mentorship from plant scientists. The Botanical Society of America provides inquiry units that are standards aligned and highly adaptable to classroom needs. Classrooms around the country are connected online where students share their research with peers and plant science mentors. Students upload their research journals and discuss their observations and evidence along with their data. Plant science mentors facilitate student thinking and provide insight to what scientists know and how they think.

    Science team finds ‘lost world’
    An international team of scientists says it has found a “lost world” in the Indonesian jungle that is home to dozens of new animal and plant species. This news story includes video clips and images. Very exciting, extraordinary news!

    Interactive Body
    From the BBC, a site that allows you to play a number of games — such as putting bones of the human skeleton in the right place — and then provides additional information and visuals about the various parts and functions of the human body.

    Computer and Information Science

    Thinking Machine 4
    Thinking Machine 4 explores the invisible, elusive nature of thought. Play chess against a transparent intelligence, its evolving thought process visible on the board before you. The artwork is an artificial intelligence program, ready to play chess with the viewer. If the viewer confronts the program, the computer’s thought process is sketched on screen as it plays. A map is created from the traces of literally thousands of possible futures as the program tries to decide its best move. Those traces become a key to the invisible lines of force in the game as well as a window into the spirit of a thinking machine.

    Education and Human Resources

    Intelligent Designs on Evolution
    This 2006 documentary looks at the concept of intelligent design, “which argues certain aspects of the natural world are so complex they must have been the work of a designer.” The companion website features articles on intelligent design in the classroom and religion in schools, interviews, audio and transcript of the program, and related links and readings on evolution and creationism. From American RadioWorks. (From Librarian’s Index to the Internet)

    Science Explorations from Scholastic
    A new interactive web site from Scholastic, the global children’s publishing and media company, was recently released. In keeping with the company’s mission of creating quality products and services that educate, entertain, and motivate children, and that are designed to help enlarge their understanding of the world around them, Science Explorations interweaves links to the American Museum of Natural History with educational standards, and interactive message boards for idea-sharing. (From WhiteBoard)


    High School Student Event: The Indiana Super Mileage Challenge
    “The Indiana Super Mileage Challenge (SMC) is an exciting high school student event sponsored by the Office of Career and Technical Education of the Indiana Department of Education. The race event highlights student skills in applying advanced concepts in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. The goal of the SMC is for students to work in teams to create a vehicle that achieves the greatest fuel efficiency in competition with other schools to obtain the highest miles per gallon rating over a fixed course at Indianapolis Raceway Park. The 2006 Super Mileage Challenge will be held on April 24, 2006.

    In preparation for designing a vehicle high school students study related advanced topics such as: vehicle safety, vehicle control systems, friction reduction, vehicle geometry, aerodynamics, composite materials, and prototype fabrication techniques. Schools work closely with local and community sponsors to cover the costs associated with building a car and participating in the event. The SMC event is in its tenth year and is open to all schools everywhere. Detailed information about how to participate will be sent to schools that submit a letter of intent by Nov. 1, 2007. Contact Jim Thompson at 317 846-4318 or send email to All are welcome to attend the event!” (From WhiteBoard)


    Dapper Data Viewer
    “The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory has released a browser-based application called the Dapper Data Viewer for viewing oceanographic and atmospheric data. DChart, as it is also known, enjoys a particularly rich feature-set, thanks to the use of an emerging Web application technology called Asynchronous JavaScript and XML (AJAX).” (From Joab Jackson in Government Computer News)

    QuickBird Images of Tsunami Sites
    Before and after detailed satellite images of the Indian Ocean tsunami.

    Volcano Expedition to the Mariana Islands: The Ins and Outs of how Earth Works
    “A team of researchers taking part in the National Science Foundation MARGINS initiative traveled to the Mariana Islands at the western edge of the Pacific Ocean to answer some of the most challenging questions of plate tectonics. They seek a better understanding of subduction zones where material is routed from Earth’s surface to its interior. What they find might also reveal how the atmosphere that sustains life on Earth was created and how it continues to evolve. This Web site will take you to nine volcanic islands in the chain, offering a guided tour through photos, video and day-by-day accounts of what the research team found. Along the way, get to know the history of the Mariana Islands. Now a commonwealth of the United States, the Marianas’ story is one of occupation by a succession of different peoples and includes a pivotal role as the site of history-making events during World War II.”

    Mathematical and Physical Sciences

    Small is Big: The Coming Nanotechnology Revolution
    “There’s a lot of buzz-nanotechnology is ‘coming soon.’ But what is nanotechnology? Why doesn’t anyone ever explain that? Well, it’s not that easy. While experts agree about the size of nanotechnology—that it’s smaller than a nanometer (that’s one billionth of a meter) they disagree about what should be called nanotechnology and what should not.” This exhibit from the IEEE Virtual Museum will walk you through the history, people and future of nanotechnology.

    Molecular Expressions Microscopy Primer: Introduction to Microscopy
    The Molecular Expressions microscopy primer reviews basic and advanced topics and concepts in optics, light, color, optical microscopy, digital imaging, photomicrography and features over 200 interactive Java tutorials. You can also get microscopy wall paper and screen savers. Cool!

    A Chemical Jigsaw Puzzle
    Cut out the pieces and begin making molecules. An easy and fun way to visualize molecular construction.

    Grey Labyrinth
    “An archive of puzzles from mathematicians, philosophers, and others. The answers are posted but you are challenged to answer them without peeking!” (From the Exploratorium)

    Polar Programs

    Arctic Passage
    “The greatest geographical prize of its day was the search for the fabled Northwest Passage through the island maze of Arctic Canada. In 1845, Great Britain mounted an all-out assault with a lavishly equipped expedition that was never heard from again. Then in the early 1900s, a little-known Norwegian adventurer set forth in a secondhand fishing boat and succeeded beyond all expectation. This two-hour special answers the riddle of why Sir John Franklin’s mission failed and Roald Amundsen’s made it.

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

    • Future of the Passage — Will rapid Arctic melting turn the Northwest Passage into a busy shipping route?
    • Franklin’s Provisions — Tinned meat: 33,289 lbs. Peas: 147 bushels. Chocolate: 9,450 lbs. — see the supplies that could not sustain, and may even have doomed, the expedition.
    • Norway’s Reluctant Hero — In this interview, historian Roland Huntford argues that Amundsen’s Norwegian heritage had everything to do with his polar firsts.
    • My LIfe As an Explorer — Learn about Roald Amundsen from the man himself, in these excerpts from his autobiography.
    • Remnants of an Expedition — Franklin expert Russell Potter narrates this audio slide show of artifacts from the lost expedition.
    • Tracing the Routes — In this interactive map, follow the Franklin and Amundsen expeditions — and see how one collapsed while the other thrived.
    • The Note in the Cairn — Read the original version of the final messages left by Franklin’s desperate men.
    • Igloo 101 — Take our quiz on Inuit snow shelters, and find out if you know enough to build one yourself.
    • On our Web site, subscribe to our podcast feeds to download audio and video pieces about arctic exploration, including
      • Author and mountaineer Jon Krakauer on the purpose of adventure,
      • Explorer Benedict Allen on the feeling of polar cold,
      • Biographer Roland Huntford on the lure of the Northwest Passage

    Also, Links & Books, the Teacher’s Guide, the program transcript, and more.

    Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences

    The Tebtunis Papyri Collection
    The Tebtunis papyri were found in the winter of 1899/1900 at the site of ancient Tebtunis, Egypt. The Tebtunis papyri form the largest collection of papyrus texts in the Americas. The collection has never been counted and inventoried completely, but the number of fragments contained in it exceeds 30,000.

    This web site, which is under continuous development, will provide electronic access to images of the Tebtunis papyri as well as textual information. We are trying to enhance understanding of the collection by providing information about the sites where the papyri were found, the intellectual and physical history of the collection, and the contents of the papyri contained in it. A particularly interesting aspect of the collection is that it contains many related groups of texts, which can either be traced back to actual archives or collected to form dossiers. Since such texts, possessing a context, typically provide more information (and are more interesting) than pieces in isolation, we have given emphasis to them in this presentation.

    Abraham Lincoln Cartoons
    “This collection of more than 400 Lincoln-related cartoons is derived from HarpWeeks Lincoln and the Civil database of 49 Civil War era periodicals. The cartoons have been scanned at high resolution and come from 21 illustrated journals that varied in type and allegiance. They include the three prominent American weeklies of the period—Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper, Harper’s Weekly, and New York Illustrated News; campaign newspapers such as The Rail Splitter, Campaign Plain Dealer, and Strong’s Campaign Pictorial; satirical publications such as The Comic Monthly, The Phunny Phellow, and Vanity Fair; and pro-Confederate journals published in the American South—Southern Illustrated News and Southern Punch; and in Britain—Fn and Punch. The vast majority of the cartoons include images of Lincoln, but a few only reference him textually. In all, Abraham Lincoln spans the period from his presidential campaign in 1860 through the major events of the Civil War to his assassination in 1865.” (From ResourceShelf)

    Implicit Association Test
    “It is well known that people don’t always ‘speak their minds’, and it is suspected that people don’t always ‘know their minds’. Understanding such divergences is important to scientific psychology.

    This web site presents a method that demonstrates the conscious-unconscious divergences much more convincingly than has been possible with previous methods. This new method is called the Implicit Association Test, or IAT for short.” Try it yourself!


    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 from the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) argues that fears of a wholesale migration of high-tech jobs away from the United States are not supported by the data so far. Representing a year’s work by a study group, the report predicts continued offshoring of 2 to 3 percent of IT jobs each year for the next decade, but it notes that the number of high-tech jobs continues to grow and already exceeds the number at the height of the dot-com boom. Although the report acknowledges losses to lower-wage markets and notes that the marketplace for technology is tightening, “the notion that information technology jobs are disappearing is just nonsense,” according to Moshe Vardi, computer scientist at Rice University and cochair of the study group. David Patterson, president of the ACM and computer science professor at the University of California, Berkeley, said that exaggerated fears of outsourcing have hurt the U.S. market by discouraging college students from pursuing careers in IT, which, in turn, will lead to fewer qualified members of the U.S. IT workforce.
    New York Times, 23 February 2006 (registration req’d) (via Edupage)

    Full report

    The backbone of the National LambdaRail network has been completed, connecting New York with Seattle and Jacksonville, Fla., with Sunnyvale, Calif., with a number of north-south connections linking those two lines. The 15,000 mile, fiber-optic network for academic research was developed by the National LambdaRail consortium, a group of about 30 universities and companies. Although some parts of the country do not have access to the backbone, Thomas West, president of National LambdaRail, said the group currently has no “plans…to augment the backbone.” West said his organization would try to help those without access to build regional fiber-optic networks that could then connect to the LambdaRail backbone. National LambdaRail is currently in talks with Internet2 about merging the two organizations. West conceded that negotiations over the merger have proceeded more slowly than those involved had expected, but he said talks are continuing.
    Chronicle of Higher Education, 22 February 2006 (sub. req’d) (via Edupage)

    The European Union (EU) has solicited proposals for a European Institute of Technology (EIT), which would conduct research and work to commercialize products and services that come of that research. As models for the EIT, the EU suggested MIT, which has been very successful at bringing the fruits of research to market, as well as emerging research centers in China and India. The EIT, with an annual budget of as much as 1 billion euros, could be a single entity or a virtual one, representing collaboration among existing universities. Jose Manuel Barroso, president of the European Commission (EC), said the EIT will “act as a pole of attraction for the very best minds, ideas, and companies from around the world.” Officials from a number of universities rejected the very idea, saying that trying to build a European version of MIT would fail. The League of European Research Universities called the plan “perverse” and said that in its solicitation, the EC demonstrated a lack of understanding of the academic community in Europe.
    The Register, 22 February 2006 (via Edupage)

    Although most faculty acknowledge the benefits of e-mail, many believe that one of the downsides of the technology is an erosion of the boundaries that traditionally separate instructors from students. Faculty said e-mail can help them identify students who are struggling, and it encourages participation from students who might otherwise keep quiet. Increasing numbers of students, however, use e-mail to ask their instructors inappropriate questions, often with unrealistic expectations about the consequences. A student at the University of California, Davis, sent an e-mail to Jennifer Schultens, associate professor of mathematics, asking for advice on buying school supplies. Students tell instructors they missed class because they were hungover, ask for teaching notes, offer advice on how to teach, and criticize classmates. Many faculty, especially those without tenure, are put into uncomfortable positions in such circumstances, not knowing how direct and honest they should be with students, particularly in light of increasing opportunities and forums for students to evaluate faculty performance. Meg Worley, assistant professor of English at Pomona College in California, noted that setting clear expectations at the beginning of a term can be helpful in avoiding many problems with e-mail.
    New York Times, 21 February 2006 (registration req’d) (via Edupage)

    Tucked inside a budget bill passed by Congress is a provision that repeals the 50 percent rule, which restricted federal financial aid to students attending colleges and universities that offer fewer than half of their courses online or that enroll fewer than half their students at a distance. The rule was enacted in 1992 to combat diploma mills, many of which operated online. The growing numbers of students enrolled in online education—both at for-profit and nonprofit institutions—and a strong lobby for commercial colleges helped push through the repeal. Members of Congress who sponsored the lifting of the rule, John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Howard McKeon (R-Calif.), said the change will expand educational access to nontraditional students and help Americans join the workforce. Opponents of the rule change advised moving more cautiously, saying online education has not demonstrated that it can be as effective as traditional education. Henry Levin, director of Columbia University’s National Center for the Study of Privatization in Education, said commercial education is “a growth industry, and you get rich not by being skeptical, but by being enthusiastic.”
    New York Times, 1 March 2006 (registration req’d) (via Edupage)


    Teleworking Would Save Billions —
    By allowing federal employees and white-collar workers to telework two days per week the government would conserve 11.67 billion gallons of gasoline annually, the Telework Exchange said in a study published last month. The study, titled “A Barrel Saved is a Barrel Earned,” noted that federal employees as a whole use 31.1 million gallons of gasoline each week. Teleworking two days each week would conserve 12.4 million gallons per week, or approximately 647 million gallons annually. Telework Exchange Executive Director Stephen O’Keefe said, “The ‘other’ fuel for our economy, telework, is a largely untapped resource. It requires no new research and development.” The study was based on survey results taken from 3,500 federal employees registered to the Telework Exchange Web site. Download the full report. (From FEDERAL DAILY)

  5. Inter Alia

    The 50 Best Robots Ever
    From Wired Magazine with love: a nifty trip down memory lane that also doubles as a nerd test! There are plenty of familiar faux faces here, just waiting to say hi. R2D2, Hal 9000, Robby the Robot, Optimus Prime, the “classic sexbot” from “Metropolis,” the Terminator, and the Iron Giant all show up for the party. We were pleased to see the attack droids from the 1984 Tom Selleck sci-fi thriller “Runaway” and David Hasselhoff’s first lifesaver, Kitt, the “smooth-talking, self-driving” Trans Am from “Knight Rider.” Even the Tin Woodman, “though technically a cyborg,” makes an appearance. Yeah, a lot of this stuff is super geeky (Autonomous Benthic Explorer, anyone?), but what can we say? Nerd out and see how you score out of fifty. (From Yahoo’s Picks of the Week)

    EPA Library Funds Cut 80% under Bush Budget
    The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s network of libraries stands to lose $2 million of its $2.5 million in funding under President Bush’s proposed 2007 budget, which threatens to close the headquarters library and many regional facilities as well as shut down the libraries’ electronic catalog.

    If a Library Is Bookless, What’s In It?
    This 2006 radio program looks at the role of public libraries in the 21st century, given the advances in information technology. The program focuses on these questions: “What is the library’s role — and who should pay for it?” Includes links to opinions about “bookless libraries” and public library services of the future. From National Public Radio (NPR). (From Librarian’s Index to the Internet)

    Be on the Cover of Science
    Just for fun, put your photograph on the cover of Science magazine.